We spoke with Laura Umansky of Laura U Design Collective, on how she created a modern mountain retreat for the most discerning of clients… herself.
Texan designer Laura Umansky grew up going to Aspen. “As a child, I would visit at least a couple of times a year to go camping or skiing,” says the founder and CEO of the 22-person Laura U Design Collective. “It has been a longtime dream of mine for my family to live in Colorado.”
In 2020, she made that dream a reality by relocating from Houston to Snowmass Village, a resort town near Aspen, and gut-renovating a 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath home that is now the primary residence for Umansky; her husband, Michael; and their twin daughters. (It’s also a show house, the first in the Snowmass Village area, with tours benefitting a local art nonprofit.)
“My signature style is ‘classically current,’ which is a modern interpretation of iconic styles resulting in interiors that are bright, bold, and contrasting,” she says. “I designed my home in the mountains to have cozy, close moments where some of the rooms are darker and then there are bright, soaring spaces. I love the tension and emotion this type of contrast can evoke.”
Umansky created contrast not only between rooms, but within them as well. In the guest bathroom, she used black-and-white marbled Ann Sacks Shaye tile on the shower walls and backsplash and black Ann Sacks Context Hex Mosaic tile on the floors. “I knew I wanted to design in black and white, so when I saw the Shaye tile, it was the perfect match. It brought all the drama, and I love walking our guests into this en-suite and seeing their reaction,” says Umansky. “I usually don’t go as bold in my tile selections, but I’m glad I did it. That tile drove the design of the bathroom.”
One of those soaring spaces is the kitchen, which has a brass hood, pale gray cabinetry, and a darker stained-wood appliance tower. “It was essential to have spaces that embraced all we love to do together,” says Umansky. “We opened up and expanded the kitchen, a choice we intentionally made as our family lives in the kitchen: The girls will be sitting at the island doing homework, or Michael and I are entertaining friends.” She also added a dedicated coffee bar area and a full-size wine column for the bottles she and Michael like to collect on their travels.
Another high-drama moment in the home: the view of the Continental Divide, which Umansky made all the more splendid by replacing all the windows in the home. “The old ones weren’t energy-efficient, and the shapes were straight out of the ’90s. We called them Rainbow Brite windows because they had curves, like a rainbow,” she says. “We added as much glass as we could, and the windows are more linear now. We reworked some of them to get as much of the view as we could.”
Her bold choices don’t come at the expense of livability or functionality. The entire lower level, for example, has luxury vinyl plank flooring (“resilient surfaces are key!” says Umansky). A dog shower tiled in durable Ann Sacks Savoy Circle in Linen means the family’s two pups, Archie and Ollie, never track in mud or snow. And the twins have a reading nook carved into the wall, complete with USB ports for charging their iPads.
For the girls’ “jill-and-jill” bathroom, Umansky wanted an indestructible tile in a neutral they could grow into. “But I also wanted to make a statement, which is why I chose one tile—the Ann Sacks Context Mosaic—in one color, Spa, for the walls and floors,” she says. “The color is soothing but exciting.”
Speaking of soothing, Umansky’s own bathroom is her spa-like sanctuary. She achieved this by installing a freestanding tub, a steam shower, and Ann Sacks Terrazzo Renata in Brulee for the floor and the shower walls. “As soon as Terrazzo Renata was released, it was on our must-have list! It has a soft, gorgeous, monochromatic texture that grounds my entire primary bath suite,” she says. She also used fluted Terrazzo Renata on the walls to create a dramatic backdrop for the tub.
In the powder bath, Umansky paired an Ann Sacks geometric cross-pattern Koros tile for the floor with an Ann Sacks Alisal Vanity. “For me, Koros emulates a textile and has a warmth to it. I love its textural quality,” she says. “Tile is the fabric of a space; it brings texture and personality.”
One of Umansky’s goals was for all the rooms in her home to have distinct personalities. “When I’m designing for myself, I think about who’s inhabiting each space and what they want to experience. What do I want them to feel?” With her “modern mountain” home, she seems to have nailed the assignment. “The comment we get most is that the home is approachable, comfortable, and chic—exactly the feel I was going for.”
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