Far, far away: A tropical dream (Part II) | TheUnion.com

Far, far away: A tropical dream (Part II)

This compact home has everything the owners want as they spend a few months in the Philippines avoiding Nevada County winters. Most of the living is done outdoors so the home includes plenty of covered outdoor space facing the ocean.
Submitted photo |

Last month I wrote about a dream getaway in the Philippines, which I was fortunate enough to help design. This is a continuation of that story.

My friend loves spending time fishing. But he also discovered he really loves the climate and the people of the Philippines and enjoys spending time near where his wife’s family lives.

So they decided to purchase an oceanfront property and build a modest home where they could spend time each year, avoiding the cold Nevada County winters.

In designing the floor plan for their home, I was given a pretty specific brief.

The entire structure was to be 6 meters wide and 8 meters deep (about 20 feet by 26 feet, not much larger than an American two-car garage).

A good portion of the lower level was dedicated to a garage/storage space which can remain locked and inaccessible when the owners are absent.

That left just over 300 square feet of living space for a bathroom, a pantry/storage area, and an open concept kitchen/living/dining area.

Upstairs, there was no living space added over the garage so the upstairs was limited to around 280 square feet. In this space, we created two bedrooms, a bathroom, and storage.

Both floors have large, covered balconies facing the ocean. Although small in square footage, this home has everything the owners need and desire. Most of the living is done outdoors.

Their requirements seemed pretty simple, but designing a small space that is functional, attractive and comfortable is much more challenging than designing a large space.

So I found that angling some walls made the most of the square footage and created inviting, flowing interiors.

We’re all proud of how much comfort we fit into the small footprint. And my friends have been asked by numerous people if they could copy the floor plan to use for other new homes.

The real story in this, though, is not how pleased my friends are with the layout. As it turns out, construction in the Philippines was much better than any of us expected and the process and people involved were a real pleasure.

Local customs and the availability and costs of materials and labor cause them to use different construction methods than we use here. They often build homes out of concrete. And a typical Filipino-style home is exactly what my friends wanted, so they opted for concrete.

I provided the floor plans with metric dimensions, plus elevation views and 3-D renderings to show what we wanted. The general contractor translated my drawings into a concrete structure that meets their building codes and standard practices. The general contractor was Christopher Eleccion.

And the most wonderful thing about this entire project was all of the extra detail and care that he and other craftsmen put into this home.

As an example, without asking or knowing it would happen, Christopher and his crews added double-tray ceilings in the living room and kitchen with nice crown molding details. On the exterior, we expected no detail moldings around windows, but they handcrafted concrete sills for every window. It was extraordinary to see the care and consideration that went into the home.

Helping people make the most of their spaces is my dream. To help my friends realize their dream was unexpected and wonderful.

Thanks to brother Michael who arranged and oversaw everything, general contractor Christopher, and boat builder Mario, my friends have everything they want.

Their home is low maintenance and sturdy enough to withstand all types of tropical weather.

It is small and appropriate for its area. And yet, it has the space and comfort they desired. They have already started making many great memories in their second home — far, far away.

Erin Miller is the owner of Erin Miller Designs in Grass Valley. She can be reached at 530-477-1401, or at erinmillerdesigns.com.

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