The thing Lindsey Love enjoys the most about pushing dirt is working with her hands. But she’s not building houses—she’s drawing them.
She never would have expected that she would have discovered her artistic center working for ML Group, an award-winning architecture firm going on 33 years in business in Flower Mound, TX, designing custom homes all over Texas and beyond.
But discover it she did—and she positively bursts with enthusiasm and creativity when she talks about her work.
“Just drawing is so fun for me,” she said. “Working with colors, you get to play with every aspect of things. Like windows, I don’t think a lot of people understand that just the tiniest little tweak changes the whole house. Just changing the normal window to an arch can change everything.”
Architecture wasn’t completely alien to her—she grew up surrounded by it. The “ML” in ML Group stands for Michael Love, firm founder and Lindsey’s father. Architecture was a constant topic of discussion around the dinner table. ML Group employees would pick her up from school.
For his part, Michael Love would watch cartoons with his little girl and make sketches for
potential houses based on the whimsical illustrations. He called Lindsey’s cartoons his “cheat sheet.”
Of course, familiarity can breed contempt … at least temporarily. With characteristic teenage stubbornness, Lindsey resolved never to go into the family business.
“Growing up, I didn’t want to be involved,” she remembers. “I grew up in the business. I’m only 24, I was literally raised in the business!”
She understandably wanted to craft her own identity and didn’t know what that would look like if she followed in her father’s footsteps into the dirt-pushing business. Anyway, it’s uncommon to see women pushing dirt (at least in the public eye), so she never really gave it a second thought.
But Michael had his eye on his little girl, watching with glee as she became obsessed with Minecraft, a freeform “sandbox” video game that acts as fertile ground for creative children and the young-at-heart. You can even design and build houses in Minecraft! Her father also took note when Lindsey discovered Photoshop and fell in love with the design possibilities of the digital cloud.
Lindsey initially went to school for kinesiology, the study of human body movement. However, the subject didn’t hold her interest. She quit school and was working in a hair salon to make ends meet when her father came calling for his prodigal daughter. Playing the “Daddy’s Girl” card like a masterful father, he plucked her out of the salon with no questions asked, gave her a tablet PC with a drawing stylus, and told her to go to town.
Within days, the creativity hooked her. It was like Minecraft, only in real life. Five years later, Lindsey has risen to the role of production manager, in love with her place in the dirt-pushing business, and she wishes more women would see dirt-pushing as a viable career path for them.
“You have to be open-minded,” she said. “You have to know your stuff, but I didn’t know anything when I started. I learned on the job.”
So what has Lindsey excited in the realm of custom home design? Prayer rooms, for one thing. First there was the game room, then the safe room, and the pandemic gave rise to the Zoom room, but more and more people are building spirituality into their home plans—possibly since current events have shaken us to the soul.
To make the challenge even more interesting, some religions need their prayer room to make a certain direction. If the lot doesn’t lend itself to that direction, it makes for an intriguing design challenge and a unique floor plan—a challenge that Lindsey relishes.
“I’m obsessed with those kinds of rooms,” she said. “I love a quiet room where I can think on my own and nobody’s going to bother me.”
She also gets a kick out of the rising popularity of energy-efficient homes—solar panels,
tankless water heaters, LED downlights instead of recessed tank lights. “It saves them so much money,” she said, “Because the bulbs don’t wear out as fast, they cost less money and use less energy.”
As excited as she is to design other peoples’ dream homes, Lindsey struggles to design her own dream home. This is actually common for creative people—prolific with other people's projects, only to face writer’s block with their own.
“I think I’ve tried to design my house myself a couple of times,” she said, chuckling ruefully. “I’ll work on it for a couple of hours and think ‘I don’t want that! I don’t want that!’ Every time I put it on paper, I’m like ‘I don’t like it!’ and I have to start again!”
She has a few must-haves in her dream home, though: modern farmhouse style, tall windows, an open kitchen with a huge island to indulge her passion for cooking. An Alexa enthusiast, she loves houses that come preloaded to be Smart Homes. And, most interestingly, she wants an open courtyard in the middle of the home, with plants and a hammock where she can lounge and read a book in peace—her version of a prayer room.
As she takes on more responsibility at ML Group, peace and “me time” become more important than ever for Lindsey.
“Especially with COVID this year,” Lindsey said, “Everyone is taking a step back and a lot of people are really focusing on their mental health.” For Lindsey, this looks like time with friends, jogging, cooking, and knitting. She has knitted several queen-sized blankets. She will spend months on a blanket, and then give it away to a friend or relative. “I don’t need any more blankets. I have enough!”
For her, the act of knitting is more important than the final product. “[Knitting] helps me so much because I can power down my brain,” she said, invoking how even the best jobs can follow us home if we don’t set boundaries. “If I’m sitting there knitting I don’t have to think about ‘This door needs to be here, this door needs to be there!’”
The COVID pandemic has led her to be introspective about her dirt-pushing life, and to a deep sense of gratitude that eluded her in her Minecraft days.
“You just have to have that positive attitude,” she said. “For me, it’s hard. I struggle with that positive attitude. But with everything recently, I’m like, ‘We’re going to just be happy and do what makes us happy, and then we’re gonna get up and do it all over again!’”