For the last two weeks I've been exploring the 10 PrairieMod Principles that help guide "The PrairieMod Lifestyle: The Art of Living in the Modern World." I wrap it up this week with the final four Principles. If you missed the other two installments, follow this link to the week 1 entry and this link to the week 2 entry to catch up.
7. Bring The Outside In
In our fast-paced, technology-driven modern world, we have become increasingly disconnected from nature. We’ve come to see nature as something that is outside of us. We think we must travel to see and appreciate it or overcome and bend it to our human will. But this is not true. We are part of nature, whether we realize it or not. It is all around and we act on nature as much as nature acts on us. Acknowledging our integrated existence with the natural world is the first step in developing a natural home.
Frank Lloyd Wright called this way of living “organic” because of its close association with the unity and integration found in the natural world we inhabit. He felt a home should “spring from the ground and into the light.” An effective way to do this is to follow the Principle of Bring The Outside In. Some examples of accomplishing this can include:
Decorating our homes with items like plants and dried flowers helps remind us of the natural beauty of our world. The colors and textures of these items help accentuate and unify the other materials that make up the entire environment.
Use natural sunlight — it is often overlooked as an aspect to bringing the outside in. When building a home, consider how the sun will move over and through the building through all seasons to maximize it’s potential. Sunlight warms, changes the nature of colors throughout the day and can work with integrated decoration to create interesting and unique shadows.
These are just a few ways for we can make our lives more integrated with the beauty of the world outside. Remember, we must first surround ourselves with roses before we can stop and smell them.
8. Think Natural
Once we start bringing the outside world into our lives, it opens us up to more possibilities in designing and decorating “organically.” To most people, the word “organic” conjures images of hippies or expensive food. But in terms of our homes, creating an organic environment means that it will engage our senses, works with the action of time and the seasons, and acknowledges our interdependence with nature. Think Natural is the principle that should be followed to achieve this important balance.
To “Think Natural” means to look at the very nature of the materials we use to build and decorate our homes with. Wood should be treated like wood, so that its natural qualities are there for anyone to appreciate. Brick should look like brick, and glass should be used in the nature it is most effective and appropriate. When someone paints over wood or brick, it no longer has the essential qualities that made it “wood” or “brick” to begin with. When someone ignores the natural qualities of glass and uses it where wood or brick should have been used, the effects can be a disaster.
Thinking natural also means looking to nature for ideas and inspiration. The rich, inviting color palettes found in the spring meadows or the woods in autumn can be integrated in everything from fabric choices for linens and upholstery to wall and table setting colors. Natural finishes and textures should also be considered. Always looking to integrate and unify every part with the whole. To “Think Natural” is to ultimately live natural with beauty, warmth and harmony.
9. Go Green
The ultimate step in thinking naturally is to consider how every one of our lifestyle choices affects our planet. We live in a time when the pressures of energy consumption are only going to become more pronounced and extreme. With our society held captive by the rising costs of fossil fuels, it is only a matter of time when our current lifestyle choices may no longer be feasible. In an effort to move a new direction, we can begin to focus on sustainability in what we build, what we buy and how we think.
The Principle of Go Green should quite possibly be at the center of every decision we make. But, it’s a hard one to put into practice. Many us of may find it difficult to consider sustainable products, or give up the perceived benefits of a larger house or car. This is an understandable reaction to the thought process associated with short-term benefits versus long-term benefits. However, it’s making an investment in our future and something that we’ll all have to come to grips with eventually.
So, how do we “Go Green” when it comes to our homes? It’s actually easier to be green, than you’d think. No matter if we’re building, rehabbing, renting or decorating, there are multitudes of ways we can start going green. We just have to think creatively. Some possibilities include:
• Seeking out or building appropriately sized homes that fit the needs of the people who will be living in it, instead of something disproportionate. Small is the new big!
• When building a home, consider a home design that is more in harmony with the site it is to be built on to make use of the natural light, heat and shade.
• Use natural and sustainable building materials, recyclable where possible.
• Install high-efficiency appliances and utilities.
• Landscape with native plants that don’t require lots of watering or chemicals.
• Make use of decorative products that are made with sustainable materials and are carefully chosen on Principle, rather than on impulse. This will help to stem the desire to throw it when the fad fades away.
10. Uniquely You
The last principle of the PrairieMod Lifestyle is its most important one: The Principle of Uniquely You. One of the greatest strengths of this lifestyle is its acknowledgement that everyone is uniquely individual.
John Lautner once wrote, “The world’s richest nation should be able to produce a free – beautiful – Architecture for individuals – for people – to daily increase the Joy in life.”
Lautner’s mentor Frank Lloyd Wright knew this. Each of his designs were intended for a particular site and client without compromising his overall principled philosophy of living. If we study his Usonian designs we will see that each is as different as a fingerprint and meant intuitively for the people they were built for. The first Jacobs House is completely different than the Hanna “Honeycomb” House, but an underlying set of core principles is constant throughout every building.
The 10 Principles of the PrairieMod Lifestyle were also developed with the same flexibility to allow people to integrate them in a way that is intuitive and natural. Each person will find a unique way to interpret and apply the Principles when they examine their core values and beliefs—not based on fads, not based on what the media or advertising sells us, and not based on what our neighbors or friends are doing. It is the right of every person to be able to experience a home that uplifts their spirit and makes their life more meaningful and beautiful for having lived in it. We can find what is unique about each of us and then discover ways to express those characteristics in our individual homes.
A Lifestyle For All
PrairieMod is a lifestyle for Democracy. It embraces individuality. It acknowledges freedom. Our home should be seen as a reflection of who we are. It is something that should grow from the values we hold, rather than something that is imposed by outside forces. A home should be a physical representation of the unchanging Principles of Consider the Cost, Form is Function, Less Becomes More, Useful and Beautiful, Informal Meets Eloquent, Integrate and Unify, Bring the Outside In, Think Natural, Go Green and Uniquely You. It is up to each of us to find the ways we can make our homes not just a place to live, but also a way of life.
Frank Lloyd Wright once said that, “people who have never seen or never lived in a beautiful environment…can never know what they have missed.” By exploring and applying the 10 Principles of the PrairieMod Lifestyle, we can awake to the possibilities of experiencing an enriched and inspired life through the rewarding creation of our own beautiful, meaningful home.
As indicated in the introduction, the challenge can be in mastering all 10 Principles. Some require a change in perspective, a possible “downsize” or an altering of habits. These adjustments just don’t happen overnight. The important thing to remember is that the incorporation of just one Principle will make a profound impact.
As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts--one of the strengths behind our vision of the PrairieMod Lifestyle is it's ability to be both a steady guide in principle, yet flexible in practice for the individual. Let us know what you think!
Next week, it's back to work on the Little Red House. Until then!