Home Made: The Rankin Family

by | Nov 9, 2022 | Basement | 0 comments

When Melissa and JP reached out to us about finishing their lower level to provide more space for the family they were hoping to grow through adoption, we were elated for them! As decades-old friends, we felt honored to be trusted with this project. We couldn’t wait to create a functional, meaningful space for their growing family to enjoy for years to come. This is the story of how their adoption and newly designed space came to be.

How did your family come to the decision to adopt?

We knew pretty early on that I would not be able to have biological children and that when we were ready to start our family, it would be through adoption. We were waiting for that time when we felt called to jump in and be parents. We’d been married for almost five years when Covid hit. All of our planned trips got canceled. A month into the shutdown and the feeling of “we’ve got wine and no responsibilities and we’re working from home” got old real fast. All of a sudden I said “I think I may be ready” and JP said he was too!

If you spend more than 30 seconds with Melissa and JP, you know they are made to be parents. Made to love and raise children to go and do good in our world.

photos by A. Leigh Photography

What was the adoption journey like for you?

I had left my job as a first grade teacher and was tutoring and helping kids virtually a couple of hours a day. So I had a lot of time to dedicate to the adoption. The process is extremely taxing. You have to fill out a lot of paperwork and do a lot of things in person that, as a teacher, I never would’ve had the time to do. In February of 2021, we became active on the list for Zoe’s House Adoption Agency.

My mom shared our adoption profile book with close coworkers while we were waiting and a week later, someone let her know that her nephew and his girlfriend were going to have a baby. They had plans to end the pregnancy and had an appointment the next day to do so, but then they saw our profile book. From May 1st to October 10th, we were in this situation with them with ups and downs. It was an “identified adoption” because we brought that person into our agency. The agency supports mothers first. If the mother can and wants to parent, that is their goal. We really liked this, however, it means that you’re following this process knowing that at the end of it, you can leave with empty arms. So you just have to trust the process. There would be times we wouldn’t hear from the couple for months at a time. We were not sure if they would change their minds. It was literally like walking with blind faith.

I actually left teaching to start writing a book about my life. It was intended to be called Living With Your Light On and was about how everyone is walking around carrying things and we don’t know it. We can connect with people through our hard things, even though they may be completely different. Then, I shifted gears totally to the adoption process. I couldn’t get that out of my head, so my friend suggested I start a new book. It’s called Notes from the Nursery. It’s our adoption story and talks a lot about the process. It’s like notes to our child. I took a break when Porter was born, but I just got back into it.

At what point did you decide to bring in Mid-West & Co. to finish your space? Were contractors involved?

In trying to prepare our home, we knew we didn’t want to be doing construction of any sort once he came. The timing of the basement finish was amazing. They were putting finishing touches on everything as he spent a couple of weeks in the NICU due to swallowing meconium and getting pneumonia. We used Bob of Square Foot Construction. He added the wood ceiling and lighting, the shiplap wood feature wall, painted the walls and floor, built the wine cellar for the counter, and cleaned up and painted the existing cabinets.

What, specifically, did you ask them to tackle for your home?

We wanted our lower level finished. I had all the ideas of making half of it a workout room and part of it a bar and all these ideas. They looked at my design and said “Okay, those are really great ideas. What do you think about having an open space where the baby can play?” They were so instrumental in helping my design morph into what it needed to be. They made it simple and a better fit for our space and needs.

We didn’t have friends with kids over often because their wasn’t space for them to play. Mid-West & Co. was great about working with the stuff I already had. I had all of my books from teaching and they used a toy bin from when I was little. I wanted a fun wall, something different and custom. We worked together and picked symbols that represented our family.

 *My husband loves the guitar and taught himself how to play. We definitely want our children to play an instrument. I am a huge dancer and love music.

*We love our dogs and had two, but one passed two days before Porter was born.

*We also added the Mid-West & Co. horseshoe!

*Traveling is something we love to do, so we put down some of or favorite spots.

We also wanted a place to sit and an area for our wine and a wine fridge. They surprised us with the custom Rankin Cellar hanging in the bar area.

Do you have a favorite part in regards to the new design?

It’s hard to pick a favorite. I think the mural and my wine shelves. It’s so great to have all of our Napa & Scout & Cellar wine stored there and it’s so beautiful and custom to us! My husband loves to make craft cocktails and he has a place for all of his things too. It’s just so fun and every part of the design was so thoughtful.

How has your new space impacted the way your family lives?

We no longer have an area in our home that we’re embarrassed about. We’re proud to have people over in our basement now. We host a lot. We had a finalization party for Porter and we had 75 people here! It opened up an entire downstairs living space that we never had as an option before. Janna and Megan were great at maximizing our budget. They styled everything. They even hung a hook for JP’s guitar. It’s thoughtful and functional!

We quickly realized we needed to create a space that was functional for their growing family and entertaining. Everyone wants to be around JP and Melissa, so we knew they would get a lot of use out of a space that included play for kiddos and a space to entertain (the adults). We witnessed this first-hand at Porter’s Finalization (insert lots of tears) – we were enjoying wine in the bar area while our kiddos played.

Do you have any advice for families: Those either considering adoption or having interior design work done?

If you’re considering adoption, it probably means you’re being called to it. Seek out more information. I’m an open book and would love to talk to literally any stranger about it. When we first started the process, I talked to several people who had adopted through different agencies and that really helped me because there’s just so much information. As beautiful as it is, there’s a lot of hard things about it. There’s a lot of trauma you have to go through and help others through. It made our marriage stronger and now we feel like we can do anything together. I consider that a blessing. The amount of people who have supported us and have shown us love through it all is just amazing. So I can’t recommend it more if you’re feeling called to do it.

As far as hiring out design work, if you’re just living in your space and you don’t love it, Mid-West & Co. can be those people who come in and help. They can show it to you on a mood board and you think “Wait, my space could look like that?” When you’re in a space that you love, you love to have people over all of a sudden. It adds joy to your life. It’s where you’re spending a lot of your time. So often when you try to do things yourself, you just never get around to it. They make the process so easy!

We created Mid-West & Co. to design spaces that foster joy and togetherness. This project is a perfect example of the importance of the “why” behind the design. We put a lot of thought, love, and care into the creation of an entire lower level in the Rankin’s home with the growing family in mind. We are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of their family’s impactful story.





“We shape our homes and then our home shape us.”

-Winston Churchill