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


The Style Files: Gil Schafer

If you are drawn to this blog because of your love of design, then chances are, today’s interview subject, Gil Schafer needs no introduction. The third-generation architect has designed some of the most beautiful, thoughtful homes in the American vernacular for the past twenty five years and is one of the most revered architects amongst the savviest of design circles. Prior to starting his eponymous firm, Gil worked for one of the top firms in the country, Ferguson, Murray, and Shamamian for nearly a decade. I recently attended a talk given by Gil and the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in which he mentioned how much the houses he grew up spending time in during his childhood would spark an early interest in architecture. These homes stretched from California and the Midwest to the Northeast, Georgia, and the Bahamas. While completely different from one another, these houses would all become imprinted in his memory, influencing and informing his style and love of architecture for the rest of his life. Gil has completed beautiful homes all across the country and has a true gift for architectural details that make a house feel as if it has always been there, even if it hasn’t. The vernacular of the house is always appropriate and inspiring. Gil recently released his second book, A Place to Call Home: Tradition, Style, and Memory in the New American House, published by Rizzoli.

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Gil Schafer: Traditional, Understated, and Comfortable

PC: How has living in New York influenced your aesthetic?

GS: I love the energy, pace, and sophistication that comes from living in New York. It means that you have to bring your “A” game to everything you do, every day. The visual reference points all around you every day are highly sophisticated and refined—from the interiors you experience to the way people dress. Having grown up in the countryside as a boy, that relentless urbane energy was an initial adjustment, but now I love it. I also love, though, taking a break from it, back to the country on weekends, to escape all that just a little.

PC: What does your home say about you?

GS: That I am a hopeless collector, that I love memories, and that I need things to be comfortable.

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

GS: So many different place: to places discovered while traveling, to books, magazines, and movies, and to the homes of people who know how to live beautifully.

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

GS: Living: Lauren Santo Domingo—an amazing sense of style in both her houses and the way she dresses. Dead: David Hicks, for all the obvious reasons.

{Lauren Santo Domingo at Home in Paris | Photography via ELLE Italia}

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

GS: Generosity and humility

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

GS: A new house on the coast of Maine

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

GS: My former boss for nearly a decade in my formative professional years, Mark Ferguson (Ferguson & Shamamian Architects). He taught me the importance of professionalism, being organized in your thinking, flexible in your solutions, and to nurture talent.

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

GS: Staying at a really good hotel when traveling for pleasure, price-be-damned.

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

GS: My new book A Place to Call Home was just released and I’ll be touring around the country over the next 6 months. The best part of a book tour is getting to see some of the cities I love and meeting the wonderful people who live in each of them. You can find my full tour schedule here: In addition to that, I’m working on a number of projects that are really exciting me, spread all over the country—from family compounds on Block Island and in Shelburne, Vermont, to new houses in Florida, Maine, and California. It’s a blast to work in so many different places because you are compelled to find unique solutions for each, based on the sense of place for each.

Go-To Outfit: Navy blazer or grey suit, and always a tie

Style Mantra: Always make an effort, but never try too hard.

Scent: Never wear one.

Piece of Jewelry: Watch—either IWC’s chronograph “Portuguese” or a large diameter dial watch from Swatch in a peppy color

Color I Never Tire Of: Just one??

Flower: Lilac or Peony

Indispensable Design Element: Moldings

Era for Design: First half of the 19th century in America

Dream Project: a house somewhere in the tropics—or Montecito, California

Fabric/Textile: Linen or wool felt

Drink: Diet Coke

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Watch stupid television (The Bachelor or Bachelorette or an old Seinfeld rerun)

3 Things I Love About My City: The energy, the sophistication, the talent to be found here

Weekend Destination: My house in the Hudson Valley, in Upstate New York

Hotel: Ballyfin in Ireland

City: London

Museum: Musee de la Chasse in Paris: the hunting thing is interesting, but what brings me back again and again is the chicness of the interior.

