Friday Favorites 09.22.17

It has been one of those crazy weeks where I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water. I was in New York last week and am leaving for Paris on Tuesday, so in between, I have been working on all kinds of projects in order to stay on top of things. I have realized that as my design firm continues to grow, we need additional help, so we are looking for someone to join our team (more on that below)! There have been a lot of developments lately between speaking engagements, progress on special projects, and upcoming trips, not to mention all of the unbelievable things that are going on in the world. 

Design: I am really looking forward to visiting Birmingham in a couple of weeks where I will be participating in the Birmingham Botanical Garden’s Antiques at the Gardens annual show. I will be speaking on a panel, giving a guided tour of my favorite picks at the antiques show, and will also give a talk on “A Modern Take on Traditional Style”. You can find the dates and times here. There is so much amazing design talent and beautiful architecture in Birmingham. I can’t wait to be there! You can also check out this interview I did with in preparation for my visit to Alabama in which I discuss my design philosophy. If you live in Birmingham, I hope you’ll come and say hello!

Style: Is there anything prettier or more romantic than a velvet ribbon, particularly when tied around a loose ponytail? My favorite iteration is usually a simple, black velvet ribbon. This one is sure to give any ponytail a chic upgrade!

Read: This week saw the release of several, fun new books for fall! Just this week, I’ve posted glimpses into From Napa with Love by Alexis Swanson Traina and At Home with Dogs and their Designers by Susanna Salk on my Instagram stories. There are few things I love as much as Napa, dogs, and design, so these books will surely become go-to hostess and holiday gifts from here on out. 

Watch: A couple of weekends ago, we finally watched The Big Sick and Fabian and I both loved it. It’s kind of the perfect movie in that it is very funny in such a smart way, but it also has such tenderness and heart. I think just about anyone would love it, so if you’re looking for something good to watch this weekend, look no further.

Career: Paloma Contreras Design is growing and we are searching for a fantastic Design Assistant to join our dynamic team. Previous experience in an interior design firm is preferred. You can find all of the details for the position here. Please share this with anyone in the Houston area who might be interested and meets the desired qualifications. We have many exciting things on the horizon and are eager to find our newest team member!

Travel: On Tuesday, I will be heading to Paris on an antiques buying tour with Huff Harrington and I could not be more excited! Not only am I thanking my lucky stars to be able to visit Paris twice in the span of three months, but to get to see it through the eyes of art and antiques experts will be incredible. I am looking forward to sourcing some amazing pieces for our clients and enjoying the beauty of Paris at every turn. Be sure to follow along on Instagram because I will be posting along the way!

Help: My heart has been heavy for the last month, ever since Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and across Florida, and now this week, an earthquake of epic proportions leveled much of central Mexico, killing hundreds, while Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico and parts of the Virgin Islands. It is just unbelievable that these natural disasters are happening with such frequency and intensity, leaving so much devastation in their wake. You can find a list with various ways to donate and send help to the earthquake victims in Mexico here or donate to a UNICEF fundraiser started by Salma Hayek here. My parents are both originally from Mexico and much of my extended family lives in Mexico, though not in the affected areas. I grew up spending my summers there and continue to love the culture and beauty of Mexico. You’d be hard-pressed to find warmer, friendlier people anywhere else. Please don’t forget about Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico, where there is still a 100% power outage. You can find a list of ways to help here.


Southern Style Now 2017

Last year, I had the wonderful pleasure of attending and participating in the inaugural Southern Style Now Festival and Showhouse in New Orleans. Southern Style Now is the brainchild of Robert Leleux, former Editor-in-Chief or Domino and lover of all things Southern. This year, the festival will be moving to Savannah where it will partner with Savannah College of Art and Design. I wasn’t able to participate in the showhouse this time around since my book is keeping me so busy, but I am looking forward to attending the festival and will be speaking on a panel called “What if You Threw a Blog and Nobody Came?” which will take place on Saturday, November 11th at 2:30 pm. Southern Style Now will be “a celebration of interior design marked by panel discussions, art exhibitions, book signings, antiques and architectural trolley tours, a “Sip and Stroll” in the Downtown Design District, shopping, and of course, cocktail parties.”

This year’s line-up of inspiring and accomplished speakers includes Alexa Hampton, Suzanne Kasler, Richard Keith Langham, Mary McDonald, Michelle Nussbaumer, Julia Reed, and SCAD’s Paula Wallace. This year’s showhouse will include a great line-up of burgeoning talent including MA Allen, Sally King Benedict, Betsy Berry, Cloth & Kind, Kara Cox, Meredith Ellis, Jared Hughes, Chad James, Denise McGaha, Lisa Mende, Pencil & Paper, Melanie Turner, and Kevin Walsh among others. You can find the full line-up of showhouse designers as well as the event schedule and information on accommodations here.

