The Style Files: Sam Allen

Sam Allen Headshot 1

Sam Allen is a young interior designer based in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Having grown up watching his decorator mother in action, Sam knew that design was his calling from an early age and established his eponymous design firm while still in his teens. In the years since, Sam has been recognized as a “Next Wave” Designer by House Beautiful and his work has been featured in multiple publications including The New York Times, Luxe, Vogue, and Domino proving that talent and good taste are truly ageless. Over the years, Sam and I have become friends and frequently run into each other at design industry events such as Legends of La Cienega in Los Angeles or furniture market in High Point, North Carolina. I recently saw Sam not only in Los Angeles, but also in New York where we both designed tables for the annual Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Spring Gala. I have enjoyed watching Sam’s career blossom over the past several years and have no doubt that big things are on the horizon for him. Enjoy!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Sam Allen: Clean and classic meets elevated glamour, and always original. I like crisp, traditional neutrals with a personalized edge.

Sam Allen Vignette

PC: How has living in Connecticut influenced your style?

SA: There’s an interpretation of East Coast style that translates well across the board. It’s fresh and lively, but also refined, with a large dose of cozy. Those are all notes I enjoy seeing in a finished project.

Sam Allen Skirted Table

PC: What does your home say about you?

SA: Nothing makes me happier than perfecting the finishing details, and that comes through in my own home. I even have a folding board for my clothes.

Sam Allen Bedroom Stripes

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

SA: For my own, personal inspiration, I love travel. Whether it’s a design-focused trip, like going to LCDQ Legends or High Point, or just a vacation, I feel my creativity enhanced when I’m exposed to new experiences. It doesn’t even have to be far – even a day trip to New York for Kips Bay or to a museum can be inspiring. For a project, I like to be inspired by my clients. Getting to know them and who they are, and executing a vision that enhances their way of life – that’s inspiring!

Sam Allen Bold Living Room

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

SA: David Hicks’ style was iconic. He really knew and understood the way people live. As for someone current, Bruce Budd is doing really beautiful work. Every time a new project of his is published, I love it. In the world of fashion, Brunello Cucinelli’s style is classic and elevated in a way I strive to emulate.

bruce budd AD

{Worlds Collide: A Bedroom Designed by Bruce Budd featuring David Hicks’ Iconic La Fiorentina Fabric}

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

SA: Self-confidence. Have faith in yourself or no one else will.

Sam Allen Dining Room

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

SA: Shopping. Serious shopping. Particularly in Paris.

Sam Allen Vignette

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

SA: Martha Stewart. She’s a family friend, and I interned for her at the beginning of my career. I admire her resilience and ability to evolve. She’s a smart businessperson.

Sam Allen Kitchen

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

SA: Waking up in the Peninsula Beverly Hills and never having to go back to reality.

Sam Allen Bedroom

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

SA: I’ve just started a large new project in Martha’s Vineyard. It’s in an amazing location on the water with exquisite views. We’re currently developing the creative concept, and I’m very excited about it.

Sam Allen Bath



Go-To Outfit: I love my Brunello Cucinelli cashmere sweatsuit, worn with leather sneakers

Style Mantra: “Buy the best, and you will only cry once.” Miles Redd speaks the truth.

Scent: Lily of the Valley

Piece of Jewelry: My yellow gold Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch

Color I Never Tire Of: Hermès Orange

Flower: White Peonies

Indispensable Design Element: Quality textiles and flowers

Era for Design: Billy Baldwin and the 1950’s

Dream Project: My mother always says that a project can only ever be as good as the client. So my “dream project” would be working with someone who allows me creative control and trusts my vision.

Fabric/Textile: Bennison and C+C Milano

Hostess Gift: White, fresh cut flowers

Meal: Homemade pasta

Drink: Diet Coke


Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: A manicure

3 Things I Love About My City: Its charm, the timeless beauty and architecture, and the fact that it’s on the water.

Weekend Destination: My grandparent’s home in Martha’s Vineyard

Hotel: The Peninsula Beverly Hills

City: Paris

Museum: The V&A in London

Artist: Jean-Marc Louis

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: “In Da Club” by 50 Cent

Actor/Actress: George Clooney & Meryl Streep

Prized Possession: My friendships

Risk Worth Taking: Starting your own business

Greatest Extravagance: Cars

Go-To Color Palette: Crisp neutrals

Rule to Break: All of them!