Artist: Franz Kline, Vuillard, Fairfield Porter

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: “That’s the Way of the World” by Earth, Wind & Fire

Prized Possession: Old photos

Risk Worth Taking: Love

Greatest Extravagance: My house in Maine

Rule to Break: (once in a while…) Perfect correctness

Movie Set Design: “I Am Love”

I can never have too many…Ties

{Main Photography by Eric Piasecki, Courtesy of Gil Schafer}


The Style Files: Amy Meier

Amy Meier is a talented interior designer based in Rancho Santa Fe, California, near San Diego. I met Amy many years ago at a design event and we have been friends ever since. With a fierce eye for editing and ability for creating warm, luxurious spaces, Amy has completed projects throughout California and back on the East Coast, where she is from originally. Amy earned a B.A. in Fine Arts at the University of Colorado at Boulder and subsequently earned a Master’s in Fashion from Parsons School of Design, a foundation which has had a clear emphasis on her design work. Amy has an innate ability to mix pieces from various periods beautifully. She is adept at bringing together unexpected pairings with great style. Amy founded her design studio in 2009 and her work has since been recognized by Luxe, House Beautiful, ELLE DECOR, and Traditional Home who recently named Amy to their New Trads list in 2017. 

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Amy Meier: Edited, tailored, refined, but also warm and inviting.

PC: Has living in Rancho Santa Fe, California influenced your aesthetic in any way?

AM: I am hugely influenced by my surroundings; but apart from me, I believe every home’s design should be informed by its environment. Specific to Rancho Santa Fe, I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about and blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. Plus, with our proximity to LA, my aesthetic has definitely been influenced by my access to wide array of artists, artisans and craftspeople.

PC: What does your home say about you?

AM: It says I love my family, antiques, and change. Sometimes to my husband’s chagrin, my home is ever evolving, creating layers organically as I collect and edit.

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

AM: I find great inspiration from my design peers. I have been lucky in forming great relationships and finding wonderful platforms that open lines of communication between design.

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

AM: Rose Uniacke and Rose Tarlow. I Guess I just love Roses.

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

AM: Sincerity.

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

AM: Definitely “The Bachelor”.

PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

AM: Rose Uniacke, and not just for her transcendent design, but for the ways she has combined different aspects of her life: family, passions, and businesses. Take her antique business, for instance… her parents were dealers so she grew up loving and learning about antiques. So of course, after building a fabulously successful design firm, she creates a separate antique business that operates both independently and in collaboration with the design firm.

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

AM: Having a great team and inspirational projects, and a healthy family… basically it’s about loving what I am doing, where I am doing it, and who I am doing it with!

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

AM: We just finished a great collaboration with Stone Yard, Inc. on a line of custom geometric sculptures and I cannot wait to see how designers across the country use and style them. Also, last week we installed a fabulous loft in Tribeca which I will be revealing on the blog soon… and we have some fantastic upcoming projects including one in Jackson, Wyoming!


