Our Holistic Approach to Home Design
Beginning with an initial consultation and ending with a final reveal, the interior design process is very similar from firm to firm. What sets our process apart is our client-first approach, our multidisciplinary in-house team and our incredible brand partnerships. We also consider each home’s history and unique surroundings. Our residential design firm consistently delivers stunning interiors on time and within budget – all while delighting clients with our creativity and sensitivity. As our Founder Laura Umansky noted in a 2018 interview, “our work spans new construction, large scale renovations, cosmetic updates, and full furnishings.” Some projects are minor updates while others are major structural overhauls. Whatever the home’s history, the client’s style or the project’s scale, “every detail is considered and executed thoughtfully” from foundation to furnishings. Upon the final reveal, our clients come home to “a complete interior that they can enjoy without lifting a finger.” Each space is curated yet comfortable. The entire home both serves and reflects its owners. In this post, we describe our holistic approach to home design. To do so, we guide readers through the ten-month-long renovation of our Mountain Lane Show House. From discovering the property to procuring all the furnishings, our new Aspen show house perfectly encapsulates the Collective’s residential design process. Follow below to learn more!
About Mountain Lane – Our New Show House in Aspen, Colorado
Following North Boulevard – which was completed 2018 – Mountain Lane is the Collective’s second show house. It is the very first to be located in Aspen-Snowmass. With Founder Laura Umansky and Creative Director Gina Elkins at the helm, we began a 10-month renovation of the house back in 2021. Snow-peaked mountains and towering trees surround this sprawling 4 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home built back in 1995. Unfortunately, the home’s oddly shaped windows, twisting staircase and outdated layout did not capitalize on these incredible views of the Roaring Fork Valley.
Still, Laura and Gina saw so much potential in this space. As we note in our post about the home’s architectural details, “our goal [was] to turn this outdated 1995 home into a modern space.” That space had to be “suitable for Laura’s busy family of four” while matching her aesthetic. Our team “brought Mountain Lane down to the studs and prepared it for a complete overhaul” as a newly minted full-service design firm. As part of this “complete overhaul,” we streamlined obstructive architectural details and improved the flow of each room. We even built-on extra space to the kitchen and primary bath.
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But what makes a massive foundation to furnishings renovation successful? What keeps the project on track and within budget while capturing every nuance of the client’s vision for their home? The answer is multipartite, as we explain below. The following steps are in no particular order.
#1 Assembling a Multi-Talented, Tight-Knit Team
First, each member of the design team must be equally engaged with others and excited about what they themselves can offer. LUDC Founder Laura Umansky explains in a 2019 interview with Rue Magazine’s Kelli Lamb. She notes that “’having everyone around [be]…inspired, engaged, and creating their best work’” is key to each project’s success.
Our team’s ability to co-create in a way that honors individual talents while contributing to the overall project is what sets us apart. As a multidisciplinary team, nothing is lost in translation. There is someone on hand to address every element of the home and every challenge presented by the project. Each member of the team works together flawlessly and provides perspective and context for other members when needed. For example, Gina developed construction documents for structural changes to the Mountain Lane Show House – like the kitchen bump-out addition.
The multidisciplinary nature of our team is also what helped us transition from an interior design firm to a full-service residential design firm. Because each member of the team has unique insights, we never lose momentum during a project.
#2 Picking the Right Partners
At the Laura U Design Collective, we are lucky to not only have an incredibly dedicated and talented in-house team. We also have long-standing relationships with local partners and nationally recognized vendors who help take our designs from ideation to reality.
Our partners for this project were a mix of local talent and internationally-recognized brands. During the Mountain Lane Show House renovation, we worked with Monogram Appliances, Hudson Valley Lighting Group, Consentino and Paragon Systems Integration. We worked with widely-known brands like Sherwin-Williams and Kravet as well as local businesses like the Isberian Rug Company and TruStile. Learn all about our Mountain Lane Show House partners here.
