Julie Laughton
In the latest episode of the Underdog Podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with Julie Laughton, a powerhouse in the construction and design industry. Julie’s story is one of resilience, creativity, and breaking barriers in a field traditionally dominated by men. Her journey from a shy, artistic child to a trailblazing contractor and interior designer is nothing short of inspiring.

Julie brings over 25 years of experience to the table, blending her artistic flair with technical expertise to create stunning remodels and constructions. What sets Julie apart is her belief in a streamlined approach—she’s a firm advocate for architects and designers also being contractors, simplifying the process and ensuring clients save time, money, and stress.

Her passion for her craft shines through in every project she takes on. Julie isn’t just about the buildings; she’s about the people. Her dedication to her clients and team is unwavering, and she’s a vocal supporter of women in construction, using her platform to uplift and empower her female peers.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Passion-Driven Career Transition: Julie transitioned from an aspiring artist and musician to a successful contractor and architect, demonstrating the importance of following one’s passion and being open to change.
  • One-Stop-Shop Approach: Julie advocates for a holistic approach in construction, where one person manages both the design and construction phases. This approach saves clients time, money, and stress, ensuring a smoother project execution.
  • Client-Centered Design: Julie emphasizes the importance of tailoring each project to meet the specific needs and desires of her clients, ensuring that spaces are both functional and personally resonant.
  • Empowering Women in Construction: As a staunch advocate for women in construction, Julie supports and inspires other women in the industry, encouraging them to pursue their passions and break through traditional barriers.
  • Personal Growth and Boundaries: Julie highlights the significance of setting boundaries and focusing on personal growth, especially in a demanding industry like construction.
  • Team Synergy: Maintaining a happy and productive team is crucial for Julie. She ensures that everyone, from clients to workers, is satisfied, fostering a positive work environment.

Whether you’re a homeowner looking to remodel, an aspiring designer, or simply someone who appreciates the art of creating beautiful spaces, Julie’s story offers valuable lessons and inspiration.

Listen to this exciting episode. Join us for the conversation! Listen to the full episode here:

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The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also in the Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

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Julie Laughton Breaks Barriers in Construction Through Her Passion-Driven Success Story

Pamela Bardhi: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Underdog podcast. Today I have an incredible guest here with me. Julie, how are you, my west coast friend?

Julie Laughton: I’m fabulous.

Pamela Bardhi: I love it. Oh, my gosh. Just getting on this call with you right now, I’m like, man, we are so, like, it’s not even funny.

Julie Laughton: Like, we’re just going down to earth construction. I feel like I’ve known you for a million years. Yeah, it must be a construction thing.

Pamela Bardhi: Like, you know, just reviewing your background. All the magic that you’ve done in construction and design and building. I’m just like, I’m flabbergasted. I can’t wait to get into the details because, if there’s one thing that I love, it’s seeing other women in construction. And being total badasses while doing it is, like the greatest thing on planet Earth. So I’m here for it, all of it.

Julie Laughton: It’s fun.

Pamela Bardhi: Totally, totally.

When you were a kid, Julie, what did you want to be

So I want to know where this badassery really comes from, though. I want to know, like, when you were a kid, Julie, what did you want to be when you grew up? Like, what was your jam?

Julie Laughton: Well, it’s funny because I was a little shy kid, and I always wore glasses in second grade. So I was pretty shy because, I don’t know, it was me and my sister. My mom was the oldest of twelve and my dad had two girls. We grew up with a lot of my mom’s uncles around and my dad babysitting us a lot, too. Spending a lot of time, so I kind of grew up with a lot of men. But, that’s number one part of it. Then number two is that I started to draw. Like, horses and dogs and cats when I was like eight or nine or ten, I could draw anything. And then I started mechanical engineering, which is drafting or architecture, when I was 14.

By the time I got to college, I tested out mechanical engineering, and I thought, I’m going to be an architect. But before that, I thought, I’m going to be an artist, a painter. Because I did oil paintings when I was twelve that were really good. And then I thought I was a drummer since I was ten, so I thought, you know what? I’m going to be in a band, I’m going to be a musician. I thought, oh, no, I’ll starve to death. So I went to college for architecture, but I also had two scholarships to college that I didn’t take for golf. Cause I’m a seven handicap in golf. Had all this shit going on as a kid, I never sat down from zero to 18.

Then it was six and a half years of college because I started in architecture. Got bored, because it was commercial. I did landscape architecture, and I thought, oh, no, the plants and the rocks. I’m not getting this, and then I landed on interior design, which is not decorating. It’s space planning and ergonomics and how the human body functions in their home and their workspace. It is all really in depth. Wonderful thing. That’s where I landed. But I have the architecture and interior design combo thing going on, so I got licensed in interior design. I did not get licensed in architecture because I just couldn’t go back to college. And, I do all that, you know, legally trained to do it, and then, 25 years ago, I became a contractor.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s amazing.

