Tiny homes, big living in Central Florida

Couple gives News 6 tour of their home

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiny houses are taking Central Florida by storm, and a local builder and his wife have proven going small does not mean you have to skip out on luxurious features.

They gave News 6 investigator Adrianna Iwasinski a private tour of their tiny home just days after they moved in.

Rich and Sonda Moriarty used to live in a four-bedroom home to accommodate their family of seven. But now, these empty nesters have taken downsizing to a whole new level with a tiny home they can take with them wherever they go. They are currently staying on this peaceful piece of property with a horse barn and pond nearby - all tucked away off Highway 419 near Oviedo and Chuluota.

"We actually were welcoming the downsizing," said Rich, who was excited about the money he said he would be saving. 

Rich said he always wondered how he'd be able to afford retirement, and that now he can, all because of this compact casa he helped create with his wife.

Rich is a home-builder by trade, and said he gets to see a lot of design ideas.

He and his wife incorporated their favorite ideas into this little love nest built for two, and even though it is small, it does not skimp out on style-- far from it.

"Everything you see, really, is something I have fallen in love with on some project," Rich said.

The couple said they spent several months planning, designing, and building this tiny masterpiece in the woods after their last child left the nest.

"I love the metal roof, I love the color of it," Rich said. "I love the design of the siding that I used."

What's not to love about this cute cottage the couple created themselves?

Rich said he bought the trailer and unfinished frame of a home from a person who was selling it for a steal, and then he put in all the special touches and appliances inside and outside the home himself.

You'd never guess it, but this is 270 square feet of livable space.

It also only costs $300 a month to live in this energy efficient home.

The total cost of the finished project was about $100,000.

The one thing Rich did not want to do was make his tiny home look like a mobile home - even though technically it is, since it can be taken to any place they want.

So how have the first few days of living in the tiny home really been?

"It's working well," said Sonda, who added she's a minimalist at heart. "But it's a little bit of an adjustment - because I was used to my big, high bed."

Now their bedroom is in the second-story loft, with a mattress right on the floor. You can't stand up there, but you can sit up, and have a great view of the property from the tiny top windows.

"It's nice, it's cozy," Sonda said. "It's just a nice little space up there."

So how did the Moriartys consolidate years of living in a large house into this tiny space?

"It was very challenging," Sonda said, with Rich echoing the sentiment. "Because once you walk into a tiny home, it's one big room. There was a lot of purchasing and returning just to get the right items in there."

Sonda said everything in this the home has special meaning and purpose to both her and Rich.
Surprisingly, the home has plenty of storage space for all the things they decided to keep - in cabinets and drawers built into the walls and under the stairs.

The one main thing they decided to keep from their past home -was the dining room table, or at least a small piece of it.

But the real show-stopper is the couple's bathroom, which is located under the loft.

"The bathroom is fully functional," Sonda said. "We have double-bowl vanity, his and her sinks, plenty of drawer space, we have a circular shower - it just closes on itself."

There's even a washer and dryer - and heated floors!

Then, there's this fabulous kitchen, which is not only functional, but beautiful, with a cashmere farm sink, custom cabinets, quartz countertops, gas stove and oven, and built-in refrigerator.

"I love the simplicity," Sonda said. "I love it the last few nights we've been in the home - it'sjust refreshing not to have a lot of stuff around me."

The Moriartys said they don't miss subdivision living at all.

"This is like a little slice of paradise," Rich said. "You could live in this for half the cost of an apartment, and that's huge. That's a lot of savings."

Their design was even featured on the DIY channel and HGTV show "Tiny House Big Living" with air dates set for Thursday,Nov. 30, and Friday, Dec. 1. They will also air on Saturday, Dec. 16 and Thursday, Dec. 21.

"We're hoping to have the opportunity to build more for other people that have an interest in building and living luxurious," Rich said.

The Moriartys said they would love to see more Central Florida cities to embrace this way of living for both retirees and millennials alike.

Rich even wants to build a handicap-friendly tiny home for a deserving Central Floridian - so that someone else could experience the joy of tiny living, too.