Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Pandemic Project - aka Romancing the Ranch

This house has had an unusual journey compared to our usual projects.  Of course the whole world has been on an unusual journey in 2020. We bought this house in February 2020, just as we started hearing reports of some new coronavirus that was spreading across the world.  In March, our daughter in NJ was expecting twins and we drove down to help out for a couple of weeks.

And that's when things went crazy.  She went to the hospital to deliver, just as they were setting up the first COVID tents at the hospital entrance.  Her husband was allowed in with her - but he had to stay until they were all discharged.  We were back at their house, helping with their 2 year old, who didn't quite understand the whole idea of getting a new baby brother and sister.

Our couple-of-weeks stay turned into almost two months, as a household of sleep deprived adults tried to take care of 3 tiny, demanding people, while it seemed like the world was melting down around us.  Only a few miles west of Manhattan, we watched the daily Governor Cuomo updates as hospitals and health care workers toiled endlessly to help the mounting number of COVID cases.  And we ordered all of our food online and then bleached everything on the front porch, terrified of bringing the disease into a household with newborns.

My daughter and I had to stop watching the news, it was just too upsetting and anxiety producing.  

The thing that kept me sane?  Planning this project.  

COVID changed everything 

I brought all the dimensions from the existing house as well as a series of photographs.  That let me create the design in my CAD model and start developing options.  It was a distraction from what seemed like a world that was falling apart.  Playing with my CAD model was soothing.  I tried moving the kitchen to different locations.  I also played with taking some space from the existing garage to create a better entry, that would let the old living room become a bedroom.  All of this planning gave me something else to focus on, in a calm and orderly way. 

But the evolving pandemic started to influence the design.   Suddenly, having a big entryway that let you shed your outerwear (and mask) in a safe manner made lots of sense.  Similarly, having a sink close to the front door so you could wash your hands was also helpful.  

And what about lots of storage space for all those pantry items?  Seriously, where do you keep all those paper towels and cans of soup???  A big pantry suddenly seemed like a smart idea.  And a laundry room with lots of storage space was a slam dunk.

All the room in the basement?  Well that could suddenly be flex space, to to be used however the new homeowner saw fit.  It could be a home office and gym space - or a playroom for the kids.  Whatever works best for them!

With all the built in bookshelves - this could be a perfect home office

This is a huge room - how would you use it?

With all that pandemic inspiration, the design was born.  The house has a big foyer with lots of room for outerwear (because we have a LOT of that in Maine).

I love this foyer/mudroom with its tall ceiling and bountiful storage!  

The big kitchen also features a walk in pantry to hold all kinds of staples. 

Have you seen the Fall 2020 Maine Homes magazine?  This project got a shout out! 😀

We started the project on May 1st.  Fast forward 5 months later and it's almost done.  All those ideas have become a reality and we hope to put it on the market next week.  And while some of the features were tied to COVID, they'll be fantastic for the new owners after the pandemic is a distant memory! 

Here's a sneak peek of the new living room turned bedroom - with an en suite bath!!
This used to be the living room!  The front door was on the left, inside of the new closet

All the last minute items are getting completed!  Stay tuned!
This probably looks like chaos - but it will all be finished soon!!

So while the official name for this project is Romancing the Ranch, I think I'll always think of it as the Pandemic Project - that just doesn't have the same ring to it. 😂

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  1. Looks great Laurel!! And congrats again on ALL of your grandbabies! You might need more bunkbeds at your house.

    1. Ha ha - we keep talking about that! We are one bed shirt in the bunk room 😂. Thankfully they will be in cribs for awhile!

    2. The oldest might be ready to escape by the time the youngest want to move into the bunkroom!

  2. The house looks wonderful. I can't wait to see more of the kitchen and how you will stage the other rooms. Your work is always inspiring! Congratulations on your new grandchildren. How nice that you were there to help your daughter and her husband during such a stressful time.

    1. Thanks so much! All of the family time seems extra special this year. I keep thinking we will look back on 2020 and that will be one of the fond memories.

  3. Laurel this is just beautiful! I met a sweet neighbor in your neighborhood that told me about your site. We are excited to see the finished product (and are in the market for a house!) ;) I’d love to learn more!

  4. Congratulations on the grandbabies, and thankfully you were there to help them out during such a stressful time!

    It seems odd there isn't a door to the backyard near the kitchen. That blank wall next to the pantry looks like a possibility. I see there is a window there and maybe there are sliders or doors in the dining/living room?

    1. Good question! There are two sets of sliders leading out to the back deck - so plenty of options to get to the backyard. The window next to the pantry is over the basement entrance - so no way to put a door there!


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