Julie Laughton: Oh, my gosh.

Pamela Bardhi: I love how you went from, like, these different kind of phases and elements, and you’re like, nope, nope.

Julie Laughton: Yes, I tested it all out in my brain because I was a kid. You don’t know what you want to do. And I really thought, I’m an artist. Boy, I’m so talented, I could draw this. I’ll be an artist, and then I’ll be a musician. I remember thinking about that, and, like, that’s not going to work well.

A lot of people think that building is just construction

Pamela Bardhi: I love that you landed on the interior design piece. And I want to get into that in a little bit, too. Because I, you know, a lot of people think that building is just construction. There is so much too, you are physically a creator, and there’s a lot to that. Like you said, the ergonomics, the way that you interact with the space. The way, like, it is so much deeper than that, it’s not just like, oh, let me put on this. You know, just build this.

Julie Laughton: There’s so much. Way, much depth. Especially when you remodel because you’re reinventing someone else’s vision. And whether it’s good design or bad designer tracked home crap. You got to get through all that and transform the damn building before you can even get to the finished product.

Pamela Bardhi: So, yeah, I can’t wait to get into the whole construction. I know we’re going to have a crazy conversation with that, but growing up. Like, who or what inspired you the most, would you say, it’s like the.

Julie Laughton: Parents, you know, were very disciplinary. When I list all the things I did, I also became the youngest certified lifeguard at 14. I was a lifeguard for four years every summer and taught swimming lessons, so there were all these things. It’s like I’m an overachiever, but I’m not, because I could give a shit about my grades. If I was an overachiever, I’d be an a student and on the honor roll, right? So I was, like, a b or c student and an artist. And didn’t have to study much in high school or college, meaning.

Julie Laughton: You know, I wasn’t about that. I just, I think the parents and the grandparents, like, I have a very strong grandmother and mom. They’re independent women. So that was the influence because my mom never told me I couldn’t do something because I’m a girl, okay? Two girls and didn’t have boys, so he never got one. We did football, basketball, baseball, skeet shooting, I have trophies in skeet shooting, I mean, and I know how to. Don’t know how to change the oil in a car, and I refuse, even though my dad thought I should learn. I was like, no, but I know how to detail a car better than anybody, you know, so. And I know how to drive a bobcat and pour concrete, and I know how to frame.

Pamela Bardhi: So I was like, that’s incredible.

Julie Laughton: It’s the parenting, because I know there’s other girls out there from different cultures and different time periods. That their mother would never allow them, and I grew up with men, and we were not. There was no difference otherwise, but, you know, learn how to act around then. And so that helped. But there was no, hey, you can’t do that because that’s a boy’s job. Well, fuck that. I do it better than the boys.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that so much, I love that. So, Oh, my God, I mean, it’s incredible because when you said mom and grandmother, I was like, okay. Automatically you had those figures in your life. And I find that every single person that I talked to, like, especially women that are in the construction field. It’s like either one of their parents gave them that validation from a young age, right? Me, it was my father. My dad’s like, you can do whatever you want. Doesn’t matter about construction. It was like, yeah, and, ah, you can do it.

Julie Laughton: My dad was right there. He never said no. Mom was the one that made it clear, you know, she’s not a girly girl either. And, she made it clear, you know, you’re not. She also told me, don’t get married. It’s a waste of time, it’s not really what it’s all chalked up to. In college, I just went for it and went from my career. I didn’t really get happily married till I was 50. You know, and the relationships before that were disasters because I was duly building my career and not paying attention. So, yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: Coming out of school in the interior design space, because this was 25 years ago. So, like, you know, now we see more commonality with women in construction, which I love. Like, we’re starting to barriers now, but 25 years ago, this was, like, not a thing. Walk me through, like, the beginning of where you started. And kind of how it built up from there because you worked on some insane project.

Julie Laughton: Oh, yeah. So, the thing is, my counselor, who helped me get through the fact of, what are we doing, Julie? Because you just changed your major again. She got me a job with an architect in New York City. And that was my summer internship, where I met all my friends that first summer. I was in the architectural office with all the guys in the drafting pool, which there were no computers back then. It was all hand drafting. The architect had made me practice lettering for, like, six weeks, I swear, before he let me even draw. But I was with the guy.

Whenever they had to go out and measure, they got the new guy, which is me, to go field measure. So I got to go out and field, measure 100,000 square foot spaces. And then, I had another job with an architect. There was one woman in the office, and she really helped me feel better. But I would run the interior design department and do drafting, so I’m a master draftsman. I mean, there’s nothing missing from my talent in architecture, but I did do the interior design full scale. Then I got a job with this crazy woman named Elaine Lewis. Who had, was hooked up with all the five top developers.

Cause it’s nepotism, you know? Don’t know how she’s hooked up with them, but they gave her every job. She also had five husbands, and I think they were all dead. Just kidding. But she had, she was connected to the jewish developers, and we were in. I mean, and I was the front man, so she had seven gay guys in me. And I was the only one allowed to present to the developers. So I would go see Philip Milstein and his wife and left rack. All the old guys, half of them were dead, but Philip Milstein is still alive. Left rack.

Julie Newport moved to California in 1990 with no money, no business

You know, they’re all on my website. But I would present all the plans and do all the drawings. And then me and the seven guys would buy all the furniture and stage every model apartment in New York City for five years. We do, like, seven at a time. That was me in the dirt telling the architect who designed the building, hey, the furniture is not going to fit. You got to move a wall, and they’re like, who is this young chick? I go, well, I actually laid it out. It doesn’t work.

So, you know, I’d have to go up against these 50 year old men in white shirts and kind of tell them stuff. It was scary. But my boss just threw me into these meetings by myself. She didn’t go with me. You know, I had to present and work things out with the 40 story high rise builders and all the contractors. And, you know, it was fun.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s insane.

Julie Laughton: Aren’t you coming with me to these meetings? She goes, no, because she doesn’t know how to talk the language. And I was, you know, so I was already made it in New York City at, what was I, 27? I already did my thing.

Julie Laughton: I was good. Then I came to California to kind of get out of New York City. Because there was a recession and the nightclubs are all closing that I liked. All my friends are moving to Europe or getting married or whatever. It just slowed down. So I went. Came to California and started over completely with no money, no nothing, and, no, I didn’t know. I just moved to California one weekend. After visiting a friend for two weeks, I had my sister ups my apartment. And I got a hotel room and a rent-a-car. Two weeks later, I was fully employed and started a new life.

Pamela Bardhi: Dang, Julie, you have some, serious. I don’t know how else to say this. You have some serious balls to do that.

Julie Laughton: First off, afraid of change. I mean, I was in New York City, and I’d already started my business. And I had Felix Roatan’s son as one of my clients, he had a three story, Brownstone, and I was working on that. But there was no other work and no other business. Because the design company I worked with, Elaine, all the developers stopped building. All the seven gay guys, six of them died of AIDS in one year, so it was devastating. Yeah, no, all that happened, too. So I’d already started my business, and I went on vacation. One weekend to San Diego to see one of my college buddies who was in landscape architecture with me. He and I sat on the beach for two weeks, and I thought, damn, the weather’s nice out here. Damn.

There’s nothing to go back for. My sister ups my apartment. Got a hotel in Hollywood and I found a job with this interior design company. I’m like, oh, my God, gross, I can’t do this because I’m not a decorator. Because I couldn’t get a job with the architects because they said I was overqualified for the position. I was pushed into a different arena. What happened is I got a job on Robinson Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Selling custom kitchens, which I had to draw and sell and work with a German guy that didn’t speak English, who built them. And that’s where I met most of my biggest clients that I still have today. So I was drawing, which is my favorite thing to do, and selling kitchens. I sold a million dollars of kitchens the first year on Robertson Boulevard.

And I was, sales queen. I didn’t know I knew how to sell, and my mom’s like, we already knew that about you. I’m like, I always sat. You know, I was in the office and in the dirt, but my sales ability came out. Then these guys noticed me because I sold a million dollars of cabinets in one year, the small bone style. They drugged me to Newport to design a showroom, and I got tired of driving back and forth to build that showroom. So I ended up moving to Newport, which I hated because everybody was 50, divorced and pink polos. And I’m like, I was only 30, then, I went to Laguna, and that’s where I started my business in 19, early 1990s. My hook was the custom kitchens.

Pamela Bardhi: Unbelievable. I love how that served as a stepping stone for you. Right?

Julie Laughton: And I never dreamed I’d be in retail selling custom cabinets. But that’s what pushed me into residential, where I knew I was meant to be probably day one. But I always saw myself as architecture. Architecture, office. Bigger scope of, commercial was commercials. Much more organized and much more easy. There’s no pressure and there’s no psychodrama from the homeowner, but I meant, I swear I meant to be. Then after working with residential contractors for ten years. Who were drinking beer, snorting cocaine and not doing paperwork properly, I said, fuck this. I need to become the contractor, I can’t handle this anymore. So, that’s what happened. Yeah, I just became the contractor, I was doing it anyway. Because every time the client met me, they fired the contractor because he was screwing up anyway.

Pamela Bardhi: I know. Welcome to the world of construction, right?

Julie Laughton: And, you know, there’s good ones.

Pamela Bardhi: And there’s bad ones, a hundred thousand. That’s why it cracks me up when people are like, I found a cheaper quote. I’m like, oh, yeah, okay. Yeah.

