Top Chef Season 5 Starts Tonight!



Bravo produces reality shows like nobody’s business (Flipping Out, Real Housewives, anyone?). They are the best at what they do and have successfully gotten me hooked on nearly all of their reality shows. When it comes to the competition-based ones: Project Runway, Top Design, Make Me a Supermodel, and Top Chef, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Let’s see, I like fashion, design, models, and food…what’s a girl to do? Which show is your favorite?

All kidding aside, I have to say that Top Chef is my favorite of the competitions. Maybe it’s my love of food and cooking coupled with the bold personalities (Hung, Marcel, and perennial guest judge and culinary bad ass, Anthony Bourdain) or the occasional cutie (Sam) that keep me tuning in week after week. I like the constant element of surprise, the fact that the scariest looking dude likes using minimal ingredients and traditional methods, and the fact that every dish elicits a big reaction, be it good or bad.

Don’t forget to watch tonight!

Image via Bravo TV.

Art with Heart

{An Alexis Walter Painting in the Bedroom I Designed for the 2016 Southern Style Now Showhouse in New Orleans}

One of the most remarkable things to come out of Hurricane Harvey is the way that people from across the country have come together to support Texans in need. Our brothers and sisters from Louisiana, who unfortunately know a thing or two about devastating floods, have shown up for us in an amazing way. Between the Cajun Navy who came in with their fishing boats to rescue Houstonians from their flooded homes to the countless volunteers and people who have sent support however they could, be it in the shape of supplies or monetary donations.

{A Pair of Alexis Walter Paintings in the Bedroom I Designed for the 2016 Southern Style Now Showhouse in New Orleans}

One of our favorite artists here at La Dolce Vita and at Paloma Contreras Design is the talented, Alexis Walter. The New Orleans-based artist specializes in beautiful abstract, mixed media paintings in various pastel palettes with extraordinary depth and texture. Her paintings work beautifully in any environment, be it traditional, modern, or somewhere in between. It came as no surprise to me when Alexis who also happens to have one of the biggest, kindest hearts of anyone I know, announced that until August 6th, 15% of profits from the sale of her paintings will be donated to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. If you are currently in the market for a beautiful piece of original art, why not choose something that will also help a wonderful and worthy cause? Below, you’ll find a few of my favorites, but be sure to visit her website to see the full assortment before they all sell out.

{Creme Brûlée | 20 x 24 | $1,300.00}

{Wingman | 20 x 20 | $850.00}

{Downy | 16 x 20 | $685.00}

{Blue Scadoo | 30 x 30 | $2,450.00}

{Lemon Meringue | 30 x 30 | $2,450.00}

{Yakety Yak | 16 x 20 | $685.00}

{Showhouse Photography by Brittany Ambridge}

Friday Favorites 08.25.17

I am so happy that it is Friday! We spent the past couple of days photographing my house for my book, which was fun, but also a lot of work. I can’t wait to see the final images, especially once they are in print in the book. Here in Houston, we are currently bracing for a category 3 Hurricane Harvey to make landfall. It is expected to bring 20 inches of rain over the next several days, so everyone is worried about the strong potential for flooding. Needless to say, we will be staying home this weekend and hoping for the best. I am hoping the power won’t go out, but if it does, it will serve as a great opportunity to catch up on my reading, including the September issues of Veranda and Vogue which are part of this week’s Friday Favorites.

Design: Veranda is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with a beautiful new issue that I cannot wait to delve into this weekend!

Style: Tory Burch’s new Fall 2017 collection is all about blue and white. I have my eye on this dress in the collection’s hallmark  Rosemont Floral pattern.

Read: Vogue is also celebrating a big anniversary with its September issue– in its case, 125 years of style! I am smitten with the stunning painting of Jennifer Lawrence by John Currin on the cover of the subscriber’s version. The interior spread with photos by Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, and Inez and Vinoodh are equally beautiful.

Watch: If you are looking for something to watch this weekend, check out Ozark on Netflix. Fabian and I binged on it over the course of a week and we both loved it! Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star as a couple trying to stay above the fray of the chaos brought into their lives thanks to Jason’s character, Marty Byrde’s decision to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. The writing on the show is superb, the acting is top notch, and you are sure to be on the edge of your seat for the entire ride. Tune in and buckle up! Check out the trailer here.

Travel: We currently have a trip planned to spend Labor Day weekend in Punta Mita, Mexico. We are both so looking forward to spending time relaxing in such a beautiful place. Unfortunately, we have begun to worry that we may need to cancel thanks to the expected Hurricane and flooding that is predicted through next week here in Houston. On top of that, the forecast in Mexico isn’t looking too good, with storms predicted during our stay. The rain gods have not cooperated with us on our vacations this year!

