Paul DiMeo reviewing plans with Blue Ridge Log Cabins President Chip Smith at the build site in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
This summer Barbara Marshall received what many U.S. homeowners can only dream of: a knock on the door from Ty Pennington and the crew from ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The 15-year Navy veteran founded Steps-N-Stages Jubilee Home — a temporary home to help homeless female veterans get back on their feet — near Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in a two-bedroom cottage that has since been demolished to make way for a brand-new log cabin built by Campobello, South Carolina-based Blue Ridge Log Cabins to assist in her efforts. We got a chance to catch up briefly with designer Paul DiMeo to get some firsthand details on this project.
Country’s Best Cabins: Is this your first time doing a multifamily unit?
Paul DiMeo: No, this is not the first time. We’re close to 200 homes, so we’ve done a lot of different things. As a matter of fact, Tracy [Hutson, another designer with "Extreme Makeover"] and I were both in Colorado and did a multifamily home kind of where people would come in, get on their feet and then move on. So that’s still going very strong.
CBC: Very similar to this home concept here.
PD: Yes, it is, with Barbara Marshall and the work she does. Steps-N-Stages Jubilee House is certainly a house that is in just that — steps and stages. So you come in, and you kind of just get grounded and find some work, and then three months later, you are up and out, and you’re moving on. And then someone else is coming in.
CBC: So, in the design of this home, are the rooms segmented like similar apartments with common areas, or are they kind of like their own studios within the house for these families getting back on their feet?
PD: No. Definitely this is more like what you said at first. So we’re looking at a single kitchen, we’re looking at a family room, dining room, that kind of thing. And then our rooms — our main job is that we see that these rooms are fit not just for teenage boys but they can also transform themselves for teenage girls. Or we have another room devoted to toddlers to 10 years old because you never know who’s going to be coming in. Many of these women have children and of all ages, so we kind of have to put that into our design.
CBC: Typically in the past, you guys have dealt with personalities, where you design a room specifically to people. With this being a more transient home, what are some of the common basics you are planning to put into some of these rooms to make them cozy and welcoming to someone who’s coming into them for the first time?
PD: Well, what I can tell you — I can’t tell you everything, I can’t give away all the secrets [as the episode will not air until this fall] — but we are certainly looking at the four arms of our armed services. So, we’re looking at Coast Guard, Navy, Army and Air Force. One of the common bonds we see are the women that are living in this home and the women that we’ve talked to have a wonderful relationship with whatever armed force they were working for. And so, we thought, why not just use that and kind of have that be part of the design and the elements we’re putting into the home?
CBC: Absolutely. Obviously, it’s about getting these women back up on their feet. Is there going to be any career area developed for the women?
PD: Yes — certainly a learning center where they can go in and there’s computer access and things like that. We’re trying to do everything possible to — this is not a problem that’s just right here in Fayetteville. This is a problem that’s nationwide. So hopefully this can be a starting point for other groups around the nation to follow this pattern.
And who knows? Maybe in time we’ll build another Steps-N-Stages Jubilee House some place else in another state or something like that. But what we’re doing now — we want to make sure that these women, when they go out for jobs that they’re able to put on a nice suit. These are all people who had wonderful jobs with the Army and now have come back home and are trying to find that same kind of work.
You can check out streaming video of the build here: