Two is Better Than One

For some married couples, mixing personal and professional lives is taboo. For others, however, the opposite is true. Trinity White and Jesse Mischel are a designer-carpenter duo whose respective gifts syncopate and shine all the more when paired together. Their home in East Austin combines Trinity’s efficient, economical design with Jesse’s natural handiwork. Likewise, Edgar and Laurel Prats of PGM Design + Build, find his overarching design expertise is honed by her shrewd financial savvy and interior prowess. The two couples weave a unique tapestry of talent thanks to their distinct eye and ethos, and in both cases, the old adage proves true that two really is better than one.


Trinity White and Jesse Mischel

Jesse, Trinity and baby Leo gather in an alcove off the sleeping porch. Materials like reclaimed cedar fence boards and translucent Polygal bring texture and natural light into the nook.

At Trinity White and Jesse Mischel’s home on East 16th Street, appearances are deceiving. From the curb, a small home sits on a grassy lawn parched from summer’s sauna. At first glance, the scene looks nothing out of the ordinary, that is until glimmers of tin peek through rustling leaves just beyond the house.

For Trinity and Jesse, home is here, tucked back amidst the trees. This secluded secondary home, with its canary-colored Hardie board, metal trim and textured wood, is as charming as the couple that occupies it. At just 849 square feet, the two-story house is a model of the small, sustainable and affordable projects Trinity is making a name for herself designing.

The Tulane-educated designer whose business is eponymously named believes in creating buildings — both commercial and residential — that are productive, compassionate and affordable to the end user.

“It can feel generous,” she says of her projects, adding that the challenge is in making small square footage feel big.


1. Around the house, handmade items from friends and family are lovingly displayed. Trinity’s grandmother crocheted the cream colored Afghan blanket, which warms the family couch. 2. The kitchen’s soaring ceilings are a mix of reclaimed wood from Jesse’s projects. Chalkboard art and sun-colored accents add a playful touch while the poster overhead was from a gallery Trinity’s father performed in when her family lived in Paris. 3. Apple green cushions inside the screened porch mirror the home’s lush surroundings.

Every square foot in the couple’s own home, including enclaves like the rooftop sleeping porch, is utilized for comfort, without losing track of economic sensibility. Sustainable choices reveal themselves subtly from the angled, photovoltaic roof to the high windows, large overhangs and breezy, southern alignment.

Building a home as newlyweds was challenging but not without its rewards, as it made the pair better communicators and more appreciative of their respective passions. “We end up egging each other on,” said Trinity, whose vision of having bi-fold doors off their kitchen came to fruition thanks to Jesse’s talent.

Jesse, who comes from a long line of carpenters, found his niche in the field by perfecting the art of trim work and cabinetry. “There is a romantic aspect to it,” says Jesse of his medium. Soon, he’ll take his carpentry competence to trailers, beginning with a 1972 Airstream. Whether they’re working together or on independent projects, the couple emanates a mutual respect for their distinct skills. No matter the project, it’s clear thus far that the two are focused both collectively and individually on making beautiful and sustainable footprints, regardless of size.


Laurel + Edgar Prats

The sartorially savvy duo stand alongside the tremendous pivot glass front door at their home in The Overlook Estates. The door measures 6-feet wide by 8-feet tall and was made in-house by PGM.

Laurel and Edgar Prats know a thing or two about serendipity. The pair met years ago at one of Edgar’s concerts in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the time, Laurel owned a study abroad company and Edgar was a musician. The rest, as they say, is history.

“When I saw her walk in it was one of those times where you just knew,” he says. “It was inevitable.” The stylish couple, who have substantial ties to real estate (Laurel is an advisor with Engel & Volkers), say they have found balance in their relationship both personally and professionally since starting PGM Design + Build in 2011. The business developed out of their love of modern architecture and the desire to establish it further within Austin.

While the company offers remodeling services in addition to spec home building, the Prats’ largest projects are custom. “We want our spaces to not only be functional and efficient, but a reflection of our clients’ style and way of life,” says Edgar. The process begins with a meeting to learn about the client’s living habits. A mood board of images is created, and after experimenting with layouts, the team delivers a visual rendering of the home. In the end, each project is like art, infused with each client’s unique persona and lifestyle.


1. Local artist Taylor Winn’s abstract paintings add color to the foyer, which is bathed in clean lines and natural light. 2. A suspended steel stairwell offsets the polished concrete floors used throughout the couple’s home. 3. Franky, the couple’s two- toned English sheepdog, gives a paw in the foyer. 4. The kitchen’s cool color palette is warmed with unexpected accents, like acacia wood beneath the island.

While Laurel manages PGM’s financials and works with clients on interior details, Edgar oversees the company’s many in-house services, from scouting land to designing, drafting and constructing.

Sustainability and respect for topography are key motifs of PGM’s design philosophy, not to mention pivotal factors in deciphering the house’s best alignment. Sun studies are done with every PGM project and passive design is implemented to efficiently utilize air currents.

“He thinks about where every single window goes,” says Laurel of her husband, adding, “Every window is placed for a reason.” That level of concentration, intent and purpose is evident throughout PGM’s projects, yet when the focus blurs the barriers between personal and professional life, the couple happily reminds one another of their family priorities.

“When things start to get a little crazy we send each other pictures of our kids,” said Edgar adding, “It reminds us what’s important and why we’re doing this.”


Photography by Nicole Mlakar


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