Choosing the Simple Life

As a kid, I remember daydreaming about moving to a brand new house. The parents would tell us that we're going to the mall, but instead surprise us and bring us to the new house. I will then run around, choose my very own room, which I will probably deck out in pink everything. That is the dream back then.

As an adult, I've heard a lot of people saying.. "I want a big house" "I want this.. I want that.." which is quite normal as we live in a world where it's difficult to be contented. But I, for one, never wanted a big house. Yes, I want my own place, but never did I dream about living in a mansion. Even if I have all the money in the world, I won't choose to go that route. I don't know, maybe I'm just simple like that. Or maybe I'm just lazy to keep that place clean. Or maybe I wanted to actually see the people I live with. We all have our reasons for wanting this and that, and I'm just thankful that having the big house isn't my dream.

Now that I know more(?) about how this life of ours work, I realized that for me, living simply is the way to live. That big house is harder for upkeep, expensive to maintain, and if you're not really rich and have that in mortgage, you'll have to work very long hours that you'll barely spend time in that said big house. I'm not saying doing that is wrong, if that is your dream then go for it. If that will make you happy then I'm sure it will be worth it. But I choose the other way.

I wanted our house to work for me, not the other way around. When the bf and I was talking about our future house, we've discussed a few options. Purchase an old house and have it renovated? Purchase a lot and build a new house? With these options, we'll definitely have to loan. We have some savings but not enough for those, especially that we wanted to live near our families where property is expensive. We calculated and recalculated how much we wanted to pay for monthly mortgage, and with cost of purchasing a lot or an old house, it is quite huge, more than what we wanted to shell out in a monthly basis in the next 10-20 years of our life. Can we afford to pay that monthly mortgage? Sure. But it means we'll be slaving for a lot of years, plus life is so unpredictable so it's quite a scary route. (Which I know a lot of you are doing so I salute you for your bravery!)

That is why we ultimately decided to build on their family lot. Hence the Tiny House. We wanted to build the house using only our savings, and not all of it. That's why we're doing our best to save on this house to have some more left once the house is all done. We choose to live simply and on what we can afford. We're happy to have the tiny house as it means we'll have a house debt-free, and we can upgrade / prettify/ decorate the house to our heart's content and still not spend so much as it is really small. Few pieces of furniture and we're all done. Haha. Tiny house means smaller utility bills, less space to upkeep and maintain. Tiny house means that we're more careful in what we bring in as we don't have enough space to keep all the clutter. It means that we're more free to enjoy what life has to offer. Instead of paying mortgage, maybe we can travel. Or eat out more. Or save. I don't know, I just feel like by living simpler, you'll have more freedom.

Of course, having a tiny house has its downside. No extra room, no backyard, smaller sofa.. haha.. but I'll take that. I've mentioned that hopefully, it's not our forever home. It has a lot of stairs and the "elder" me is screaming no. haha.. But we'll just save up for that forever home while enjoying this tiny house. And no, it will still not be big. A small house with a backyard and fresh air is the dream. :)

More and more people are choosing this life now. There's even a Tiny House Movement, which puts our tiny house to shame. Those houses are literally tiny, even I can't live in one. But the main concept is living simply, living within your means, having more time and freedom to do what you love instead of slaving to pay debt, and saving up for your future/retirement.  It sounds like a more relaxed way to live. 

I know a lot of people doesn't have the luxury to build a house on their family lot, so I'm so thankful to the bf's family for their generosity. Like seriously, with all the mess that's going on with the renovation, no complaints whatsoever. Thank you! If you don't have that option, just live within your means, get a house within your means. Don't over do it. I've read a lot of stories where people regret buying their "dream" home. It put them in huge debt and stress, and when they were forced to leave, they had no choice but to live simpler lives. And they are much happier.

So I've been babbling here like some know it all, truth be told, I know nothing. I don't have life's great experiences to actually tell you the right way to live, this is just my humble observation and the path I'd like to continue on. Maybe I'm just saying all this to rationalized the tiny house, or maybe I actually have a point? But whatever life you're living right now, just be happy. Don't worry, be happy. Here's a little song I wrote, you might want to sing it note for note, don't worry, be happy. 

