Owner, Laura U Interior Design
When Laura Umansky, owner of Houston’s Laura U Interior Design, learned the 40-year-old custom upholstery and furniture company she’d been working with for eight years was on the market, she knew what she had to do: purchase it. “There is so much custom upholstery that goes into Laura U, it made sense from a business perspective,” she explains. “And I know and trust the artisans there, so I wanted to keep it going.” The business, which the interior designer renamed House + Town (a play on the company’s hometown of Houston), creates custom work for designers and architects as well as Laura U. Although Umansky is focused on the operations side of House + Town, her background helps make the results even better. “I have an insider’s perspective,” she points out. “I know what designers need and the product they expect.” Here, Umansky uses her insight to curate a must-do itinerary for art- and design-lovers in Houston. “It’s all about the museums and the food,” she says.
10 a.m. Head to Benjy’s in Rice Village for brunch. The menu changes seasonally, and you can’t go wrong with any dish, but I usually order the crunchy chicken and Mom’s Chocolate Cake.
11 a.m. Leave plenty of time to explore the Museum District. Go to The Menil Collection, which has incredible architecture, an expansive lawn for kids to run around and an impressive permanent collection. Plus, the exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston are always varied and interesting. Right now, there’s a new Ron Mueck show I really want to see.
1 p.m. Grab lunch at Canopy, which serves everything from small plates to salads and pizza. If it’s a nice day, sit outside.
2 p.m. Stop next door at Woodbar for an afternoon espresso. This cafe makes my favorite cappuccino. I don’t know what the baristas do to it–they’re like magicians.
2:30 p.m. Go to Art of the World Gallery, which always has great shows. The gallery just had an exhibit by Mr. Brainwash that I really liked.
3:30 p.m. Indulge in some retail therapy. Stop by Found for the Home, which has things I see nowhere else; Shabby Slips, which has a clean, bright aesthetic and a good collection of antiques; and Carl Moore Antiques for more antiques– French, midcentury and avant-garde pieces.
6:30 p.m. Take a stroll around the beautiful campus of Rice University, which has lots of green space. Be sure to stop at James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace exhibit, a pyramid structure that hosts performances and an LED light sequence.