Julie Laughton: Ah, you get with that. I’m going through that right now with this one client. The husband’s coming out of the woodwork. Like, where the fuck did this come m from? What do you mean? You just had me draw $3.9 million housing, you only have 2.5.

When it comes to construction, you will always get what you pay for

When the fuck did that come from? I’m like, just killing me. Like, what? And I need a couple weeks to take your numbers and absorb them. Okay, yeah, try bidding against me. See what happens.

Pamela Bardhi: Well, it’s also too, like, does anyone listening. When it comes to construction, like, listen, you guys don’t understand something really important. And I’ve learned this the hard way when I first started in the beginning by getting cheaper subs. You will always get what you pay for.

Julie Laughton: Oh, yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: I can’t say that any, like. And when it comes to construction, if you bring in the wrong crew that does the wrong thing, guess what? You’re going to end up paying twice. Because then a new contractor is going to come in and say, okay, that wasn’t done right, rip that out. Which you already paid for once, and then go from there. Then now you’re spending God knows how much on the.

Julie Laughton: I’m telling you, cheap means disaster. Cheap means to pay it twice, and it never works out. And anybody dumb enough to hire the cheap guy, the guy that smooses you and slightly smells like alcohol. Just kidding. The guy that smoozes you, the smoothers are, the dangerous ones.

Julie Laughton: Because they’ll tell you anything to get in your house and then the changer to start flying. Or they just don’t know what they’re doing. So real people don’t work that way because they know, they try to help you. You know? They know. So. Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: Especially with renovations and anything custom. Because with that, like, you need that expertise, you know? New construction is a little different because you’ve got kind of a formula to follow. Right? Like, it’s very hard to.

Julie Laughton: Construction is a piece of cake, right? It’s just the clients that want to. I have some clients that are in the past, were super wealthy and possibly bored. And did add things after construction started with new construction, which is very unlikely, but remodels, it happens all the time. But, new construction is a cakewalk compared to remodels.

Pamela Bardhi: Cakewalk, exactly. So it’s like, especially with contractors there. I can only imagine, you know, when you first got started. Like, what were some of, like, what some of the hardships that you had.

Julie Laughton: And just like, I have a little bit of a figure. Of course they see this girl with long hair, and I’ve got a happy personality, and I have boobs. So they always think you’re dumb, so they always challenge you, and they ask you trick questions. They just look at you and then they stare at your ass, and that’s it. You know, it’s just like, when you’re not the contractor, it sort of sucks because they’re dogs, out there. But when you are the contractor and you’re actually in charge, it’s good. Men are very respectful and it’s. The dynamics are much better but if you really don’t know what you’re doing, they’re going to find out real quick.

Because, no one, also, no one knows. Going onto the slab is like going on to possibly a prison yard, but it’s like going on to another place. There are rules, and you have to know what you’re doing. You can’t even walk around a contract, a construction site literally safely unless you know what you’re doing. Like, there are some people that shouldn’t be allowed, including the homeowner at certain stages, because it’s dangerous. But you either know what you’re doing or you don’t in this business. And it’s evident in a few minutes.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. Well, and also, too, you were super young when you started your business.

Julie Laughton: Oh, yeah, I was a baby, I was back in New York with high heels and skirts. You know, it was the late eighties. I was running around and all the workers were Italian or Irish or, I remember Yugoslavia. And a lot of talent, people from that area, all craftsmen, all union trained. Gorgeous environment of no nonsense.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s so amazing.

First rule is you cannot be addicted to alcohol and drugs during construction

And getting started on your own first, Julie, like, what was the first couple projects? Like, what were some of the biggest hardships that you had there? Some of the biggest wins. What was the experience like?

Julie Laughton: Just in the very beginning, when I first did it, I did, owner builder because the client had all these idiots. Then I would help them maneuver, but when I actually became the contractor, it was so much more organized. I had my cabinet maker, since I first moved here, like, one of my first kitchens is one of my. Still have the same cabinet maker for 35 years. But needless to say, I had to go through the sub learning curve of the subs, you know? My first rule was, you cannot be addicted to alcohol and drugs. And I don’t mean that horribly, but you can’t show up drunk. Or be drinking on the job or taking a lunch break with beer. There’s rules about either you’re straight or you’re not because it’s dangerous. So my first thing is to work with the hard working.

Honest people that have their life together, so I had to learn the hard way. Because you do get what you pay for. You do get what you’re seeing when you see a guy, and you interview with a guy. His behavior in the first minute of the interview tells you a lot, because I’m a woman. The way they act is a big tell on how they’re going to behave. And so my other little rule was, if I have a meeting with a guy and he looks great. Maybe it’s all good, I reach out and shake his hand, and I want to see what that grip is like. So, if he grabs my hand like he’s asking me to dance, he’s not getting hired. If he doesn’t give me a firm handshake, like, man to man, it doesn’t work for me.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that, I love it because I do the same, something similar. So, like, I always give a wicked firm handshake, and everyone’s like, dang, that was firm. I’m like, yeah, what did you think? I was just like, a little, I hate that.