Movie Set Design: Anything by Nancy Meyers

I can never have too many… Minutes of the day!

Paloma Signature

{Images Courtesy of Sam Allen Interiors | For more of Sam’s work and funny personality, follow him on Instagram @samallen1}


The Style Files: Bradley Odom


Bradley Odom is the talent behind one of the best stores in Atlanta, Dixon Rye. Dixon Rye is filled with an expertly-curated assortment of interesting vintage finds, fine antiques, and a mix of interesting new upholstery, casegoods, art, accessories, and art. Prior to opening Dixon Rye, Bradley was an award-winning graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design and had a very big career in retail. Bradley’s experience as Director of West Elm and J.Crew allowed him to collect inspiration from communities and individuals across the world, and ultimately, informed his eye for quality design. At the helm of Dixon Rye, Bradley has developed a distinct style all his own which marries the rough with the refined. He has an expert eye for juxtaposition, interesting pairings, and an innate ability to create just the right amount of tension between pieces in order to create spaces infused with personality and character. I visited Dixon Rye on my last visit to Atlanta in January and hope to return soon! In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about Bradley today!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Bradley Odom: Dark and moody—masculine colors with immense texture. At Dixon Rye we talk a lot about identifying the hero of a room and letting it be a hero. For me personally, the hero is usually something leather or a cool architectural find.


PC: How has living in Atlanta influenced your style?

BO: I’ve been in Atlanta now for 17 years – so hard to believe. I’m originally from Mississippi, but definitely consider Atlanta home. I opened Dixon Rye in October 2015 with the intent of creating a furniture and design destination that mixes authentic Southern expression with modern sensibility. The store is filled with carefully curated furniture and décor pieces that speak to my Southern roots from living in Atlanta paired with a strong passion for beautiful things.

Dixon Rye Store

PC: What does your home say about you?

BO: That I’ve been busy the last 10 years. I recently decided to do a complete update to my bedroom, starting from scratch. I designed a bed for Dixon Rye that is going to now be my bed, in leather. The bed and my art are the inspiration for the entire room. I am continually finding a new hero which means I will redesign a room to honor that piece.

Dixon Rye Store 3

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

BO: There is inspiration all around us. We aren’t great about stopping long enough to see it. We are all so busy that we sometimes miss what is around us and think inspiration has to be a special, planned activity. Don’t get me wrong, traveling gives me life. I was fortunate enough to travel often in my prior role and got to see so much of the world that inspires me, but I really try to make an effort to find inspiration in the city I love, Atlanta—our forest in the city. I’m very visual and a collector of images, which is exactly why I created the weekly inspirational diary, Quiet Decency, we send out each Sunday. I really wasn’t sure it would resonate with people, but the following has been overwhelming. You can sign-up, HERE, to receive.

Dixon Rye 4

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

BO: I can’t say that I have a particular icon, however, I find myself following anyone who has a vision. Visionaries, in general, are forward minded, global, out of the box thinkers and aren’t too concerned for what everyone else is doing. I prefer that over what someone else has done.

Dixon Rye Store 4

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

BO: Humility. Where there is humility, there is usually trust and integrity.


PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

BO: Ice Cream! It’s an issue. Jenni’s Ice Cream has an almond butter brittle that is hard to pass up.

Dixon Rye Store 5

PC: Who or what has been your professional influence?

BO: There are a two: My friend Glenn, whom I met in 2005 has become a father figure and mentor for me. He challenged me out of my routine job and helped me to understand my talents which led me to taking risks. I also had the honor of working with Mickey Drexler during my J. Crew years. And although I never reported directly to Mickey, we met several times. In a visit once to one of my stores, he asked me to join the corporate jet to fly to the call center, which at the time was in need of a rebranding, to connect the center to the same experience as the stores. I joined the trip and two weeks later had a job offer for a Director’s role. I will never forget Mickey seeing something in me, that at the time, I didn’t see in myself.


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

BO: Having an inner peace (Quiet Decency) that allows me to rest every night, feeling fully challenged and fulfilled.


