Welcome to 3 Lights Design

By building strong relationships from the outset, we help couples and individuals identify their core beliefs and values in order to create beautiful, highly functional, highly personalized designs that reflect those core beliefs and values.

“It is much, much easier, and far more enjoyable, to build strong relationships in the beginning of a project than to salvage strained ones later on.” 

-Austin Hill Shaw, Designer, Couples Coach, and Founder of 3 Lights Design

Given all the time, money, and material resources that go into even small home remodels, it is easy to see them as primarily material pursuits.

But really, at their core, they are about relationships.

Remodels are initiated by humans, designed by humans, and built by humans. And ultimately, remodels are here to serve humans, to improve the lives of the those who live there, and, ideally, everyone involved.

But such results are almost impossible if the relationships between the people involved are strained, neglected, or outright ignored.

And who bears the brunt of a poorly managed project? The couple, and, by extension, the family as a whole.

Still, far too many architects, designers, building professionals, and clients fail to grasp this essential point: At their core, remodels are not material pursuits, they are relational pursuits.

And if a project has any chance of being a success, both the unique needs of each individual and strength of the relationships between everyone involved must be intentionally cultivated from the start.

Hi, I’m Austin

I'd been a home designer in the building trades for just under a decade when the Great Recession of 2008 hit. Much of my work dried up, forcing me to look elsewhere to support my family. Having a knack for helping couples navigate the complexities of a home remodel project, I began coaching both couples and individuals. As the economy bounced back, my love of good design with my love for healthy relationships merged into the same service. Viola! 3 Lights Design and The Joyful Home Remodel were born.

The old way wasn't working. So we created the solution.

Conventional home remodels are one of the top causes of divorce. In service to the couples and families for whom we work, we came up with a whole new approach, one that focuses on building healthy relationships in the beginning while nurturing them throughout the project.

The 3 Lights Design


We recognize that all of us have arisen from and are an ongoing part of a dynamic, interdependent, deeply mysterious universe and that all activities, including design and building, unfold against this foundational backdrop.

We value the sanctity of all life, including human life, as well as human life’s origin in and continuous dependence upon the natural world.

As a species, human beings are creatures that design and build in order to live, work, and thrive in their environment.

The way in which we design and build, specifically the way in which we actively care for ourselves, for others (partners, family members, neighbors, and building professionals alike), and for the land upon which a project sits, is the single most important factor in determining the overall success of a project.

Those built environments that allow humans to thrive consist of three Core Design Elements including form, that which invokes beauty, function, that which supports us in doing what we do, and intention, that which reminds us of our most cherished beliefs and values.

Likewise, and beyond the basic necessities of food, water, and shelter, we also recognize that all human beings share three Core Human Needs, the need for connection, the need for contribution, and the need for meaning.

A group of people working together to fulfill the Core Human Needs in one another is called community.

The process of working to fulfill these Core Human Needs in relationship to a specific place, and the bond created between both the individual and the community and that place is called stewardship.

A set of challenges presented to an individual so that he or she may grow, coupled with a community that is there to appreciate, acknowledge, and empower that individual’s passage through such challenges, is called initiation.

Because our built environments are so inextricably linked to our sense of wellbeing, and because all design and building projects present significant challenges along the way, a design and build project can be experienced as either an indignity, a painful, drawn-out affront to one’s normal life or as an initiation, a set of noble challenges presented to an individual, family, or organization and witnessed by a community of service-oriented building professionals for the sake of growth.

Happiness is a temporary state. Joy is an enduring trait. Whereas scheming, struggling, and enduring to reach a project's finish line may result in a temporary state of happiness, embracing the journey as a whole, from beginning to end and beyond, and actively caring for one another’s Core Human Needs along the way, can instill a lasting trait of enduring joy.

3 Lights Design presents a whole new approach to design and building that pairs the Core Design Elements--form, function, and intention--with our Core Human Needs--connection, contribution, and meaning--in order to orchestrate design journeys that are deeply fulfilling, and with design results that are aesthetically beautiful, highly functional, and deeply personal. Ultimately, the goal is to revitalize both our internal landscapes and our external environments at the same time, leaving everyone involved feeling more connected with themselves, with others, and with both the land and the cosmos for having gone through the journey together.

A truly successful design and building project is not only an expression of the final result, but the quality of the journey itself.