Kindred Spirits

Small… built with natural materials… designed to maximize sunlight and views… efficient use of water and energy… permeable landscape… good indoor air quality… low utility costs… a place to live through retirement…

Those are some of the priorities that have shaped the design of our home and when we talk to other folks in our demographic here in town, we find that these are the sorts of things other people want to.  The challenge is finding homes with such features or having the funds to make such a dream reality.

As much as I may lament the years where I felt stuck in Alberta, they’re a big reason we are able to shape this part of our dreams right now.

Last Sunday we were out for a neighbourhood walk as darkness was beginning to descend and we stopped to spend some extra time looking at the roof and windows on one of the most intriguing homes in our neighbourhood, trying to figure out how similar details are going to look on our home.  Strangely neither of us can remember what stage of development the house was at when we first came across it, but I think it’s three story form and unorthodox placement on the lot was pretty clearly established already.  It’s been nearly three years now and it’s been so interesting to see their garden grow and mature.

Unbeknownst to us, our looking and pointing was catching the attention of the owners who called us up to check things out.  It was an invitation we couldn’t refuse.  It turns out these gentle souls are connected to other folks in our social circle and they had very similar ideals to us when it came to designing their home.

It got even more surprising when we realized we’ve both used architects from Bowen Island, specified the same size of fridge, and opted for a main bath instead of an ensuite.  Indoor air quality is important to them too so they’ve used lots of wood trim and low VOC finishes, run an HRV and opted not to have a natural gas hook up.  I don’t believe there was a tv in sight either:)

With all the things we have in common you might expect our houses to look a lot alike but the reality is that they couldn’t be more different!  Where we’ve opted for a lot of traditional details and a low, somewhat sprawling form; their home towers 3 storeys above the ground and has all sorts of interesting angles and details.  And where mobility is something I worry will trouble me, they designed their home for their retirement with lots of stairs, presumably to help keep them fit and agile.

It’s so cool to see the different ways that we’ve interpreted such similar values.  And that not only are their other folks here wanting the same things, there are actually other people doing it too!


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