How a tiny-house couple used $35,000 to hack their 290-square-foot living space, rejecting minimalism and maximizing practicality

CharpLenz PhotographyTony and Charlie Perez live in a tiny house in California.

Tony and Charlie Perez love the freedom and simplicity that come with living tiny.

The couple have travelled to nearly 60 countries and lived in five, often doing volunteer work along the way. When they decided to move from Africa to California, they chose to make their new home base a 290-square-foot tiny house.

They built the tiny house in 2019 on a budget of $US30,000, they told Business Insider. Later additions of a deck and awning brought that total up to $US35,000.

Tiny-house living has a reputation as a minimalist lifestyle, but the Perezes wouldn’t describe theirs that way. “We are practicalist … if that’s a word,” they said.

Instead, they thoughtfully designed their tiny house according to what they realistically needed in a home. This deliberate approach helped them create a place that maximized space. It also took on influences from their travels. Learning from other cultures, they said, has been one of their “greatest joys.”

Here’s how they designed their home with practicality, not minimalism, in mind.


Charlie and Tony Perez live in a 290-square-foot tiny house in Northern California just outside Sacramento.

CharpLenz Photography

They run the website Tinyhomiez.


They began designing their house while living in a tiny studio apartment during a volunteer assignment in Africa, where they lived for four years.

CharpLenz Photography

“We’ve always been happy living tiny,” they said. When planning to move back to the US, they contemplated buying a house to avoid paying increasing rent over time. “We love the simple life, so we decided to go tiny on wheels instead,” they said.


They said they watched every tiny-house build on YouTube, listening to what people loved and hated about their homes. By the time they left for America, they had their design planned.

CharpLenz Photography

They saved for a year after returning, they said, and enlisted friends to help them build their tiny house.


“We spent a long time walking through everything as we were designing to make sure it was the most efficient and natural place for something to be,” they said. “We thought about every square inch.”

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


They focused on keeping things simple and practical, they said. They knew they wanted a large bathroom with a closet, washer and dryer, and a place to change clothes.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


So they created a pullout wall separating the washer and dryer from the toilet area. It houses a full-size changing mirror on the back side, while keeping the space tight.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


Across from that is the full-size closet with room for drawers and a hanging wardrobe.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


They also wanted an area for entertaining because they love having people over. To accommodate that, they designed a kitchen that extended to the deck so they could do just that.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


And because they only needed one loft, they said, their tiny house feels “roomy.”

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


It leaves a lot of room for storage, they said, especially under the stairs. There’s also a pull-out step that houses their vacuum. “Everything we need has a spot,” they added.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


In the kitchen, they maximized space by creating a fold-down chalkboard table.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


They also have three taps: one for carbonated water, one for beer, and one for mixed drinks. It’s one of their favourite parts of the tiny house.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


But aesthetic is just as important as organisation. The Perezes built their place around a desk they brought back from Africa made by close friends.

CharpLenz Photography

“We have happy memories together with our friends building things to make our room feel like home,” they said. “This desk is a reminder of those happy times.”


The place is peppered with knickknacks from different parts of the world they have travelled to, from Egypt and Jordan to parts of Europe and Southeast Asia.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez


“We love things that have a story, and your home should have a story too,” they said.

CharpLenz Photography


Source:
Tinyhomiez

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.