Host Spotlight: Emilie and Chad

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Emilie and Chad, who manage a woodworking space turned sweet tiny house in the woods in Murphy, North Carolina.

The idea

Emilie and Chad are a young, dynamic duo of wedding photographers, with three incredible children, who had the drive and the dream to invest in a project with a soul—what is now their secluded, woodland tiny house rental.

It all started with an equity settlement that Emilie received from a previous divorce—money that took a long time to receive, which made Emilie feel like it was "money [she] could never count on or money [she] would never see again," driving her desire to invest and make money off of it.

The young couple found the perfect home in Murphy, North Carolina, which was previously owned by the Bonawitz family of the Murphy Slackers, a hometown slack-lining group, and from there, they moved into the woodworking shop down the mountain from the main house. They quickly realized, however, that the shop was much bigger than they needed and didn't suit their preference to live in a smaller space.

The construction

Of this larger woodworking space, the tiny house accommodation was born. From their last wedding photography job in November to their first shoot of the following year, Emilie and Chad worked side-by-side—including the loving help of their kids—for four to five months until the tiny house was complete.

"We worked late nights with music turned on for dance parties and had plenty of opportunities to learn as we went. Paint spills turned into laughing fits. Freezing temperatures outside pushed us to figure out a real-life Tetris arrangement. All five of us would sit in the loft with our feet hanging down, just dreaming of what it would look like finished," said Emilie.

The accommodation

The tiny house is private and surrounded by forest; it's a space that allows folks to enjoy food together around a fire and play music. There are hammocks in the trees and zip-lines to swing from.

A past guest once said, "It doesn't matter if you are going hiking or just looking to 'Netflix and chill'—it is better at The Holler House," and Emilie says she thinks she would agree with that. Being there is a real vacation, providing guests with a place to really relax.

The inside of the accommodation is so calming; it's air-conditioned and equipped with a full bathroom. But the most special thing about it is the design. The space has everything one could need in a 16-foot by 20-foot layout. The ceiling are high, the space is clean and simple, and it declutters one's mind and world.

There is a clawfoot tub in the main room for folks to enjoy a soak. When they placed the tub in the main space, Emilie said she envisioned someone on the bed just staring and flirting with the other in the bath. There's nothing like a good soak after a hike! What's more? The place was designed to never run out of on-demand, hot water.

Recent updates to the accommodation include a tiny, roofed porch for grilling and a hanging hammock chair. Off to the side of that, Emilie and the kids built a floating yoga porch that doubles as an outdoor shower. Needless to say, they're even more in love with the space now, and Emilie speaks of how great it feels to finish another project on the house.

The reason behind glamping

Emilie was drawn to glamping and Glamping Hub due to her love of photography. As a wedding photographer, she is a fan of a good Instagram post and believes that every post is a story in and of itself. This is her philosophy when shooting—telling the story while capturing the fun and adventure that unfolds.

"Glamping brings us back to the basics of family and of life. We sit around a fire and see what it important. I see my husband helping one of the kids, and I fall in love all over again. I see my sweet children just soaking in family time. We love glamping because it helps us keep the balance in life that we need and the downtime to invest in each other," said Emilie.

The experience

Guests of the tiny house always comment on how well thought out everything is. While Emilie agrees with them, she knows she's biased, as she did the planning and knows how much time went into everything, but says it's so encouraging when the guests see it, too. They appreciate the little touches, like Emilie's grandmother's lamp above the kitchen sink and the custom library ladder that leads to the loft.

"My last guest asked me who the welder was; he was referring to the sink base and other shelves. I told him about our local community college, how the students built that base, and what a fantastic experience it was working with them. I am going to sign up for the welding class in the spring now. I can't wait!" said Emilie.

Meanwhile, for each stay, Emilie and Chad make sure guests have everything they need—and then leave them alone. Before guests arrive, the couple make sure the place is welcoming and sparkling clean. They also have an amazing, vintage Marantz sound system and love to have the tunes on to welcome their guests.

Emilie and Chad also provide a stash of local maps and ideas for local adventures and food, but they often communicate beforehand with guests so they can plan ahead. They like to send folks to places the "locals" go, so Emilie sends them typed-out directions if Google won't get them there.

The duo also provide firewood for the open-air fire pit and barbecue, as well as a gas barbecue, hammocks, an outdoor picnic area, a tipi, and access to the property's biplane and all the tree house slides and swings if it's not already booked. For digital entertainment junkies, Netflix, Apple TV and Wi-Fi are all provided, too.

The guests

The real joy for Emilie, however, comes from their guests. The type of travelers that stay at this tiny house are serious about investing in their relationships, staying at cool places, and having real experiences. It inspired her, as a family and as a wife, to invest in time together with her family building memories.

Emilie's all-time favorite guest was a single mother with her two teens. Emilie ran something down to the house later in the evening, and they were watching a movie together—just hanging out, like old friends.

"I saw them sitting outside in the morning just talking, and it was so evident that momma just loved being with her kids and that the kids loved being with her. They were making memories simply by giving each other time and listening. It was powerful," said Emilie.

The kids enjoyed exploring the woods and the tree house, too. The mom told Emilie later, in a review, that the kids took books and just read in the tree house. They felt like it was a space just for them—a sanctuary. She still keeps in touch with this family and hopes they visit again.

As for future guests, if Emilie could have anyone come stay, she's hoping for more photographers. She loves it when they come to stay, as it allows her to see the different eyes that other creatives have for their special place.


For a fantastic North Carolina getaway, you can book Emilie and Chad's gorgeous tiny house rental or the tree house at the same property, lovingly managed by their eldest daughter!

But wait! We have a double feature this month, so be sure to click here and read all about Brenda and Bruce's luxury camping tent, too.