Sponsor Spotlight: Huff Harrington Home + A Fabulous Giveaway

This is such an exciting week for La Dolce Vita, first we unveiled our new look and new home at www.ladolcevitablog.com. Tomorrow, I will be sharing the before and after photos of a big design project I recently completed– I can’t wait to show you! Today, the excitement continues as we welcome our newest sponsor, Huff Harrington Home, who will be giving away a fabulous gift to one lucky winner.
Huff Harrington Home is a beautifully-curated destination for design lovers in Atlanta, but luckily for all of us, they also have an easy to shop website. Long-time friends, business partners, design lovers, and francophiles Ann Huff and Meg Harrington founded Huff Harrington Fine Art and soon after, decided to extend their business into the realm of home furnishings and decor resulting in a fabulous one-stop-shop for anyone seeking to furnish a space, no matter the size. They carry a wide assortment of chic furniture, accessories, textiles, jewelry, and tabletop items along with their beautiful selection of art. Huff Harrington is generously extending a 20% discount code especially for LDV readers. Simply use the code “LADOLCEVITA” at checkout. They are also giving away a pair of pretty and versatile Lola Lamps from Currey & Co. to one lucky reader. You can find all of the details below!
{A Beautiful Vignette at Huff Harrington Home}
{Owners Ann Huff and Meg Harrington}
{Win a Pair of Currey & Co. Lola Lamps!}

1. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this blog post telling us what room you would put these stylish lamps in.

2. Leave ONE comment on between today, Monday, June 9, 2014 and Sunday, June 15, 2014. A winner will be announced on Monday, June 16, 2014.

For Extra Entries:

3. Tweet about the giveaway with a link to this blog post for another entry (follow La Dolce Vita on Twitter in order to show me your tweet). It is up to you to return to this post to enter your additional entry after tweeting about the giveaway.

4. Become a fan of La Dolce Vita on Facebook. It is up to you to return to this post to enter your additional entry.

5. Follow La Dolce Vita on Instagram! It is up to you to return to this post to enter your additional entry.

Anonymous entries will be ignored, so please include your e-mail in your comment. Your e-mail address will never be used for anything other than to notify you if you are the winner.

The Style Files: Anne Wagoner

I first came across Anne Wagoner, a talented interior designer based in Raleigh, North Carolina on Instagram about a year ago. I instantly identified with her refined, traditional, and pretty aesthetic. Anne believes in feminine details, the power of a beautiful chandelier, a perfectly executed drape, and a stunning wallpaper. This Fall, Anne and I became fast friends on an antiques shopping trip to Paris with Huff Harrington. We bonded over our love of classic, timeless details and quickly learned what each of us gravitated to as we shopped our way across Paris’s flea markets. Anne finds small, old paintings in gilt frames impossible to resist, in case you were wondering!

Anne’s love of antiques spans her entire life as she grew up admiring her grandmother, who owned a very well known antiques shop in Raleigh, North Carolina and would take Anne along with her on shopping trips to England when Anne was a teenager. Prior to opening her eponymous design firm in 2010, Anne worked for Ainsworth-Noah in Atlanta and for two interior designers in the Southeast. In the time since, Anne’s work has been featured by Architectural Digest and Traditional Home. Anne is kind and thoughtful, but she is also driven and incredibly passionate about her work. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as I have!

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Anne Wagoner: Classic, timeless, refined, inviting, curated. And most important of all, thought-provoking.

PC: How has living in Raleigh influenced your style?

AW: Living in the South has influenced me tremendously. I was exposed to Otto Zenke’s work at an early age and learned that antiques and architectural details add soul to any space. In the South, hospitality is paramount, so a well-appointed home means open doors for family and friends.

PC: What does your home say about you?

AW: Currently, it says we’re on the heels of a major, year-long renovation. It also says we value entertaining and spending time together as a family. We completely redesigned the kitchen with that in mind, transforming it from a dark galley to an open, European-inspired gathering space. Other upgrades include painted floors, bronze windows and two bluestone porches with Chippendale fretwork. I’m looking forward to furnishing the new spaces, but somehow my house always ends up last on the priority list. I pour my heart and soul into my clients’ homes, and when I return home, I pour my heart and soul into my family. Stay tuned for the install, which will finally happen in the new year.

