On the podcast today we have Derek and LeAnne Lavender. As newlyweds, Derek and LeAnne's first home was a 400 square foot garage which they renovated into a loft-style apartment. Life in their tiny house was flipped upside down in 2016 when Derek was in an accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. As you can imagine, the recovery process has been quite the roller coaster, but their love for design and creating a homey space has never changed. LeAnne and Derek specifically designed their new home with accessibility in mind to fit their new world. Their home is absolutely stunning and in 2018 was featured in Dwell and touted as one of their top 9 accessible homes that champion inclusive design . Through all this, LeAnne has started to help other families create beautiful spaces with accessibility in mind. In their free time, they enjoy playing fetch with their dog Barkus Adroolius and hosting game nights. We know you’ll love hearing from them, so be sure to listen to BOTH episodes with the Lavenders.
Note: Episode 6a covers the Lavenders’ previous renovations (Bunker and Longshot) and the accident. Episode 6b continues the conversation and covers their new home and accessible design.
Bunker and Longshot
After getting married, Derek and LeAnne bought a property they affectionately named “Longshot.” Long(shot) story short, they first decided to turn the detached single car garage on the property into an apartment where they could live while finishing the renovation on Longshot. They named the apartment Bunker. Check out some pictures of their renovation process below!
June 15, 2016 - Everything Changed
excerpts are from LavendersLongshot.com
On the early morning of June 15th, everything changed. Around 6am, Derek got on his motorcycle to head downtown to tackle another day at the office. At 7:13am, LeAnne received a call from a man named David who explained that Derek had been in a terrible accident. Although Derek had on a full faced helmet and all the gear, he still managed to break 7 bones, his spine, and collapse his lung. As a complete T6 spinal cord patient, the raw fact of him never walking again sunk into all of us during our month ICU stay.
After being released from the ICU, Derek spent another 4 months as an inpatient at the Rehab Institute of Chicago. Derek's injury level means he is paralyzed and cannot feel anything from the armpits down. The accident itself is still a mystery, and Derek and LeAnne have somewhat different takes on not knowing the whole story. Derek doesn’t mind not knowing the exact details because ultimately it doesn’t change the outcome. LeAnne struggled for a long time not knowing the details, but has since come to realize that not know may actually be a blessing. Although the accident is still a mystery, the Lavenders are so thankful God spared Derek’s mind. Throughout this whole journey, God has given them an amazing support system for which they are so thankful.
Making Hospital Feel Like “Home”
On the podcast, LeAnne talks about some of the ways they tried to make the hospital and rehab facilities feel more like home. Obviously there is only so much you can do in that situation, but she had some really helpful tips!
Family Pictures - not only does it help remind you of your loved ones, but it helps the doctors and nurses connect with you as well.
Essential Oils - not as much for any healing they might bring as much as for the smells they offer. A hospital doesn’t have to smell like a hospital, and the less hospital-ly it smells the better!
Fake Plants - anything that helps give the room a little life
Alexa - for playing music (or telling dad jokes)
For a number of reasons, Bunker was “the opposite of accessible.” So shortly after moving back from Chicago, Derek and LeAnne began the hunt for a new property they could design to be accessible. They eventually found one, which they deemed “The Quarry.” It’s a beautiful mid-century house, and they were excited to figure out how to design the inside of the house to match the outside. We’d say they did an EXCELLENT job. Check out all the photos from their feature in Dwell below!
In addition to having an amazing eye for design, LeAnne also has quite the green thumb! She has lots of tips and tricks on her Harvest blog about all things gardening, from garden planning to party hosting (with home grown veggies of course). Be sure to check it out!
Things They’re Loving
She’s loving their smart home! There’s lots of ways to utilize smart home accessories these days, but one of the simplest ways is with Amazon’s Alexa! Click below to check it out!
Derek is loving the pizza shaped section of their garage (which they talk about on the podcast). So in honor of that, here is a slice of pizza and a link to Pizza Hut. Go crazy pizza lovers.
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Links and Extra Resources
Read more about Derek and LeAnne’s story here: The Lavenders’ Blog - Lavenders Longshot
The Quarry Photos: The Home Aesthetic
The Quarry Architect and builder: Corinthian Fine Homes
The Quarry Cabinets: Duvall Woodworking
The Lavenders’ Table: 910 Castings