Go-To Outfit: Navy and blue stripes

Style Mantra: Edit

Scent: Gardenia

Piece of Jewelry: Engagement ring

Color I Never Tire Of: White

Flower: Tulip

Indispensable Design Element: Window Treatements

Era for Design: Late 20’s

Dream Project: Old estate in wine country

Fabric/Textile: Bouclé

Hostess Gift: Wine

Meal: Cheese & crackers

Drink: Hendricks Gin

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Rosé

3 Things I Love About My City: Equestrian history, year-round indoor/outdoor living, proximity to the ocean

Weekend Destination: Montecito

Hotel: Ojai Valley Inn

City: Boston

Museum: Cooper Hewitt

Artist: Margaret Boozer

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: The Climb by Miley Cyrus

Actor/Actress: Julia Roberts

Prized Possession: My Kids

Risk Worth Taking: Online dating

Greatest Extravagance: clothes and hotels

Go-To Color Palette: White on white

Rule to Break: White after labor day

Movie Set Design: Great Expectations

I can never have too many… Shoes

{Photography Courtesy of Amy Meier Design}


The Style Files: Grant K. Gibson

Grant K. Gibson is a very talented interior designer based in San Francisco. Grant and I became friends many years ago, when we had just started our blogs. In the years since, I have followed Grant’s career closely as I am a big fan of his tailored style. I love that Grant is able to execute a variety of styles and that he works in multiple color palettes rather than having a single, go-to look. The spaces he designs are beautifully edited, layered, and serve as a reflection of the families who inhabit them.  Grant founded his eponymous design firm in New York in 2002. While he has relocated to the West Coast, he has completed projects across the country. Grant’s work has been featured by Architectural Digest, The New York Times, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2009, Domino declared Grant one of “10 Designers to Watch” while in 2010, Elle Decor named Grant one of “5 Designers to Watch”. In addition to his design projects, Grant has been busy working on his first book which will be published by Gibbs Smith next fall. I am looking forward to seeing him on the book tour circuit! 

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Grant K. Gibson: Layered and eclectic. Traditional with a twist.

PC: Has living in San Francisco influenced your aesthetic in any way?

GKG: San Francisco is such a beautiful city, filled with views and varied architecture around every corner.   San Francisco provides a great intersection of classicism with California modernity.   My clients love the relaxed California style, but with some touches of formality.

PC: What does your home say about you?

GKG: I don’t do a lot of color in my own interior. It’s casual a place where friends feel they can put their feet up and not have to worry about coasters for their drinks. For me, it’s place to relax and recharge.   I am currently working on the design of a weekend home north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, where we also do design projects.

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

GKG: Travel. I am leaving soon on a two-week adventure to India. Cape Town, Hong Kong, Istanbul and Mexico City are some of my favorite trips from the past few years.

{Shopping for Antique Ikats and Suzanis in Istanbul}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

GKG: David Adler + Frances Elkins, Daniel Romualdez, Albert Hadley, Bruce Budd, Thomas O’Brien, Miles Redd.

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

GKG: In this fast paced world with email and cell phones, it is crucial to remember that interactions with other human beings take precedent over electronic devices. In essence, these are just old fashioned manners that have gone by the wayside.

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

GKG: A glass of wine at the end of the day, my acupuncturist and SoulCycle.

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

GKG: I love my vendors with whom I continue to collaborate on every project, working on custom details like furniture and upholstery. I continue to be amazed with their execution of our designs.

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

GKG: Spending time at home. Cooking, music, flowers – and turning off my phone. Relaxing and restoring. The farmers market on the weekend. Laughing. Our summer rental in Maine is one of my favorite times of year.

{Grant’s Summer Rental in Maine via his Instagram @grantkgibson}

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

GKG: My first interior design book: The Curated Home: A Fresh Take on Tradition (Gibbs- Smith publisher) comes out in fall 2018. I am excited to share projects and my own personal photography.

Go-To Outfit: I never wear color. A white oxford cloth shirt, thin black wool sweater and jeans with boots from La Botte Gardiane in Paris or black and white New Balance sneakers.   I find having a uniform works best for me. Uniqlo is my go to for staples.

Style Mantra: Only buy what you love. I think Miles Redd also has said it best: “Buy the best, and you will only cry once.”

Scent: Fleur d’Oranger 27 by Le Labo

Piece of Jewelry: My family signet ring

Color I Never Tire Of: black

Flower: Anemones

Dream Project: a boutique hotel in France

Fabric/Textile: Perennials. I use them for every project. Outdoor fabrics that look and feel like linens and velvets. A must with kids.

Meal: Chase’s Daily in Belfast Maine. The greatest vegetarian menu – you will even not miss meat.

Drink: Peet’s coffee in the morning, unsweetened black iced tea with lemon for day and then a crisp white white at night.

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Cooking. I find it very therapeutic.

Hotel: Chateau Marmont. I grew up in the Hollywood Hills- so it has always been the perfect hangout.

