“Maine Cabin Masters” had become DIY Network’s top-rated series since it made its television debut in 2017. Ashley Morrill’s creativity and resourcefulness in preserving a family’s history in every camp her team had renovated captured the hearts of viewers. As of late, there was a lot of speculation online regarding her health that worried her fans.

Get to know Ashley Morrill

Ashley Morrill was born in January 1976, in Maine, USA. Her parents Peggy, a Washington native, and Eric, a 9th-generation Mainer, met in Germany, hit it off, and went on to have an adventure together as they traveled across Europe on a motorcycle in 1969 and 1970. By August, they felt it was time to go back to Eric’s home state, but lacking funds, they only had enough to get to Newfoundland from England. After that, they hitchhiked their way to Maine, where they were married within a week and settled there. Her father died from cancer on 27 July 2014, at the age of 67 due to cancer. Her mother is still active and healthy, and she sometimes appears in the show.

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Many wondered how Ashley and her younger brother, Charles, got into the business together. When they were young, they tagged along with their father as he drove around Augusta, Maine, particularly during ‘pick-up week,’ and they were tasked to get items that could still be used, recycled, or upcycled. Sometimes, if they were lucky, they got a chance to pick up something for themselves, such as a stuffed toy. They were made to realize early on how one man’s trash could be another man’s treasure.

Ashley graduated with a degree in graphic design from the University of Maine-Orono, while Chase graduated with a degree in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic – their family had a Home Goods store where they sold furniture that father and son built together. Her father worked on building and renovating houses, and Chase followed in his footsteps, and Ashley said that she somehow ‘rolled her way into it’, at least in the design aspect. She did admit to knowing how to use power tools, because her dad made sure she had the skills.

Ashley and Ryan

Ashley and her husband, Ryan Eldridge, celebrated their 8th anniversary in July 2022. On her Instagram post, she said that it was their beloved pets Sasha and Gussy’s 2nd anniversary as well. Ryan wasn’t one to let that special day pass without greeting her, as he said that Ashley’s one of a kind and he was very fortunate to have her in his life. The two had known each other for a long time and had common friends; she even dated one of his friends before they got into a relationship. She could never forget the time when Ryan proposed to her, as he did it the day after they attended a Willie Nelson concert and they were driving home. He said that he just had a moment of clarity. They had a small private wedding, and no reception or house-warming party. They wore no rings, but both had a wedding band tattooed on their ring fingers.

As fans scrolled through his Instagram posts, they noticed how vocal he was about his feelings for her, and how he never took her for granted. He described her as his favorite person, his everything. For some reason, she never took her husband’s last name – she tried to change her name to Ashley Rae Eldridge, but had a difficult time doing so, as she claimed to not have any idea where to start and where to find the necessary documents.

Background on the show

“Maine Cabin Masters” is all about rehabbing and renovating rustic and dilapidated camps, cabins, or cottages across the state of Maine, with Chase Morrill as the team leader and contractor, and his sister Ashley as the one in charge of the design. The two were joined by her husband, Ryan Eldridge, as the foreman, and their lifelong friends Jared “Jedi” Baker and Matt “Dixie” Dix, as their master carpenters. Interestingly, the guys didn’t set out to be carpenters; they just loved working outside, enjoying the beauty of Maine, and doing things with their hands, and soon found themselves constructing and renovating. Ryan admitted that they weren’t really ‘masters’, but as he said, the word was more interesting than ‘builders,’ hence the title.

How did it start?

One would think that there were too many shows on home makeovers already, but apparently, Dorsey Pictures, a production company out of Colorado, thought differently. They had this idea of doing one in Maine, and understandably so, because the appeal of the place was undeniable with its picturesque views of wilderness and coastline. Dorsey Pictures reached out to Kennebec Land Trust, which worked with landowners and communities to help conserve the environment, as they were looking for people or builders who were into recycling or upcycling. It so happened that the mother of the best friend of Ashley’s niece worked there, and passed this information along to the Morrills. Ashley’s family was known within the community for salvaging and repurposing materials. Since they fitted the mold to a T, it didn’t take long for the production to arrange the filming of a pilot episode.

The premise of the show

Each episode would begin with Ashley, Ryan and Chase on their way to meet with a camp owner, and do a walk-through of their place. They talked about the history of the cabin, the extent of the damage, the budget, and their expectations. Within six weeks or so, the team would do the demolition and renovation work, keeping in mind their goal of meeting the needs of the owners, as well as preserving the memories they had of the cabin especially if it had been in their family for generations, and wanted to pass it on to their children.

Gaines couple handpicked the show for Magnolia Network

DIY Network was rebranded as the Magnolia Network in 2022 with Chip and Joanna Gaines as the owners as well as Warner Bros. Discovery. Fortunately for Ashley and Chase, their show was a personal choice by the Gaines to be part of their programming. Chase shared the reason why, as the couple told him, ‘It’s funny, we don’t own a TV, but every time we pick the kids up from their grandparents’, we ask them what they were doing. They’re like, “Watching Maine Cabin Masters.”’

Ashley’s creative flair

Ashely’s work began after Chase and his crew were done fixing the cabin and making it livable and functional. When designing the interior of a cabin, she admitted to giving it the ‘Wow!’ factor befitting a TV show. That said, she never forgot to ensure that her designs or creations would connect to the owners in a much more personal way, to remind them of happy times or the important people in their lives, and within their budget. She said, ‘You want people to love a home, so reinforcing great memories through art and photography is an important part of what we do,’ and added ‘And when you strike the right balance between beautiful design and emotional connection, you can see it on the faces of the owners when they walk into the finished camp. It’s why I love what I do.’ She promoted the work of local artists by incorporating them into the overall design of the building.

