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Builder Brad Williams in his home workshop.

Featured Article

A Builder's Journey

From Pennsylvania to Colorado to New Mexico and Finally SW Lake County, Brad Williams Crafts Custom Remodels

Article by Stephen Neilson

Photography by Stephen Neilson

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

Brad Williams, owner of Williams Designers & Builders, is a long-time resident of Hawthorn Woods and an accomplished contractor with experience in home building, additions, extensive renovations including kitchens and baths, and major remodeling.

With well over 100 client projects, his work was featured on an episode of HGTV’s “New Spaces” program. Williams is proud that over 90% of his business comes from past client recommendations and referrals. Customer comments on Williams’ work are enthusiastic and grateful. For example: “Brad Williams is not just a builder. He’s the best contractor we’ve ever worked with in terms of quality, responsiveness, creativity, and ideas.”

On the summer day we met, Brad and his lovely wife, Shari, carried a sequence of striking furniture pieces and other skillfully-made items to the (pandemic-approved) outdoor air of their patio. Each handcrafted piece was on display under the sun for a photo shoot, all unique in their quality and design.

Woodworking in his home shop is how Williams unwinds. His work with clients designing and building truly memorable interior spaces and homes isn’t complete until he presents the happy homeowners with a thank-you gift he made that becomes a cherished possession. Each is a reminder of the partnership created between the family and their contractor.

Williams caught the building bug while growing up Pennsylvania. “I always had an affinity for working with my hands and building things,” he said. When he was 10 years old his parents designed a new home and hired a contractor to build it. “I went there almost every day to watch, fascinated to see the process of construction from excavation and framing through all the finishing phases. I became friends with the carpenters, who let me pitch in. I guess you could say I was hooked on home building at an early age. I spent every bit of my allowance on whatever tool I could buy. I soon started building tree forts, including a 2-story one with decks and ladders.”

He attended a small liberal arts school before transferring to West Virginia University to earn a degree in forestry. His education also included part-time and summer work with contractors where he learned a variety of skills in the building trades.

After graduation there were few opportunities for a local forestry career, so Williams and a friend decided California was the place they’d want to be, so they loaded up the car and they moved to... Colorado. “My love of the mountains was just too strong to continue the trip to California,” he said. Construction was booming in towns like Breckenridge, Dillon and Silverthorne, and Williams furthered his career in construction. Lucky for him, it was at the Old Dillon Inn where he met Shari; they later married at Chicago’s Knickerbocker Hotel. 

An opportunity to relocate to Ruidoso in the Sierra Blanca mountains of New Mexico followed, providing Williams opportunity to move up to construction management. After a few happy, successful years there, a recession drove the young family to Chicagoland to be closer to Shari’s family. Settling in Hawthorn Woods in 1992 allowed Williams to launch his own company designing and building custom homes, room additions and remodeling upgrades.

Every new client relationship starts the same way: Williams meets with the family, walks through their home, discusses their needs and wishes, crafts a plan, determines a budget and timetable, and personally manages the process through to successful completion.

While he doesn’t work with his hands at construction sites as he once did, he revels in retreating nearly every day to his home woodshop to build. “He’s in there more than he’s in the house,” said Shari. 

A popular gift Williams creates for customers is a charcuterie board, marked as are all the items with his personal design stamp. He proudly noted, “People don’t throw them away. You handcraft a gift, and people appreciate them.”

His woodworking repertoire also includes coffee tables and Mahjong game cases.  A masterfully crafted inlaid case he surprised Shari with to perfectly house her mother’s cherished Mahjong set is now proudly displayed (and used) in the family home.

For more information, call Brad Williams at 847.913.3771, or visit

  • Williams holds a brochure featuring a custom build he completed in Long Grove.
  • A floating-top, Williams-handcrafted coffee table temporarily enjoys some sunshine on the deck for this photo.
  • Builder Brad Williams in his home workshop.
  • The Williams home in Hawthorn Woods, built by Williams upon moving to Illinois.
  • A surprise gift to his wife Shari, this handcrafted box cradles her mother's heirloom Mahjong tiles.
  • Beautiful craftsmanship.
  • Handcrafted Charcuterie board with Brad's personal design stamp.
  • Williams adding finishing touches to his handcrafted table.