We recently had the opportunity to interview Nicole & Doug, the owners of Tiny Magnolia – a sweet tiny house short term rental in Mills River, NC – just outside of Asheville.

We are fascinated by tiny houses and their potential to create short term rental income and were eager to learn from folks who were actively putting a tiny house vacation rental into action.


Nicole & Doug’s entry into the tiny house short term rental market started with their own self awareness. They looked around the house they lived in, recognized that they really didn’t spend much time in it, and decided they had more space and more stuff than their lifestyle called for. They love to travel (and stay in AirBnBs!) and they love the outdoors – so why have all this indoor space with things collecting dust? They started investigating the tiny house movement and their interest was piqued. 

The couple started looking for a tiny home builder (and had even chosen one who would be a good fit), but then they found tinyhouselistings.com. Here they came across an incredible deal on a tiny home that was only three years old and had been used as a short term rental until the local government in the Pennsylvania county where it was located put the kibosh on short term rentals. In April 2019, they found a driver to bring it down to NC and they had themsevles a tiny house! 

They weren’t able to get the house set up right away, which they later determined was a blessing in disguise. During the delay a nearby community of tiny homes, Acony Bell, had a lot open up for a vacation rental tiny home – and that is how The Tiny Magnolia was born.  Doug, a financial advisor by trade, crunched the numbers to see if it would make sense to add a short term rental unit to their portfolio.  Spoiler alert: it makes good sense, indeed!


Acony Bell has an interesting history. According to Nicole & Doug, it was originally zoned as an RV park, but then established their business model to only allow tiny homes (and cute ones at that!) in the community.  The local government didn’t quite know what to think about this model. They’ve put a stay on any future development of such communities, in order to see how Acony Bell develops and what, if any, impact it has on the surrounding area. We’re keeping an eye on the resolution there, as it may be a trend we see more of across the country.


Nicole & Doug weren’t complete beginners in the short term rental hosting markets. They had previously rented a single room from their Asheville home on AirBnB.  They liked meeting new people and providing spaces and experiences for travelers, but inviting strangers into their home wasn’t something they wanted to continue long term. This new opportunity to rent a stand-alone space gave them back what they loved about hosting – meeting interesting people, providing space for rest and enjoyment, helping folks enjoy the local communities and attractions… and earning extra income doing it! 

Nicole has a great eye for design! She loves being able to offer a unique experience for people who don’t want to stay in hotels while they travel. Creating a space with personality and charm, including seasonal decorations and an eye for detail, is the name of her short term rental game. 

The couple has intentionally chosen to outfit their unit with higher end glassware and cooking equipment to create a more sophisticated feel in their tiny home.  Just because it’s a small space, doesn’t mean it needs to be outfitted like a doll house! They always offer local beers and wines as gifts for their guests — they create a space where their guests feel welcomed to kick back and relax in style. 


The Tiny Magnolia launched on Airbnb this fall and has had a tremendously successful start. Of course the season helps – fall in the mountains of NC is simply spectacular – but still, 29 of 31 days rented in October is pretty impressive! 

The couple currently outsources property management, though indicate that they would like to take over that themselves eventually. That and a self-check-in system with keypad entry means that their day-to-day involvement with the rental is pretty minimal. 

Of course, their first few months have come with some challenges. The water heater broke in the unit during the very first guests’ stay. They chalk that up to buying a used home — you  just don’t know the exact condition of all the components until people start using them. 


When we asked Nicole and Doug about their future aspirations, it was pretty clear that they’re loving the tiny house/short term rental life. They have already purchased a second tiny home, also from tinyhouselistings.com. This one was only six weeks old when they purchased it from a family of five who had quickly regretted their choice to go tiny. It’s not for everyone! 

Their five year goal is to start their own tiny house/glamping combo community that they can call home and from where they will launch many more exciting adventures. Step one toward that goal is to move into the new tiny house they just purchased and sell their existing, “full-sized,” house. 

You can follow the Tiny Magnolia on Instagram to keep up with Nicole & Doug’s adventures. We are certainly looking forward to watching as they continue to make progress toward their big, tiny dreams!


If you’re considering a tiny home short term rental and want help getting started, contact us! We’d love to hear more about your project to see if there’s an opportunity to collaborate.


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