Macy Miller: Following a Dream to Unexpected Places

Macy Miller: Following a Dream to Unexpected Places

Have you ever had an idea so exciting that you wanted to drop everything to work on it, but you wondered if it would be worth it in the end? Macy Miller is a young architectural designer who found an opportunity to make her professional and personal passions overlap. She literally dreamed up a very small house layout, and quickly decided to design and build her own tiny house on wheels.

She expected that the project would satisfy her curiosity about the construction process and her desire for financial independence, but she got a lot more than she bargained for. Her home also became a flexible space to start a family, and helped her meet some of her most ambitious life goals with the onslaught of publicity she received for its high-end look and surprisingly low price tag.

Saving Money by Spending Time

Macy’s tiny house has been widely publicized in mainstream media for its distinct, modern design and bafflingly low construction cost. It’s a little easier to understand how someone could build a home that looks this good for under $12,000 when you hear how much work she put into minimizing her costs. But she’s always been frugal, so she didn’t mind spending countless hours on cost-saving tasks like disassembling “80 or so” pallets to use as her siding, or preparing her atypical trailer for her tiny house build.

You can never know where a path will take you, but when Macy chased her dream and followed her instincts, she ended up achieving more than she expected. This post is a preview of my visit with Macy, but there’s much more in my ebook Life in a Tiny House, or sign up for my mailing list for more inspiring stories of people who make unlikely choices to improve their lives.

Designing for One, with Flexibility for Two

She primarily designed her home to fit her life, but Macy also made sure the design was flexible enough to grow with her as her life changed. And then change happened fast – she became pregnant, and had the baby after living in the house for less than a year:

Macy Miller living in a tiny house with a child

Macy, her baby, and the porch she could enclose as a second bedroom

Macy: I did consider all the options, even having a kid. My life could have gone any number of directions, so I designed it to be very flexible.

I designed the porch so it could be enclosed, so if I wanted more privacy, I could have a separate bedroom, or it could be a little nursery. I thought about doing it, but I love my porch, and I don’t need it: kids want to be around their parents. Around the time she’s three or four, I imagine we’ll have a different situation. There may be a point that it makes sense for her to have a separate space, and I enclose that patio and it becomes her room.

A lot of tiny houses have built-in furniture. I don’t have built-in furniture very intentionally. I like re-arranging a lot. There’s about nine different arrangements I could have for this furniture. People do not believe me, but I can draw them out for you.

So there’s a lot I can come up with if this situation doesn’t work, but it does. I wouldn’t change it if I could. But that may not always be the case. I’m just going to go with the flow, have the flexible attitude. Whatever she needs, whatever I need, we’ll make it happen.

I’m really glad that I have the house, because I’m not stressed about having to get back to work so I can pay rent. It’s enabling a lot more relaxed time. The whole idea behind a tiny house is focusing on the priorities, and she’s become a priority.

Macy Miller tiny house

Exceeding Expectations

For Macy, the house is a success because it helped her accomplish what she planned from the beginning: she learned every aspect of home construction, and created a result that frees her from frustrating rent checks and mortgage payments. But to her pleasant surprise, the house helped her meet a number of her loftier “bucket list” life goals as well:

Macy: Part of the process of me deciding if this was gonna work was, I went through my bucket list, and if I built this house, it would check off 14 things. That seems like it’s worth doing. And it has hit so many more than that. I had, “Be on the radio,” on my bucket list, and I’ve been on NPR! “Be in Dwell Magazine?” I get to check off Dwell! And I’m pretty sure it is the cheapest way to get into that magazine. [laughs]

It’s opened a lot of doors. But the actual house itself, it’s an educational tool for me that has this by-product of free rent. It’s a big experiment that I’m living in, and I think that that’s cool and fun.

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Keep up with Macy’s tiny house news on her super informative website and blog Mini Motives. Stay tuned to my mailing list to catch new posts, or check out my Life in a Tiny House Ebook for more inspiring stories of people building lives around what matters most to them.

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11 Comments

  1. There is a man in the picture with Macy and the baby. Is he the father? I watched her blog as the building was being done, and it seemed like she was working with her husband on this build, so why isn’t he mentioned? Just confused, that’s all…

    Reply
    • He is James, he is Hazel’s dad and my partner but not my husband (I’m not a fan of marriage). We met about halfway through my build, I try to include him but he’s very adimit that it’s ‘my project’ and has tried to stay out of the lime light and avoid the attention my house gets. He did help quite a bit, particularly after I broke my back but just prefers to be a supporter rather than in the spotlight. 🙂

      Reply
      • Does he live with you and the baby?
        how many sq.ft. do you have

        I’m thinking about building a small house for me and my family too, we are 4.

        Reply
        • Yes he does. I think if your mindset is right you’ll do just fine, important things are that everyone needs their own sleeping place and have a positive outlook on life. If you live in a tiny house because you HAVE to you won’t be happy, if you live in on because you WANT to things are peachy!

          Reply
    • Billy, thank you for this, beautiful job and wonderful pictures! I’m very excited to get your book and I absolutely love every post you make! It is such a pleasure to be included in your journey!

      Reply
      • Macy, it means so much to me to hear you say that. I loved my visit with you, and your story and perspective have become really vital parts of the book. Thanks a million, I’ll be in touch soon!

        Reply
  2. Another beautiful article, Macy – well done. : )

    Reply
  3. Hi Macy!
    Congrats on your beautiful baby, Hazel! I see you also have a great dane living with you?! We are working to build our tiny home as well and we also have a great dane. They are considered “apartment dogs” and love small spaces. How has it been with the the puppy in your tiny home? I look forward to your response.
    Thanks! Taney

    Reply
    • Hi Taney!
      He loves it, he claims the couch any time he can and pretty much parks it all day until we go to our play dates (we are part of a great dane group that get’s together fairly often). He is 18 months old (Friday) and has been her since he was 8 weeks. I kind of expected it to take longer for him to mellow out but he’s been very mellow since he was a very little pup! We are lucky and he fits right in! Still likes to lean and sit on our laps like they do! 🙂 I couldn’t imagine our home without him!

      Reply
  4. Macy,
    You are one amazing young woman. I too dream of building, owning and living in a tiny home space in the near future. I just turned 60 and have 2 grown kids 33 and 38 and 3 grandchildren and one great-grand child. I still feel young at heart and able, even though I don’t have the technical skills to build my own home. I hope to learn or find “willing souls” to help me achieve my dream.
    I lived in an A frame house for 4.5 years that was 450 sq. ft., including the loft, which was my bedroom. That alone gave me some valuabel insight into living on a smaller than average scale.
    Best of wishes to you and your tiny family…..you did a fantastic job in the design and layout…I love the way that the space below your bed appears to be a double wardrobe….more space than I have seen for clothes storage in the average tiny houses.
    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you, Hazel, James and your beautiful great dane puppy!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much Bambi! I wish you the best of luck on your tiny journey!

      Reply

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