Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On the Slow Home movement

I've written before about the principles of slow design, and my thoughts on the slow movement and the trend-driven worlds of decor and fashion. However, I haven't really talked about how the slow design principles are being expressed in the the realms of residential architecture, interior design, and decor through the Slow Home movement. Yvonne Blacker did a great summary post about six months ago on Alluminaire, and Slow Home has been a recurring source of inspiration at the brilliant, sumptuous decor blogs of A.B.C. Dragoo, Irene Turner, and Gloria Battista-Collins. I highly recommend that you spend awhile browsing through all three, as each of them have an incredible eye, and their takes on Slow Home style are very different.

So what does Slow Home mean to me?

It means that our dwellings and furniture should be carefully considered, because they have an enormous impact on our personal health and the health of the planet. Our homes should be grounded in the place where we live, using local materials and vernacular design, instead of interchangeable drywall boxes that could be in any city in the world. Our homes and furnishings should give us a feeling of coziness, timelessness, solidity, and permanence, instead of being disposable and trend-driven. Our decor should reflect our personalities and our family histories, and support our desire to live mindfully and creatively.

My Slow Home. July 2007.
My own home is in a walkable, bikeable suburb with a big back garden full of peonies and irises, a clothesline on the back deck, and wicker chairs on the front porch. We built it a little more than a decade ago now (affordability chose the location for us), insisting on extras like flat ceilings and  hardwood floors that improved on the small multilevel split's good bones and abundance of natural light. Over the subsequent years we've upgraded tile floors to ceramic, added a backsplash and moldings and beadboard and a french door, and built floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the home office. We chose antiques and the occasional reproduction, decorated with collections and things made by hand, and grounded our love of rich colour with carefully chosen neutrals. We've ended up with a modern country look that's evocative of both a Prairie farmhouse and a Maritime saltbox... of where we are, and where we're from. All our decisions were made based on what we love, and what would make our lives more planet-friendly, not what might help the house to sell someday. Oh, and we had help from two children and two puppies in adding heaps of character (mostly in the form of toys and dings in the walls). It's cottagey, and lived-in, and since we're perpetually in the middle of decluttering or painting or picking up toys, I have very few 'finished' photos to share (I'll add taking proper photos of everything to my to-do list for this summer.).

The hand-stencilled brocade panels in the dining room were one of my first projects.
This is my daughter's third birthday, so this shot was taken about five years ago.
That's a walnut-stained farmhouse table under the cloth, and a rather bossy cherry-stained oak on the floor.
We've recently updated the room with aubergine faux-silk draperies and amethyst glass on the cabinet.
The kitchen right after the subway-tile backsplash was installed,
with part of my milk glass collection on the 'plant shelf' above.
The cabinets are the cherry-stained oak that was in vogue at the time we built.
These floor-to-ceiling shelves are in an open home-office space that overlooks the kitchen,
and are visible from the front entry of the house. My husband did an amazing job building them.
They're full of my reference books and shelter magazines, and my collections of Poole and McCoy pottery.
This might not be your version of a Slow Home; maybe for you, minimalist simplicity is the paramount expression of the slow life. Maybe fearlessly embracing your passion for bold pattern and colour is your path to authenticity in decorating. Maybe your Slow Home is a downtown apartment in a bustling metropolis, or a beachside surf shack, or a fifty-acre farm. Wherever you live, however you live, it is still possible to find ways to incorporate the Slow Movement into your home.

Won't you tell me what Slow Home means to you, and what makes your home slow?

16 June Edit: silly me. I forgot to mention that my inspiration in posting this yesterday was that today at 5pm EST / 3pm MST/ 2pm PST / 10pm GMT, we'll be talking about the Slow Home movement on Twitter's #DesignTV chat, hosted by A.B.C. Dragoo - who did another fantastic post on Slow Home today herself - and Jonathan Legate (whose swoonworthy tumblr is brimming with timeless design). You can join in by following the #DesignTV hashtag or using tweetchat. I'll post a link to the transcript afterward for those of you who missed it!

17 June Edit: Here's the transcript:

1 comment:

  1. How is our house a Slow Home? Apart from the rate at which I get projects completed, right? :-)

    The obvious aspect is that it's an older home (1940s), in an established neighbourhood. I do love the look and style of our house, but the location was the primary reason we choose it, as opposed to deliberately looking for a historic house. We're taking our time with it and getting to know the house and the yard before making major modifications. It means taking the time to get it right, rather than rushing out to buy something. If we're just going to "make do", it should be with something we already own. If we are going to buy something (whether new or used), it should be RIGHT.