2021 was a magical year for the entire Laura U Design Collective team. Looking back at a wonderful year, we reflect on our westward expansion into Aspen-Snowmass. We also recall our favorite design projects and the awards and press that celebrated them. From attending High Point to Laura joining the Sherwin-Williams Design Council, 2021 was full of rewarding experiences for our full-service residential design and interior design firm. It was also a year of recognition for our talented, multidisciplinary team and for Laura and Gina’s leadership in the industry. Walk through our year in review below and learn all about the many exciting moments our design firm experienced throughout 2021.
In 2021, the Laura U Design Collective…
. E N T E R E D O U R S E C O N D Y E A R A S A F U L L – S E R V I C E F I R M O F F E R I N G R E S I D E N T I A L D E S I G N & I N T E R I O R D E S I G N .
Fifteen years ago, Laura Umansky founded both the Laura U Design Studio and Laura U Interior Design. Last year, Laura and the team converted our collective into a full-service design firm. As a full-service design firm, LUDC now specializes in both interior and residential building design. While some projects are smaller in scale, others begin with a concept sketch and culminate in a newly constructed custom home.
In 2021, we continued along this journey with our founder Laura Umansky and our Creative Director Gina Elkins leading the way. We broke ground on a few homes we designed from foundation to furnishings this year. Learn more about what our full-service design firm has on the boards in 2022 here.
. E X P A N D E D W E S T W A R D T O A S P E N – S N O W M A S S I N C O L O R A D O .
In an article for Cowboys & Indians Magazine, Rhonda Reinhart alludes to the expansion. She writes that our founder Laura Umansky “fell fast and hard for everything the Aspen area had to offer” seven years ago. Shortly after working on a client’s Roaring Fork River vacation home way back in 2014, Umansky bought a house in Aspen. Last year, our full-service design firm established a second studio in Aspen, Colorado – over a thousand miles away from our Houston office. Here, our team has enjoyed a number of engaging projects. One of our favorites from last year was the Mountainview residence renovation – designed for clients who split their time between Houston and Aspen.
With Laura now living and working in Aspen, she has created a “gateway to the West” for the LUDC team. It will now be much easier for the Collective to serve our clients in California, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Montana. Earlier this year, our founder Laura Umansky decided to do the same. In January 2021, we announced plans to solidify our westward expansion into Colorado by opening our first show house outside Houston.
. I N T R O D U C E D T H E M O U N T A I N L A N E S H O W H O U S E .
To accompany our office in Aspen, Laura Umansky and Creative Director Gina Elkins will transform a 1995 home in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. In Western Art and Architecture, Laura Beausire asked Laura and Gina about the upcoming Mountain Lane Show House project. Laura Umansky responded, noting that she is “a sucker for a massive renovation…and on the flip side, Gina loves new construction design.” As such, Gina and Laura are the perfect pair to tackle this project. To create a space that perfectly bridges the gap between form and function, LUDC has chosen a few incredible partners. Gina and Laura will partner with Monogram Appliances and Permiano Builders on our Mountain Lane Show House.
Next year, the Mountain Lane Show House will become the second of two show houses designed by Laura and the LUDC team. Upon completion, the Mountain Lane Show House will both reflect the landscape and honor the rich culture of Aspen-Snowmass. Like the Boulevard Show House in Houston, Mountain Lane will eventually serve as a family home for Laura, her husband, and their kiddos. When we present the Show House to the public, ticket sales will benefit our community partner – the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Decades after its founding, Anderson Ranch continues to offer the Aspen community a variety of lectures, workshops and events while supporting local artists. We are incredibly proud to honor this iconic institution! You can track our progress on the Mountain Lane Show House here or on Instagram.
. C O M P L E T E D I N C R E D I B L E P R O J E C T S F O R I N S P I R I N G C L I E N T S .
From our Houston Heights home to our Majesty Row residence, 2021 was a year of incredible design projects. We chronicle many of our interior design, renovation and new construction projects in our “Project Reveal” series. However, you can learn about a few of our select favorites below.
River Oaks Traditional
Built in the charming century-old neighborhood of River Oaks, this home was stately but stuck in the past when we started our remodel. Though the owners wanted a space contemporary and functional enough for modern entertaining, they hoped to honor its original features. To strike a balance between the two, this updated home now boasts glamorous gold accents, frosted glass, fun patterns and unusual textures. Though the LUDC team added many fresh pieces to the home during our renovation, existing pieces were also restored rather than replaced.
Working alongside some of our favorite vendors, Senior Designer Shannon Smith and Lead Desginer Britian Matherne brought this home into the twenty-first century. From the kitchen’s checkered floor to the powder room’s Queen of Spain wallpaper, every space in this home preserves its own distinct personality. At the same time, each space contributes to a cohesive design program. Read all about the eye-catching update this River Oaks Traditional home received here.
The odd-man out, our client’s home in Houston Heights was one of few contemporary constructions in a sea of century old structures. To honor both their modern sensibilities and the neighborhood’s historic past, our clients brought the LUDC team in to update this Houston Heights home. In an exciting turn of events, our clients granted the Laura U Design Collective absolute artistic freedom. As a result, this bold, contemporary interior effortlessly strikes the perfect balance between timeless and timely without an ounce of trendiness. While each room is stylistically set apart from the next, each space is intriguing and impactful. Some are light and playful while others are dark and moody, but each is the perfect fit for this home and its owners.
