You probably know this by now, but I am deeply interested in interior design. I think this is the case with a lot of fashion designers, that a love of good design and creativity extends into other areas in life. It’s the home for me but it could also be art, cooking or gardening for others.
I am thrilled to feature Houston designer Laura Umansky on the blog today. I first heard about Laura U at an Elaine Turner photo shoot several years ago. We were lucky enough to host it at the most stunning home in River Oaks and Laura had designed the interiors. The theme of the shoot that year was retro Hollywood glamour and Marilyn Monroe was our muse. You can only imagine the interiors — they were absolutely gorgeous, and I loved meeting Laura and her adorable husband Michael.
So I was thrilled to reconnect with Laura recently over wine. It was so fun learning how much we actually have in common — we are both entrepreneurs who work with our husbands! And we are moms and UT alums — go horns! I loved chatting with her and getting the scoop on what’s new in interior design this season. It’s always fun to see any crossover in trends in fashion and interior design.
ET: What trends are you seeing this fall in interior design?
- Modern farm style – warm, rustic, clean and contemporary combined.
- Deep colors – like crimson – paired with softer hues like clay pink or blush.
- Green, green and more green! From emerald to sage.
- Metallics, especially rose gold and bright silver.
- Large-scale antique floral and botanical prints.
ET: What are some things readers can do for a quick fall refresh in the home?
LU: My current obsession – table linens – is an easy seasonal change with a huge impact. For fall, I switched up my summery green, botanical, Oscar de la Renta table cloth for my Ember table cloth from my capsule collection with Ellisha Alexina. Instant Autumn vibes!
As an aspiring gardener, I believe plants make a home. Bring in fall colors via an indoor container garden. My favorites right now are Flowering Maple (while it mostly blooms through summer, it will also bloom right through winter) and Oxalis (aka Purple Shamrock), which has gorgeous, deep purple leaves. Aubergine is definitely a fall color!
ET: Any thoughts or tips on expressing one’s personal style in the home?
LU: While your large-scale upholstery and case goods set the tone for your home, your personality is displayed in the details. I am a collector of vintage vernacular photography, and it is a big element in my own dining room. Yes, the dining table rocks, but the photography is what makes me the happiest! Invest in what makes you happy, and display it in a thoughtful way. Music is always playing in my home because that is how I grew up: around my mother’s record player. I just brought a record player into my home so I can share my love of music (and vinyl!) with my daughters, and the super cool lucite trunk that I keep my records in is just a bonus!
ET: Tell us about your background and how you got into interior design?
LU: Art and design have always intrigued me. I studied art as an undergraduate, but I never felt like an artist — at least not a painter or a sculptor. However, I love to create, and I have always loved to linger in beautiful spaces, even from very young age. I drafted house plans and furniture layouts from the time I could hold a crayon! After graduation from UT, I was lucky enough to work with a fantastic designer. We focused on commercial interiors – mainly car dealerships – and this taught me to manage large-scale projects and demanding timelines. I then went to graduate school where I received my Masters in Architecture and landed a dream job even before graduation.
I worked for a firm designing amazing vacation homes in Cabo San Lucas – who wouldn’t want to do that? Here, I honed my project management and logistical skills while exploring the best of the best lines of furnishings and high design. The hardest thing I have done is to leave that firm and venture out on my own, but I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and the timing was right.
I opened my firm alongside my small, namesake, furniture shop: Laura U Interior Design and Laura U Collection. I had my shop for six years, but my heart was increasingly with my interior design projects. Because I felt that I couldn’t give my shop enough attention, I retired from retail in 2012 to focus solely on creating classically current, residential interiors and building a team of uber-talented interior design professionals. We all believe in leaving every space we touch better, stronger and more beautiful.
ET: What’s your personal style — in the home, fashion-wise, etc.
LU: My style is super quiet, fashion-wise. I look at piles of fabric and tile all day, every day, and pull it together into a meaningful interior. To do that, I can’t think too much about my wardrobe, which is mainly monochromatic, but texturally rich. A go-to outfit will typically include a cream, silk blouse by Equipment Femme with simple black Joe’s denim, and my favorite cork shoes by my favorite shoe designer, ahem…
At home, my style is clean and collected and a little bit like my wardrobe: simple upholstered pieces mixed with textural fabrics and floorcoverings, and my art is my jewelry!
ET: How do you juggle the chaos that can come with running a business and motherhood?
LU: Two words: family and team. My husband works with me, and we have a united front and a strong partnership, both at work and at home. We are both entrepreneurs working on multiple businesses, which we are incredibly passionate about. It helps that we share this drive to create. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and constant sounding board. My twin girls (Liv and Ryan) keep me totally grounded, and I couldn’t be more in love. It is totally chaotic with two 4-year-olds at home, but I welcome that chaos any day!
I am also lucky to have the best design and operations team in the world! While I pride myself on the fabulous interiors we design, I am most proud of the whole team here at Laura U. There is absolutely no way I could be as creative or as fulfilled in my designs without this group of amazing professionals.
ET: What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs hoping to make their mark on their industry?
LU: Work hard, constantly learn something new, be nice, and be (tastefully) loud. When you are just starting out, be open to everything. Take every project that happens to cross your desk, and learn everything you can. Pound the pavement, get involved in your industry and community and be a diligent project manager. It’s not just about the design; it’s about managing the project for your client so they can focus solely on the design. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you make along the way (there will be a lot). Be prepared, do your research, but don’t make up answers. Always remember that your main strengths are your knowledge and your resources: know where to find answers, and go get them.
Most importantly, get along with your team, your vendors, trade pros, builders and subs, but never be a push over, and market, market, market. No magazine will come to you at the beginning. Get the word out about how amazing you are so no one misses you. Easy enough!
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it. And don’t forget to follow and subscribe to Join the Collective!