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O n March 11, 2020, Houston native Lauren Wills flew in from New York with her fiancé for one of Houston's biggest events of the year: the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. But within hours of landing, the rodeo was cancelled due to COVID-19, and the city was heading into lockdown. Returning to New York and their small apartment wasn't an option, so the couple headed west to her parents' ranch in Brenham, where they isolated for the next four-and-a- half months. "It was a blessing, getting stuck on 60 acres," Wills says. With horses, cattle, and acres of wildflowers just starting to bloom, lockdown on the ranch was a welcome reprieve from the hustle of New York, where she had moved 16 years earlier to study interior design at Pratt. Wills hit the ground running after graduation, working with top designers Penny Drue Baird and Jeffrey Bilhuber, followed by a two-year stint at Ralph Lauren Home. She opened her Brooklyn-based firm, Wills Design Associates, in 2014 and hasn't slowed down since. One of her most challenging projects was the Brenham ranch house, which her parents had hired her to work on three years ago. An architect had drawn up plans, but when the contractor dropped out, Wills picked up the slack and supervised construction. "I quickly learned how to build a house," says Wills, 35. "It took three years of me flying back and forth from New York twice a month to finish." With broad, covered porches and a pitched metal roof, the two-story house has its roots in classic Texas ranch-house design. The interiors are bright, airy, and imbued with charm. Wills found many of the furnishings in Round Top — just 30 minutes away — including a pair of ornately carved double doors in the living room. "I had been looking for more than a year for something special to put there, and when I saw them, I said, 'Oh my god, these would be so much fun.'" She also discovered colorfully striped Peruvian blankets, which she used to cover the dining-room chairs, along with small UNDER THE SHELTERING SKY Lauren Wills designed a charming ranch house on 60 acres in Brenham for her parents. Nine months later, it became her refuge during the pandemic. BY REBECCA SHERMAN. PHOTOGRAPHY KERRY KIRK. INTERIOR DESIGN LAUREN WILLS, WILLS DESIGN ASSOCIATES. On the wall are hunting trophies belonging to Lauren Wills' father.

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