Is there anything better than a virtual home tour? Designer Dream Homes is a series featuring the living spaces of our favorite interior designers and home decor influencers, where they give us the full lowdown on how they live. It’s all the things we love about browsing virtual real estate listings, with the added benefit of hearing exactly what it is that makes these dream homes so special.
Austin-based designer Laura Britt of Britt Design Group.
Laura is “an industry leader in health and wellness design for the workplace and home.” As head of a design firm that’s passionate about sustainability, wellness, and the environment, Laura also committed to designing her home to meet WELL standards.
“We love Central Austin,” said Laura. “It’s close to everything, [but with] plenty of trees and greenery.”
The Challenges of Donating an Entire House
While the family originally planned to remodel the existing home, they ultimately decided to donate it. “[We had] it moved in three parts to the new site,” explained Laura. This was a process that came with “many surprises!”
“I had no idea how hard it would be to donate a home! The difficult part is finding an approved mover who can move a house on an oversized load. The city had to close the highway (MoPac) and station police to escort the delivery. It took three different nights of transporting to deliver it.”
“The configuration of the new home is very similar to the former home. The layout just works on the lot size and shape!”
“The home is only 2750 sq. ft. of conditioned space with another 1000 sq. ft of exterior-covered porches in three different areas,” explained Laura. The home features an open-plan design, with a natural flow “from the main living area to the kitchen and den,” said Laura. But “we can also pull the two large pocketing doors closed to provide acoustical and visual privacy.”
The land also features a carport that can function "as another great shaded gathering space used for larger gatherings.” An existing ADU Is located above, affectionately nicknamed The Treehouse.
Laura collaborated with architect Tom Tornbjerg to design the home, though she, of course, had a strong hand in the process. “My personal aesthetic leans a bit more architectural,” said Laura.
“Some call it organic modern.” Described as “a warm, natural, clean-lined design aesthetic,” Organic Modernism is “more architectural than decorative.” Laura prefers the softer elements of the style––you’ll commonly see “natural matte finishes, wood, and steel” mixed with “cashmere, linen, cotton, and mohair textiles.”
“I prefer a warm, inviting, understated space for daily living, likely because I’m surrounded by so many different types of finishes and fabrics while working on our client’s homes,” said Laura.
Yard & Garden Features
“We love our outdoor back porch,” said Laura, explaining that it’s located right off of the kitchen and living area. “It serves as an extension of our living and dining space. We use it all of the time...”
The yard also features “a small vegetable and herb garden, adjacent to the deck.”
Laura designed the bath to be accessible without feeling overly large or cold, and a lot of that comes down to the natural light. “I love the natural light from the skylight, and the borrowed light through the clerestory window over the tub,” she said.
The kitchen features Gaggenau appliances, which Laura says are, “Great quality. The cooktop is super quick to heat up and cool down, with no toxic off-gassing from natural gas.”
The floors throughout are white oak, designed “with a low VOC finish and adhesive.” This means the finish carries fewer “Volatile Organic Compounds,” which off-gas less than traditional materials.
Natural light is key in the design of the home. “We love the natural light that pours into the rooms through the clerestories and the large spans of windows and doors,” said Laura. “We designed the window placement to bring light in from two sides into each room.”
“We love having visibility throughout the entire house,” and this all comes down to the carefully selected window positioning.
The home was designed with efficiency in mind, and the den one perfect example of this.
“The den doubles as the guest room,” said Laura, explaining that it also features a built-in wardrobe and space for yoga.
While the entire space was lovingly curated, Laura said that there’s one special piece in particular. “I love having my grandmother's grand piano, which she taught me to play. Now my son is playing, so it’s a multi-generational heirloom.”
The furniture is also near and dear to Laura’s heart, as she designed most of it herself. “I designed the furniture as part of our WELL-certified furnishings line, Vervano.” This includes the sofa, the lounge chairs, dining credenza, dining table, dining chairs, entry credenza, and barstools.”
Extra Special Details
“[We used] many beautiful materials and continue to use them today. The Dekton countertops, low VOC cabinetry, and floors are fantastic. We did struggle a bit with the mineral paint. [It mars] more easily than typical low VOC paint.”
Aesthetically, Laura particularly “loves [how] our living/kitchen connects,” said Laura. The space features “millwork detailing in the living room and down the hallway to the owners' suite.”
The office is the stuff of WFH dreams, with natural light, wood furniture and cabinets that make for a calm space. “The pandemic has created a need for more working and learning remotely,” Laura told us. “We could certainly use an additional separate workspace!”