The Tiny House in 4 months: We have exterior walls and roof! Plus our building/construction set-up

In my mind before we started this whole house ordeal, we'll have twinkly colorful tree in the corner of our new living room, and we'll be sipping hot tea on cold nights staring at that said tree in that said new living room by Christmas time. WHO AM I KIDDING?? Haha! It's merely 19 days before Christmas and we are NOWHERE near completion.

We have big progress on the exterior which you'll see in a while, but interior is still nothing but a big pile of mess. So here's some update on what went on in the Tiny House.

This was taken at 2.5 month mark. Columns / beams were up, and some floor wood beams installed.

This was taken about a week ago. Most of the steel frames and windows installed!
The house looks like a mess from the front, and it's quite hard to photograph and capture the progress from the garage, so here's a better view.

Here's where I left you on the 3 month update...

And this where we're at at 4 months! Roofing complete, air vents installed, window frames are there, and they started on the exterior walls! It's really exciting to see the house take shape, however long it's taking. hehe

Oh and I discovered a new photo angle for the house. Just a week ago, I never crossed the imaginary line towards the neighbor's roof. As you can see in the lot layout here, this is in a compound, so we share a garage with the neighbors, hence the one big long roof situation. But I very carefully and quietly walk out to their roof to see the tiny house in a new angle, and it was glorious! haha...

I can see both walls! They we're just starting on the exterior walls...

Here's when they completed the front wall...

And this was taken a while ago, front and one side almost complete! They're halfway done on the back wall but there's no way I'll jump on the roof of the other house so no, I won't be able to share that here. Haha

Cute right? Metal walls and all? Right? Say it is!! I was originally planning on using just white for the exterior walls, because well, less heat absorption. But while the bf and I are ordering the corrugated long span, we looked at their color swatch and was immediately drawn to this color --a deep blue with a hint of green in it. It took us a few seconds to decide to just go for it. 

The other side of the house is mostly covered in trees, so no problem with heat on that. The front and back doesn't get direct sunlight so we're not worried with that either. Our only concern is this big wall, which we'll just double the insulation and cross our fingers. Haha..  We put plenty of windows, and a lot of awning window on the topmost part of the house to provide ventilation and release some heat so I'm hoping for the best.

The roof is of course, white, and we're painting the window frames white as well, and the windows itself black. I think it will be cute. After all the exterior works, we'll have the roof of the main house repainted, since we've used that as "storage" and it got some beating. For that, we'll paint it green to mimic grass. Haha..  

The house looks almost done in those previous photos, but don't be fooled, here's the interior as of today.
NOTHING. Another storage. But oh, those windows we scored from a demolition guy, and I'll share all our different array of windows on another post. We have aluminum, white pvc, laminated pvc, analoc, and steel casement! They all don't match and we like it that way. Because it's waaay cheaper, and we're weird like that.

Another interior shot, if you can call this that.
That small room there would be the powder room on the third floor. And those are the trees that would help cool this house a lot.

So that's where we're at on the Tiny House in four very long months. And we have a few more to go before we can call it done. If you've had your house built, or know the process, you'll know that our progress is very very slow. People can build a big house from ground up in that span of time. I know, I've seen it. We have neighbors that's building WAY faster than this.

It's because of the building / construction set up we've chosen.
I've been so open about wanting to build this house in the least cost possible (don't we all?). I've asked several contractors to give me a quote for this type of build -- just the structure, no doors, no windows, no tiles, no fixtures, just the basics-- it ranges from 1 - 1.3M. I think it's reasonable, but we want it way lower. I know that adding all the finishes would add up to the cost and everything might go over 1.6m. Still not big for a house, but we wanted to have some savings left after all this, and besides, it will hopefully not be our forever home. (Can't imagine climbing all that stairs when we're older! haha)

So I spoke with my contractor, the one I'm using for many of my projects, and asked him if he could help us out. First, I trust him. Second, I trust his people. Basically, he lends me some of his people and we pay them directly. We pay on a weekly basis, and we also do all of the purchasing of materials for the house. So we're basically the contractor for this project. This way, we have control on which materials to purchase, source the cheapest option, and lower the cost. So that's why it's taking this long since we can't get as many people to work on the house. Only 4-5 people work on the house everyday, and sometimes it's even down to 3. haha... But I'll take that and just be patient. Some people are concerned about this set-up because workers are known to stall if paid on a daily basis (arawan), but we're mostly here to oversee their work, so that's not an issue.

