When we introduced our Mountain Lane Show House project back in January 2021, our multidisciplinary team was brimming with excitement over its potential. Together, we brought Mountain Lane down to the studs and prepared it for a complete overhaul. Top of mind was our goal to turn this outdated 1995 home into a modern space suitable for Laura’s busy family of four. We streamlined obstructive architectural details, making the home bolder and brighter. With help from local partners and beloved brands, our team modernized Mountain Lane and rooted it in place. Today, the Mountain Lane Show House reflects both Laura’s unique taste and Aspen’s unique landscape. From the minimalist foyer and vaulted entryway to clerestory windows and a surprise reading nook, explore updated architectural details in our MLSH home tour.
From North Boulevard to Mountain Lane
Enthralled by its culture, community and stunning landscape, Laura and her family fell in love with Aspen-Snowmass in 2014. Drawn to Aspen time and time again, the Laura U Design Collective would eventually open a studio in the Colorado mountain town. Several years after her first visit to Aspen, Laura and the Collective transformed North Boulevard into our first show house. The North Boulevard Show House is pictured above on the left.
Houston’s North Boulevard Show House would later set the stage for Mountain Lane – though their architecture and interiors diverge from each other. Completely transformed from foundation to furnishings, Mountain Lane represents our firm’s transition too. With guidance from Creative Director Gina Elkins and Founder Laura Umansky, our holistic design firm now offers residential building design alongside interior design.
Laura is a “renovation junkie” and was searching for a “major project” when Aspen real estate agent Doug Leibinger found Mountain Lane. Laura’s wheels immediately started turning – crafting a creative vision for the outdated home built in 1995. Awash with competing design elements, Laura knew the Mountain Lane Show House was due for an architectural overhaul. Our primary goal was to create a modern house for Laura’s family of four that would also be ideal for entertaining.
From the kitchen to the great room, too many angles obstructed the flow of what would become our Mountain Lane Show House. Though windows throughout the home offered potential for great views, their odd shapes and sizes distracted from the outdoors. In the primary bath — for example — a large picture window over the tub overlooked the garden but eliminated the possibility of privacy. Bizarrely placed columns and other architectural elements made the space feel clunky and needlessly complicated.
As such, our team planned to reframe windows, alter arch shapes and vault ceilings. Our team sought to improve the home’s overall flow by updating its layout. To do so, we removed unattractive columns, added fresh architectural details, streamlined the home’s staircase and expanded the kitchen. We also chose to build out a brand-new foyer, which creates a seamless indoor-outdoor transition.
. O U R M O U N T A I N L A N E S H O W H O U S E P A R T N E R S .
As a full-service firm, we collaborate with both clients and partners early in the design process. This allows us to ensure the home’s structure flows with its furnishings. To help bring Laura’s vision to life, we relied heavily on partners like Monogram Appliances, Cosentino and Hudson Valley Lighting Group. Some are local to the Aspen-Snowmass area, while others have a global presence. Providing appliances and hard surfaces for our Mountain Lane Show House, Monogram and Cosentino helped craft the kitchen, great room, butler’s pantry and baths. We partnered with Hudson Valley Lighting Group and Paragon Systems Integration to craft dimmable lighting solutions that conform to the community’s HOA regulations.
As a Sherwin-Williams Design Council member in 2021, Laura chose the world-class company for paints and finishes throughout the MLSH. Accessories designed for Laura’s other passion — entertaining — are from Alchemy Fine Home. Artistic tile in our guest, primary and powder baths is from Ann Sacks. Daltile features heavily in the exterior entry, foyer, kitchen and butler’s pantry.
Soft finishes — e.g. window treatments, wallcoverings, bedding and rugs — are from the Isberian Rug Company, Perennials, Frette, Helix, Birch Living, Schumacher, Kufri and Kravet. Bentwood Luxury Kitchens worked alongside Laura and the team to transform our MLSH kitchen. Signature Windows + Doors and local manufacturer TruStile helped with structural alterations. Read all about our Mountain Lane Show House partners and their involvement in the project here.
Streamlined Architectural Details Stun in Our Mountain Lane Show House Virtual Home Tour
. G R E A T R O O M .
Our virtual home tour of the Mountain Lane Show House begins with the great room. In this space, we altered the windows and augmented the ceiling. Originally, the great room was open and airy but somewhat disjointed and quite old-fashioned.
Not only did our team rip out the carpet, refresh wall paint and replace the furniture, our team also exposed beams along the ceiling, added a stunning fireplace and crafted a gorgeous feature wall. This new feature wall boasts seamless built-ins perfect for storage and display.
The major architectural adjustments made to this space can be found in the great room’s window program. We reframed the windows with a huge system from Signature Windows + Doors. These new windows allow Laura, her family and her guests to marvel at expansive views of the Continental Divide. From here, one can also see Mount Elbert — the highest point in Colorado. To modernize their aesthetic, we converted the windows’ original arch shape to an angle concurrent with the home’s roofline. We also replaced the wooden frames with steel.
. K I T C H E N .
