In the Mood: May 2018


Isn’t Spring a beautiful season? Everything is verdant and vibrant– filled with promise and glorious beauty. Everywhere I look, I am seeing green, so naturally, it is the color that is dominating my mood this month– mixed with classic black and white for good measure, of course. I am currently in Los Angeles, installing my window design at Mecox for this year’s Legends of La Cienega, a very fun and exciting design event. Next week, each day during Legends will be packed with a flurry of activities, and I’ll need outfits for daytime as well as a change each day for the cocktail events and dinners, so my strategy is to pack a lot of black and white, along with some pretty dresses for the fabulous Southern California weather.

I am very much looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and experiencing the best of what the L.A. design scene has to offer. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some gorgeous images to illustrate this month’s mood featuring a palette of black, white, and green shown with the striking work of talented, rising star artist, Mckenzie Dove; along with some of my must-have picks for emulating this look in your own wardrobe.

{A Chic Lacquered Study by Wendy Labrum}


MAY STRIPES{Stripes via This is Glamorous}

{Mckenzie Dove}


{An Elegant Garden by Anouska Hempel}

MAY Chloe Sevigny Man Repeller

 {A Chic Portrait of Chloe Sevigny from her Book with Rizzoli}

{McKenzie Dove}

MAY Gwyneth Paltrow

{Gwyneth Paltrow’s Picture-Perfect Home in Brentwood, California}

MAY Kate Bosworth

{Kate Bosworth outside of LA’s Chateau Marmont | Image via Zimbio}

{Mckenzie Dove}

MAY Kelly Wearstler

{Kelly Wearstler‘s Striking Boxwood Topiary Garden in Beverly Hills}


{Lauren Santo Domingo, Stunning in Cushnie et Ochs | Image via Vogue}

{Mckenzie Dove}


{Image via Pinterest | Original Source Unknown}

MAY Miranda Kerr Stripes

{Miranda Kerr, Classic and Cool in Black and White Stripes}

{Mckenzie Dove}

MAY Vines Domaine

{Climbing Vines via Domaine}

MAY Olivia Palermo

{The Perennially Stylish Olivia Palermo in Army Green | Image via Teen Vogue}

{Mckenzie Dove}

{Chic, Moss Green Dining Room by Anna Burke}


{Ultra-Chic Black and White at Veronique Branquiho’s Spring 2013 Fashion Show in Paris | Image via StyleBistro}

{Mckenzie Dove}



Globally-Inspired Fabrics: The Brunschwig & Fils Baret Collection

The legendary fabric house, Brunschwig et Fils has just released the beautiful, new Baret fabric collection. This exotic collection of exuberant prints and sumptuous velvets, weaves, and embroideries was inspired by the fascinating story of Jeanne Baret, an 18th century French explorer who made history as the first female voyager to embark on a journey around the globe. The collection features a combination of both brand new designs and re-colorations of classic Brunschwig et Fils designs come together to create a wonderfully robust offering. There are a variety of color ways including my favorite– a combination of raspberry and aubergine tones, along with a blue and white color palette, soft aqua with gray, as well as warm neutrals.

When working on projects for my clients, I typically begin a new design by selecting a “hero fabric”– basically the star of the show– and then build the rest of the fabric, textile, and paint selections around it. The Baret collection is filled with beautiful hero fabrics that could spark anyone’s imagination. My favorites are the Xian Linen and Cotton Print, the Lodi Garden Print, the Bokhara Susani, and the especially chic Bromo velvet which I am considering using to reupholster my dining chairs. I recently partnered with Brunschwig et Fils to create a few mood boards around this stunning new fabric collection. For the Berry board, I was inspired by the thought of a modern, jet-setting woman such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis or her sister, Lee Radziwill, who loves and appreciates tradition as well as classic design, but lives her life in a modern way. 

Meanwhile, for the blue and white mood board, I was inspired by the idea of style icons like Bunny Mellon, Oscar de la Renta, and Audrey Hepburn who have come to personify classic American style, enduring beauty, and grace. I mixed in a few solid fabrics, some small-scale prints from Kravet, as well as a pretty trim, and a fabulous natural-fiber rug to round-out the textile offering, then punctuated it with a mix of timeless furniture and  modern art. 

Which mood board do you identify with the most? It’s a toss up for me because I find that they both really resonate with me. That’s truly the beauty of the Baret Collection– it is perfect in so many settings. Visit Brunschwig et Fils to view all of the designs in the Baret Collection.

Friday Favorites: 04.27.18

Happy Friday! I must admit, it has been rough getting back into the swing of things at the office after a long weekend away in beautiful Bermuda. It’s been a busy week with client projects and yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel about branding in the digital age with Debbie Probst, the President of One Kings Lane and Benjamin Johnston, my friend and fellow Houston designer at The Shade Store at the Decorative Center Houston. I’ll get into all of this a bit more in this week’s Friday Favorites, so keep reading!