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

BO: The ongoing project that is forever evolving is Dixon Rye, of course. I’m constantly sourcing the newest discoveries that fit our aesthetic. At the moment, I’m most excited to see how we’ve given new life to some of our antique finds. I love to re-envision an old piece with new fabrics or hardware. We have also recently launched our online shop. In June, all products will be featured on the online shop! We have two local design projects that are really coming together. Both are full renovations and both families have been really receptive to thinking forward. Sometimes you worry that you are pushing them a little too far out of their comfort zone, but I am always honored by the trust they put in their designer! In the Fall we’ll begin working on phase II of a recently completed Farm House project. We’re building a new kitchen and turning the existing kitchen into a bar area. You’ll see the first phase in Atlanta Magazine Home’s Fall Issue. Then of course there’s my bedroom project. Feels so great to finally be working on my space again.

Dixon Rye 5



Go-To Outfit: White jeans, Tretorns and a navy blazer and I hardly leave home without my AERO Studio leather bag.

Style Mantra: Don’t over complicate it, but don’t be so basic, well, that you’re basic. You have to have your own style that works for you.

Scent: Tom Ford, Ombre Leather

Piece of Jewelry: My eyewear

Color I Never Tire Of: White– it’s the perfect palette cleanser.

Flower: Although I never tire of the magnolia, I do love ranunculus

Indispensable Design Element: Texture

Era for Design: Early 1900 Bauhaus era

Dream Project: A Boutique Hotel

Fabric/Textile: I love textiles that can function as art. Currently obsessed with a Mulberry for Lee Jofa Rain Dance Fabric. It’s this beautiful embroidered fabric that’s able to stand alone as a statement piece in any room or as simple as a wall hanging. Menswear plaids get me every time. The Johnstons of Elgin wools are beyond fabulous. I’m currently building my bedroom around Glen Isla in Olivine.

Hostess Gift: Certainly depends on the party and level of friendship, but I love gifting the Arrow Platter from Astier de Villatte.

Meal: It’s a toss up between a good burger and sushi.

Drink: Good Coffee

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Being outside with my pugs.

3 Things I Love About My City: Four distinct seasons, each of which I love for different reasons. I love being outside and Atlanta has some really great hikes within the city. Lastly, community. Atlanta is a big city but still has that smallish town feel because it’s the South.


Weekend Destination: If you follow my Instagram, you’ll quickly learn that I escape Atlanta for Old Edward Inn in Highlands, NC every time I get a chance. It’s a quick 2.5 hour drive from Atlanta. The team at OEI are so accommodating and I’ve been going for so long that they just know what I like…which is mostly to just be.

Hotel: Ilse Crawford Designed ETT HEM HOTEL

City: London

Museum: Victoria and Albert Museum

Artist: David Hockney

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: Robyn- Call Your Girlfriend

Actor: Paul Newman

Prized Possession: A photo of my Mother as a child standing in a field of flowers. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Risk Worth Taking: The last 7 years have been all about risk for me. I decided to go back to school Full-Time in 2000 to get an Interior Design Degree from SCAD. Shortly after, I left my corporate job in 2015 to launch Dixon Rye. Definitely worth the risk!

Greatest Extravagance: Good food

Go-To Color Palette: Dark Greens for a bit of a naturalist aesthetic. Sometimes when working on a new project, I have to stop and say…No Greens!

Rule to Break: All of them! I’m an “ask for forgiveness” kinda guy.

Movie Set Design: A Single Man

I can never have too many… Travel books and Navy blazers

Paloma Signature


The Style Files: Amanda Reynal

Amanda Reynal Headshot

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Amanda Reynal. An interior designer for over twenty years, Amanda studied at the New York School of Interior Design and Parsons School of Design. Upon graduation, she worked for the lauded firm, Cullman and Kravis in New York. Eventually, Amanda’s travels lead her to London, then to Des Moines, Iowa where she currently resides. Since 2001, Amanda has been at the helm of her eponymous design firm which she recently expanded to include a retail store. Amanda is known for her cheerful, vibrant aesthetic, influenced by her travels and time spent living on the East Coast as well as in Palm Beach. Amanda also happens to be my friend, Marisa Marcantonio of Stylebeat‘s sister. Style certainly runs in this family! Enjoy!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Amanda Reynal: My style is ever evolving but it is always grounded in the classics with attention to scale, materials and architectural detail and then infused with personality and some color. Every project, client and home are different and require a fresh eye and new perspective. I love to incorporate both old and new items to keep a space dynamic and multi dimensional. I try to adhere to the architecture and bones of a house or space while imbuing it with the individuality of the client.

