Groundbreaking: America at Home Study

I wasn’t there the day the builder broke ground on my house.  I guess I could have been if I’d wanted to. I can picture how it would have gone... weaving my car through all the trucks parked along the road...waving awkwardly as I made eye contact with all the trades who would politely but warily nod back in acknowledgement.  I would be in the way.  I would know it.  They would know it.  I would park my car haphazardly amongst the rest.  My minivan giving away my homeowner status.  But I can picture how they would have allowed me enough space to see the moment shovel hit dirt and broke ground.  A single scoop of Earth marking the official start of construction.  They’d laugh a little at me if I’d teared up a bit or cheered or showed any sign of celebration.  But it would still be sweet.  That moment of groundbreaking.  

I wonder if in that moment I could have fathomed all the moments my home would witness over the next 16 years?  The moment my mom moved in. The moment 3 days later when I went into labor with our second daughter.  The moment my husband came home to tell me he lost his job.  The moment I left for my new job at Garman Homes.  The moment I brought my third daughter home from the hospital. All the Christmas mornings.  All the hot sticky days of summer vacation.  The moment my mom left for CA to help my brother and his partner with their new baby.  The moment she moved back years later after I’d been living here as a single mom.  The moment my nephew surprised us by flying from London to join us for our wedding over Thanksgiving weekend.  The moment I stood in the garage watching my oldest back out of the driveway in her new car to take herself to lacrosse practice.  Hadn’t I just been standing at the bus stop crying while she left for her first day of kindergarten?  Or that moment last year when we all woke up on the first day of stay at home orders and stared at each other like, what do we do now?  

So many groundbreaking moments.

Across the country in that same moment my friend, Teri Slavik-Tsyuki was feeling it too and wondering the same.  Looking at her precious grey standard poodle, Barnaby and thinking about what life would look like now that America was at home.  How would homes respond to life from home?  

I used to think of our home as our landing spot.  Our rest between constant errands, endless practices, insistent appointments and frequent business trips.  And then last year it became our full time backdrop.  No longer the space in between all the places we would go.  It became the space where we would stay.  So we could be safe.  

Unsurprisingly, over 7,000 respondents to the America at Home Study were thinking about safety too.  About working from home.  About school from home.  About life from home. About all the ways they would need the space inside their home to transform and adapt to new responsibilities.  A harder working kitchen.  More thoughtful entries.  The bar for homes had been irrevocably raised.


In August of last year we started meeting weekly to harvest the data points and design a consumer driven post-pandemic home.  We met over Zoom, as people do in a pandemic.  We even met in virtual rooms with VR headsets.  We debated special features and considered different arrangements of space.  We ‘oooh’ed and ahhhh’ed’ over the elevation.  We chose every selection, infused every nook and cranny with meaning and purpose and hope.  All leading to this very week!  The week we get to break ground on the Concept Home for the America at Home Study.  Named Barnaby for the beloved boy with the thoughtful, knowing eyes who would leave us during quarantine and whose beautiful curly coat and vibrant collar inspired our exterior color scheme.  

This time I’ll be there the moment the shovel breaks ground on the Concept Home.  And yes, I may even tear up or cheer a little bit.  The trades will most certainly laugh at me but it will still be sweet.  As Construction Superintendent, I’ll get to witness all the moments it takes to bring this home to life in just 60 days.  It will be just like regular homebuilding, except on fast forward.  And while all the trades are building this home with us, constructing each space as designed, I’ll be imagining all the moments we tried to choreograph inside those spaces.   All the gifts we tried to offer hidden amongst the finish and features.  All the moments you can’t even fathom the moment shovel hits dirt.   But all the moments that are made possible by it.  Because I know it’s not the moment the shovel hits the ground that’s truly the groundbreaking’s the moments lived inside the home that break the ground beneath us and inspire us to make a new way forward.    



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