{A Shot of the Pretty Exterior of Anne’s House via her Instagram @annewagonerinteriors}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

AW: I transport myself into the past through design and architecture books. I search for unique elements that stand the test of time. I also look for opportunities to reinvent a historic element through modern interpretation.

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

AW: My grandmother. She’s a true Southern spitfire, but she also epitomizes class and elegance. This question sparked my curiosity about her personal style icons, so I called her and guessed Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly and Scarlett O’Hara. “No! Absolutely not!” she said, horrified. “My mother always had good taste. She had a great eye for proportion and scale and she always knew the right thing to do. But when it came to style, I just stepped right out and took over.” All along, I assumed she had been influenced by famous tastemakers. As it turns out, confidence and a strong sense of self was her recipe for style.

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

AW: A sense of humor

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

AW: My work.

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

AW: My grandmother. She started and ran a successful antique business during a time when women’s roles were clearly defined within the home. She broke that boundary in pursuit of her passion.

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

AW: My husband often reminds me how lucky I am that my profession and my passion are one and the same. I suppose that’s my idea of “la dolce vita”.

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

AW: We have several exciting full-house projects starting in the new year, including a historic renovation in Chapel Hill, a new construction in Raleigh, a makeover on the North Carolina coast and — when I find the time — my own house! I’m looking forward to making it all happen in 2018.

Go-To Outfit: Black pants and top, a camel wrap, gold jewelry

Style Mantra: “In a world full of trends, I want to remain a classic.”

Scent: Alaïa or Chanel Sensuelle

Piece of Jewelry: Sheila Fajl hoops

Color I Never Tire Of: Black and ivory

Flower: Ranunculus

Indispensable Design Element: Thoughtful architecture

Era for Design: 1920’s

Dream Project: Clients who trust me and a space that challenges me

Fabric/Textile: Wool sateen

Hostess Gift: Wine

Meal: Traditional caviar service followed by Dover sole

Drink: Chardonnay

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Sitting by the fire with a glass of wine, laughing with my husband

3 Things I Love About My City: Proximity to the beach, amazing people, direct flight to Paris

Weekend Destination: Charleston

Hotel: Zero George

City: Chicago

Museum: The Met

Artist: John Singer Sargent

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: RENT “Seasons of Love”

Actor/Actress: Bradley Cooper & Catherine O’Hara

Prized Possession: My daughters’ portraits by California-based artist Jennifer Welty

Risk Worth Taking: A new interpretation of the past

Greatest Extravagance: Hotels

Go-To Color Palette: Layers of neutrals with a pop of color and an accent of black

Rule to Break: Mixing new and old

Movie Set Design: It’s Complicated

I can never have too many…pieces of art


LDV Travels: The Best Antiques Shopping Trip in Paris

Around this time last week, I was fresh off of my first antiques buying trip in Paris. Nine days and two new trips later (Birmingham and High Point), I can’t stop thinking about Paris and the wonderful time we had. The trip was one of several Ann Huff and Meg Harrington organize and lead each year. The trips usually consist of small groups– ours included eight shoppers and three women from the Huff Harrington team in order to keep things manageable and create a wonderful sense of camaraderie between all of the women in the group. Our group consisted of interior designers and shop owners, predominantly from the Southeast, as well as a fellow Houstonian who was searching for a good number of special pieces for the house she is building. We all really got into the spirit of things and genuinely enjoyed one another’s company.

I have been raving about the trip to anyone who will listen since I returned because it was an extraordinary experience that had a profound effect on me. For starters, I am the one who usually plans everything in my life, so the prospect of just showing up and having the full itinerary planned and every last detail taken care of was a rare and thoroughly enjoyed luxury. The attention to detail on behalf of Ann, Meg, and their helper Catherine was unbelievable. In addition to scouting all of the antiques markets and fairs we visited prior to our arrival, they acted on our behalf to translate, negotiate, and educate us on our purchases, ensuring that missteps were not made. On top of that, they handle all of the logistics of getting our fabulous finds back stateside. The only decisions I made on this trip were how much I was willing to pay for the items I fell in love with and what to eat at each meal. Everything else was handled for us beautifully.