Amanda Reynal Breakfast Room

PC: How has living in Iowa influenced your style?

AR: We first moved from NYC to Iowa 16 years ago, then moved to London for a few years and back to Des Moines ten years ago. Coming to an unfamiliar environment with a new landscape both physically and figuratively forced me to define my style early on. Getting away from everything that is familiar and safe has influenced me enormously. It has been liberating to be in a different part of the country and to be able to be creative without expectations. Just a few miles outside Des Moines are rolling green hills of farmland and stunning rural coutnryside. The natural vs urban landscapes so close to each other translates into interiors as well. Midwesterners have wholesome values and enjoy being in their homes surrounded by family and friends. Houses here tend to be large and lived in hard during the long winters. I don’t want to sacrifice style and personality to accommodate wear and tear so I learned how to translate and re-scale my aesthetic to suit the Midwestern sensiblity. We live with our interiors for a long time so I feel a responsibility to design rooms that are current but will still look elegant years down the road. Well scaled, classic upholstery forms and a mix of old and new pieces are the foundation of most rooms I design. To keep the schemes updated I love to add personality pieces and a curveball or something new.

Amanda Reynal Master

PC: What does your home say about you?

AR: When people first visit our house in Des Moines, they often say, “I can tell you are not from here”. To me, I see our home as a compilation of the many dimensions of my life and travels that I bring to the table: traditional elements of my Northeastern upbringing mixed with English antiques brought home from our years in London and a punchy infusion of Palm Beach style, color and pattern from a lifetime of vacations spent there. This mixture seems to work because it is all part of the evolution of my design style. I am the only girl in our household and several years ago I lacquered our front entry vestibule hot pink. My husband and boys thought they would hate it but now its a defining element in our house. Our house is brimming with art, texture and pattern. During the darkest days of an Iowa winter I adore coming home to brightness. We love to have parties of all kinds so I designed our house to accommodate everything from formal dinners to dancing and ping pong in the garden in the warmer months.

Amanda Reynal Console

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

AR: I love visiting museums and historic homes and gardens. When home I turn to books and of course, Instagram.

Amanda Reynal Blue Sofa

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

AR: My mom is so chic, she always has had her own definitive style. Babe Paley, Bunny Mellon, all of the grand dames of the mid 20th century intrigue me. Today, Aerin Lauder is pure elegance and everything she brands reflects her poise and refined style.

Babe Paley Vogue

{Babe Paley photographed by Norman Parkinson via}

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

AR: Honesty and the ability to laugh during a difficult moment.

Amanda Reynal Dining Room

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

AR: White wine every night and dark chocolate

Amanda Reynal Kitchen

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

AR: My five years of working at Cullman and Kravis for Ellie and Hedi were formative. I learned literally everything about decorating as well as antiques, fabrics, installations and how to work with vendors. More importantly, perhaps, I also grew as a person. Ellie is the most gracious, kind and professional designer I have ever known. From her, I learned how to handle difficult situations as well as importance of being well informed. Albert Hadley also influenced me professionally, he was a dear family friend. Although I never worked for him, he mentored me on my career and gave me wonderful advice when I was starting out. Mr. Hadley was so kind to me and even came to my wedding. His style was inimitable.

Amanda Reynal Pink Bedroom

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

AR: Have some fun every week, love what you do all day long, spend time with family and friends and don’t wait until the future to do what you want to do. Wine every night and lots of travel are essential as well.

Amanda Reynal Shop 3

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

AR: I am really enjoying having a shop attached to our office. Curating accessories, artwork and other special items has been a ton of fun and very rewarding.



Go-To Outfit: skinny jeans, and Stubbs and Wooton velvet slippers in the winter and dresses in the summer

Scent: Lorenzo Villarossi Mare Nostrum from his atelier in Florence

Piece of Jewelry: a hand engraved gold disc pendant my husband once gave me for my birthday. I have been wearing it for years and it goes with everything.

Color I Never Tire of: shades of green

Flower: pink peonies and ranunculus–I’m an early June baby.

Indispensable Design Element: beautiful hardware, its like jewelry in a room

Era for Design: palm beach regency and the renaissance

Dream Project: any tropical house near the sea

Fabric/Textile Quadrille: anything and newcomer Collier Rose

Hostess Gift: an Odeme candle, the scents are heavenly

Meal: bouillabaisse

Drink: Aperol spritz, rosé and chardonnay



3 Things I Love About My City: no traffic, accessibility, our world class museum, the Des Moines Art Center and my friends

Weekend Destination: Home, everywhere we love to go is at least a flight away so we are home on the weekends. Our weekends are fun filled and relaxing without having to go away.

