During the height of the pandemic, people from across the nation stayed home more than ever. Every part of our lives revolved around the small spaces we reside. For some, quarantine made work and personal life intertwine in ways our generation has never experienced. For Jon, a college professor and artist, and Ramone, a social worker for a non-profit, the pandemic made them question if their home in New York City was the life they always longed for after all?
Jon says, "We were really looking for a different pace of life, something a little slower. I think the pandemic spurred it on because we started thinking, What are we doing paying rent and not getting anything in return? Then we looked around at homes in New York, and they were completely unaffordable. So we made a list of places in the States that we would consider living; Laurel was one."
Soon after, Jon and Ramone were watching an episode of Home Town, and the idea of moving to Laurel captured them. The dream seemed farfetched, yet they decided to write a letter.
Jon continues, "I remember watching Home Town one day, turning to Ramone and saying, What if I wrote them a letter and we moved to Laurel one day? We both thought it was a crazy idea and that it would probably never happen, but we decided to give it a try."
Little did they know, that letter would fall into the right hands, and they would become a part of the Laurel community within a year.
Ramone states that he was instantly drawn to Laurel. Though it's pretty different from his hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Laurel felt like home from the moment he first visited and ate lunch at Pearl's Diner.
He says, "On our first visit, we went to lunch at Pearl's diner, and it was packed. There wasn't a table available when we got our food, and three different people offered us seats to sit with them. They were all strangers, and we ended up sitting with a lady with her kids from South Carolina. We became friends and exchanged numbers and connected on Facebook."
Jon spoke about his experience of growing up in a small town. He says, "I'm from a very small town in Utah, originally, and I always wanted to come back to a smaller place. I feel comfortable, and there's something familiar about it to me."
Jon and Ramone were so grateful for their experience on Home Town and the chance to work with Erin and Ben. Jon says they admired their charm, kind personalities, and eye for design long before they ever met them in real life.
He says, "It's funny; I still wake up excited. I keep thinking it will wear off, but this is a dream that we thought was unattainable for us. You know, homes are not affordable in many places, but they are here. Many other shows are catered to people who can afford to spend extravagant amounts of money, and that is something we find so charming about this show. It's for people like us."
Although buying a house from another state was challenging, they trusted the Home Town team entirely to create a beautiful new home for them while they awaited their big move to Mississippi.
Jon says, "We were always excited to see what they would come up with on the show. The renovations are always interesting because they transform a space that seems completely unredeemable into something beautiful. That's what they did with our home, too."
Ben's signature build for the episode was something that Jon and Ramone will cherish forever.
Jon says, "There was an old Hooser cabinet in the house that he refinished. It was actually cut up into sections. The bottom part was in the kitchen, and we didn't know he found the top part in a wall. I remarked how much I loved that piece, and he put it together, He called it the "Cabinet of Curiosities," where we can put all kinds of little things from our travels and whatnot in there."
The most memorable part of their experience was when they went to the Laurel Animal Rescue League to adopt a new companion into their family.
Ramone says, "Going to the rescue league to adopt our dog was the highlight of the whole thing. We named her Lady Spencer Buckley, and when Ben made the dog house within 24 hours of the reveal, we were astounded."
She would soon become Lady Spencer Buckley of their new home, complete with a Home Town house of her own.
Jon says, "I grew up having pets, but I haven't been able to have a pet for years. We were never able have one in New York because they were not allowed in our building. So it was great to have that dream come true. Everything has been such a dream come true."
It was a delight to watch Jon and Ramone get their dream home and begin living their new life with the Laurel community. Welcome home, friends!