By: Hal Brown
Lauren and Andrew Blake are looking for a shade of blue. Not just any shade of blue. A bright, neon aqua sort of blue. They’ve only seen it in places like Morocco or Mexico. They’ve taken pictures of it. But when they try to replicate it back home in the states, they just can’t seem to get it exactly how they saw it.
“We think it has to do with the sunlight,” Lauren said.
It’s been about six or seven years since they first saw that blue, and until today, they’re still looking for it, and they still talk about it. Design is how the Fort Worth couple finds common ground, and it translates to their professional lives. Andrew is a real estate developer, the founder and managing partner of Fort Worth-based firm Presidio Interests. Lauren is a freelance digital designer, running her own company that specializes in branding and graphic design.
“I’m fascinated with urban design, how cities function, and how the buildings and the blocks are designed,” Andrew said. “Her fascination extends to not only the exterior of the buildings, but the interior of the buildings, and into graphics and those kinds of things.”
Lauren admits, as evidenced by their ongoing search for the shade of blue, she and her husband often get “nerdy” about design. The topic is, after all, what brought the couple together in the first place.
Lauren and Andrew met in 2006 at a holiday party inside what was then a newly built penthouse in The Tower downtown. Eager to check out the new space, Andrew attended the party and met Lauren, who was working with Fort Worth real estate agency The Westover Group at the time. A conversation sparked between the two about how the space should be finished out. Lauren wanted modern – something “slick and cool” for a downtown penthouse.
Andrew not only agreed, but was also impressed.
“She was very candid about her opinion about it,” he said. “I thought, ‘Boy, she’s just calling it like she sees it, and she’s exactly right.’ ”
Lauren’s first impression of Andrew?
“I thought he was really handsome,” she said.
They married in 2009, the same year Lauren left real estate to start her own design company.
For the Blakes, design doesn’t stay at work. They both have a penchant for house flipping, renovating three homes together within 10 years – whether it needed renovation or not. Lauren describes their house today as “modern with leanings toward mid-century,” with neutral textures and “masculine” furniture for a “Mad Men-inspired vibe” in the living room.
“We just cannot help ourselves,” she said. “We move into something and eventually do something to it.”
Their eye for design reflects in what they wear as well. For Andrew, style is a straightforward deal – he did away with his tendency to impulsively buy ill-fitting clothes just because they were on sale and now takes more care in finding a well-fitting suit. Sometimes, he likes to throw in something fun, like Kermit the Frog socks.
“Anything to get a smile out of our two boys,” Andrew said. The couple has two sons, ages 6 and 3.
Lauren describes her style as “all or nothing,” either “very casual” or “very dressed up.” She says she likes to keep her clothing simple, opting to go for something more dramatic in shoes or jewelry.
A lot of times, how the Blakes dress depends on whom they’re meeting with. For Lauren, being in the creative industry sometimes requires her to show personal style, but since many of her clients come from word of mouth, she says she doesn’t necessarily need to dress up for a meeting.
“I don’t feel the pressure to put on a pantsuit before I meet a client, and I don’t think I’m expected to either,” she said.
Andrew says Fort Worth, as a city, lends itself to more casual dress.
“In Los Angeles, it’s OK for 50-year-old men to wear baseball caps and tennis shoes in a professional setting,” he said. “It’s part what industry you’re in, it’s part who you’re meeting with, but also the city you’re in, so it varies widely. I feel like Fort Worth’s in the middle. It’s casual, but it’s a really unpretentious city.”
They’re big fans of local boutiques, citing shops like Esther Penn and Pax & Parker as favorites. They also like shopping when they travel, finding pieces at shops that can’t be found anywhere else.
Or colors that can’t be found anywhere else – like that one pesky shade of blue.
“Every time we try to replicate it in paint, it’s never the same,” Lauren said. “Whenever we’re traveling somewhere, and [Andrew] sees that blue, he’s like ‘There’s the blue!’ And I’ll take a picture of it. It’s funny how after all these years, we’re still talking about that shade of blue.”
By: Hal Brown
By: Courtney Dabney