Hotel: The Gritti Palace in Venice or any of the Firmdale Hotels by Kit Kemp

City: London

Museum: The Sir John Soane, the Victoria and Albert and the Peggy Guggenheim… I adore museums

Artist: Canaletto and William De Kooning

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow

Actor: Daniel Craig and Gael Garcia Bernal

Prized Possession: my health

 Greatest Extravagance: our house in upstate New York. It takes two flights to get there but the whole family is happiest on the mountaintop.

Go-To Color Palette: blue and green- the colors of the sky, sea and grass

Rule to Break: don’t eat past 7pm

Movie Set Design: the original Sabrina and Auntie Mame

I can never have too many… friends

Paloma Signature

The Style Files: Kate Rheinstein Brodsky

Kate Brodsky Headshot

{Photography by Taylor Jewell}

Kate Rheinstein Brodsky has had an eye for design from a very young age. Growing up in Los Angeles, the daughter of Suzanne Rheinstein, the renowned interior designer and owner of the beloved Hollyhock shop, Kate was surrounded by beautiful design throughout her youth. At age 18, she moved to New York to attend NYU and eventually went on to work as an editor at ELLE DECOR. In 2014, Kate followed in her mother’s well-heeled footsteps and opened up her store, KRB, a glossy shop filled with chic finds ranging from fine antiques and tabletop items to gifts and art. In just over two years, KRB has garnered a loyal following of design aficionados in pursuit of their next stylish acquisition. This January, KRB moved to a new, larger location on the Upper East Side. The new space continues to mix timeless style with current inspirations, offering one-of-a-kind antiques, colorful decorations, and custom furniture on the spacious ground floor. The second floor serves as a space to host workshops, lectures and private appointments – inviting both customers and decorators to meet in a more intimate setting. Kate is definitely one to watch. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know more about her in today’s interview!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Kate Rheinstein Brodsky: A modern riff on traditional taste.

Kate Brodsky Library Living Room

PC: Has living in New York influenced your aesthetic in any way?

KRB: I moved here when I was 18 from Los Angeles to go to NYU. I had grown up with my mother’s southern Anglophile taste filtered through a Southern California lens which is incredibly beautiful. New York made me think in a more tailored and glamorous way—shiny surfaces to reflect city lights, a certain dressiness and gutsiness that stands up to the drama of the city.

Kate Brodsky OKL3

PC: What does your home say about you?

KRB: My apartment reflects my love for things deemed old-fashioned and my attempts to use them in a more contemporary way. I have three children and a very old dog so it also about my attempts to hide the chaos behind the sofa, under the cushions, and behind the closet doors!

Kate Brodsky Family

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

KRB: I love magazines and books (and Pinterest and Instagram) but nothing beats seeing something in person. Whether its a museum, a garden or someone’s house, experiencing it in the flesh gives you an entirely different perspective.

Kate Brodsky OKL

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

KRB: I am always inspired by the strong women who I have been lucky enough to know—my mother, Bunny Williams, Julia Reed—women all known for their graciousness and style while entertaining. Style to me is more than how something looks (important as that is) it’s how it makes you feel. All three of them excel at making you feel welcome!


{Beautiful, Timeless Rooms by Suzanne Rheinstein (top), Bunny Williams (bottom left), and Julia Reed (bottom right)}

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

KRB: The ability to laugh at oneself!

Kate Brodsky Powder Room

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

KRB: Sneaking out midweek for lunch with my husband.

Kate Brodsky Kitchen

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

KRB: Without a doubt, my parents Suzanne and Fred Rheinstein. Both entrepreneurs, they brought vast amounts of creativity to their respective fields. My father was a television producer, director and post-production pioneer and my mother is a decorator in Los Angeles and owner of iconic store, Hollyhock. They both instilled an incredible work ethic in me – they raised me to believe that anything worth doing, was worth doing right.

Kate Brodsky OKL2

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

KRB: With three small children, its enjoying those small moments of unrestrained joy or pleasure. Reading them books in front of a fire or watching them run around on the beach in East Hampton on a summer evening.