As of the moment, we're at 670k Php cost total. Not bad. Of course, we have a lot more to purchase for the interior. Hardiflex for the walls, outlets, switches, tiles, fixtures, wood for cabinetries, etc. But we're hoping and praying to keep the cost to 1M Php. FINGERS CROSSED. 

I'm sorry as this might not be helpful to some of you who's building your house, I just have this privileges because of my working relationship with my contractor. But for some savings, you can ask for a quote for labor only and source the materials yourself. But you need to be on top of things and have those things delivered as needed.  The labor quote might go up if they have to sit and wait for the materials. And for the sake of honesty, this is not how I work on my projects. Hehe.. I of course can't build you a house for 1m. I worry that my openness about the Tiny House cost would give false expectations for potential clients about cost in the real world. :) Basically, Tiny house = fantasy world. Haha.. But really, we're doing hard labor for this house sourcing cheapest materials, second hand windows, reusing old doors, and I just hauled a lot of flooring, kitchen cabinets, sinks, and bathroom fixtures from my cousin's new condo which she's renovating. I got all those things for free, just paid for the trucking, which will give us huge savings for sure. So if you're willing to put up the hard work, I'm sure you can save a lot too.

So that's what we're doing for the Tiny House, and as we see it nearing it's completion, we're getting more antsy and impatient. We're almost there, getting there. But still a long way to go. I just keep  telling myself, we'll eventually be done. I'm just hoping we can get to celebrate the bf's birthday inside that hopefully finished house on March. Maybe we can put up a twinkly tree for that? ;)

For my sanity's sake, I just look at these.



Hub Stylebreaker: A Happy Update

I've shared a moodboard and a little snippet about this place a while back, but haven't given you a proper update yet. Well, it's because I haven't been there in a while! This isn't really a client project, but rather me just helping my cousin out in renovating her new place. Full disclosure: I didn't actually decorate the space, I just helped her pick paint colors, tiles, wallpaper, draperies, bathroom fixtures, closet layout and the like. Also gave her the moodboard and some furniture pegs, but she did all the furniture shopping on her own.

She went to Heima for a lot of her furniture and her place is looking really pretty! She and Heima blogged about the space so I get to have a peek, and I'm sharing with you some of their photos here. Should definitely visit soon!

Her stripe pink office

Pillows galore. 

Dining nook

Old photo of her mom.  Pretty!

This maybe the first thing we bought for the place-- the living room curtain fabric. I remember sending her photos of different fabric options while out shopping and finally hauling all that yardage over to her not yet renovated place. But finally, it's here, installed, and looking so virbrant.

I shared this on instagram a while back, the empty living room with that neon pink window frame! Very brave girl. 

This is obviously an old photo during the renovation, I'm sure it's much cleaner now. Haha.. I just love how we did the floor tiles in the kitchen. We wanted a tile with a pattern but we can't find the perfect one, so instead, I bought a black and off-white square tiles and had it cut and installed in a diagonal stripes. Striking right? :) Should take proper photo on my visit.

She's not done decorating her space yet, frames and artwork waiting to be hang, and I'm sure she'll get more stuff for her space. When it's done, I'll definitely share it here.

I'm a little bit envious that her place is all done and move-in ready while ours is still basically a shell of a house. Hehe.. But she's been renovating for a lot longer so I should learn to have her patience. She got to this point, we'll get there too! ;)

Tiny House Renovation: Three Months In (the House is growing!)

We foolishly thought that by Christmas this year, the tiny house will be done. In our defense, five months is quite a long time to renovate + build a house. But as I was told, building from scratch is easier than adding basically two extra floors to an existing structure, and our current labor set-up (coming up in another post) is not so typical so we've accepted the fact we'll most probably not be done by Christmas. Though that would be a great gift!

But things are moving along, which makes it harder to be patient since we can finally see the structure of the whole house, very near yet so very far... 

