Tiny homes: Where less is more

Road trips are meaningful adventures. You don’t just sit and wait to reach your destination. Back when my family could freely travel from our hometown to Manila, my senses would feast on rattan crafts and sweet delicacies sold beside the rice fields.

Up in Nueva Vizcaya, we would drive by clouds softly brushing the trees on the mountains and marvel at the beauty of humble, laid-back provincial life. As we reached the major highway of Nueva Ecija, we would see several big houses, almost like mansions. I remember saying, “One day, I’ll live in a big house just like those.” My parents smiled as they said, “Go ahead, dream big.”

Living in a big house was my ultimate dream until I experienced living alone in a three-story house. In exchange for the much-desired privacy and space are the tiresome daily up-keep and monthly maintenance plus the costly property tax. Although there’s plenty of room for lounging, I barely had time to enjoy these spaces as I was always busy with chores.

Team ABH’s workstation doubles as their filming and living room space. The white walls allow decorative pieces and furniture with vibrant colors to give life to the house.

Around the same time, minimalism and tiny living movements became more popular. The movement encourages people to live with essentials in tiny houses, which can be as small as 10 square meters.

Tiny living

AB Magtulis and her partner Hazel Garcia have been living in a tiny home in Cavite since 2019.

AB said that they weren’t aware of the movement until they decided to have their own work-from-home office.

“We’re both working from home, and we wanted to have a private space where we can work and live comfortably, even with a small space,” AB told Property Report PH. “We’re not aware of the movement until we started designing ours. We searched for tiny house designs on Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. Since then, we have been so amazed to learn that tiny living is possible.”

The white-themed loft of the tiny house features sleeping essentials to make the space feel extra cozy.

It took three months to finish their tiny home. She said that instead of pouring more than P500,000 on a regular-sized house, they only spent P280,000 for construction, labor, landscaping, appliances, and other interior needs.

Their tiny home has a six-square-meter floor area and is roughly 15 feet tall. Despite the size, it has almost everything they need—living room cum workspace, bathroom, and bedroom. They even have a roof deck where they unwind, entertain guests, and enjoy the greenery.

“We love how it gives us this cozy feeling every day. We feel like we are always having a staycation. We also love our rooftop. Here, we spend time with our loved ones and enjoy the air and the view of nature,” Hazel shared.

The tiny house’s six-square-meter floor area fits a bathroom, complete with shower and toilet.

AB says that living in a tiny home allowed them to save money and time. Since it’s easy to clean the house, they can focus on work and spend more moments with the people they love.

While their new living conditions seem like it’s taken straight out of a fairy tale, AB says there are a few cons to living in a tiny home, such as limited space for entertaining guests and storing clothes.

And so, AB and Hazel are currently saving up to build a tiny kitchen, walk-in closet, and pool.

Living big

Tiny living may seem wise and practical. However, the preparations are as crucial as living in a regular-sized home. You must consider your family size, financial capacity, lifestyle, and location.

Given your lifestyle and family size, would your family thrive and live comfortably? Are you ready to downsize and declutter, so you’ll have enough space for movement and room for essentials?

These considerations may seem daunting at first, but AB has a few tips to ensure that you’d enjoy the tiny living experience.

“Make sure that you have the right amount of budget so you can build your tiny home according to the theme that you want. We know it’s just a small space to design, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it look attractive, nice, and cozy inside,” Hazel said.

LGBT couple Hazel Garcia and AB Magtulis, collectively known as Team ABH, celebrate the holidays in front of their 15-feet-tall home in Cavite. Photos from Team ABH

“You should not limit your budget when it comes to the exterior, and especially the interior design, as that will be a huge factor why you would love to stay in it every day,” AB added.

“Use multifunction furniture so you can maximize the space. Be creative and wise in putting storage space and materials. And when you build a tiny home, make sure you leave a space or piece of land where you can have your tiny garden, too. Even inside your tiny house, put a lot of plants so you can breathe and be surrounded by nature,” she said.

Dreaming big shouldn’t be taken literally. AB and Hazel proved that you can live big in a tiny home if you put things into perspective.

You may catch AB and Hazel’s tiny living journey on Team ABH YouTube channel.