At Home: Dream Home Come True
Builder puts herself into her own home.
Since founding her company in 2002, Lori Urbano has become one of the city’s most innovative builders of top-scale, quality-crafted homes.
By Steve Bennett
Photography by Al Rendon
Although builder Lori Urbano does commercial projects — the Southtown firehouse restaurant renovation Battalion comes to mind — most of her work with Urbano Design and Build is high-end residential. One of her latest home builds, completed in just eight months during the pandemic, nearly seven years after she purchased a piece of property in the gated Inverness community, is her own home.
Among the personal touches in the 5-bedroom, 4.5 bath, 3800-square-foot contemporary design are a custom glass and steel front door, ceilings ranging from 10 to 20 feet, a blackout bedroom with motorized shades, lime plaster walls, a dog-washing station, heated bathroom floors, a showpiece staircase, a movie room for the self-professed film nut and an overall open concept that allows views of the backyard pool from virtually every room in the house.
Q: Is this your dream home?
A: Oh yeah, I did everything in this house for me, so I would say it is. I wanted to design and build a home that was a mix of transitional and very modern, something that reflects me as a person. I wanted it to be timeless but practical. For example, I have three dogs, so I used tile floors throughout. By the same token, I entertain a lot, and people are constantly coming in and out of the pool, so that that wood would have been impractical. But, as much as I wanted to create a home to my tastes, I also wanted a place that I could show to potential clients. So yes, this is me, at least for now. I did everything for me yet also made it work for resale. As a builder, I know someone might come along and make an offer I can’t refuse. But, I do not like to move.
Q: I see you have the enormous Thermador range. Not going to ask what that cost. Are you a good cook?
A: No, I’m not. But I have friends in the restaurant business and others who are excellent in the kitchen. I got a call from a producer in LA, and they’re going to do a cooking show here in my kitchen. It’s just a two-day shoot, and they’re going to recruit a local chef and a local artist to set the table. I’ll invite over some friends to eat the meal. I thought it was a great idea. I love to entertain, and it sounds like fun.
Q: How do you characterize your design style?
A: Eclectic. I can design and build in any style, from French provincial to sleek modern. I renovated an Atlee Ayers house. My goal is that you see one of my homes and not know who built it. I don’t want someone to take one look and say, ‘Oh, that’s an Urbano home.’
A native Texan, Steve Bennett has written about art, architecture and books for more than 30 years, working for the San Antonio Light, Express-News and Austin American-Statesman. Currently a freelance writer and editor, Steve makes a mean dish of green enchiladas and believes there aren’t many better things in life than the drawings of Vincent Valdez and the Berlin noir detective novels of Philip Kerr.