#3 Getting to Know the Clients
Mountain Lane is now LUDC founder Laura’s family home. Still, getting to the heart of what she wanted and needed for the space was a team effort. Laura identified her must-haves – like a space where she can entertain. Simultaneously, our team dissected her daily routine – like a cup of coffee each morning and kids gathered around the island each evening.
These details resulted in a kitchen expansion and a huge island for the entire family to enjoy each and every day. Even seemingly mundane details can be vital to ensuring the home suits the client’s everyday life. Creating the perfect space is not just about capturing the client’s personal style. It is also about crafting a functional home they love to live in.
#4 Considering the Unique History, Surroundings and Challenges of the Home
As noted in our introduction to the Show House project, the Laura U Design Collective’s approach to architecture and interior design is “wholistic.” This means that we consider each home’s unique history, surroundings and challenges when redesigning its interior. For Mountain Lane, Gina and Laura heavily considered the landscape and history that surround this Aspen home.
In the end, Gina and Laura created “an environment that gracefully marries the natural beauty of Colorado with [Aspen’s] rich culture and urban luxury.” For example, the team reframed windows to capitalize on the home’s awe-inspiring views. We also built a brand-new foyer to ease the transition from exterior to interior.
#5 Establishing a Seamless System
Of course, project management is just as vital to any successful residential design project as design and client services. Over the years, Laura and her tight-knit team have developed a tailored design process. This process keeps even the most complex projects with many moving parts incredibly organized. In a 2018 interview with Voyage Houston, Laura described her “Process of Design.”
According to Laura, this process “‘keeps our team organized [and] projects on schedule.” Such measures allow us to “‘deliver impeccable white glove service to each and every client.’” Laura’s design process ensures we have all the time we need to “understand each client’s lifestyle…showcase the client’s unique story.” Without some standardization in our approach to home design, guaranteeing this level of quality and individual care would be incredibly difficult.
Explore Our Foundation to Furnishings Approach to Home Design Through the Mountain Lane Renovation
In this section, we explore the Collective’s “foundation to furnishings” approach to home design through our Mountain Lane Show House renovation. From the discovery phase all the way through the final reveal, learn about our approach to the redesign of Mountain Lane. For additional details about our design process, head to our page here.
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Realtor Doug Introduces Laura to Mountain Lane and Gina Joins to Conceptualize the Space
Laura and her family have summered in Aspen for several years — drawn by the incredible natural beauty and unique culture of the area. One summer, Laura met with Compass Realtor Doug while vacationing in Aspen. Together, they toured what we would later term “Mountain Lane Show House.” After touring this 1995 home, Laura fell in love with its potential but recognized it needed quite a bit of modernizing. The home had outdated decor, obtrusive architectural features and an inefficient layout. Laura knew she had to evaluate how the home could be updated to look and function in a way her family would enjoy. Laura had an idea of the aesthetic she wished to pursue: a streamlined Mountain Modern style with moody paints and clean lines. She also knew the home would need a few structural alterations. As such, she called in Creative Director Gina Elkins to strategize about the redesign on-site.
This is what we call the “discovery phase.” Each project begins with a comprehensive discussion to identify the client’s needs, establish scope, and understand how the home should feel and function. It is during this stage that we get to know the clients and their everyday life. We ask clients to “walk us through” a day in their lives, so we can understand what makes a house home to them. For the Mountain Lane Show House, this meant getting to the heart of Laura’s needs and preferences. Gina walked the home to better understand its structure. During this phase, Gina brainstormed how the house could be improved for the way Laura and her family love to live. She identified a few key areas where structural alterations would be necessary.
Structural Changes to Mountain Lane We Identified During the Discovery Phase
For example, the mudroom had to be expanded in order to accommodate the adventure-loving family’s lockers and ski equipment. The primary suite — which was large, open and unwieldy — had to be split into two zones: a study and a sleeping area. Both the primary bath and kitchen were far too small and needed bump-out additions in order to best serve Laura and her family.
The staircase needed edits too. It had to be streamlined and simplified in order to be safe for Laura’s kids and elderly relatives. In short, Gina considered Laura’s aesthetic preferences and her family’s functional needs.
