One-hundred-and-forty square feet. That’s the size of Vina Lustado’s house. She’s a Filipino-American Ojai resident who owns a firm that specializes in sustainable building and design.
Her house might be small (it’s the size of a trailer), but it’s equipped with everything she needs: a living room; kitchen; bathroom; and a place to sleep up in the loft.
Lustado also enjoys simple luxuries in her tiny space, including a skylight in her loft where she watches the stars and the moon, a fireplace where she sometimes sleeps close to at night, and a kitchen, which is the biggest she’s ever had out of any guesthouses she has stayed in.
Lustado’s tiny house aligns with her value of simple living, which traces back to her roots in Pagbilao, a municipality in Quezon in the Philippines. She moved to the United States with her family when she was seven years old, and while she says she doesn’t remember much about her time there, she does recall having lived simply.
“[I’d go] to the linang quite often and go riding on the mules, walk barefoot to my aunt’s and uncle’s, cook on an open fire, and we’d eat off of banana leaves,” she says. “It was totally linang living. That’s my fondest memory. That’s always stayed with me. That’s something I guess I always craved for, that real down to basics living, because that’s all I remember in the Philippines.”
Since moving to the United States with her family, Lustado says she was always living in tiny spaces. When they first moved to America, the 12 of them lived in a one-bedroom unit in a duplex. Lustado says she essentially lived in the closet, and in a few instances, she slept in the bathtub and on the sofa.
“I was used to having small spaces and not having much,” she says.
Even in her college years, Lustado was frequently relocating between apartments, small dorms and guesthouses. “I think the Philippines stayed with me because I always wanted to live simply,” she said.
That value of simple living is reflected not only in Lustado’s house, but also in the design firm she started in 2009. The company, Soul Haus Design, was born after her more than 20 years of dealing with high-end corporate clients at multiple firms throughout her career. Most of the projects she worked on during that time were big and expensive. More importantly, they left large environmental footprints, something that went against Lustado’s values.