Shop: I always love bohemian blouses and fell in love with the beautiful colors in the embroidery of this peasant blouse by Mes Demoiselles. I love a pair of good flats, especially since as a designer, there is no telling what my day will bring. I just learned about Le Monde Beryl recently and fell in love with their ultra-chic mules inspired by the slip-on shoes of Venetian gondoliers. This pink velvet pair is beyond. Lastly, you all know how much I adore Chinoiserie panels. I just ordered this Chinoiserie scarf in the olive color the other day and it is even prettier in person and a bargain at $48!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Francisco Costa’s Chic Minimalist Apartment

Fashion designer, Francisco Costa, formerly of Calvin Klein has impeccable style. His former Manhattan apartment appeared in ELLE DECOR and the New York Times and is still among my favorite interiors for its beautiful layers and chic gray color palette. A couple of years ago, Francisco and his partner put that apartment on the market, so I was delighted to see where they had landed on Architectural Digest over the weekend. Their new Park Avenue apartment is a minimalist’s dream. Dressed in shades of crisp white and camel, it manages to exude warmth thanks to a variety of textures and a great collection of art and antiquities. The architecture is as clean and crisp as possible thanks to the collaboration between Francisco and architect Alexander Poma of Pomasteven.

The intersection between fashion and design is truly a seamless one. In this case, Francisco had the apartment’s twenty three doors hung on Harmon hinges on deep set frames, rendering them nearly invisible. As I mentioned earlier this month, as much as I love layers of beautiful textiles, color, and a traditional sensibility, sometimes, I find the pure simplicity of a space like this to be equally or even more inspiring. Achieving a minimalist interior that manages to feel warm, layered, and inviting is no small feat and requires a deft hand. After all, a room’s success is measured as much by what you put in as what you leave out.

For photos of Francisco’s previous apartment, check out this feature on 1stDibs.

{Photography by Collin Hughes for Architectural Digest}

Fabulous Room 05.05.17

Wendy Labrum

Green is one of my favorite colors, especially when it is in rich, mossy shades. Nothing is chicer or more timeless in my mind! I also love to mix modern and traditional elements. The juxtaposition creates wonderful tension and drama in a space. Given my affinity for a modern traditional space and the color green, it is no wonder that I am completely smitten with this stunning room by Wendy Labrum at the Lake Forest Show House in Lake Forest, Illinois. I featured the dining room in the same showhouse by Shelley Johnstone earlier in the week. Between these two beautiful rooms, I am sorry that I can’t make it to Chicago before the showhouse closes to see it in person. I spoke with Wendy about her inspiration for this super chic space and loved hearing about how it came together.

Paloma Contreras: What was your inspiration for your room at this year’s Lake Forest Showhouse?

Wendy Labrum: The real inspiration for this room started with the grounds of the home.  I know you haven’t seen it in person yet, but it is a beautiful, old Howard Van Doren Shaw mansion built in 1922 that sits on immaculately lush acreage of green space. This room was originally a sleeping porch when the house was built, so the back wall is all windows, as well as a window on each side, which allows for beautiful views of the grounds behind the home.  There is a giant, old, historic oak tree in the backyard that (I was told) is the oldest living oak tree in Illinois!  With these beautiful views of the grounds of the home, I really wanted to create a space that would bring the outside in and feel totally aligned with the view – hence the green.
Wendy Labrum 1
PC: I love lacquered walls. The look is so chic and glamorous. What prompted you to go for this application in your space?
WL: I love lacquer and thought that would really up the luxe factor of this formerly blah little room, so I conjured up a scheme to lacquer all the walls before I realized the walls were all exterior stucco covered in decades of paint!  Given this added challenge, I decided to cover all the stucco walls with new wood paneling, which helps highlight the sheen of lacquer and adds dimension.  Farrow & Ball custom-made this color for me to match the lovely Oscar de la Renta for Lee Jofa curtain fabric. I named the color “Ellis Green” after my youngest child 😉 The whole process of paneling and then painting took about six weeks.
Wendy Labrum 4
PC: How did you go about selecting the mix of modern and traditional pieces for the space?
WL: Then I went about filling the space with my favorite mix of contemporary pieces and traditional antiques – a contemporary white sofa to contrast with the walls, a white oak Louis chair with a green floral cotton (a little nod to the English influences in the very American house), a Maison Jansen desk and Maison Bagues cocktail table (because I love all things Jansen and Bagues), and white Serge Mouille chandelier which I wanted to flow right into the ceiling.  Then I layered in my favorite mix of contemporary art and antique lithographs and sketches, some of which I pulled from my personal collection. The mirror was a 1st Dibs find that I hope doesn’t sell because I’d like to keep it!!

Wendy Labrum 3

Paloma Signature