How a couple left Miami, downsized to a tiny house in the Georgia woods, and became Airbnb hosts
- John and Finn Kernohan are Airbnb hosts who rent out eight units in the backyard of their home in Georgia.
- They live in a small cabin on the property and have built a community around small living.
- The small firehouse, tiny houses, tents and domes they rent range in price from $99 to $148 per night.
In December 2011, newly engaged John, 60, and Finn Kernohan, 44, decided to leave their hometown lifestyle in Miami and move to Georgia. John had recently sold his medical research laboratory company, and they wanted to live a quieter life.
While Jon was happy to join Finn on this adventure, he wasn’t prepared for what she had in mind. “I knew she wanted to downsize the house, but when Finn was talking about a smaller house, she meant a very small house — 304 square feet,” John Kernohan told Insider.
They had already spent a year living on a canal boat in London, and Finn didn’t see the need for a big house. They decided to sell their property and rent an 80-acre plot of land in a Georgia forest. They purchased an elevated cabin from Derksen Portable Buildings so they could turn it into a home.
It took a year to transform the shell into a livable home, which they called the “Sweetheart Cottage.” They needed to insulate it with drywall, install a wood-burning stove, add electricity and plumbing, build a bathroom and kitchen, and create custom furniture.
The shell cost $6,500. “An important part of simple living is having simple expenses,” John said. Their only expenses after construction were electricity and food.
In 2014, Finn began looking for a more permanent location for his home and found a plot of land in Lake Oconee on Zillow. “When we first saw the tree-filled site with a natural spring, it felt like home,” Finn Kernohan told Insider. “And when we walked away, we immediately decided to put on a show.”
Building their sanctuaries
The 3-acre plot of land with its own creek became their permanent home in 2015. After moving their cabin by trailer to its new location, they put down roots by building a deck around it with the help of a friend.
But this time they chose to install solar power, a rainwater harvester, a HomeBiogas system to produce methane cooking fuel, and use their natural springs for water.
They created a garden with fruit trees, built boxes for vegetables, and created a small yard to house chickens and ducks for fresh eggs.
In 2021, they added goats that provide fresh milk and natural fertilizer to power HomeBiogas.
Learn how to live small
The Kernohans first learned about… Tiny house trend When someone created a fake account on the tiny house listings website and posted a photo from their Facebook page. As the fake account was removed, a whole new world opened up to them.
Their page on Facebook The growth began when the couple answered people’s questions about their lifestyle.
Eager to connect with other tiny house owners, they launched the website United Little House Association, which now has 183,000 followers on Facebook and hosts festivals and charity events. They went to build Small fire truck on wheels To go to fundraising events to raise money for firefighters.
Providing the ultimate escape during the pandemic
In March 2020, they visited Finn’s parents in Thailand and stayed in a small villa on their property, along with other family members who also have homes there. They thought about how to recreate this community on their land but with small houses.
They acquired three more parcels of land and now own a total of 16 acres. One lot contains a 2,000-square-foot prefabricated house, which the couple decided to convert into a community space to give guests the opportunity to socialize.
They parked the small fire station on one lot and added two more small houses — one with a Moroccan flair and the other decorated with ornate gold mirrors and ivy, giving it a French feel. They built each house from scratch using recycled wood and decorated them with items they found on Facebook Marketplace or at recycling centers.
They welcomed their first guests in August 2020
“When we opened, people were looking to get out of the city and into the countryside,” John said. “It was perfect.” At first, their guests came mainly from Atlanta, but when travel restrictions were lifted, they began attracting fans from as far away as Vietnam and South Korea.
While Airbnb search provides the majority of their guests, they have attracted fans on TikTok. short A tour inside the beloved’s hut Which received more than a million views.
Like all homeowners, they too had their challenges. Last winter’s cold weather caused a pipe to burst in the small firehouse. “If you had a little pocket of water, something could explode, and we had to turn on the heaters,” John said.
They live a good life
John spends his time at the community house baking cakes or serving pies to hungry visitors. Finn, who is also a spa therapist, offers spa treatments to female guests.
They added a tent, two domes, a bell tent, and Renovated bus To the property. They have it now Eight lists Which ranges from $99 to $148 per night.
Visitors can access hiking or biking trails, or rent kayaks from Beloved Cabin. They can also search for crystals in the creek. “We had to ask guests not to bring shovels or a wheelbarrow like one couple did, which is kind of funny,” John said.
They are booked during holidays and most weekends but stay Monday-Wednesday free to make room for festival planning and their charity work.
“I love the fact that it’s in our backyard,” John said. “We hear horror stories about people renting out homes and parties taking them over. Since it’s in our backyard, we don’t have to worry as we can keep an eye on things.”
Finn said she likes the pace of her life now. “What I love most about living at Beloved Cabin is how simple your life is,” she said. “You only spend time doing the things you love to do.”
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