The Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said that constancy is an illusion.
No matter how modern and stabilised our lifestyles might become, the world around us shifts and changes as it always has – and that includes the seasons. When we pay attention to these continual shifts in nature, we can better understand the effect that the weather has on our homes and our time spent in them.
Summer and winter can be dramatic and indiscreet, requiring domestic vigilance. Our entire space seems to take on an additional hibernating coat during the cooler months – we add layers by putting rugs over bare floors, pile thicker duvets on beds and drape wool blankets over armchairs.
Half a year later, sweltering temperatures (not in Scotland) call for sparseness and openness – we strip down rooms to their bare necessities and fling open the windows to let a breeze flow through, as if the house itself is gasping for a breath of fresh air.
Autumn and spring require subtler adaptations to our home lives. We make provisional movements in these transitional months, gathering and protecting for whats to come, an unfolding and a reawakening. We might stockpile kindling in anticipation of that first icy night or repair screen doors and secure hammocks while waiting for warmer weather.
As we continually refine our ability to observe the seasons, we can learn to take cues from the elements, meet the needs for our home and open ourselves up to a more natural way of living.
The seasons can also vastly impact what we do in our homes, not just the way we adorn them. During summertime, our dwellings reflect how the team makes us feel both expansive and languid. We sprawl out over cooler surfaces both inside and out, the boundary between the two seemingly dissolving into one existence.
We leave sandals, satchels and sand crusted novels around the house like shoreline seashells, easy to grab for spontaneous adventures. We tend to dine later and lazier, lingering over lighter meals we prepared while avoiding the stifling oven.
The cold, dark days of winter find us baking more or hovering around open wood fires and clusters of candles, seeking out even the smilers amount of heat and light. We tend to take life back indoors and unapologetically disconnect from the alfresco activities we love using the dog days.
But in the winter, we tighten and cushion the perimeters of our domicile to create our own snug cocoon and burrow in this comfortable based atmosphere.
Responding to our home’s quarterly changes can make it a highly individualised place to live. We begin to understand the needs and quirks of this living, sentient organism, and we tend to love our homes all the more for each of these oddities. We know the trick for unjamming the swollen side door in the summer, where to step to avoid the creaky floorboards and which living chair is the most exposed to a brisk draft.
Being aware of a home’s seasonal shifts takes architecture beyond simple beauty and function – it creates a symbiotic relationship where home and dweller are continually influencing each other.