Q&A with ADU client Lauren Chandler

November 30, 2017

‚ÄčTravel and cooking are two of Birdsmouth client Lauren Chandler's biggest passions in life. While learning the links between diet and wellness, she's spent time in kitchens around the world and developed a desire to teach others that cooking healthy is something we can all do.

Lauren's travels eventually brought her to Oregon in 2002 and she moved into her current home in Northeast Portland in 2009. She's carved out a career in providing group and one-on-one healthy cooking classes, and is a faculty member at the National University of Natural Medicine.

Partially in an effort to help expand her travel budget, Lauren decided to have a two-story accessory dwelling unit (ADU) built behind her home. She plans on moving into the ADU and renting out her house upon the project's completion. Lauren is thinking about eventually renting out both buildings and spending more time wandering the world.

Here's our recent Q&A with Lauren, who you can find out more about at laurenchandlercooks.com.

BMC: How did you get into cooking and when did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

LC: I got into cooking through traveling. I had a fellowship after college and it went toward exploring different forms of healing, and what I didn't know was I was going to end up jumping into kitchens and kitchen hopping around the globe. When I came back to the States, I knew I wanted to do something cooking related but wasn't quite sure what it would be. It's been a long, winding road to get to this point, but this is definitely what I love—teaching people how to cook.

BMC: What is it about teaching people to cook that appeals to you?

LC: It's a way for them to have some control over their choices of what they put in their body and raise their awareness around the sources and sourcing of their food, just to help people become more empowered over their own health. Cooking is not super difficult; I just feel like people can get overwhelmed and intimidated and I like to be able to break it down in a way that they can be able to participate and get their family involved, too. We have to eat, so you might as well make it tasty and healthy and enjoyable along the way.

BMC: Why did you decide you wanted to have an ADU built?

LC: I had been thinking about it for a while. My awareness had been raised since they've been going up all over the neighborhood and all over Portland. I don't need the upstairs here, and half the living room I barely use, so I just thought, 'You know, I can just move into (the ADU) and rent out the house and have (the ADU) be my little dream space.'

BMC: How did you hear about Birdsmouth and what led you to want to work with them?

LC: I learned about Birdsmouth from my friend's mom, who had hired Birdsmouth for her ADU and had only good things to say about the experience.

BMC: What was the design process like? Did you have a plan in mind of what you wanted out of your ADU design?

LC: I had a wish list. I knew my priorities. I worked with an architect, Jack Barnes, who has worked with Birdsmouth before and I talked with some other folks who had used Jack and Birdsmouth and took a look at their places so I had an idea of, 'Oh, I really like parts of that ADU. Can you combine it with this ADU?' I did have some ideas going into it and we worked on it together and now it's just super fun to watch it come to life and think, 'That's exactly what it's supposed to look like.'

BMC: With your passion for cooking, what are some features of the kitchen you're excited about?

LC: The countertops. I have such crappy countertops that I've lived with forever. It hasn't bothered me, but when I'm in a kitchen that has really nice countertops, I notice it. It'll be fun to have something that's more sturdy and less flimsy. They're going to be a composite that looks like quartz. They're white and marbley and heat resistant.

I'm also excited about the backsplash. I have this beautiful tile that a friend had left over from a project that she was doing, a remodel of her house. She had six leftover boxes of this gorgeous handmade ceramic tile, so I'm very excited about my backsplash.

BMC: What other features of the ADU are you excited about?

LC: The big windows. I'm so excited about the big sliding glass doors. They're giant. Then the bedroom window, the loft window and the skylights are just going to let in a lot of nice light. I knew it would be cozy because it's small, but I also wanted it to feel bright and airy.

There are also some little nooks in the drywall in certain places, kind of like a makeshift shelf. I just tried to find little ways to put some personal touches on it just to make it a little more interesting.

BMC: This is the first time you've been involved in a building project. Has the process been hectic at all?

LC: It hasn't been super hectic, actually. That's another reason I went with Birdsmouth is because (a friend) had said everything went pretty smooth for her and I've heard so many horror stories about construction projects and I was like, 'I am determined to have this be a peaceful process.' For the most part, it has been. There have been a couple hiccups but no major bumps or bruises. They've been very pleasant to work with.

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