Brett Phillips, M.A. ’08, and his wife Kara are owners of real estate and building company High Street Homes

Husband-Wife Team Builds Homes and Designs them with Purpose

by University Relations

From practical to posh, home designers often create living spaces based on current trends and common appeal, but Brett Phillips, M.A. ’08, and his wife, Kara—owners of real estate and building company High Street Homes—favor philosophy over the latest fashions. Guided by the motto “Where purpose is lived,” the Texas-based design team focuses on the occupants, believing that people should feel like they truly belong in their home.

“Everyone should love how they live every day, and their home significantly contributes to whether they do,” said Phillips, who built his first home in 2012 with his wife and sold it after just nine days on the market. “We lived in several places that didn’t allow us to thrive daily. Whether it was due to space constraints, limited natural light, or functionality that impacted our routine, we saw firsthand how a home can support or diminish someone’s ability to carry out their purpose each day.”

Impressed by their unique aesthetic sensibilities and intriguing approach to design, other people started asking the duo to build their homes, which subsequently led to the successful launch of their client-facing business. “We listen to our clients’ needs versus their wants, and seek to understanding the fundamental change they would like to achieve through the process,” said Phillips. “It’s easy to get caught up in what would ‘be cool,’ rather than opting for something that you’ll use and love every day.”

At the start of a project, Phillips asks clients three main questions: “What does a typical day or week in your life look like?”, “What is missing in your home?”, and “What aspects of your home do you like or use daily that need to be present in your new home?”

The design pair also educate clients on the importance of a room’s functionality for the present and into the future. “Initially, a home office for a young couple can later be transformed into a nursery,” said Phillips, a father to three young boys. “Adding an en suite bathroom to a second bedroom may work for an aging parent who might move into the home as care options change.”

Although the couple have an aligned vision regarding the purpose of each project, their skills differ in how they best support the success of a renovation or new build. “My skills focus more on people management, while Kara’s are focused on design,” said Philips. “We give each other freedom in our respective areas, but we connect at different phases to ensure all the moving pieces come together seamlessly.”

Honing their style, while helping people live their best lives at home, has opened new doors for the Phillips family. In addition to launching Phillips House Co., an ecommerce shop filled with everyday essentials, artisan-made goods, and found items for the home, they also share design content and tips on their blog. Most recently, they filmed a television pilot called Home to Last on HGTV showcasing their distinct approach to design. “Helping families come home to a place that allows them to thrive is pretty much our dream job,” said Phillips. “Everything important starts and ends at home.”