Julie Laughton: See? That sloppy one where, like, they’re afraid to touch you. That’s kind of creepy, too. So it has to be real. And I don’t know about men, but I mean, maybe it’s just I grew up with a very domineering grandmother. I mean, this DNA is in me and my blood. My grandmother, I mean, she’s like Irish and German, I don’t know. But there’s a thing about our DNA. We’re kind of high energy and go-getters, and we don’t take shit from anyone. Like my sister says, don’t you know our grandma, she doesn’t cry at funerals. Haven’t you figured it out yet? You know, it’s tough. Tough as nails, so the point is, if they can’t handle tough, like straightforward talk. Fuck that, too. Yeah,

Julie Laughton: It’s all business because construction is business. I mean, all my guys are straightforward. Just business. You know, it’s no nonsense. Of course, we joke around nonstop behind the scenes with construction lingual crap, but I love that, Julie.

CslB Warner says homeowners need to be clear on what they want

Pamela Bardhi: And you, you’ve worked on some incredible projects and I’ve seen some of yours, too. Like on Instagram and all that. I mean, what are some of your biggest tips to anyone who’s, well, I guess I’ll start with this one. To anyone who’s just like a homeowner, like listening for home design or anything like that. What would be, like, your biggest tips that you would say.

Julie Laughton: Well, the biggest thing is, you know, don’t do owner builder because just look up the website. CslB Warner builder. Beware. Don’t pretend you know what you’re doing just because you own the house. Just like you own a car, but you’re not a mechanic, okay. Or a race car driver. Sorry, so just because you own the house doesn’t mean you know how to remodel it or build it correctly. You need to hire professionals. But it all starts with, if you have. You’re going through this process, you need to know what you want. The homeowner, don’t be relying on somebody else because you’re going to get feedback from a million different people. To sell you and push you in different ways. So as a homeowner, you have to know what you want.

Just like when you go into a relationship, you have to know what you want. You have to have non-negotiables, just like a relationship. So type your list of what you want, type your list of what you don’t want. Then your architect or your designer will handle it from there. But be clear on what you want and do your homework because you’ve lived in your home maybe 20 years. Or maybe you just bought it, so you know immediately what doesn’t work. And you know how to say yes and no, but if you’re clear on your wants and needs. Your wishes and your intentions, then nothing could really go wrong, just like a relationship. Because you’re going to have to get a team around you.

And then if you work with a team that knows each other. Don’t be the psycho micro manager and pick your own people individually that don’t know each other. Do not do that. Pick a team that knows each other, that works together, and then you’re golden. But just be clear with yourself on what you want is the starting point. And then on your budget, be clear. You know, the budget needs to be told, clear to your designer and your contractor. Because things can go out of control real fast if you ask for one little thing.

Like, I had a client show up to a meeting in 1 hour, they added $850,000 in 1 hour. And I’m like, I told them right there, do you realize this? So I’m going to draw this, okay, and they said yes. Now they’re complaining that the project costs too much. I’m like, are, you fucking deaf? I mean, I told you, and I put it in writing, I told them they knew what they were doing. But this does happen because some people are just cheap and they can’t get over it.

Pamela Bardhi: But.

Julie Laughton: But you got to be clear, and you got to listen and you got to make sure they know your budget.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. And those little changes can actually cost a whole lot. I’m telling you, looking for everyone’s like, oh, but it’ll just a little change. It’s like that little change could change the requirements for electrical, for the framing. If you’re adding any type of plumbing element, that too. Then there’s painting, and then there’s sheet rock, and then there’s.

Julie Laughton: Yeah, I always forget about the painting and all that crap, too, yeah. Because it’s structural. Right away. Bam. And this lady asked for steel windows and windows and doors added to a stone wall. We weren’t supposed to touch that. You can’t get this stone anymore. Like, well, they all have factors.

Pamela Bardhi: Even though you think it’s, like, a small difference, they all have factors.

Julie Laughton: Snowballs.

Pamela Bardhi: Super, super good.

Julie says her favorite part of construction is interacting with the finished home

And, Julie, what are your biggest tips in terms of interior design and those ergonomics and, like, the connection to space? Because I think that’s how I fell in love with construction, was the process of that creation and watching them. Oh, yeah. The space.

Julie Laughton: Yes.

Pamela Bardhi: My favorite part about all of it. I mean, listen. Building, sometimes the process is gruelling, but my favorite part is the end when you get to interact with it.

