Seven years ago, just when we had given up all hope of ever finding a rental property that ticked more than one of my rental property boxes, we found it! Our 70sm, huge shared backyard, 32 steps from the front yard to the bus stop, open plan, wooden floored sanctuary from the world.
There have been a couple of changes made in our seven years: new kitchen, walls moved, gardens added and most recently a repaint, refit and plaster after the house spent four days underwater in the Brisbane floods. But you know a well designed space as soon as you walk into it, and this space has all the features of a well designed slow home.
Location and Size
We've spent most of our time here without a car because it just isn't an essential. We are walking distance from buses, trains and ferries, shops, restaurants and work.
Because there's only three of us (two people and one cat) we don't need a lot of space. The 70sm of living space and the shared backyard with its mango tree and gardening space is more than enough for us. We really enjoy the sense of community that comes with living in shared spaces.
Design and Layout
With the exception of the bathroom door, the house has no room dividers. The entry opens into the kitchen/living which opens onto the back deck, and towards the front of the house the living space follows a hall past the bathroom into the bedroom which has windows along the length of the front wall. All the windows and doors create enough natural light to light every corner of the house throughout the day. In the morning the sun comes through the bedroom windows, at noon the light from the kitchen louvres and the front door light the house, and in the afternoon the sun comes through the back doors into the kitchen and living space.
Indoor Slow Living
The orientation of the house, combined with the design and layout, allows a gentle breeze to flow through the house every day. As well as helping to moderate Queensland temperatures and improve air quality, the breezes make the house almost self cleaning. The air flows so smoothly through the house that aside from daily sweeps of tricky spots and regular daily upkeep very little is required in the way of cleaning.
Outdoor Slow Living
We live in Queensland and enjoy pretty good weather all year round. We don't own a dryer and all our clothes washing and drying is done outdoors. Our washing machine is on the back deck and our clothesline is attached to the shared shed. At the moment we don't have a dining table so we've been eating most of our meals outdoors on the deck.
Combining Indoor/Outdoor Spaces
From the front door you can see right through the house into the backyard and from the backyard you can look right through the house, through the bedroom windows into the front yard. The design and flow of the house leads to a natural seamless blend of the indoors and outdoors with no obstructions or distractions. Every window and door looks onto a yard or garden and encourages a blend of the two environments.
We're starting our gardens again from scratch. Gardening encourages you to make the most of your outdoor space and cooking with your own produce reinforces the daily combination of indoor and outdoor slow living.
So if your home is small, open plan or has great outdoor space, here are some Slow Home elements you can put to use.
- Don't be afraid to open your house up to the outdoors.
- Encourage natural air flow by opening windows and doors.
- Make sure you have enough natural light to light your house easily.
- Position your furniture so that it encourages natural light and air flow instead of obstructing it.
- Create spaces and activities that encourage you to maximise your outdoor space.
(images: Sarah Starkey)