About Us

Jim Barber

Jim has been in the construction and remodeling business since 2002. In his approach to building any house, from tiny to traditional, he is influenced by the principles and practices behind universal design, an approach to home building that ensures people of all ages and ability levels can live comfortably and safely in their homes. Jim also adheres to the 2018 IBC building code, which creates a construction code specific to the needs of tiny houses. His true love is to build architectural-style homes.

Before Milkweed was born, Jim focused on standard-sized homes as the founder of HouseWurks Custom Homes and Renovations in Zionsville, Ind., where he still builds big. He is a member of the National Association of Home Builders and the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis, and holds a Certified Aging in Place Specialist certification, a program developed by the National Association of Home Builders.

Some of Jim's biggest dreams are found at sea. As a marathon swimmer, he is currently pursuing the “Oceans Seven” challenge. Only a handful of swimmers have completed the daunting quest, in which you swim seven open-water channels. Having paddled and kicked his way through the Cook Strait, Molokai Channel, English Channel, Catalina Channel and Strait of Gibraltar, Jim has just Japan’s Tsugaru Strait and Ireland’s North Channel to go. No tiny feat.

Jim earned his MBA from Butler University in Indianapolis (Go, Bulldogs!) and his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University (Go, Colonels!).

Stephanie Barber

A travel snafu en route to Iceland forced Stephanie headlong into a simpler way of living. When she and her boyfriend lost their bags — hiking boots, raincoats, jackets, headwear, gloves and their coveted GoPro — for a 10-day trip abroad, they made do. She shed a tear the first couple days, but then, she says, it was like a sign to go tiny, to simplify. They explored the capital city, a tomato farm and several small towns just fine.

Stephanie, the daughter of Milkweed Tiny Haus founder Jim Barber, wanted to experience financial and personal independence before age 30. She was five years out from the big 3-0 when she landed on the notion of living tiny. Paying rent on an apartment in Boston had helped push her into debt. Building her own home sounded like a smarter investment. She says she also grew up with a lot of "stuff," and the idea of practicing a more minimal lifestyle was appealing, less overwhelming.

She moved into her tiny home in July and wants other people to experience the freedom that she is experiencing. A part-time server, Stephanie says she is basically saving up for her next big trip. Going tiny, for her, allows her to work to live, not live to work. Her goal is to travel and see the world, and living tiny is helping her get there.

With its quartz countertops, gas range/oven and farmhouse sink (always a dream of hers), the U-shape kitchen is her favorite area of her tiny house. The floor plan also accommodates her yoga mat. With the small footprint, it’s easy to heat up the house for a little hot yoga. Om...

Kirstin Lenhart

Kirstin has worked as a draftsperson since 1995, developing construction plans and designs for homebuilders and residential customers who need their ideas and visions to come to life in practical ways so that engineers, carpenters and others can execute their visions. Kirstin’s own motivation comes from talking to clients to uncover what they want in a home, curating inspiration photos and educating people on styles: craftsman, contemporary, colonial, Victorian, farmhouse, etc.

She fell in love with tiny houses when they first rolled onto the scene. Her own proclivities reflects the lifestyle. She drives a Fiat, is working to minimize cluttering parts of her life, and is chasing a goal to hike the Appalachian Trail. Here in Indiana, she hikes a lot — typically only the toughest trails.

Kirstin joins Milkweed not only because she likes Jim and has the chops to do the work. She has a dream to make it possible for anyone to fulfill their dream to own a home. She’s been through a lot — remember that whole mortgage crisis? — seen a lot, and believes that tiny houses can help people who have had a hard time buying a home in the past finally own a home. We love that.