I left you with this image on the Two months progress post. (Week 8)

Week 10
At this time, they had completed all the formworks for the loft level and had started with pouring concrete. We did the concrete for this level manually instead of using ready-mix since we'll be needing a lot less and can't meet minimum requirement.

Week 12
Tada! Here's where we are at now. Look at this thing looking so much more like a house. After the concrete cured, they started working on metal framing for the roof and walls. 
Also, take note that I'm taking these photos from the roof of the main house so what you're seeing are the 3rd and loft level. Which makes this house incredibly narrow and tall (front view). Admittedly, this thing came out taller than what we imagined since we changed the roof design midway, adding two feet ceiling height for the loft. So we'll have 9 ft to 11 ft sloped loft ceiling. 

The other day, we toured the inside of the house. I'm absolutely terrified the whole time since we're walking and standing on open beams and seeing two floors down. But I have to suck it up since the workers are doing this day in and day out, plus I really wanna have a feel of how it is "inside."

Here's a shot of the loft level. See how high the ceiling will be? Ecstatic! I'll also put awning windows up there to release heat since this is the highest part of the house. I'm researching passive cooling strategys nowadays.. what happened to me?? haha

Still at the loft looking down. Instead of doing concrete slab floors, we opted for this method-- wood beams flooring for the third and loft level. We wanted the least weight possible for this structure.

Here on the third level. You can see a tiny sliver of the loft beam flooring above. I'm looking at what will be the stairs area. We also reused the old bedroom's aluminum window and placed it here. We will be reusing as much, and purchasing all windows second hand to save on cost! If we didn't, the windows alone would cost us 100k Php or more. Nope. 

Also, remember our building strategy? Here it is in the flesh. Concrete post and beams to connect to the existing structure and metal wall cladding for the exterior walls. Here's the steel frame work in which the wall clad will be connected to. (see above and below photo for reference)

And because I felt very proud on touring this skeleton of a house with no flooring, I have to pose for a photo! Should have a proof right? Haha

Next week we'll be adding more steel wall framework when all the (second hand) windows arrived. Also, roof! Next week, we'll finally have a roof. Hopefully in two weeks, we can install the exterior wall so that we can get to work inside. I'm so looking forward to that part.

And just to keep me motivated, I look at these....

Week 4

Week 12

What the what? A house has grown. We've covered the tall trees! And speaking of trees, I'm so happy about all the trees our neighbors have. I'll be having windows on that side to take advantage of the leafy view. We've come a long way, and we still have a long way to go, but I see progress and it makes me happy.

P.S. Showed these photos to my friends, and they told me it looks enormous. Well there's no point of reference here, but it really is not. It's around 7 meters long. If you check out Week 10 photo, you can see a guy on the lower right for proportion reference. Our house is not literally so tiny since we have a lot of levels, but we're basically sitting in 26sqm of land which makes it quite challenging. I'll share with you some REAL tiny houses on another post. Well, those are really impressive!

My Angkong

I've been sitting here thinking if I should write this post. I decided, yes, I really should. It would feel weird continuing without acknowledging and giving tribute to a great man we lost last week. We're all here because of him-- our lolo, our grandpa, our very dear Angkong.

He suffered a stroke and was in the ICU for two weeks before he passed on October 16. All of his children was by his side, and luckily, I was able to come too to say I love you and kiss him for the last time. It truly was heart-breaking. 

He was 92. Yes, he had lived a great full life. Yes, he was loved by all of us. But regardless of how full a life he lived, it still and will always be difficult to say goodbye.

As my brother said, Angkong had an ever jovial presence. He had this quirky smile, he's super groovy, and cool. He loves taking photos and videos of us during family gatherings. I was told that he would watch them from time to time, and I'm guessing he was pondering and celebrating the (BIG) family that he had created. 

Ama (grandma) told me they married young. They had to suddenly leave China one night, on a boat while bombs were literally dropping everywhere. They lived in Hong Kong for a few years, before finally settling in the Philippines because my Angkong's parents were here. They were supposed to celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary this year. My heart breaks for her. I know that the loss I'm feeling is nothing compared to hers. 

