How Julie Laughton Design Build Creates Timeless Pieces of Architectural Art
For over thirty years, Julie Laughton has been building some of Coastal Orange County’s most prized homes and interiors.
Equipped with an unmatched eye for design, a rich history in construction, and…a contractor’s license, Julie offers clients a seamless top-to-bottom, start-to-finish approach that combines dynamic artistic flair with pragmatic building concepts to create remarkable spaces that elevate the mind and body. The result: an architectural masterpiece that connects on an emotional, physical, and spiritual level—and jealous guests.
For Julie, designing one-of-a-kind conversation-starting spaces has long been a part of her day-to-day. She began drafting as a teenager, studied architecture and landscaping in college, and before too long was designing kitchens for clients in Southern California. From there, the next step was obvious, at least to Julie— become a contractor so she could not only imagine interior and exterior design concepts, but also build them.
It’s rare that you come across a mind and personality like Julie’s in the building community—vivacious, entertaining, tough, forward thinking, and—completely artsy.
You see, for Julie, it’s not just about building something that combines luxury, function, and environment into the scope of design—it’s about building something unique to each client’s personality. And that ability comes from her willingness and freedom to explore the unknown, to take what she’s already done and build from it, and to constantly evolve and take the chances most builders either won’t take or don’t know how to execute.
For Julie, it’s not just about piecing together a kitchen with Calacatta countertops, a farmhouse sink, and a multipurpose island—it’s about every inch of a home coming together in artistic and emotional harmony. It’s about creating a space that brings joy to the heart, stimulates the mind, and makes each day better than the last. It’s about evoking a sense of pride of ownership that lasts a lifetime.
The team at Julie Laughton Design Build isn’t just about building a home, or a kitchen, or a new primary suite bath— they’re about building a new reality.
Elevated sat down with Julie to catch-up and dive-in on her own reality—which, as you can imagine, is quite interesting.
Let’s start granular—what inspires you to wake up each morning and design and build homes?
I love building homes and overseeing the entire process to make sure they’re done right the first time for each and every client. The very first day I walk into a client’s home I can see what needs to be fixed and updated, as well as what can and can’t be done. My goal is to get the homeowner’s dreams on paper and execute a seamless process from the conception of design to the completion of the construction. I provide a turnkey, one-stop shop experience where the client only talks to one person while I coordinate and oversee all the aspects with my amazing tried-and-true team.
Working your way up to becoming one of California’s top design/build companies doesn’t just happen out of nowhere. Tell us about your vision and what defined you early on.
My career started in New York City working for the top five developers in Manhattan. From the very beginning, my favorite part of the process was taking the plans and standing in the dirt, making sure things worked out. Everything I do today on a daily basis is what I learned and perfected during my early career working in New York City for the best of the best. Bringing that professional, corporate, highly organized experience to residential construction is what it was all about for me when I began my own business.
You specialize in coastal masterpieces. How do you create homes and spaces that connect homeowners with their environment on an emotional level?
I start by interviewing the client to find out what they want and what they need. I always make sure the home matches their lifestyle, and choose a design concept that appeals to them and complements the architecture. Everything from the paint colors, to the textures, to the natural lighting affects the homeowner’s emotional response while they’re living in their home. As you know, your home is your castle—where you go to retreat, recharge, and spend time with family and friends.
Building a sanctuary that reflects how you live creates a space that grows with you over time. My designs are timeless—not trendy. So when the home is finished, there’s nothing left to do other than maintenance and upkeep.
Obviously, architectural style, materials, and exterior/interior design has changed over the years. Tell us what design elements will not only add value to today’s homes, but will also remain timeless.
My first recommendation is to always use quality building materials that will last. I like to do a lot of custom features when designing a home. My custom kitchens are made by local craftsmen and this ensures the highest quality, which results a lasting product. I prefer to use natural wood and stone products for their durability and beauty.
I’ve recently chosen porcelain and quartz countertops for my clients who desire virtually zero maintenance. Natural stones are timeless, but require a little more maintenance. The natural beauty of the products we select is what makes each and every home unique—just like every client is unique.
Building a home in Coastal Orange County is completely different today than it was five or even ten years ago. Tell us how you’ve been able to enhance the client experience.
As a one-stop shop, I provide a 5-Star concierge service that buffers the client from the behind the scenes work it actually takes to get the job done. Living along the coastline surrounded by multimillion dollar homes comes with plenty of restrictions and challenges that other inland cities don’t have and this makes for unique conditions on every job. If you aren’t used to working in these areas, it’s difficult to jump over the hurdles. My thirty years of experience and unique personality have empowered me to perfect this process and provide a stress-free experience for all my clients.
Everyone talks about the downside of building your own home—the time, the selection of materials, etc. But you’re known to create an uplifting and empowering experience for your clients throughout the process. So, what’s the secret to happily building a home?
The secret is working with the right person and the right team. If you don’t follow the steps and work with the right people, you’ll most likely end up in a nightmare remodel scenario, especially if you choose to manage the project yourself. I like doing things right the first time and giving my clients the help they deserve and expect, which allows me to ensure they’ll have a 5-Star experience.
Too much access to information means too much worry. So, let’s face this question head-on—How has the supply shortage affected building and how have you been able to help your clients successfully navigate the process?
We haven’t been affected by the supply shortage because we plan ahead and order everything we need the day the job starts. I also don’t order things that aren’t available. There are always other options, and waiting twelve weeks for an appliance isn’t an issue if you order it the day the job starts— that’s what separates our team from everyone else. We work with you from the beginning so there aren’t any problems.
Let’s discuss a million-year long debate—which space/room in the home is the most important and why?
The kitchen because it’s the heart of the home and where everything happens. It’s where we cook, dine, entertain family and friends, and have serious conversations. And today, thanks to new open floor plans, the kitchen is combined with the family room and all the activities happen in the same area. The kitchen and the living room are typically adjacent to the outdoor living space and this becomes one huge area where all activities happen together.
And make sure to follow Julie and her team on Instagram @JulieLaughtonDB