Dream Bigger, Live Smaller
By Julia Speirs
I have had the pleasure of visiting Maui twice so far in my life and every time I go back I find it harder and harder to leave. As someone who loves the outdoors, exploring this beautiful Earth and being warm, Maui has always been an ideal vacation spot for me. But, what if I could live there? How cool would that be? Well the last time I visited Maui I was still in high school, but even high school me could see how expensive it was to live there. But I am a true believer that there is always a way to make your dreams a reality if you work hard enough. That is exactly what Zeena Fontanilla (@zeena_fontanilla) and her husband did when they found out just how expensive the Hawaiian housing market was. The Fontanilla’s decided to embark on an adventure of building their own tiny home and fast forward to three years later, they are loving living tiny!
I had the pleasure of chatting with Zeena about her family's tiny home and thought I would share the conversation that we had with hopes of showing you that tiny living can be a great solution for anyone! As a growing family, the Fontanilla’s have been able to make their space both beautiful and functional. Read on to see our conversation and hopefully it can inspire you to take the leap and start a project of your own!
What drove/inspired you to adopt the tiny lifestyle and what is your favorite part of the lifestyle?
The expensive housing market in Hawaii was the HUGE driving force for my husband and I to consider living tiny. We both grew up in Hawaii but never truly got a good taste of the price to rent a house because we both went from living with our parents to living with multiple roommates in one house, which made rent seem doable. The cost of housing really hit home when we started looking for places to live once we got married. One low budget Netflix Tiny House Documentary later, my husband was gung-ho to give it a try and build our own. It took me a little more convincing but I was on board shortly after. My husband comes from a family of residential builders so that gave me so much confidence in our ability because I knew absolutely NOTHING about building. I’ve never spent so much money (Our total house cost was $45K) on anything in my life so even with my husband’s background I was a mess at the start questioning everything like I knew the right way.
How long have you been living in your tiny home for?
It took my husband and I 2.5 years to build our DIY Tiny House. January 2020 makes 3 years of living in our off-grid home. It’s literally flown by! 3 years in and we are preparing to welcome our second son in our 360 square foot home. We never planned on having children in this space but it’s been a fun experience to live minimally and to add more people into the equation. You really don’t need all the baby items that are on the market.
How long did your project take you?
2.5 years of working on the weekends and after work on some weekdays. My husband and I both had full time jobs for the entirety of our house build.
What is next in store for you? Are you starting a new project? Are you adding more features to your home?
As we prepare for Baby #2 we have a few projects we’d like to complete before he arrives in April 2020. In our initial design, we sacrificed having a dinner table indoors because we wanted more living room space/clothing storage. Now that we're growing a family, we’d like to sit around a table and share as many meals as possible. That quality time means so much more now that we have Littles to share it with. Hence our desire to revamp our clothing storage to make space for that table. We are creating pull-out drawers within our stair storage to replace our cube storage which once held all of our clothing (my husband, myself and Maverick). Our custom folding table with chairs will replace the cube storage. We’d also like to spruce up Mavericks’ room by adding some built-in toy storage and possibly create an after the fact bunk bed situation to accommodate our two boys that will soon-ish be sharing a room! Definitely, some lofty goals but we are excited to work within the constraints of tiny living to create something beautiful and functional.
Thank you Zeena for sharing your home with us and telling your story! We always love hearing from those who have embraced tiny living with open arms and have made their space their own! To follow along with the Fontanilla’s journey and their upcoming projects check out their Instagram and Website.
About the Author: Julia Speirs
Julia has come onboard as the Marketing Coordinator at Tiny Life Supply to gain some valuable, hands-on marketing experience before returning to the University of Victoria to complete her Bachelor of Commerce degree. Growing up, Julia would spend time in the summer at her family’s lake property in Ontario where she got to experience tiny home living for the first time. It was love at first experience and she has been following the tiny house movement ever since. She is most fascinated by the innovation she sees when it comes to people building and outfitting their homes and is always eager to learn more about people’s tiny dwellings.