Simple Living and Slow Homes

Simple Living and Slow Homes

The ‘slow home movement' is about taking an intuitive approach towards our homes and being thoughtful about design in order to create a living space that supports our lifestyle. It’s a critical response to poor design practices and the mass housing industry; founded by John Brown, Matthew North, and Carina van Olm, the 12 principles can be applied to our homes to reduce the impact we have on our environment and improve the quality of our daily lives.

A ’slow home’ is light, open, and easy to live in; it fits your lifestyle and works how you need it to with flexible spaces, useful furniture, and a light environment. It goes against the “too-fast” mindset of more; it’s a home designed to be personally satisfying, environmentally responsible, and economically reasonable. Creating a simple home is a slow process, curated over time with consideration to lifestyle, design, and function.

The slow home philosophy revolves around 12 guiding principles placing the homeowner and environment at the centre in order to provide long term benefits. These principles serve as reminders for us to make conscious decisions and sustainable choices when it comes to our homes.

1 | Location

Location plays a huge role since it's always ideal for a slow home to be located within a ‘walkable neighbourhood’ to minimise or remove the need for a car. It should be in good proximity to work, amenities, and shopping destinations to limit unnecessary travel and healthier transport options. Choosing a location near friends and family makes it easier to nourish and tend to friendships.

2 | Size

The size of a slow home should be “just right” for the resident's needs; efficient sizing means energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced and our effect on the environment minimised. A slow home is often compact in size minimising materials, energy, maintenance and cost; the room available is smaller overall yet well designed in size and shape to best take advantage of the space available. Configuration provides privacy as well as communal connectivity.

3 | Orientation

Natural heating and cooling can be achieved by paying attention to a home’s orientation to the sun, prevailing winds, and immediate surroundings. Orientation is easily overlooked when deciding where to live but can dramatically affect the way the home environment looks and feels. The focus is on function, appearance, and connection between people in the community and our environment.

4 | Stewardship

Conservation of land and water encourages, reinforces, and supports smart, compact city growth patterns; making a positive contribution to the community. Taking care of a property in a intentional and sustainable way promotes community. Although not always possible, slow homes make use of locally sourced or produced materials and energy to support clearer industries. The repairable materials and durable structures mean these homes age slowly.

5 | Entry

The front and back entry points to a slow home are spaces of their own and not just simply entrances and exits. These spaces should be fluid and transitional, making use of the room with adequate storage for their purpose.

6 | Living

Living spaces within slow homes place an importance on airy brightness, natural focal points, and good daylight. Furniture should be well designed and functional with no wasted living space.

7 | Dining

Well-lit and close to the kitchen, the dining area is a defined space with an adequate table for communal eating. The dining space could be easily combined with the kitchen depending on needs and requirements.

8 | Kitchen

Compact yet adequate, the kitchen should have an efficient layout making good use of work surfaces, storage, and appliances.

9 | Bedroom(s)

Use of space is most important with logical use of space, excellent daylight, functional storage, and room to circumvent the room.

10 | Bathroom(s)

Private yet accessible, a slow home bathroom is modestly sized and well-organised with adequate counter space and storage. While it serves a clearly defined purpose, it's also a place to relax and unwind.

11 | Utility

Utility includes parking spaces, laundry areas, mechanical equipment, and storage, which should all be unobtrusively located and highly functional without conflicting with any other area of the home.

12 | Organisation

With efficient organisation, functional room layouts, clear unobstructed circulation, adequate storage, and clutter-free environment; organisation plays a huge role in keeping a slow home looking and feeling fluid. Belongings are limited to items that serve a purpose or bring joy; the elimination of clutter or visual noise reflects the resident's interests and personal style without excess. Furniture and belongings are well-crafted and locally made made using natural materials; they are valued, cared for, and always maintained.

So how can adopting the slow home movement principles help us? Simplifying our lives can be done in many different ways but what simple living always comes back to is: removing the excess. The principles for creating a slow home helps us to avoid excess in the first place; choosing the right home for our needs, furnishing it with the right items, and making sure our choices are thoughtful and considered when it comes to our impact on the environment. Creating a slow home is about being considered with our choices; taking care to choose well when bringing objects into the home, caring for them properly, and focusing on creating a joyful, nourishing environment within a simplified lifestyle.

While decluttering our home helps return our space to order, adopting a considered approach to building our home enables us to curate a space that works for us, suits our lifestyle, and contains only what we need. The slow home principles guide our decision making enabling us to create a home that serves us, looks good, functions well, is sustainable and environmentally responsible.