Our homes have a big influence on our lives, so it is natural that the Slow Movement would include Slow Homes as a primary means of supporting Slow Living.
Architects, interior designers, as well as people embracing Slow Life are using the term Slow Homes to describe homes and their furnishings that are well designed, nurturing to people, and restorative to the planet (or at least not harmful).
They don't have a particular look or style. In fact, that is the point. Slow Homes is about how a home functions and feels and how it fits its context. Slow Homes are organized to support our needs for cooking, sleeping, bathing, dining, socializing, restoring, creating, etc. and to instill in us a sense of place. While the physical organization of the home is important, how we use and function in our home is part of what creates a home for slow living. In other words, it encourages and supports behavior that allows us to engage with our environment and live in ways that help us create a slow life.
Slow Homes incorporate many of the values and principles found in green building and voluntary simplicity. In addition, it is about designing an environment that nurtures the well being of the people in the home as well as their neighbors and the natural environment. Ideally, a Slow Home would likely have many of the following qualities:
- Located within walking or cycling distance to the most useful services thereby encouraging healthier transportation options while minimizing the need to drive.
- Located near friends and family, as well as places that make life richer.
- Harmonizes with the land, sun, wind, sound, and other elements. Allows for water infiltration and landscaping as appropriate.
- Sensitive to place in terms of function, appearance, and connection between people and critters in the community.
- Compact building size to minimize materials, energy, maintenance, and cost.
- Interior spaces which are well sized and shaped for their uses.
- Takes advantage of daylight and provides good connections to the outdoors.
- Outdoor space and garden for connecting with the natural elements.
- Configuration and rooms provide opportunities for connecting with people as well as spaces for privacy and quiet.
- Spaces are adaptable for other uses over time.
- Locally sourced or produced to reduce embodied energy and remind us of where we live.
- Non–toxic building materials and processes for health and to support cleaner industries.
- Durable and repairable materials and structures that will age slowly and with grace.
- Natural materials that appeal to the senses—sight, touch, sound, smell, taste.
- Energy–efficient building envelope to minimize heating and cooling needs.
- A limited number of energy–efficient and durable appliances to reduce carbon emissions and the need for replacements.
- Water–efficient fixtures and appliances to conserve water and energy.
- Rainwater catchment and storm water management systems.
- Renewable energy sources whether produced on site or purchased from the utility.
- Limited to items that are loved and useful, eliminating clutter and visual noise.
- Reflective of the resident's interests, preferences, and personal style.
- Well–crafted, and locally handmade of natural materials, so that they are non–toxic, beautiful, meaningful and are valued and cared for over time.
- Includes items that remind us of where we live and where we come from.
- Easily maintained and adaptable over time.
- An appropriate number of people live in the space.
- Well maintained and cared for, and in good repair.
- Entire home is well–used on a frequent basis.
- Adaptable and reflective of the seasons.
- You love being there and it supports your needs.
While you may not be able to do everything on this list with your existing home, there are many things you can do to support a slower, healthier lifestyle. Start with de–cluttering, so that you only live with things that you love or use frequently. As you replace items in your home, look for things that are well–made of natural and non-toxic materials (e.g. solid wood versus laminates). Identify the ways your home does and does not support what you want to do, and see how you can make changes over time to eliminate what isn't working and enhance what is. Take your time, be thoughtful, and think of your home as a slowly evolving sculpture that cares for you and is an expression of who you are.