- 5 months of secretly planning
- A professional design team working round-the-clock for 3 days
- A completely seamless transition with a touching surprise for the couple
- Lots of happy tears
- One surprise reveal of a lifetime!
Over dinner with mutual friends this summer, AHRN.com Marketing Executive Lisa Klinkhammer met Eddie and Laura Hutchinson. When the talk turned to their most recent PCS and how they found their home, they quickly determined common ground: AHRN.com! The couple shared their jaw dropping story of a miracle move. Eddie and Laura mentioned that they wished they had some way to thank the engineer of their dream PCS and Lisa had the answer. She invited them to share their story on camera and with you.
PCS orders are rarely convenient. That was the case last Christmas when dual military couple, Eddie and Laura Hutchinson, found themselves planning a PCS from Virginia to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. Despite the inconvenience of a move, Laura had heard JBLM is a dream assignment and was hoping the coastal installation would offer the opportunity to reach back to her childhood as a beach-loving swimmer, and she began searching for homes near the water.
Like most military families, the Hutchinsons began their home search online months before their summer move. As their scheduled move loomed closer, Laura found herself frustrated with the available home choices and considered hiring a property manager to do the searching for a perfect water-view home.
Then, right before she was about to give up with her online searches, she found a beautiful home with an amazing water view on AHRN.com!
But there was a snag. When Laura found the home in February, it was already vacant and the Hutchinsons wouldn’t be moving for five months. The first in a series of events that led to a miracle PCS happened when the home owners (a former military family hoping for the perfect tenants) offered to hold the home for Eddie and Laura until their July arrival date – losing more than $11,000 of rental income. The home owners’ understanding of the stresses of PCSing led to their incredibly generous gift.
With a dream home secured, Eddie was inspired to make this a truly remarkable journey for Laura, as she had been working to complete her Masters, they had a toddler to contend with, and her job was very demanding (U.S. Army Logistics Officer, Major).
“I always thought it would be a great idea to have an interior designer come in and help get everything settled. I saw this as the perfect opportunity with the big move coming to do something really special for Laura. She was leaving all her family and support she had come to know,” says Eddie Hutchinson, U.S. Army helicopter pilot.
Eddie searched online for Seattle area interior designers. On a whim, he called Keith Miller; despite being convinced he couldn’t afford such a high level firm. To his surprise, Keith jumped at the chance to pull off the ultimate PCS!
Keith’s father served in military intelligence during the Vietnam War and raised his family with a respect and appreciation for the service of others. Faced with the opportunity to both give back and have a lot of fun surprising a deserving veteran, Keith got to work! Without ever meeting in person, Keith and Eddie planned Laura’s dream home.
“When we first started talking, it became pretty clear that I wasn’t probably going to be able to afford Keith. Looking at his photos on his site and on Houzz.com, he was pretty big time and his projects looked way out of my budget. I told him
what we could afford and Keith said ‘don’t worry about that, we’ll make it work,'” Eddie stated. Idea after idea was brainstormed, but Eddie kept reminding Keith that there was a strict budget that had to be met.
As the move date approached, Eddie had his hands full preserving the appearance of the normal PCS, including – fake phone calls to the moving company included! Even a dream PCS has speed bumps like the truck full of Household Goods being delayed and Eddie having to find someone at the last minute to unload the truck once it finally arrived! Eddie was left wondering if his planned dream PCS was going to happen after all.
“The moving truck kept having all these delays and we’re on a nine day drive across the country and I had to keep reassuring Laura, but I felt like maybe I need to tell her what’s going on,” said Eddie.
Yet again, the generosity of others came to the rescue to deliver a miracle. At each obstacle, Keith reassured Eddie that the details would be taken care of and encouraged him to enjoy the cross country road trip with his family, even sending a full itinerary of things to see and places to stay along the way.
With three days left before Laura and Eddie arrived in Western Washington, Keith began the work of bringing their dream home to life. With the timeline collapsed significantly to get this project completed -moving all the boxes in and putting everything away and decorating- Keith shared the story and brought together a team of friends and family to join the effort. Neighbors say the cars didn’t leave the house for all three days while they worked day and night in preparation for the Hutchinsons’ arrival.
Laura shares “when I walked in I was completely shocked. I was so amazed and taken aback that everything looked like it had been done. But then I thought it was one of those HGTV shows that they just do one room / floor and then you go into other parts of house where they’ve shoved everything into the garage and the rest of the house still needs to be put away. But room by room we went through was absolutely perfect. Every detail had been paid attention to. Small things, big things. Every dish, towel, every picture. Candles were lit, the home smelled of vanilla. It was all done. We didn’t have to do a thing! It was a very emotional and touching blessing to be given — especially driving across country for nine (9) days with a two-year-old. I have a very thoughtful, wonderful and loving husband.”
“Two of my favorite things about what Keith did was the beach theme in our bedroom which I always wanted and how he perfectly incorporated my favorite piece of furniture that was given to me by my Grandfather who was my military mentor!” exclaims Laura. “It also created a wonderful wall/barrier for my treadmill which doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb!”
Despite initiating the idea, the end result was as much a surprise for Eddie as for Laura. Between the delayed moving truck, tight time frame, and limited budget, he expected there to be a good bit of moving in left for him to do. Instead, he walked into a home that was beautifully decorated, completely unpacked and inspired by their own vision of a dream home.
“It was just as much of a surprise for me to see that Keith had done all everything he said he was going to do. All of the ideas that he sent my way that I said we couldn’t afford, he just did. He’s such a great guy. I don’t know how to really thank him for going above and beyond like he did for us,” Eddie humbly states.
With 30 years of combined service, eight (8) years down range and 11 PCSes between the military couple, the opportunity to experience a dream home is the gift of a life time. The collective generosity of Keith, his friends and family, and the owners of the home (mixed together with a whole bunch of serendipity) added up to one unbelievable PCS that will never be forgotten!
“No two houses are the same. The stuff you have for one house may look great, but once you get it into a new place it doesn’t work. This house had some unique spaces in it that made it challenging, but I kept pulling stuff out of their boxes that just fit perfectly. Everything worked out perfectly and it was a miracle!” Keith jovially reflects.
When asked why he did what he did, Keith states “I don’t have the chance to encounter military folks regularly and I just wanted to extend the most extravagant measure of gratitude for just one military family. And, this is the family that came across my path.”
All heart! What an amazing Veterans Day gift and story. A big thank you goes out to Keith Miller of Miller Interior Design, Seattle WA for the gift and to the whole group for sharing their story with us here at AHRN.com!
- 5 months of planning
- 10 volunteers of friends and family at crunch time to make it happen
- The project cost $50,000