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Laura and the Team Craft and Share Imagery of Their Vision for MLSH
After exploring a client’s preferences during the discovery phase, our team creates a visual concept of the redesign. This will guide the construction — if building — and the overall design direction of your interiors project. We refer to this phase of the residential design process as the “inspiration” phase.
Our team will use tools like Pinterest to amass a library of inspiration images that we believe match the client’s goals for the home. Readers can explore our Pinterest page for the Mountain Lane Show House redesign here. One can see from the image above that many of the images we chose early on were right on target with the final design. We might also share color palettes, materials and images of previous design projects. During this phase, we also encourage clients to bring their own inspiration photos and materials to the studio.
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Gina Works on Construction Drawings While Laura Ideates the Interiors
The design phase is “where the magic happens.” This phase distills all the information gleaned during the discovery and inspiration phases. During the design phase, our team develops a schematic design for the home alongside the client to ensure every detail is perfect. This is a visual and tactile process, where the home’s design is refined and prepped for the implementation phase.
The Design Phase of Mountain Lane’s Renovation
For Mountain Lane’s gut renovation, Gina and Laura both developed plans. Laura focused on the interior vision while Gina focused on the exterior and structural vision. As always, Gina worked with the team to develop construction documents. Our team works with structural engineers and other experts to develop plans when these plans involve any demolition or construction. Gina was most excited to streamline the window movement, so it reflected the roofline. This way, Laura could sit by the fire and gaze out the windows at stunning Aspen views.
One challenge that arose during this phase was the home’s solar gain. Its large windows and orientation on the site made this house subject to overheating during the summer. We consider elements like window treatments and furniture placement early on in the design process to ensure these types of issues are fully addressed.
As Gina notes in Episode 2 of our mini-series about the renovation, there were about “twelve iterations of trace paper designs.” Because this home’s architecture and interior were both so complex, the team returned to the drawing board a few times. In the end, Gina and Laura chose to extend the covered opening of the home’s entryway. By creating a brand-new foyer, Laura and Gina made the transition from exterior to interior gentler and more natural. This improved the overall flow of the home. It also defined the home’s centerline, which follows from the entryway through the great room’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
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Our Purchasing Agent Orders and Coordinates All Products for the Home
Next is the procurement phase, which is fairly straightforward. After the overall design has been fully realized, our team facilitates the bidding process with contractors and vendors. Our in-house procurement team orders new furnishings, fixtures, and accessories for your home.
At the Laura U Design Collective, we have a dedicated purchasing agent assigned to every project. After the design team specifies which pieces to order, our purchasing agent manages each item. From placing orders to arranging delivery, the purchasing agent ensures each piece arrives at the home on time for the implementation phase.
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Demolition, Construction and Installation Begin
The implementation phase is when our client’s dream starts to become a reality. It begins with demolition, follows through construction and ends with installation. Our residential building design team facilitates all aspects of your home’s construction in this stage. When it comes time for the interior, our team installs all furnishings, art, and accessories for your home.
From building a new foyer to streamlining the staircase, there was a lot of demolition and construction during the Mountain Lane Show House redesign. Both the exterior and interior of this home underwent a major gut renovation. Construction is not the only part of the implementation phase, however. It is during this phase that we have furniture and finishings delivered. We paint the walls, install built-ins, put in appliances, hang window treatments and place all the furniture during the implementation phase.
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Everyone Comes Together for a Celebration of the New Space!
After ten months of hard work at Mountain Lane, it was finally time to reveal the home to Laura’s family, friends and colleagues. During the reveal phase, we usually throw a small soirée to present the home to our clients and their loved ones. As part of this celebration, we pop some champagne, light Diptyque candles to impart a signature scent and pepper the space with fresh flowers. Our team could not wait to celebrate the Mountain Lane Show House with Laura and Gina after its completion!
Still Curious About Our Approach to Home Design?
If you are still curious about our “wholistic” foundation to furnishings approach to home design, reach out to the team for more information. Our team would be thrilled to discuss your renovation project. Reach out via email, phone or our project inquiry form here.