There are many lifestyle TV shows about beach escapes, eco homes, tiny homes and renovations. They can be addictive to watch! Especially for me as a long-term renter dreaming of an eco-home by the sea one day. I have the floor plan, style, eco features all in my head, ready for when the time comes, plus the vision boards to keep me inspired!
If you were someone looking to build or renovate a slow home, you would be mindful of things like sustainability, longevity, reusable materials, good layout, orientation, smart storage, natural light and spaces that create a sense of relaxation.
The opposite of a slow home is a fast home, which does not have the emphasis on sustainability and lacking some fundamental eco principles. They are attractive and give the illusion of great value, but there is the long term hidden cost to factor in, such as energy costs, possible repairs over time and the environmental impact. Unfortunately, this is how most new homes are built, the demand driven by consumers chasing the Great Australian Dream.
You can create a slow home wherever you are and here are some ideas to get you thinking.
Less is best
There are advantages of becoming a minimalist, as you have less things to dust and clean! De-cluttering is a practical first step to slowing your home. Reduce your stuff! My husband challenged me a couple of years ago to de-clutter the kitchen. I thought it was an impossible task as I argued that I absolutely NEEDED EVERYTHING. However, I was up for the challenge and I managed to reduce my kitchen cupboards by half. I gave it all away and I have never missed any of it. Start with one room at a time and if you are reluctant, a safe tip is to pack things in boxes, keep in the garage and check in 3 months’ time to see if you have missed anything.
A few favourite things
Fraulein Maria was onto something when she sang, “these are a few of my favourite things”. This can be a sensitive topic as we all have special memorable items to cherish, some worthy to hold onto. However, we can also feel guilty getting rid of things, and if this is the case, explore the question as to why you feel guilty. Our house is filled with blackwood furniture, made at my grandfather’s furniture factory in Tasmania. It has been in the family for over 40 years. As we prepare to move home later this year, I need to make some emotional decisions about what to keep, re-furbish or give away. While this handcrafted furniture has served our family well for over 40 years, I also need to think about my future home, the practicalities and creating my own space with things that I love, not keeping pieces out of guilt. The things you decorate your home with should bring life to you and your home.
Relaxation and flow
Your home is a place of rest and refuge for yourself and others. Try and see how you can reduce the sensory overload that we are all exposed to. Turn your Wifi off in the evenings, reduce phone and TV time. Instead of getting hooked on the next Netflix series, use that time to dive into a good book or conversation with your loved ones. Having a place where you can read, sit and have quiet time is a wonderful thing, even if it’s as simple as having your favourite bean bag, blanket and a candle in a corner of a room.
Reduce toxins and chemicals
Clean out the chemicals! You can make up just as effective cleaners using simple nontoxic ingredients, saving buying more plastic bottles and chemical sprays. Glass jars are a great alternative to plastics for storing food and where possible buy local and organic.
Research the products and furniture you want for you home. If you want to purchase something new, make sure you ask questions such as where and how it was made (no sweat shops or toxic chemicals!)? Think of the longevity of that product. Can you buy something recycled or refurbished? Becoming a conscious spender means getting rid of an instant mindset, so you may need to save your pennies for a little longer and be patient. You will feel so much more enriched waiting and purchasing something more meaningful.
Remember, Slow Living has the powerful potential to change our environment and society in a positive way!