If you are passionate about design and are looking for a fabulous opportunity to network and learn while having a ball, be sure to mark your calendar for this year’s festival, which will take place in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District November 9th – 11th.

For more coverage of last year’s event, check out my posts from the 2016 festival in New Orleans.


{Photography of the Dauphine Suite which I Designed for Last Year’s Southern Style Now Showhouse by Brittany Ambridge}

Lust List: September 2017

We are well into September, but sadly, it still feels like summer in Houston with temperatures in the 90s. I was surprised that it was just as hot and muggy while I was in New York last week! I am really looking forward to being back in Paris next week, not just because I love the city and am so excited to go antiquing with the Huff Harrington gals, but because they actually have Fall weather there. I can’t wait to wear sweaters and boots! Since it may be a while before I get to wear a sweater here at home, I am currently all about great pieces that can easily transition from one season to the next and will be adding touches of fall to my outfits through great shoes, bags, and accessories until the air actually turns crisp.

The Style Files: Beth Webb

Beth Webb is a renowned interior designer and tastemaker based in Atlanta, Georgia. Recognized for her tailored interiors and sensual approach to design, Beth believes in incorporating classic proportions and iconic design details in the inspiring, light-filled spaces she creates for her clients from coast to coast. Beth began her career in design as an art dealer upon graduating with a Master’s degree from Sotheby’s in London. In the years since establishing her eponymous design firm, Beth’s work has appeared in the pages of Veranda, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Milieu, and Luxe among other publications. In 2015, Beth was awarded the Southeast Designer of the Year award and she was inducted to Luxe’s Gold List in 2017. I am super excited to share more with you about my friend Beth because her first book, An Eye for Beauty is being released today! Enjoy!

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Beth Webb: I always say one cannot live well without being centered, content, and connected to your home. Balance and a sense of well-being is as central to my design as line, form, texture, and color. Homes need to be restorative sanctuaries, easy to live in and rich with detail. Rooms are meant to be felt as much as seen. I think my interiors would be best described as clean, edited, and timeless with a restrained use of color, an abundance of texture, and washed with light. Classic interiors with enduring and essential furnishing choices like a classic wardrobe should be elegant and comfortable I believe we all long to be nourished by our homes– inspired and restored– with lasting beauty and genuine happiness always being the end goal. The truest gift of interior design is the opportunity it affords us to create meaningful, thoughtful, entirely personal spaces for my clients.

PC: Has living in Atlanta influenced your aesthetic in any way?

BW: Growing up in the South of course has a profound influence on your aesthetic sensibilities. Southerners have a profound love of their land and houses. Tradition and the idea of just what home means is passed down from generation to generation and lifestyle is as important as interiors in that gracious living is what we are all about. Entertaining is extremely important and entertaining at home even more so. I regularly get calls from my clients to come “fluff” the house prior to some big party as we always try to put our best for forward. It’s a bit of a competitive sport!

PC: What does your home say about you?

BW: In my own spaces, my priority is always to create order, beauty, and peace. A place where I’m able to breathe deeply and rest my mind. I crave order out of chaos and in our work as designers, days can often be quite chaotic and rather messy, so that quiet, edited space becomes a necessity and a respite. Comfort is the keyword. That, coupled with an elegant simplicity. A welcoming house is always of the utmost importance. Both homes are always a work in progress and totally different. In the low country, we live in a modern glass house on the marsh and in Atlanta, a Georgia flat, giving me a yin and yang  of design opportunities.

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

BW: There are so many things I turn to these days– museums, books, magazines, Instagram, and Pinterest, but most of all it has been and always will be travel. I live for it, truth be told, and it’s always the impetus for the next chapter. I return reinvigorated and ready for what’s next.

{A Photo of The Lowell that Beth  Shared on her Instagram during a Recent Trip to New York}

PC: Who are your style icons?

BW: Babe Paley for her faultless fashion sense and inherent good taste. Grace Kelly for her poised elegance and Audrey Hepburn for her style, her work, and her essence.

{Babe Paley, Photographed for Vogue in 1946}

PC: What traits do you most admire in a person?

BW: Authenticity, integrity, straightforwardness, and passion

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

BW: An exquisite hotel, room service, and ironed sheets.

PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

BW: Charlotte Moss– brains, beauty, and style. She embodies all that I admire in a woman. She is formidable and forever curious, that, along with being incredibly kind and generous.

