Many of us are familiar with the slow food movement — taking a step away from convenience food and instead focusing on how our food is sourced, prepared & shared. Ultimately, it's about enjoying the experience of our eating rituals. Intentional. Conscientious. Basically, slow food is everything fast food is not.
Housebrand is a Canadian residential design firm that is looking to integrate those same concepts into how houses are design & built. Their philosophy is that our choices in food and housing have similar significant effects in our physical and emotional well-being and our planet.
In a Slow Home, principles of thoughtfulness and quality translate to well-proportioned spaces designed to accommodate the daily needs of residents, minimal wasted space, plenty of natural light and a strong connection with the outdoors. Founding principal John Brown observes that too many North American homes are "designed to be sold more than they're designed to be lived in."
To help determine whether a house is laid out to its best advantage, they have created the "Slow Home Test", which is covered in their book What's Wrong With This House?. The test assesses 12 universal elements including location; conservation of land and water; a good-sized, well-placed entry; a kitchen with an efficient work triangle; private but accessible bathrooms; and an appropriate amount of space for parking, laundry & mechanical equipment. The test can be utilized to evaluate one's current design or perhaps a home on a buyer's potential purchase list.
Even homeowners who aren't planning on moving or building can apply the Slow Home principles to their current residence. "It's the same as with food — you don't have to change everything at once, " Brown said. "Just start with one meal a week." For instance, you can add a tubular skylight to a dark closet or hallway, allowing more natural light to flood into the home.
Ultimately, applying the Slow Home principles means making the most of what you have, in both your home & community, in a manner that will enable sustainable living.
Representing the fourth generation of the Ferrier Companies, Heather Ferrier Laminack functions as the marketing manager for Texas-based green home builder Ferrier Custom Homes, utilizing her passion for sustainable building practices and her first-hand experience of green building techniques.