Kate Brodsky OKL7

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

KRB: This year, I moved my New York shop, KRB, into a new space on East 74th Street, nearly doubling the size. With several parties underway including a private dinner on the second floor, we hope to hold more events – cocktail parties, book signings, pop-ups. I also recently launched a signature candle created for KRB by D.S. & Durga. It is so lovely — violet, moss and clary sage come together for a fresh green and floral scent. I am completely addicted to it and have it burning constantly.

KRB Storefront



Go-To Outfit: black jcrew pants, a black Ann Mashburn shirt, and a Libertine duster.

Piece of Jewelry: A pair of moonstone earrings set in wood given to me by my husband from Taffin. They look like eyes and I think they are good luck!

Color I Never Tire Of: Green

Flower: masses of sweet peas

Indispensable Design Element: Comfort! Small tables to put your drink on, throws to curl up under, a chair to read in, flattering light

Fabric/Textile: I am MAD for Konstantin Kakania’s fabrics for Templeton. The lip prints and stripes and leaf prints – LOVE. Also, glazed chintzes from Bob Collins and Sons – Keith McCoy in Los Angeles has the best selection.

Hostess Gift: The KRB candle! It is pretty in a black matte vessel, smells delicious and is always appreciated.

Meal: Sushi or tacos

Drink: Bourbon in the winter, Tequila & tonic in the summer

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Hot bath with loads of Epsom salts and a stack of design magazines.


3 Things I Love About My City: 24-hour Bodegas (although they are dwindling), the ability to walk anywhere, and seasons (Spring and Fall).

Weekend Destination: East Hampton

Hotel: Ballyfin

City: New York and Los Angeles.

Museum: Musee Nissam Commando in Paris – I can’t resist a house museum

Artist: Ingres

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: Lovely Day

Prized Possession: All of my Konstantin Kakanias illustrations of Mrs. Tependris!

Risk Worth Taking: Starting your own business

Greatest Extravagance: ironed sheets

Go-To Color Palette: Shades of Green with bits of Orange.

Rule to Break: only use white or black tapers

Movie Set Design: I want to say Auntie Mame but its really Gigi which has been my favorite movie since I was about 7.

I can never have too many…books!

Paloma Signature

{Photography by Lesley Unruh, Courtesy of Kate Rheinstein Brodsky}

The Style Files: Benni Frowein

1650 Schumacher

The Style Files is one of my favorite series to research and write on La Dolce Vita because it helps me to get to know people that I admire on a more personal level, or in the case of today’s guest, Benni Frowein, it provides the opportunity to learn more about people in pivotal roles within the design industry. Benni is the President of my go-to fabric house, Schumacher, where he oversees and drives the company’s business divisions while working in close collaboration with creative director Dara Caponigro to lead the company. Prior to joining Schumacher in 2016, Benni spent ten years at the Boston Consulting Group, one of the world’s top business consulting firms. His marketing and sales expertise propelled transformation and growth in client companies across the globe. Benni was born in Europe, where he spent his formative years. He holds a dual degree in international business administration from Spain’s Universidad Pontificia Comillas and Germany’s European School of Business. He’s an avid traveler and has a penchant for months-long backpacking adventures. A true trailblazer in every sense of the word, Benni’s business acumen, joie de vivre, and passion for design are already being felt through Schumacher’s latest marketing initiatives and product offerings. I hope that you’ll enjoy getting to know Benni in today’s installment of The Style Files!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Benni Frowein: Casual elegance is what I strive for in my homes. It’s all about the materials; I love black and green marble, polished concrete, and dark or light-grey herringbone parquet. Whenever I can, I use silk velvets, moirés and richly textured linens. To offset the formality of those materials, I keep the space airy and I mix things from different periods. This might mean using a simple neutral linen for curtains or combining a Louis XV Secretary with a mid-century Platner chair. Last but not least, I try to create a space that invites guests to explore by blending in some unexpected, humorous or interesting accessories. I travel a lot and I love to collect objects from around the world. I’ve placed these pieces throughout my apartment. In addition to having personal significance to me, it’s always a fun topic when I entertain.


PC: How did growing up in Europe influence your style?

