Far, far away | TheUnion.com

Far, far away


Everyone has hopes and dreams. When I began my career as a designer of homes, remodels and additions, my dream was to help local people live well in their spaces.

I know that great design makes us feel wonderful, and can help us function better and accomplish more. I hoped I could help many, but I never dreamed that I would do anything other than local projects.

Surprise, surprise; as I was dreaming up how to help people make the most of their Nevada County surroundings, others were dreaming up ways to have second homes, vacation homes — far, far away.

I’ve now been included in the designs for several far away homes — even half way around the world! What an unexpected pleasure it was during this past year to help design an ocean-front home in the Cebu province of the Philippines.

It started with the dreams of a friend of mine whose favorite hobby is fishing. His hobby, plus his desire to be away from the cold Nevada County winters, and to spend more time in the Philippines where his wife’s family lives, ignited dreams of buying an ocean-front property where they could build a second home and fish.

His passion for fishing was strong so a boat and good fishing grounds were top priorities. The home was almost secondary (to him). And what the two of them wanted in their home was a compact yet comfortable space for food preparation, sleeping and bathing, with just a small living/lounging space. (While we’re experiencing cold winters here, much of their living in the Philippines is done outdoors from November through March).

While I worked on designs to suit the small footprint they desired, his brother-in-law, Michael, searched all over Cebu to find and negotiate the best possible property purchase.

He also arranged for the general contractor and handled all of the finances, utilities installation and permitting issues. Michael was instrumental in making this long-distance purchase and construction project possible.

So with property acquired, utilities established, and a general contractor on board, let’s jump to the real dream … the boat and the ocean.

It was an unexpected pleasure for me to see photos of a boat being built by hand. I was awed by the craftsmanship and the beauty of the framework before the “skin” is added. I love the framing in an architectural sense. The boat craftsman was named Mario (standing in the photo) and when complete, the boat was named Tropical Dream.

Before leaving their tropical dream home this past winter to return to California, my friends enjoyed many beautiful sunsets. Tropical Dream the boat was launched and enjoyed quite a bit.

As you can see from the photo looking at the house, even when the waves are choppy and photography is a bit difficult, this still is a dream life and the home has shaped up to be a wonderful vacation retreat.

The tropical dream of my friends was a dream project for me. But the greatest pleasure was receiving photos and hearing stories about the construction process. The craftsmanship is phenomenal.

Hearing stories about camping at the property during construction, late night parties and singing, fireside feasts, a birthday celebration for general contractor Christopher and the warmth and memories that have already formed around this home make me most happy. … A home where celebrations happen is a home indeed!

Next time, I will show you around the house a bit more. The craftsmen who did the work deserve high praise. They added many unexpected details which are surprising and interesting.

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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