Exploring Slow Home Design

What is slow home design? Basically, it is the principle of slowing down to design homes and spaces that are sustainable, practical and functional.

The slow home movement began in 2006 when John Brown, Matthew North, and Carina van Olm wanted to create a “critical response to the poor design practices that pervade the mass housing industry. Our intent is to advocate for a more thoughtful approach to residential design that improves the quality of our daily lives and reduces our impact on the environment”. Slow home design strives for a more “considered, calm and intuitive” approach to residential design. The concept is to use well-considered design principles to create smaller homes that will be both environmentally sustainable and literally so, in the sense of being built to endure. The practice also includes remodels of existing, appropriately sized older homes that need updating.

Brown says in an interview with The Chicago Tribune that a slow home is “reasonably sized and carefully designed to support its occupants. It might have an entry where family members can easily take off their boots, stash their keys and store their backpacks, for example. It might have a living space that encourages people to talk or read, not just watch television or surf the Internet. It’s energy efficient, filled with natural light and designed for easy flow among rooms and access to the outside.”

North, in this interview with The Calgary Herald says, “I think the boom of the big-house era is coming to an end. So those houses will be less desirable and valuable as time goes on. Expect a shift to smaller, more energy-efficient homes, North says, and a move away from homes on the fringes of cities. A decade ago, a 5,000-sq.-ft. home sounded like a dream to some. These days, that much square footage sounds like a noose around your neck. There’s uncertainty about the energy cost to heat your house.”

Slowing down to design a space that is functional, long-lasting, meets the needs of the family now and later, and is, of course, stylish and comfortable – that’s the aim of the slow home movement.

But even if you are not starting from scratch, you can still join in living a slow home lifestyle. Re-work your rooms to make sure that they are functional for your family’s everyday living. Instead of purchasing a new piece of furniture, look for family hand-me-downs or thrift store finds to re-purpose. Organize your kitchen, bathroom, closets and office using bins, jars, boxes and dishes that you already own but rarely use. Make the stuff in your home work for you and create a stylish and comfortable space that you will be happy with every day and for years to come.

Slow home is a philosophy that has grown in the design and construction trades, and one that is only going to continue growing into the mainstream home owner market.