Upon our arrival in Paris, we all met for coffee, and were then taken to our beautiful apartments in the stylish 7th arrondissement on Paris’ Left Bank. I shared a lovely apartment with two other women, Anne Wagoner, a wonderfully talented interior designer from Raleigh and the lovely Lacresa Allen who owns a shop called The Roost Home in Bluffton, South Carolina. The first day was low key as we were all quite jet-lagged, so we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in a chic, little brasserie in the neighborhood, got settled and unpacked at home, and then went to dinner at the wonderful Fontaine de Mars which was outstanding. These would be the first of countless amazing meals, each one better than the last, and each featuring  three courses and plenty of bubbles and wine!

The following day, we hit the ground running and took the train to the outskirts of Paris where we would spend the day at Chatou, a bi-annual antiques fair similar to Round Top or Brimfield, but better in that it is more condensed and it is Paris after all! 

We all scored some fabulous finds on the first day. I am bringing this sweet Napoleon chair from the late 1800s home. It was the first piece I scored that day.

I also brought home these beautiful gilded brackets, also from the 1800s, which will be fabulous with some pretty vases, mixed with some great art.

This chest is one of my favorite finds from the trip. It is 19th Century Napoleon with beautiful, inlaid drawer fronts, incredible dovetail construction, and a stunning black marble top. It was so fun running around, finding things, then texting Ann and Meg to come help negotiate and write the orders. Their expertise in verifying the quality and provenance of the pieces I bought was absolutely invaluable. At the end of each day shopping, we would all meet up, pop a bottle of champagne, and toast to our buys that day.

We visited the famed Marche aux Puces, or Paris Flea Market a couple of times on this trip. Everyone found some wonderful and interesting things and it was so fun to see the lovely stalls and buildings draped in lush vines.

One of the best parts of shopping at the flea market with Ann and Meg is that they took us to vendors off the beaten path as well as to the dealers only section of the market that is not open to the public.

The items at the market run the gamut from very fine, significant antiques like the ones pictured here to bric a brac and smalls in other parts of the market. There is truly something for everyone.

I spotted these super chic, black and white abstract paintings from the 1960s by a well known French artist by the name of Jacques Nestle and posted them to my Instagram story. I thought about them all day, but didn’t immediately pull the trigger. I ended up going back to get them because I couldn’t get them out of my mind and a client spotted them on my Instagram and wanted them for her house. I plan on making these trips to France more frequently in order to source unique things for my clients because the first trip was a big success.

This is a stunning Louis Philippe chest with a beautiful gray marble top that I am kicking myself for not buying. The vendor agreed to sell it for a song, but I chickened out because I don’t have a spot for it in my house and didn’t want to pay to store it indefinitely. I wish I could go back in time!

{Chic French Rattan Pieces at the Marche aux Puces}

When Fabian and I were in Paris this summer, we bought two handmade Plaster sunburst mirrors from this artist. These pieces are so special and are truly works of art. I’ve fallen in love with them, so I bought a group of them that will likely go into a client project in the future.

Ann and Meg took us to their mirror guy who had the most amazing selection of antique French mirrors. It was funny, but over the course of the trip, we started to notice what we all gravitated to. I loved mirrors, while my friend Anne was pulled towards small paintings at every turn. Part of the fun of shopping with a group like this is that we kept an eye out for each other and often found pieces for the other women in the group.

Back in Paris, we visited some street markets and local antiques shops. We also spent some time in the design district in the St. Germain de Pres neighborhood. The Italian chandelier is also coming home to Houston– not with me, but with the other Houstonian on the trip who saw it and immediately fell in love with it.

One of the nice things about this trip was how balanced it felt. We had plenty of planned activities and time to shop for antiques, but we were also given a few afternoons and evenings to do our own thing, which was nice so that we could explore the city on our own. One afternoon, my friend Anne and I visited the incredible Dior exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. It was breathtaking and one of the most extraordinary things I have ever experienced. I am planning to do a separate blog post on it, so stay tuned!

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with new friends and showing them some of my favorite places in Paris, such as the Ritz, where we enjoyed a nightcap and conversation after going to my favorite Italian restaurant in Paris.

Everywhere you look in Paris, inspiration beckons. Our nightly walks to group dinners left us marveling at the beautiful architecture in our lovely neighborhood.

