Dream Design Duo

Colleen Underhill and Julia Clayton create cozy, timeless interiors tied together with modern and classical elements


By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos provided by US Designs


Colleen Underhill and Julia Clayton, two creative businesswomen, brought color, life and marvelous design to The George at 42, a building that lacked personality and originality before they stepped in. According to Underhill, the two have been in the design business for over 50 years combined, but US Designs wasn’t brought to life until 15 years ago. Strangers before, but best friends now, the two play off each other to craft inviting spaces tailored to each client’s style, but most importantly, realistic and useful. “Our objective in designing beautiful spaces is to make them functional for families to enjoy,” explained Underhill and Clayton. Expect to see sealskin paint covering the walls and florals and lucite furniture throughout their projects as these are US Designs’ must-have elements. 

Once foreclosed and filled with empty, concrete rooms, The George at 42 now exudes comfort and luxury with a touch of tropical oasis seen throughout the pool deck. The navy umbrellas and custom pillows reading “The George” on the lounge chairs collaborate perfectly with the light blue pool water that glistens from the sun. Also, check out the long dining table and double navy umbrella shading the cozy sitting area at one end of the pool. “The pool deck is designed to provide entertainment options for small and large groups at the same time,” said Clayton. So, the variety of sitting options around the pool allows residents to utilize the pool deck for more than tanning and a quick dip.

Multi-use elements are a theme amongst Underhill and Clayton’s designs, usually in subtle ways, such as with the lucite bar stools found in one of the condominiums. The clear acrylic material promotes transparency throughout the kitchen, creating an airy environment. “One of the great features of the building is the large windows. We took advantage of this natural light with open floor plans,” explained Underhill. “By adopting modern elements, large open light fixtures, lucite counter stools, gorgeous light marbles, hardware that is interesting and timeless and warm hardwoods, we were able to show everyone a fresh product that was well received. Comfortable seating invites you in and completes the look.” Unlike most countertop seating, the lucite bar stools don’t obstruct but provide a clear path for conversation across the expanse of the room, thanks to the open layout Underhill and Clayton designed.

The transparency element doesn’t stop in the common areas but can be found within many bathrooms as well. Notice the walk-in shower with no door but a glass partition in one unit. “Large showers with glass walls and no doors is another modern look that enhances the beautiful tile and marbles in the bathrooms. It is all in the details like the shower drains that are covered in tile and marble, so they are not noticeable.” The tilework Clayton mentions is the exquisite blue design on the far wall of this shower designed by Clayton and Underhill in cahoots with the client. This pop of color in a sea of white is an excellent example of the way US Designs uses color to elevate the room, not overcrowd. Notice the hidden drain in the shower Clayton mentions, a minute detail that is another staple of Clayton and Underhill’s work, elevating a somewhat unattractive necessity to a luxurious alternative. 

The lobby of The George encapsulates their style perfectly and shows how they use modern elements to bring new life to classical pieces; It also features two of the three must-have elements, lucite tables and florals, according to Underhill and Clayton. Notice how the traditional wallpaper exudes luxury and novelty when set behind the rich plum-colored velvet couches and chairs and vases of pink peonies on lucite drink tables. 

The George is just one example of the magnificent transformation Clayton and Underhill are capable of and a project that shows Louisvillians just what this duo can do. By now, I hope you’ve been able to envision their style, which they would describe as elegant, sophisticated and practical (I would add: inviting, airy and lively, too). “We have great respect for traditional Georgian style being here in the south, and we love to update it with modern shapes and clean lines. We don’t ever like to over clutter anything – we like simplicity. We think that simplicity is elegant and sophisticated,” said Underhill. 

US Designs prides itself on sourcing locally as frequently as possible from their many loyal subcontractors and vendors, according to Clayton. With their help, they’re able to complete projects of any size, whether it’s a renovation and construction project or a commercial or residential interior project. “Custom design from start to finish on any project is our passion. We make the process fun, inspiring and not overwhelming,” said Underhill. No matter the size, US Designs is diving headfirst into any project that comes their way.

The George at 42
6600 Seminary Woods Place
Louisville, KY 40241