The kitchen represents one of Mountain Lane Show House’s most powerful transformations. This is because the kitchen is always the heart of any home owned by Laura and her family. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic — when many Americans converted their kitchens into multifunctional hubs — Laura’s family gravitated to the space. Laura’s kids do their homework on the kitchen island while their parents gather with friends to cook delicious meals and enjoy hand-crafted cocktails. Given the family’s constant use of this space, Laura and Gina — pictured above on the left — expanded the kitchen to create an open-concept flow.
The original layout of the Mountain Lane Show House kitchen was disjointed — cut in half by a clunky peninsula. Our team pushed the back wall out four feet. Expanding this area creates enough square footage for a large kitchen island with lots of storage and plenty of counter space. Eliminating the peninsula allowed us to cut a new picture window over the kitchen sink. This casement window swings open to let in fresh air while cooking, cleaning and entertaining.
As noted above, centerlines are an important philosophy of our firm. We addressed the angles and asymmetry of this space by adding built-in shelves. We chose a brass Monogram hood, mounted sleek cabinets and installed a range within the niche our team carved out of the back wall. The kitchen centerline was designed to be on center with the brass Monogram hood. This centerline is reinforced by a pair of pendant lights floating above the island.
Other Design Considerations
When picking window treatments, designers must consider how the home is oriented on its site. For example, the kitchen of our Mountain Lane Show House has a lot of solar gain. This means that the kitchen receives direct sunlight, which passively heats and illuminates the space. To control the amount of heat and light this kitchen receives without obstructing Aspen-Snowmass views, our team opted for casual Roman shades.
The Roman shades chosen for the kitchen of our Mountain Lane Show House were crafted from Perennials’ Tribal Trellis fabric in Nickel. According to Perennials, fabric from their line is “fade resistant, mildew- and mold-resistant, bleach cleanable and easily maintained.” This acrylic performance fabric was also chosen for the great room’s throw pillows.
. F O Y E R .
Next on our virtual home tour is the foyer. We extended the entryway outwards to add a porch and inwards to add a foyer. Our team also extended the foyer’s ceiling upwards. Reflected in the foyer’s floor-to-ceiling windows, the pitched roofline now resembles a divided plane of glass. The clean, minimalistic foyer pictured above is actually a brand-new addition to our Mountain Lane Show House. In the original home, residents and visitors walked directly from the entryway into the living room.
Our team created this intermediary space in order to establish a transitional zone between the exterior and interior of the home. Corresponding to our primary theme of compression and expansion, the house now unfolds one room at a time. Enormous windows, a vaulted ceiling and gorgeous beams funnel one’s attention inward towards the living room and outward towards the property’s stunning views. The beams not only direct one’s attention, but also reinforce the connection between the home and its surroundings.
. P R I M A R Y B E D R O O M .
Like the kitchen and great room, the primary bedroom was home to unaesthetic architectural elements when Laura and Gina first found it. A large, load-bearing column originally divided this space. This initially posed an enormous challenge. However, our residential building design firm was able to eliminate the beam with help from structural engineers involved in the project.
Laura’s goal was to create a dramatic yet serene and cozy space in which she and her husband Michael could relax. Unfortunately, there was no transition between the rest of the home and the primary suite when Laura began her renovation. To add privacy, Laura and the team constructed a vestibule that separates the entry from the rest of the bedroom.
. P R I M A R Y B A T H R O O M .
Before we remodeled the home’s primary bath, it felt both cramped and completely exposed. Slight on square-footage, the bath was wedged right up against the vanity. Aligned with the street, passersby could easily peer into the primary bath.
As in the kitchen, our design team chose to expand the primary bathroom. We added five feet, which allowed us to install a luxurious steam shower and private water closet.
To further protect the space from prying eyes, we replaced the large picture window with a clerestory window above the vanity. Ann Sacks tile wows on the floor, dado and vanity surround.
. S T A I R S .
The flow of this home’s interior was top of mind when Laura redesigned the Mountain Lane Show House for her family of four. One area we completely overhauled was the home’s central staircase. Originally, the staircase had a lot of angles and landings of different widths and heights that made it quite dangerous for young kids. We straightened out the stairs to boost their aesthetic appeal while removing any dangerous twists and turns.
Our Creative Director Gina Elkins designed a special reading nook as a surprise for Laura’s kids, which they absolutely loved. To make this space pop, our team chose Schumacher’s Queen of Spain wallpaper for the nook and the play room walls. Learn about the wall coverings we chose for the MLSH in our post “How to Select Wallpaper for Your Home with Schumacher & Jane Churchill.”
. E X T E R I O R .
Some of the most obvious — and impactful — alterations made to our Mountain Lane Show House can be seen from the outside. We extended the front covered opening to provide shade on sunny days and keep off snow and rain during fall and winter. We installed a new roof — which boasts a combination of composition shingles and standing seam metal — to play with light and texture.
Our team also added five feet to the front of the house, which improves flow for family living and entertaining. This extra five feet of interior space allowed us to create a vestibule that serves as a guest coat closet and powder room. With the five-foot addition, we also had enough space for a moody mud room and butler’s pantry — both of which are much-needed in Aspen. In the mudroom, visitors will also find a Monogram wine column, which is both stunning and perfect for entertaining.
Take a 3D tour of Mountain Lane here.