I don't know how he was as a dad, I've only known him as Angkong. But the love that his children have for him is immense that I'm sure that he's one great Papa. 

I'm thankful that they had managed to save photographs from the yesteryears, it allowed us a little glimpse of the life they had. The great life my Angkong had. I find comfort in knowing that he left us feeling so loved and appreciated.

I miss you dearly, Angkong. I love you. 

P.S. You see how handsome and pretty my grandparents are? No wonder we have such as good-looking clan. ;)

Updates: Tiny House and the Main House

This is where we're at a few days ago. I realized I've always taken progress shots from the roof (as seen here) but not much from this angle so here's the house's full frontal! haha

It doesn't look that much, but believe me, it is something! It may look too similar with how things were more than a month ago, but if you look a little closer, progress did happen.

1. See all those concrete columns and beams, they are fully cured. We now have structure in here. Not just formworks or such, but actual concrete structure connected to the original house. Yay!

2. We have the third level and loft floor beams in place. We'll leave them expose later on for that industrial bare no ceiling look. We're still contemplating if we'll paint them white, it will depend on how the wood will look, but I'm thinking leave them raw, and if we get tired of the look, we can paint them someday.

3. All levels are there! Yep, we're slowly pouring concrete for the loft level, it will be complete this coming week. Then on to roofing and walling. That is one very exciting progress. 

And since installing steel frames for the walls are on the next to-do list, we need to figure out the window situation. We decided to buy second hand windows to keep cost down.

We bought this!

2 pcs of 10x5 feet of steel casement window (left), and 2 pcs 4x5.5 feet, all for 10,000 Php. They are huge! I've had some quotes for brand new and it will cost us around 10-15k each. Thank you for second hand stuff. Haha.. See our window inspiration here. They will be installed on the front side of the house to let lots of sunlight in. Good things these are south facing windows so it won't get direct heat, but it will let a lot of light in. Win! Now if we can only find smaller windows for the other parts of the house. No way we're paying more for those small windows.

That's it for now for the Tiny House, we'll share as soon as steel framing went up for the walls, and when we hauled those big ass windows over our not so big location. Haha.. 


Aside from the Tiny House, the main house (bf's family house--see floor plan here) is getting some makeover too. We've made a lot of changes in there and will share that soon as we are nearing its completion, but for now, I'll share some progress.

The biggest change happened in the kitchen. They all love to cook, so this is number one priority. We removed a divider counter and upper cabinet and replace it with a more efficient island. You can see it peeking on the right photo below. 
I love natural wood, but their kitchen cabinets are not those kind. It's a a ply wood with reddish brown stain and an ultra gloss top coat. Plus, it had seen better days so we decided to freshen it up with some coat of paint. Took inspiration from their existing flooring in choosing paint colors. Also changed the grout color of the existing backsplash and counter from white to medium gray. Now you can see the vertical subway tile in here. Can't wait to show you the reveal of this kitchen! We had some aquas and yellows going on in there as well.

And just a little corner of the house...
A fresh coat paint can change everything. Do it! It's worth it. Haha

We'll get back for a detailed account on this makeover. 'Til then! Still have an episode of Grey's Anatomy to watch. :)

HO of the Day: Rustic Chic

It's 2:57 am and I want need to post something. Anything. It's just that the last post is so depressing and not inspiring at all so I want to move that down. But since it's already 2:57 2:58 am, I can't come up with a longer meatier post. Hence, this one. It's been quite a while since my last HO of the day so I hurriedly searched for something inspiring and pretty.

rustic chic, home office, gold dots, polka walls, wood beams, chevron rug

Well, hello there.

I was drawn to this room because of it's organic "handmade" feel to it. Love the fact that it can easily be replicated, and the playfulness of it all. The gold dots are cute, and I'm loving the random lighting situation. Aaaand, love those open ceiling! We're planning on having that same look on some areas of the tiny house. If it were me, I'd switch out the rug to some colorful kilim rug, coz well, I'm dreaming of having one so I'll put it in this imaginary room of mine. 

The bf and I will have a shared loft office so obviously, it can't be too girly, but we'll have each our side so maybe I can slip in some pink chair in there, and maybe some gold dots as well if I'm lucky? ;)

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