Covers: A Slow take on Grand Designs

Covers: A Slow take on Grand Designs
Urban artist Jane Hall for issue nine of Slow magazine ($8.90)
"Don't get me wrong," writes Slow magazine's Jeffrey Booth in the introduction to his irregular 'Not So Grand Designs' series, "I like the program, I think Kevin McCloud is a terrific presenter. But every time I watch an episode, I can't help thinking he's making the wrong series. With a few notable exceptions, every house he profiles is too big, too expensive and too hard on our dwindling resources."

And so, we are shown a strawbale house in central Victoria erected this year, which is just 61 square metres. "Lizzie and Eric Smith set out to build a small house, partly to save money and partly because they felt it was the right thing to do," we are told. "They also took a good hard look at the way they really live."

And this smallness of space gives the owners a large-ness of living (less cleaning, less electricity!!!), which is a wonderful proposition, particularly for a couple of Boomers whose kids have flown the coup. In downsizing their stuff, they've given almost all their fiction books to charity, digitized photo albums and the progeny is entitled to have anything they fancy now... rather than in the will.

This lifestyle is contrasted by the stressed-out city folk accommodated by the small Victorian community of Daylesford "thanks to some clever marketing and a bucolic setting which includes the highest concentration of mineral springs in the country". 

Guesthouse owner Christine Lewis left a lucrative career in banking to purchase a weatherboard house where she makes visitors feel nurtured. "It's not about spending more money, it is about enjoying the fresh air, visiting the waterfalls, riding a bike or buying a bag of potatoes from the side of the road."

At $8.90, Slow is a considered purchase but the hearty editorial fare is something you can happily share with neighbours.

Girl With a Satchel