Here are some episodes that showed how Ashley and her team made the owners feel overwhelmed during the big reveal:

Dilapidated cabin on Eaton island

The log cabin owned by Rob and Candy Eaton situated on its own island was built in the 1930s, so some parts of the roof and walls had rotted away. They had a budget of $30,000 and given a time frame of four weeks to finish the job. Two things the owners wanted to retain were the entry door and the huge wooden post at the center of the cabin that Candy’s brother put to hold the roof up. Chase moved the door to the entryway of the bedroom, and Ashley found a wooden eagle head sculpture and put it on top of the post, and chose the colors for the facade and interior.T hey repurposed an old metal sheet that was previously part of the dome of the capital building in Augusta. It was a fitting tribute to Rob, who served two terms in the legislature, and so loved that. The Eaton couple couldn’t be any happier with the transformation of their rustic cabin.

Unfinished cabin in Dedham

Chris York was the owner of a cabin that was formerly an old school house in Dedham. The demolition work was almost completed, as Chris had begun restoring the place some time ago but never got to finish it foowing his father’s death; the budget was $20,000 and the work had to be completed in six weeks. The place held so many memories of his father, and the team made sure not to lose that. Ashley’s team put a porcupine artwork on one wall as a remembrance of how Chris’ parents first met. Apparently, his father was walking along with a porcupine on a leash, and it piqued his mother’s curiosity when she saw him. The team framed photos of his father with the family, of the time spent in the cabin, and their adventures. Chris’ mother loved what they had did to the cabin.

Cabin for a growing family on Pleasant Pond

Camp owner Craig Donovan was single when he bought the place in a state of disrepair, and wanted it to be transformed so he could make create memories with his wife, Andrea, and four-year-old daughter. The budget was $30,000, and the deadline was in six weeks. The guys had outdone themselves with this project as they made it not just safe for a little kid by constructing a continuous deck with rails, but also a fun place by creating a life-size board game called “Go jump in the lake” that would start at the cabin and then down the walkway with a couple of slides in place until it reached the dock. Ashley, Chase and his kids went to their aunt’s place to make mosaic steps for the game.

The show received so much love

Ashley attributed the success of the show primarily to the state of Maine, because lots of people had a connection to it as they had gone on vacations there at some point in their lives, with family or friends, and had good memories of it. She also said, ‘The builds that we do are relatable. They’re within people’s price range, whereas a lot of these other reality shows, they’re high-end flips, and they’re not attainable for the majority.’ The owners really got the best end of the deal, as their budget, which was quite low, was allotted to buying materials, but he labor was free because Ashley and the guys received payment from the production company for starring in the show; they considered it as being paid to do the work.

Viewers also liked the idea of repurposing materials, and it wasn’t just about the practicality of it. They found it fun to watch how the Morrills breathed new life into something that was regarded as junk. Chase said, ‘I like to reimagine that forgotten canoe or old lobster pot into something memorable…maybe a book shelf, table or light fixture. I like keeping the history of a place alive with restored artifacts.’

Ryan said that they were regular folks, and people could relate to them. Also, what they offered viewers was ‘just fun easy TV’ in which one wouldn’t have to think too much.

Working with her brother and husband

While other reality TV shows needed to create drama to add some spice to the storyline, in the case of “Maine Cabin Masters,” it was something that naturally happened. Everything usually started well, but once the deadline was upon them, Ashley would be stressed out as she had to get the place all cleaned up and presentable for the big reveal. She sometimes felt that the guys didn’t care about her part in the job, or maybe teased her.

Chase said that Ashley often brought the stress up to another level, as each of them had their own list of things to do, and they were getting in each other’s way. There were times when she asked them to do some task at the last minute, which she thought wasn’t a big deal, but they also had work to finish. It was a challenge not to let those tense moments escalate into heated arguments.

Ryan further explained that they worked closely together for 40 to 50 hours a week, and being away from home and their families would take its toll, so they would get on each other’s nerves. However, at the end of the day, they would put it all behind them. He shared that it helped that they were surrounded by the beauty of nature, and they made sure to have fun and decompress. He was proud of his wife, as she could hold her own when dealing with a dozen guys at the job site, while Ashley said that she knew when to argue and when to walk away. Most of the time, she just continued working until she got the job done, regardless of how tired or upset she was with the guys, claiming that she generally had fun working with Ryan and Chase.

Ashley’s health condition

Devoted fans of Ashley were quite concerned about her health, because of a change in her appearance, particularly her weight gain. Some thought she was pregnant, while others believed that she was suffering from some illness. It was easy to check if the pregnancy rumors were true, because it would have been difficult to hide that, as they were on TV most of the time; also, there was no reason to keep it a secret. Ashley and Ryan didn’t have children, and the reason for it was something they never really shared with the public. On Mother’s Day 2019, he greeted her on behalf of their four-legged creatures at home, who called her ‘mom.’

If Ashley was sick, she never disclosed it either. Despite a few reports online about an illness or disability that she had, nothing wasn’t verified. If one would base her health condition on the photos posted on Instagram, one could easily assume that she was in the peak of health. They were a close-knit family, and they weren’t shy in sharing their adventures and busy lifestyle on social media.

She traveled with loved ones whenever possible, and was also busy running the company she co-owned with her brother, called the Kennebec Cabin Company. Its headquarters was located in downtown Manchester, and had a retail store filled with merchandise from the show, as well as all sorts of items that showcased the skills and creativity of local artists. They also had a bar and restaurant called The Woodshed open seven days a week, and during warmer seasons, they hosted live music and other events.

The work that Ashley and the guys did in “Maine Cabin Masters” was all about saving memories. Camp owners didn’t want their cabins to be torn down, and so spent money to have them restored. Their reaction once they were handed their keys after the cabin was transformed was priceless, and this was what made all the hard work of Ashley and the crew worth it.

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