{It felt like a dream to walk home from dinner and see the Eiffel Tower in all its majesty.}

This trip had a huge impact on me. I enjoyed each moment and came home feeling completely inspired and energized. I learned so much more about French antiques than I knew before and have literally dreamt about shopping for antiques in Paris since the first night of the trip! For the last two weeks, I have had these recurring trips, which happens to me when I tap into something I am passionate about and become obsessed with. I am already thinking about taking another shopping trip to France with Huff Harrington, but am currently deciding between going back to hunt for antiques in Paris or going to Provence to enjoy a leisurely week in the French countryside in the late spring instead. If you have been wanting to go on a shopping trip to France, I cannot recommend going with Huff Harrington highly enough. It was honestly one of the best trips I have ever taken and I can’t wait to do it again. For more information on their upcoming trips, click here for the 2018 schedule.

Friday Favorites: 09.29.17

Greetings from Paris! We are having a wonderful time and have already found some amazing things on our Huff Harrington antiques sourcing trip. Be sure to follow along on Instagram where I have been sharing lots of inspiration and behind-the-scenes moments from my trip! Meanwhile, here is a bit of what we are loving in our office back home. A bientot!

Style: I have been noticing more and more tie sleeves on blouses and sweaters lately. I love a special, feminine detail, so this is right up my alley. I am so over off-the-shoulder tops which have had a major moment over the past year or two. Tie sleeves certainly feel current, I just hope they don’t turn into a full fledged trend. I packed this tie-sleeve cashmere sweater for my Paris trip. I am also loving the black ribbons on this ivory cashmere sweater. This sweater (available in four colors!) and this sweatshirt will give you the look for under $80!

Design: Traditional Home is hosting a decorators showhouse in Dallas which just opened last weekend! If you will be in Dallas over the next month, be sure to check it out. I have a few friends participating in the inaugural Dallas Showhouse including Amy Berry, Denise McGaha, Kara Simpson Cox, and Traci Zeller whose bedroom was inspired by Parisian couture and includes several thoughtful details found during Tracy’s travels to Paris including a beautiful grouping of plaster mirrors, framed vintage lace samplers used by the salespeople who call on famous Parisian couture houses, and a Philip Jeffries wall covering whose texture mimics that of a bouclé Chanel jacket.

Read: There are so many wonderful new books out this season! One of the books I was most looking forward to and have thoroughly enjoyed reading is “A Place to Call Home” by Gil Schafer, which was just released on Tuesday. Not only is Gil one of my favorite architects, but I recently met him at a party in New York and he could not have been kinder or more charming. If you enjoy classical architecture as much as I do, this book is a must!

Watch: I am completely obsessed with Outlander on Starz and eagerly anticipated the return of the season, which has been on for three weeks now. The premise of a 1940s nurse who travels back through time to another country to meet her true love in the 1700s sounds completely far-fetched on paper, but it is amazing! The scenery, the costumes (particularly while they are in Paris in season 2), and the love story are all beautiful. If you haven’t watched it, do yourself a favor and binge-watch the first two seasons. You will be hooked!

Eat: When I get back home, I need to try to make an effort to cook more. It will be difficult because I am in the middle of a crazy travel schedule that will only see me home for a handful of days in between trips, but it always makes me feel better to know what is going into my food. Because we are often so busy with work, I find it easy to fall into a rut of making the same things week after week, so I was happy to come across this list of “Seven Low-Carb Side Dishes Foodies Love“. I can’t wait to try some of them when I get back home. In the meantime, I’ll continue eating my way through Paris!

Shop: One of my favorite places to shop in Houston is A Bientot. Ideally located on River Oaks Boulevard, I know that I can always find a thoughtful gift for just about anyone– birthday, baby, hostess, for him, or for me! Proprietress Betty Newton has culled all of the best accessories of the moment and has filled her shop with chic clothing, shoes, and handbags as well. The best part? They just launched an online boutique, so you can enjoy their fabulous wares even if you don’t live in Houston or have plans to visit anytime soon. This chic, monogrammed beaded clutch, solid brass Matisse-inspired earrings, and bold monogrammed tiger velvet pillow are currently on the top of my list of must-have items.


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 AL.com 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.