Jonathan and Rebecca Moody enjoy hosting visitors in their tiny house, which is Tennessee’s most popular rental on Airbnb.
George Walker, Nashville Tennessean
The 300-square-foot house on Kline Avenue is a longtime dream come to life for Nashville natives and high school sweethearts, Jonathan and Rebecca Moody. They spent nine months building and designing the structure behind their own family home, with no prior homebuilding experience and a whole lot of help from friends, family and the internet.
All that work has paid off: The tiny house is Tennessee’s most sought-after Airbnb, based on how many people have added it to their wish lists on the vacation rental website.
“Our house is really small, and we started building this a year-and-a-half after our first son was born,” said Rebecca, sitting inside the stylish, light-filled home which features a lofted queen bed, a kitchenette and a claw-foot tub. “We did not have a guest room anymore, so this was a way for us to expand, but in a way that made sense for us as a family.”
A seed was first planted in the Moodys’ eighth-grade history class when they watched a reality TV series on PBS where people had to live as 19th-century homesteaders ahead of a Montana winter. As their friendship blossomed, Rebecca and Jonathan daydreamed about one day building their own cabin and living off the land as best they could.
“Fast forward to we’re adults, and we really launched into this project without a ton of, or very little, homebuilding knowledge, like almost none,” Rebecca said. “But that’s what the internet is for.”
The Moodys designed the building shell and had it shipped in pieces from Canadian company Summerwood. They learned carpentry and woodworking and hired professionals to install the roof and the electrical work. They also used many salvaged materials in the design.
They expected the project to keep them busy during Jonathan’s summer off from his teaching job. Nine months later, and with many bumps along the way, they had a finished project.
The Moodys Airbnb is one of thousands of short-term rentals in Tennessee, ranging from rustic cabins in the mountains to lakeside retreats and well-appointed city lofts.
The Moodys received an Airbnb Plus designation last year, which is given to one-of-a-kind, high-quality properties with great reviews. Properties must pass a 100-point quality inspection to earn the Plus badge, and those properties then receive search priority. There are 300 Airbnb Plus properties in the Nashville area.
“What really separates this home from the pack is Jonathan and Rebecca themselves,” said Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit. “They clearly go the extra mile to provide a magical experience for guests, and that comes through in their reviews.”
Indeed, the Moodys have hundreds of reviews praising their hospitality, the tiny home’s amenities and the quiet location 10 minutes from downtown Nashville.
Their tiny house can comfortably sleep four people between the queen bed and day bed, although they’ve had up to six guests before. It has air conditioning, a projector and screen, a mini fridge, induction burners, dishes, a claw-foot tub, an outdoor deck and access to a shared backyard with a fire pit, play structure, chickens and vegetable garden. The walls are adorned with wood art made by Jonathan.
“It really is all of the convenience of a hotel room, but in a much calmer setting,” Rebecca said.
The cost per night can range significantly (from about $80 to about $220 per night) depending on the day of the week and the season. The Moodys said the house is almost always in use by Airbnb guests and their own friends and family. They’ve had guests from Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, England and from across the U.S.
Like many other streets in Nashville, Kline Avenue is in transition as older homes are torn down for tall and skinny new builds. But the Moodys don’t intend to leave their home of seven years, although they’ve been approached by prospective buyers in the past.
“We felt like we really got in under the wire. Our house definitely would have been a tear-down if it had been on the market like a year later,” Rebecca said.
They’re working to expand their garden, clear out invasive plant species from the yard and eventually they’d like to host small events. The income from Airbnb has allowed the Moodys to stay home with their two young boys and pursue other passions — Rebecca is a writer, Jonathan started woodworking and they play folk music together.
“We’re using this as a way to live the way we want to live,” Jonathan said. “We might not have as much money as we’d like to have, but we have so much more time with each other and with our family.”.
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