City: Paris will always have my heart

Museum: Sir John Soane Museum in London

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: I have a custom 80’s playlist that I created on Spotify. Think: A Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears.

Actor/Actress: Cary Grant- who I was named after as well as Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and Julianne Moore

Prized Possession: Wesley, my 12 year old rescue Westie!

Risk Worth Taking: Booking a plane ticket to a new destination months ahead. Then planning and researching- to me that is ½ the fun.

Movie Set Design: SO many! A Single Man, I Am Love, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Royal Tenenbaums, Rope, Almodovar’s films and although controversial- Woody Allen’s films. 

I can never have too many… candles

{Photography by Kathryn MacDonald unless Otherwise Noted}


The Style Files: Victoria Hagan

The subject of today’s Style Files interview does not need an introduction as she is one of the most well-known interior designers in America today. Victoria Hagan is an award-winning designer whose iconic work reflects a classic American luxury that is fresh, restrained and balanced. Since founding her eponymous firm 25 years ago, Victoria Hagan has been celebrated for her intelligent integration of architecture and interior design. Based in New York City, Victoria’s 26-person firm works on residences throughout the country, providing a full range of interior design and renovation services, all bearing her signature style which is polished, elegant, and timeless.

Victoria recently published her much anticipated second book Victoria Hagan: Dream Spaces by Victoria Hagan and David Colman, Rizzoli New York, 2017. In the book, Victoria shares her philosophy on what constitutes fabulous rooms and lessons honed during her long and storied career. Victoria has received many of the country’s top design honors, including being named to Architectural Digest’s AD100 list repeatedly.  She has also been inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame. A graduate of the Parsons School of Design, she serves on the school’s Board of Governors and has endowed a scholarship for its new MFA program in Interior Design. 

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Victoria Hagan: Classic American Luxury

{Photography by Pieter Estersohn}

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

VH: Everything about New York is inspirational.  It’s the quintessential American city: full of wonder and built on dreams.

{Photography via ELLE DECOR}

PC: What does your home say about you?

VH: Relax, enjoy, and don’t try too hard

{Photography by Pieter Estersohn}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

VH: Nature

{Photography by Pieter Estersohn}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

VH: Albert Hadley, Angelo Donghia, and Tom Ford.  They’ve all shown us that less can definitely be more.

{Albert Hadley}

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

VH: A confident sense of self

{Photography by William Waldron}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

VH: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate crunchies from Dairy Queen

{Photo via @VictoriaHaganInteriors on Instagram | Photography by Durston Saylor}

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

VH: My late business partner Simone Feldman. She died 20 years ago but not a day goes by when I am not inspired by her.

{Photography via ELLE DECOR}

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

VH: The ability to spend quality time surrounded by your family in places that make you happy.

{Photography by Lisa Romerein}

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

VH: My latest book, Dream Spaces, was just released by Rizzoli. Also many exciting new projects throughout the country, including a New York City duplex penthouse, a couple of very modern houses in the Hamptons and Aspen, a traditional Palm Beach home, and a few great California projects.

Style Mantra: Keep it simple

Scent: Cristalle

Piece of Jewelry: wedding ring

Color I Never Tire Of : Yves Klein blue

Flower:  peonies

Indispensable Design Element: courage

Era for Design: always right now

Dream Project: I never pick favorites

Fabric/Textile: The White Dove pattern from my own line

Hostess Gift: coffee table book

Meal: Ravioli stuffed with sage

Drink: Tab

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Dinner with my husband

Weekend Destination: Southport, CT – it’s perfection

Hotel: Amangiri in Utah

City: Venice

Museum: Musee Rodin

Artist: Rothko

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: Anything by my son Harry, who is an EDM producer/ DJ

Actor/Actress: Daniel Craig and Claire Danes

Risk Worth Taking: Following your dreams

Greatest Extravagance: Carving out enough time to relax and enjoy

Go-To Color Palette: I’m always drawn to the colors of nature

Rule to Break: all  rules are made to be broken

I can never have too many… Cell phones – I misplace them all the time!