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

BW: I’ve been traveling so much the last few years that just being home is the new definition of luxury. I got married last December and we have a beautiful house in South Carolina at Bray’s Island Plantation which is nothing short of idyllic. I love to cook and entertain when I have the time and to me, there is nothing more relaxing or restorative than a weekend there with family and friends.

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

BW: It’s going to be a whirlwind of a Fall with my first book with Rizzoli, An Eye for Beauty: Rooms That Speak to the Senses coming out today! I’m looking forward to the book tour with great anticipation and although I’ve been told the schedule is intimidating, it is also invigorating to travel the country and meet so many fresh faces as well as see some old friends. The book tour is listed on our website, so I hope to see everyone there. We have several things in the works on the product front and as always, many new projects all over the country from Sea Island to San Francisco. All I can say is thank God for Delta!

{Beth’s Beautiful Book– Order your copy here}

GO-TO OUTFIT: I don’t have many clothes, surprisingly, but I do believe in buying good pieces and love a “uniform”. Anything Loro Piana or The Row. The more architectural, the better, and it goes without saying, with a great hat.

STYLE MANTRA: The “KISS” principle– Keep It Simple Stupid. It’s always harder to do than it would seem.

SCENT: Dominique Ropion Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle

PIECE OF JEWELRY: Cuffs are my go-to and the horn cuff with rough cut diamonds by S. Carter Designs is my latest everyday accessory. That, along with my Cartier Ballon Bleu watch from my husband.


FLOWER: The palest of pink peonies and Lily of the Valley

INDISPENSABLE DESIGN ELEMENT: A little something with patina in every room– that and texture, texture, texture.

ERA FOR DESIGN: 1920’s American Architecture

DREAM PROJECT: I’ve always fantasized about doing a boutique hotel in St. Barths with a client who gives you carte blanche.

FABRIC/ TEXTILE: I’ve never met a cashmere I didn’t like–thank you, Loro Piana! Sandra Jordan alpacas are sublime and C & C Milano linens and Holland & Sherry wools are indispensable. We use them in virtually every project.

HOSTESS GIFT: Being from the South, no cocktail party is complete without a cheese straw. Callie’s Cheese Crisps are perfection. And is there anything better than getting a bouquet of fresh cut flowers?

MEAL: A home-cooked one during the winter months. I make Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese. It’s an all-day event, but oh-s0-worth-it!

DRINK: An ice cold vodka martini– up and a teensy bit dirty

WAY TO UNWIND AFTER A LONG DAY AT WORK: Scrolling through Instagram drink in hand. It’s like traveling with all my friends. 

WEEKEND DESTINATION: St. Barths for a very long weekend

HOTEL: The Beaumont in London, The Lowell in New York, and the Sunset Tower in L.A. where everyone knows your name.

CITY: Paris always is and always will be a great idea!

MUSEUM: The Frick

ARTIST: John Singer Sargent

SONG THAT PUTS ME IN A GREAT MOOD: “I’m Alright” by Madeleine Peyroux 

ACTOR/ACTRESS: George Clooney and Audrey Hepburn 

 PRIZED POSSESSION: My Costa Rican rescue dog, Catalina. She owns me!

RISK WORTH TAKING: Falling in love. I am a hopeless romantic!

GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE: Luxury travel. You only live once, so do it well! Things are just things but experiences are priceless.

GO-TO COLOR PALETTE: Black and white, camel and white, taupe and white, blue and white, white on white– I see a theme.

RULE TO BREAK: I don’t follow rules well…



{Photography Courtesy of Beth Webb}

When Technology Meets Design

{“What’s Next in Tech” at What’s New, What’s Next featuring Joe Human, Paloma Contreras, Kati Curtis, and Patrick Dragonette}

I spent most of last week in New York for a photoshoot, sourcing for clients, and various work meetings, including a very productive and exciting meeting with my publisher. I have finished writing the manuscript and we have wrapped up the photography, so we are now ready to start working on the design and layouts of the book which is super exciting! While in New York, I also spoke on a panel at What’s New, What’s Next, a very well-attended event at the New York Design Center which kicks off the fall design season. Our panel, What’s Next in Tech, was hosted by Dering Hall in the Odegard showroom and was comprised of Joe Human, Kati Curtis, Patrick Dragonette, our moderator Dennis Sarlo, and myself. We had a very interesting conversation about the intersection of design and technology. Many of you often reach out after speaking engagements to ask if I can share a recap and while it isn’t always possible, Dering Hall did a fantastic job of capturing the highlights of our panel discussion on their Instagram stories. You can watch the full recap below (or through this link).

{Photo by Matthew Carasella | Video Courtesy of Dering Hall}