For example, an organic color palette of charcoal, sage green, burnt sienna and pale gold welcomes guests in the home’s foyer. Simultaneously, a mind-bending wall covering designed by Christian Astuguevieille and a sculptural Rich Brilliant Willing chandelier wow in the dining room. A testament to art and design, this project actually won Design et al.’s International Design and Architecture Award. Photos of the project were also published digitally in Rue Magazine. Learn all about our Houston Heights Modern interior design project here.
Our Majesty Row project in The Woodlands was another memorable remodel from 2021. A contemporary home in a historic neighborhood, this residence was purchased by our clients last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly thereafter, the home’s owners sought out the LUDC team for a whole-house renovation. As we noted in our recent post “Our Favorite Kitchen Remodels to Inspire Your Project,” this renovation involved quite a few major alterations.
After discussing the plan with our clients, the team decided to move the main kitchen fifteen feet. In doing so, our designers created a natural flow throughout the home that was clearly missing. Our team also chose to build a new prep kitchen, add windows, construct a day pantry and more distinctly define the foyer. From site evals to finish selections, our multidisciplinary team of project managers, designers and other talented professionals managed this entire project from top to bottom. Learn all about the Majesty Row remodel here.
. R E C E I V E D R E C O G N I T I O N F O R E X C E L L E N C E I N T H E I N D U S T R Y .
In “LUDC: Top Designer in Houston TX,” we outline all the ways in which our design firm was honored over the last few years. Below, we choose a few of the most meaningful designations received by our founder Laura Umansky and the rest of the team in 2021.
Design et al. International Design and Architecture Award
As mentioned above, our Heights Modern project won the design et al. International Architecture & Design Award for Living Space – Americas this year. According to design et al.’s website, these “awards have supported the global interior design and architecture industry.” At the same time, they have “brought together an elite group of companies” over the last thirteen years. The International Design & Architecture Awards from design et al. “are constantly regarded as the ‘pinnacle of recognition within the industry.’” We were honored to be recognized by design et al. this year.
Luxe RED Award – Wow Factor Room
Our firm also won a LUXE Residential Excellence in Design Award for “Wow-Factor Room.” The conservatory from our Viscaino project in Pebble Beach stole the show with its large-scale foliage wallpaper, punchy color palette and whimsical furniture. LUDC’s Viscaino project in California was also recognized in 2020 by Rue Magazine.
LUDC’s Green Tree project in Tanglewood recently won the award for Residential Interior Under 3500 Sq Ft at the 2021 Paper City Design Awards. Laura Umansky and Shannon Smith updated this 1957 home while honoring its history. Judges Corey Damen Jenkins, Alessandra Branca and Matthew Patrick Smyth all raved about our Green Tree project.
Jenkins reportedly “loved the use of sculptural lighting and furnishings.” Branca noted the “very updated Mad Men mid-century vibe” and “loved the play of then and now colors.” Smyth described “a wonderful lightness” in the Green Tree project, adding that each space is still “fully grounded.” Learn about the other Paper City Design Award winners in the post “The Winning Entries for the PaperCity Design Awards Houston 2021 Are. . .”
Sherwin-Williams Design Council Appointment
One of just seven interior designers chosen, LUDC founder Laura Umansky joined the Sherwin-Williams Design Council earlier this year. As part of the Sherwin-Williams Design Council, Laura will share her design expertise as well as inspirations from and expectations for the industry. To begin, Laura compiled a list of her top paint color picks and trends for 2021. Many of these can be found throughout the Mountain Lane Show House. Some of her favorites include “Mountain Pass,” “After the Storm” and “Black Fox.” Her “Mountain Pass” pick was inspired by Aspen. Go through all Laura’s paint picks for 2021 here.
. A T T E N D E D T R A D E S H O W S & P A R T I C I P A T E D I N P A N E L S .
After a year sheltering in place and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were so excited to attend in-person events. Our team attended trade shows like High Point Market. At the same time, Creative Director Gina Elkins presented alongside other industry experts at the Luxe Interiors + Design Fall Market Panel.
High Point Market
Following a necessary hiatus during the pandemic, High Point Market was back and better than ever in 2021. With a focus on sustainability, this year’s Market celebrated innovative designers, traditional craftsmanship and previous periods in design history. We noted five exciting design trends at the October High Point Market and elaborated on each in our High Point Market Recap Trends Report. Some of the most intriguing interior design trends to catch our eye include curved furnishings, fluted details, moody colors and sculptural lighting. We look forward to attending the Market once again four months from now!
Luxe Interiors + Design Fall Market Panel: Elements of Timeless Design & Architecture
LUDC Creative Director Gina Elkins joined our design firm with fourteen years of experience in architecture. Gina brought her passion for residential design, knowledge of design history and years of architectural experience to the Collective. Earlier this year, Gina dug into her depth of experience and breadth of knowledge as she participated in a panel for Luxe Interiors + Design. Gina represented our firm as she presented at the Fall Market Panel: Elements of Timeless Design & Architecture.
. P R E P A R E D F O R N E X T Y E A R A S A D E S I G N F I R M I N A S P E N & H O U S T O N .
Lastly, in the final months of 2021, we prepared for the New Year. As we head into 2022, the Laura U Design Collective team is nothing but excited for our upcoming projects. Whether in California, Montana, Colorado or Texas, we cannot wait to bring our clients’ dreams to life through our “wholistic” approach to design. Stay with us as we embark on exciting creative journeys, engage with our communities and honor each client’s vision for their perfect home.