Julie Laughton: Yes. And you’re in your crate because you remember that it’s. This whole process is so overwhelming for clients because they don’t know what we do. Even if I tell them, I give them, like, a three page printout of what we’re doing day by day. From conception to completion, I still don’t have a clue how it got done. They don’t have a clue what’s happening tomorrow. But I spell it out because the point is, the process is such a beautiful thing. Because we’re building someone’s dream home, so you’re literally taking your dreams. Putting them on paper while someone else is putting them on paper, and then the guys are building it.

So the point is, your dreams translate into how you feel and how the space functions. And that has to be done by a trained professional, because otherwise it won’t come out right. Because everything in the room evokes emotion. The colors, the textures, the lighting, the view. So the building has to be positioned on the lot correctly, the windows, everything. It’s, insane amount of detail that goes into creating someone’s dream home because it’s how they feel in it. Not us.

Julie Laughton: But a true, truly great design God from the beginning, like, beautiful design. Homes that are done by very talented architects with the designer involved are stunning. Because you feel it when you’re in there. You feel the energy works. So it’s a whole thing. That’s why I love it too, because I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t a designer or an architect. It wouldn’t be as much fun because building the dream, I love that.

Are there any pointers to anyone on how to design their dream home

Pamela Bardhi: And are there any pointers to anyone to want to build their dream home when it comes to that exact design? It’s not a one size fits all by any means, but, like, certain things. Is there certain framing that makes you feel a certain way? What are some colors that evoke in those different emotions that you were saying? Just like, cool things? Like, that would be super cool to know.

Julie Laughton: Well, I always say, you know, pull your pictures from magazines because then I get their style. But then I say, what? What’s your favorite place? Like, your favorite rest? Not a restaurant, but like, maybe the favorite hotel you went to or the spa when I’m trying to do a bath. Because I want to get the feeling from them, try to get what they felt when they were in there. Through my series of, you know, psychoanalyzing them, I ask a lot of questions about what. How did it make you feel? And then we do, you know, flashcards with the colors and, but the paint. So here’s my trick on paint. I stick to natural, organic paint colors.

Anything that’s in the stones, I pull it out of the stones, which are made from God, you know, natural stones. The other thing I do is look out the window. What is out there? Are we dealing with ocean scenes, mountain scenes, desert scenes? It has to match what’s out the window? I’m sorry. So it has to be seamless. That energy of where you’re living has to flow. And then you fine tune it to, you know, it’s very fancy or very casual. Or, you know, it’s all high tech behind the scenes because every square inch of how its space is planned is where it starts. But looking out the window is a big tip. Other than matching your natural stone.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that you’re, that’s so awesome that you said that. Because for me, I always love going with the organic colors as well.

Julie Laughton: Yes. Oh, yeah. It has to be natural. I mean, I spent days matching dirt one time, I love it, you know, hard. It’s hard to match dirt.

Pamela Bardhi: It really is. Well, and there’s also like, everyone’s like, I want beige and gray. Like, you know. And I’m like, do you know it took me weeks to figure out what my beige is and what my gray is like.

Julie Laughton: There is variation on the variation in that way. Yeah, there’s a ton.

Pamela Bardhi: And the thing is though, it makes you feel warm and at home and that kind of thing. Like, why? I’ll tell you my favorite design, modern farmhouse. I was just in Austin, Texas.

Julie Laughton: It was fun last night.

Pamela Bardhi: Holy crap.

Julie Laughton: I love it’s so warm and yummy, but it’s timeless and classic at the same time. And you feel like you can be free and you walk in with muddy boots at the same. Also, you know, it’s not to be too careful. Exactly.

Pamela Bardhi: Like, for me, that’s my design type. Then, you know, I tell people, nice, where are you? Where are you feeling the best? You know, like, because your home is an extension of your energy, your office is an extension of your energy. Everything of your real estate that you own is really an extension of you. So you really gotta craft that accordingly. And so, like you said, how do you feel in certain spaces? That’s how you go behind the design work, which I think is so cool. Because I don’t think a lot of people realize, like, the depth of what construction actually is.

Julie Laughton: No, they have no clue.

Pamela Bardhi: I’m like, did you know epigenetics, like, quite literally, your DNA is structured by your environment. What is your environment? Where do you live?

Julie Laughton: Yeah. Your shelter, because it boils down to us designing spaces that humans function in, their shelter. Their shelter and their workspace is very complicated and very intimate. That’s why? It can be tough for some people to. Because some people aren’t good at making decisions because they don’t really know themselves. Then that’s a trick, and they want to do what everybody else is doing. I’m like, but, no, we need to do what’s good for you. And then it turns into like, oh, my God, I can’t do this.

Pamela Bardhi: I know. Isn’t it amazing when you ask someone like, what do you want?

