Designing homes for longevity: avoid following trends

In my last column on sustainable home building, I introduced the idea of designing for longevity.

For a home that will age gracefully, choose a classic style and use the best quality materials that fit your budget. Now, let’s look at each of these two points more closely.

Shingle, Craftsman, and Prairie styles are all good examples of classic design motifs. These are the desirable “character” homes that sell easily and never seem to go out of style.

Their aesthetic appeal comes from certain shared traits: grace, proportionality, rich detail and fitness of purpose.

They’re elegant without looking “fussy” and materials are used honestly. These homes have a timeless look and integrate well into their surroundings.

These qualities don’t belong to any particular time period, but can be found in every good design. If conceived properly, a West Coast Contemporary home can embrace classic traits and embody timelessness.

The key is to be modern without crossing the line into faddishness with frivolous, non-functional details that will soon beg for renovation.

Remember: classic design is a key component of sustainability – if people like it they won’t tear it down, thus saving materials, energy and other resources.

Now let’s talk about quality. You’ll save more over the long term by choosing the best materials you can afford – and hiring the best contractors you can to install them. The initial outlay will be more, but you’ll avoid rapid deterioration and additional repair or replacement costs.

Note, though, that a higher price doesn’t guarantee better quality; shop carefully. Also, buy and hire as locally as you can, preferably with the guidance of a good designer. Your home will be more sustainable, more durable and will retain its beauty and value long into the future.


John Gower is the principal at Gower Design Group, specializing in modern homes with a focus on sustainability. He can be reached at 250-871-8765 or

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