BF: There are two European decorating practices that I continue to adhere to in New York: an appreciation for small-scaled furniture and a natural inclination to mix styles. Europe is small in comparison to the U.S. and spaces there are much smaller too. This is why we have a different sense for proportions. I love small, very delicate chairs with thin legs and a petite frame. The same with sofas and benches. My penchant for mixing styles comes from growing up in a very traditional home with lots of antiques, old Persian rugs and heirloom pieces of silver. That may sound glamorous, but it can really be very challenging to make these things work together. They were mostly inherited over generations and never meant to be paired together. Buying new furniture was not something that crossed my parents’ minds, they would rather restore an old piece they loved and “make it work.” Living with what you have and the deliberate mixing of styles is very European to me.


PC: What does your home say about you?

BF: Definitely that I am European! Guests tend to quickly grasp that I love to travel to exotic places around the world. Although, in some ways, I live the typical NYC life – an empty fridge and an oven that probably isn’t even working!


PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

BF: Inspiration comes whenever I am able to clear my mind, which is easiest for me when I travel. Trips to Namibia, Syria, Mexico and Japan all left their own unique impressions on me. I also love to spend time with my family and friends. I can recharge my batteries and open my mind to fresh ideas.


{A Recent trip to the South of France via Benni’s Instagram}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

BF: I have never really had icons in the traditional sense. I just try – every day over again – to be myself.


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

BF: As a manager, I value respect and fairness. That’s how I treat my team and how I wish to be treated myself. In my friends, I value true loyalty and real interest in what moves my head and heart.


PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

BF: Definitely Haribo – those delicious German gummy bears are my weakness!


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

BF: My three siblings. I am the youngest of 4. All my siblings are very successful in what they do. They are my biggest supporters as well as my greatest challengers. I value both aspects of those relationships tremendously and I need a healthy dose of each on a regular basis.


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

BF: Most of the time, I work very hard, which I enjoy tremendously. But sometimes, when I am under a lot of pressure I think, gosh, why didn’t I become a surf instructor somewhere on the white beaches of Mexico? Maybe one day…


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

BF: I have always believed that you’re only successful if you take a fresh, smart approach and try to stand out from the pack. That’s how we do things at Schumacher. We devote rigorous attention to product quality and detail. Those traits made Schumacher successful in the first place, but we have also started doing many things very differently. Every month we launch fresh and exciting collections – it’s really a new era here at Schumacher. Our Marketing – both digital and offline – is more inspirational than ever. We are setting the bar for our industry – and our competitors are taking notice. We are also heavily invested in our sales team. We offer a true sense of partnership – many members of our team are designers themselves – they really want to help you make your mark. If you are not already a fan, please, come and give us a chance. You will be amazed – that’s a promise.



Go-To Outfit: Skinny dark-grey jeans, tucked-in button down shirt, thin cashmere sweater, dark suede shoes

Style Mantra: Always wear high-quality shoes (even when they are sneakers)

Scent: Poivre Samarcande, Hermes (only available in Hermes stores)

Piece of Jewelry: My Omega watch from 1955 that my grandfather bought for a sack of sugar

Color I Never Tire Of: Navy blue (just can’t get enough!)

Flower: Tulips, the first sign of spring after a never-ending winter

Indispensable Design Element: Personal accessories

Era for Design: Anytime, anywhere

Dream Project: I landscaped a garden on the Cap d’Antibes, which I’m quite proud of

Fabric/Textile: Silk velvets, moiré, printed grasscloth wallcovering

Hostess Gift: I wish I had an answer! I go through a crisis every time I have to pick one up.

Meal: Pasta, pasta, pasta

Drink: Official answer: Iced tea with fresh lime juice on the side; unofficial answer: Tamarind margarita


Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Getting distracted with friends

3 Things I Love About My City: Endless NYC energy, the sheer number of restaurants, my partner’s apartment

Weekend Destination: The Hamptons, sometimes South of France

Hotel: Hotel du Cap Eden Roc (Antibes, France), Hotel Escondido (Puerto Escondido, Mexico)

City: Berlin (I lived there for 10 years), London, NYC

Museum: Naoshima, the Museum island in Japan built by Tadao Ando

Artist: Jan Albers

Actor/Actress: Anthony Hopkins, Judy Dench

Risk Worth Taking: Arriving late at the airport, such a fun sport

Greatest Extravagance: Silk-velvet upholstered walls

Go-To Color Palette: Greens

Set Design: The Crown

I can never have too many…comments to make.

Paloma Signature

{Photography Courtesy of Benni Frowein and Schumacher}