Julie Laughton: Yeah. No, they don’t. They’re not used to that. I had a couple clients last year. Well, one of them in particular, all she wanted was what was the latest and greatest in other people’s homes. It was a smattering of different things that didn’t make any sense. And, boy, it was challenging because it came out okay. But it didn’t sing like it should because it wasn’t her energy, and I couldn’t get it out of her.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that Julie, I love that you. It’s like artwork,

Pamela Bardhi: Really.

Julie Laughton: That artwork, because it’s all about doing it for them because, okay, checks are hard to come up with a theme. But the interior designer is what finishes it. Because, most architects I work with in the path don’t even pick the windows or the doors or the doorknobs. They don’t do the kitchens, they don’t do the floors, the counters, the tile. Some do. Those are the great ones, but they leave.

Interior design is the same as life as remodelling, Julie says

The feeling comes in the interior design, and they really get it done with creating that feeling. So that is the most important part of the job. And it has to sing just like, the paint color has to sing. Like, when you see the right one, it’s like, pops out. It just all said, boom, there it is.

Pamela Bardhi: 1000%, and I love that, Julie. I love that you mentioned that. And, like, you know, what are some of these questions so that, crack the code for people. Anyone who’s listening or, just like, any clients that you would have, like, what would you. What are the questions you would challenge them to ask themselves when they’re looking to create a space. Or if they’re looking to purchase a home or something like that. Like, what to look for, what feelings, maybe to pay attention to things like that? Because these are questions that I feel like people are just like, miss. I’m like, dude, you’re home. Is it such an extension of your energies to be very careful with what you put, you know?

Julie Laughton: So, yeah, and what you buy, because I can’t have a place that doesn’t have a view or light. And I don’t know if it’s just my birth sign because I’m in Aries. But I need to be up on a hill, I don’t want to be in a canyon. Don’t want to be on the bottom floor of a high rise, I want to be up high. I need a view, I need light. A lot of people are very light sensitive. Some people don’t want that, but that, you know, your energy will match, naturally, what you pick. Because something’s inside you is saying, oh, I can’t handle it here. Like, I picked my home because of the view, I didn’t even look at the inside. It had to be gutted anyway but I picked it for the view. That was it. Boom.

As soon as I see the view, I’ll take it. I was in the house, like, 30 seconds. So, it was, I looked at 100 homes before that just so you know, like, 100, I was like, crazy. But, the tip is to really go in there and feel it, because you do internally know what you like. You just have to be quiet for a minute, and then, you know, your body, your mind will tell you. That’s why I use, like, flashcards with people, because I don’t know what I want. And I start going through the pictures and the colors, and all of a sudden, they know exactly what they want. They just never were shown it, it’s like, everybody knows what they want and don’t want. Just so you know, even if you don’t, you think you do, I’ll get it out of you.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that. Well, it’s almost like, you know. Like you’ve got this formula and how you help someone figure out their sense of self. Which then translates into the consumer.

Julie Lawton: That’s what it is.

Pamela Bardhi: So beautiful. That’s, very.

Julie Lawton: The remodel process is the same as life, because if you don’t have a plan or a direction, what are you doing? You know, you. And if you get a purge and cleanse before you move or remodel. Get the old shit out and don’t put it back when you’re moving back in, take everything out. Only put the new back in. If clients’ homes are really toxic, sick energy, I for them before I do the drywall. Because sometimes you get like, oh, my God. But it is, it’s the exact same as having a. Your proper remodelling is like, it’s. Well, it’s also like birthing a child, that’s why I always say nine months for remodelling. We’re going to pop that baby out in nine months, and the workers. So, you know, it’s. You’re birthing something and you’re building something, and it’s their dream.

If they’re not aligned as a person, and there’s a lot of crap going on, it’s tough. And if they. Insecurities and their micromanagers, because all micromanagers and control freaks are insecure and they have a lot of fear. So those are tough people to work with. People don’t usually hire me, just so you know that, are not able to work with people. Because I’m so goddamn up front and pushy about stuff. Don’t have those clients anymore, but I used to have them. You don’t know what you’re doing. Micromanagers make a disaster, you have to hire confident people of the course. But getting people’s dreams on paper, it’s a wonderful thing because that’s the funniest part, is the beginning. Then the rest, like you said, is a grind. I love the first part of it and the end when you get to give it to them.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that. Oh, my gosh, I absolutely love, like, your whole story. And just everything that you do in the design world, in the construction space and just. Like, all these tips and everything.

What would your older self tell your younger self based on what

And this is my favorite question, and I always save it for last because it’s magical. This could be business, it could be personal, whatever comes to your mind. But what would your older self tell your younger self based on what, you know.

