As I drive around the state, one of my favorite things to do is admire homes that fit well in Florida. What do I mean by that? I enjoy homes that have been designed to suit the lifestyle in which we live. In Florida, we are more relaxed about our way of living because our weather creates an opportunity to design and dwell uniquely, incorporating the idea of “Florida” as we see and interpret our own unique space.
I enjoy any dwelling–whether it’s a tent, trailer, apartment, condominium or house--that is well-placed, well-designed and well-suited to one's individual lifestyle. No matter where you are in the state--north, south, east or west; central, coastal or in the back woods--every home has a style reflective of our personal taste and surroundings.
Some dwellings are smart, or “green spaces” that utilize and save energy by using shady porches and windows to channel the cross breezes and produce lovely temperatures from fall to spring. Many capture the light, utilizing windows or glass sliding doors with interior spaces that bring the outside in. Some consider space as a luxury more than a necessity, adopting a philosophy that “less is more.” Others feel more is more. Whatever your choice, it’s yours to live and enjoy.
Nineteenth century Florida cracker homes have experienced a renaissance in the past decade. These wood-frame homes, with pre-air-conditioning designs, often have high ceilings, metal roofs, raised floors, plenty of windows and large porches for energy efficiency and ventilation. Hallways often go from the front to the back of the house, creating a breezeway.
Modern architectural design often follows an open yet minimalist theme, using light, glass and a feeling of spaciousness. Outdoor patios are usually the norm, while architects use pocketing glass sliding doors and large openings to make inside rooms and outside patios one big contiguous space.
Today, many homebuilders and homeowners are in tune with using recyclable materials such as glass, metals, plastics, and masonry products (check out Florida’s Solomon’s Castle, built from recycled metal, car parts and reusable materials). Some homes are brightly colored to reflect our sunsets, ocean views and beaches. Others are more subdued to reflect a greener, woodsy style. For colder areas of the state, bricks and heavier materials protect from cooler temperatures. Many of us have porches to enjoy the outdoors and nature.
Some homeowners plant native trees, grasses, bushes and flowers requiring less water, thereby adding to the health and well being of our environment.
Any way you live, it’s about making it yours, using your own unique creative palette. And most of us know that the “smarter” and more sustainable the home, the better, to protect our state, the environment and nature.
What’s your home like? How does it fit into your Florida lifestyle? What makes it unique? Share your story. We’d love to hear from you.
For information on making your dwelling a smarter Florida home, go to www.flhouse.org, a non-profit organization with a mission to help us create more sustainable living spaces.