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Going small

Edmonds' Marni Muir: Moving up while downsizing


Last updated 8/28/2019 at 2:45pm

Marni Muir

A detached garage is now Marni Muir's "right-sized home" at 233 square feet.

On a parklike setting near Meadowdale Beach in Edmonds is a piece of property hosting a trio of houses ranging in style from carriage house to strikingly modern.

Marni Muir owns all three. She bought the property in 1983, knowing the detached garage was an asset, but never suspecting it would become her right-sized home.

"I grew up on Bell Street in Edmonds," said Muir, "and feel so lucky to still be in my favorite town and inspiring others to live their best lives in right-sized homes."

Muir raised her family in one of her three Meadowdale homes, which she remodeled over time into its current Asian-zen style. That home and the carriage house are rented out, so Muir can enjoy the third space.

"I call this my Little House," said Muir, giving a tour of the detached garage that is now a two-story modern home with a wall of windows. It was completed in 2014. "I love that I get to enjoy the beauty of the gardens and surroundings that I created over the past 35 years.

"Initially the building was a storage unit with the garage, and was planned as an office, but turned into my art studio while I finished my University of Washington BFA degree."

Muir said, with a laugh, that she took a college gap year that lasted four decades to finally graduate with summa cum laude honors.

Finishing strong is Muir's motto, along with "onward and upward." Her current home is two stories tall on an 11-foot-by-14-foot footprint, coming in at a total of 233 square feet.

"I once lived on a sailboat – a Hans Christian 46-footer – for three-and-a-half years, so I can live anywhere. Here I have 77 square feet upstairs and 156 downstairs.

"I love the natural wood on the ceilings, the fact that it has a shower, a loft, and I can see the view from upstairs and relish the kaleidoscope of sunsets that are ever-changing in color and composition and position. I love the sound of the water outside from the fountains on my property. I love that my space is minimalistic, yet a creative expression of myself.

"This little house is ideal for my home-base and life of travel, visiting family in California and other parts of the country, consulting, Design in a Day, including but not limited to dental lobby design and community service."

Muir serves on several local boards, including Cascadia Art Museum and Edmonds Arts Commission, and on the philanthropy committee for the Edmonds Center of the Arts.

"My Little House is a work of art in and of itself," said Muir. "In developing it I used my interior design skills – I work on a consulting basis and have engaged in full residential and commercial design for over 40years – and worked with one of my best friends, Marjorie Yam, an architectural designer.

"We came up with the best design for the tiny footprint, and builder Mick O'Neil brought it to life. I love how with a bit of creativity combined with a love of life and beauty and artistic expression you can actually downsize to a more affordable environment and live the life you dream."

Muir hopes to inspire others to right-size their lives by reimagining homes they already own or by building from scratch. She offers her Little House as an example of beautiful design as freedom: Freedom from too many possessions and too-much maintenance, so people have the energy, time, and money to live the dynamic lives they imagine.

"I never thought I would be living here," said Muir, "but it is the perfect solution for me at this season in my life. I can't wait to help other people see the beauty in moving up by downsizing."


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