Julie Lawton: Now I’m so old. I don’t know. Just kidding. My older self would say, keep up the good work, because I did a lot of work on myself at 40 and 50. Just so you know, because I had to overcome my own little things about trying to please everybody. And set boundaries because I’m an artist, so I had to really


Julie Laughton: do some cord cutting and learn to set boundaries and learn to slow down a little because I didn’t really slow down. But, you know, just not be a people pleaser, because in our business, they just want to hear yes. Then, oh, my God, when you’re the contractor. Nah, you can’t do that. So, I already did all that. I think my older self would say, good job on, the self awareness. Because I really had to get to know myself and that didn’t start till I was 40, trust me. Before that. Oh. Anyway, good job on trusting yourself and knowing yourself, but really only be good to yourself. And really only work with like minded people because you can’t change the disaster shit shows you can’t change people.

But I really have to keep, make sure that we all stay because I have my whole team. We’re all like minded, and it’s all synergy, and it’s like a circle. The client’s happy, the workers are happy, I’m happy. Everybody has to be happy. It’s not just me, the workers too. I just have to make sure I don’t allow the bad ones in. And also working on my legacy of building the company. With having my employees that have been with me take it over someday, you know. So it’s a family thing, it’s like a total, dedicated family thing, so.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that, Julie, I absolutely love that. And I totally resonate with you. The whole boundaries and people pleasing thing is something that I’ve had to work on.

Julie Laughton: The girl thing, too. I think men do it too. But I don’t know, because we’re caregivers. We’re more about, you know, helping. It’s weird, but it is a thing. And I was always, you know, grew up waiting on my elders, you know. Yep. Same year.

Pamela Bardhi: Same year, and so, you know, it’s. Then when you get older, just certain things, you know, the sacrifice, sacrificial wounds, all that kind of stuff. So I totally resonate with you on that. It’s one of those things you’ve got to get into that personal awareness. And then just kind of like, dig deep within yourself, you know, that’s just the big things. But, yeah, boundaries have always been a challenge because you just want to help everybody. You want to do all the things.

Julie Laughton: Especially when you’re able. When you’re able to help them, but you gotta just, you know. Yeah. Got to stay away from the vamp energy vampires.

Pamela Bardhi: Amen to that.

Pamela: Julie, thank you so much for sharing your story

And, Julie, what’s up in your world in the next few months? Like, what are you working on over there?

Julie Laughton: I have a lot of projects with a lot of great clients. And, I just, you know, looking forward to constantly building and then the name. Not building the name, but spreading the word. Constantly spreading the word about the one stop shop, because more people should do it. I mean, more architects should become contractors, more designers should become contractors, and vice versa. It saves the client so much money and time and headache of course. The teams are great, but for remodels, it’s so much easier if you’re dealing with one person. So I’m always, you know, pro client and, spreading the word and pro women in construction constantly. Always reaching out to my girls on Instagram, including you, and just building the business and keeping the energy good. Sharing my talent, because I’m a one man show dynamo. It’s unique, and it’s so fun.

Pamela Bardhi: I love it. Julie, you are magical, my friend. And I’m sure anyone who’s listening is like, oh, yeah, she’s the mom.com. So we got to know where to find you. Where can we find you?

Julie Laughton: It’s really easy. My website is my name, julie lawton, like, l a u g h t o n. Like, laugh a ton. Ha ha. Anyway, but it’s julielawhton.com.

Pamela Bardhi: I adore it.

Julie Laughton: Julie, you are amazing.

Pamela Bardhi: I love your energy, I love your spirit, your creativity, your innovativeness, like, everything. Like, I’m super grateful for you sharing your story today. And the experience is super fun, I could talk construction with you all day, literally.

Julie Laughton: Oh, yeah. You should call, keep in touch, because we got stories, and I know all my guys. We do company zooms on Mondays and Fridays, and the f words are flying and the frustration. So I get it all out in front of my team because you got to get it out. It’s a tough business, it’s a stressful business, but there’s got.

Pamela Bardhi: To be fun to be had there, right?

Julie Laughton: It’s fun when you’re in charge and you know what you’re doing.

Pamela Bardhi: Julie, you are amazing. Thank you so much for everything today.

Julie Laughton: Very welcome.

Pamela Bardhi: So excited for what’s next for you and all of the magic, all of the things.

Julie Laughton: Thank you. Pamela. And I love hearing your story and learning more about you, and we have to definitely keep in touch.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Julie. So that’s it for today’s episode of Underdog. Catch us next week. Always dropping on Thursdays. And remember, if you’re interested in real estate or want to learn how to create more money and magic in your life. Check out meetwithpamala.com and let’s chat. Sending you so, so much love.


Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with Julie Laughton. If you found this story worth your time and made changes in your life, we’d love to hear from you! Subscribe and leave a review. The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

If you’re interested in elevating your life 10x, and owning your power, Pamela invites you to join her for a 15-minute call to set your goals straight and get clarity. Start building your game plan now: meetwithpamela.com