Design: On Monday, I am heading to L.A. to install my window design for this year’s Legends of La Cienega at the Mecox Showroom in West Hollywood. I can’t wait to share the final product with you, so be sure to follow along on Instagram for some behind-the-scenes moments. If you’ve read La Dolce Vita for a while now, then you likely know that Legends of La Cienega is the design event of the year. I’ve been involved in the event for the past several years and this year, they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary. Legends spans two and a half days and is filled with a flurry of back to back keynote panels, presentations, power lunches, book signings, and fabulous cocktail parties. Designers, editors, and the who’s who of the design industry flock to L.A. for Legends every year. There is always a buzz and energy unlike anything I have experienced at other design events and there is no doubt that Legends of La Cienega is the “must-attend” design event of the year. Are you planning to attend this year? It’s not too late to register!

Style: While in Bermuda, two of the girls on the trip wore the cutest dresses, and each time, I was told they were by a label called Doen. Then again yesterday, one of the girls who attended our panel discussion was wearing the chicest dress and lo and behold, it was also by Doen.  Needless to say, the brand is now on my radar and I will be doing a little shopping of my own very soon. The best part is that Doen is a collective of creative women in Los Angeles who strive to make beautiful, wearable, everyday pieces. Their mission is to use domestic production wherever possible and to ensure that their foreign production partners for hand-woven and hand-embroidered items in Spain, India, and Peru share Doen’s commitment to support women in the workplace and reduce the gender gap at every point in the supply chain. 

Read: In conjunction with our aforementioned panel on Building Your Brand in the Digital Age that took place yesterday, the team at the Decorative Center Houston interviewed me on the same topic for their blog, Go Design Go. If you were unable to attend the panel yesterday, you can read my thoughts on the subject here.

Listen: I’m not a huge podcast person. First, I don’t have a ton of free time, and second, it would make sense to listen to podcasts on a commute, but luckily, most of our Houston clients live within 10 minutes of our office. That being said, while in Bermuda, Madeline O’Malley, an associate market editor for Architectural Digest, mentioned how amazing Katie Couric’s podcast is. I’m not surprised as Katie is an excellent and intuitive interviewer. In particular, Madeline raved about Katie’s podcast with Martha Stewart which she said is apparently fascinating and hilarious. I’ve already downloaded the episode on iTunes along with the Katie’s interview with Ina Garten (my hero) and plan to listen to them this weekend.

Travel: In case you missed it, you can see some photos that I shared on Instagram during our fabulous trip to beautiful Bermuda. Several of you have reached out to see if I will share my recommendations and the good news is that I am planning to do a big recap of the trip next week. I truly can’t recommend Bermuda highly enough as an ideal vacation destination. I’m excited to share more details with you very soon!

Shop: I published our annual LDV Mother’s Day Gift Guide earlier this week and it is filled with chic gift ideas for many different interests and a variety of price points, including Claiborne Swanson Frank’s beautiful new book, Mother and Child; a stylish set of monogrammed pajamas, and the prettiest ice bucket I’ve seen in a very long while!

Have a wonderful weekend!


The Style Files: Jean Liu

Jean Liu is a Dallas-based interior designer who spent the better part of a decade working in her family’s outdoor furniture business before translating her love of design into a full-scale design business, Jean Liu Design in 2007. Jean strives to design thoughtful homes, rather than houses for her clients and aims to “transform spaces into places”. Her work runs the gamut from modern to traditional which is no small feat. As a result, Jean was recognized as a “Next Wave” interior designer by House Beautiful a few months ago. In addition to running a thriving design business, Jean, along with her family, also launched Stori Modern, a tightly-edited collection of chic outdoor furniture at an accessible price point. Jean is certainly one to watch. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know her in today’s installment of The Style Files.

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Jean Liu: Varied but edited; modern but warm; sometimes verging on formal, but always with a sense of humor…

PC: How has living in Dallas influenced your aesthetic?

JL: Most people in Dallas have yards, some larger than others. That coupled with the mild weather makes outdoor living a priority, so when working with clients, we are constantly thinking about the transition from indoor to outdoor spaces and maximizing the time spent outside.

PC: What does your home say about you?

JL: It says “don’t judge a book by the cover”—it’s Italianate in architecture but that’s it; it says we’re young art collectors who still love an antique here and there; it says the house is a work in progress; it says I’m a frustrated gardener who refuses to accept some plants just will not grow in Texas.

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

JL: Movies, fashion, and art

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

JL: Ashe + Leandro, Arent Pyke, Christian Liaigre, Andrea Cochran (landscape architect), Tom Ford, Isabel Marant

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

JL: Character, sense of humor, and compassion.

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

JL: Binge watching “Shameless” after our daughter goes to bed.

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

JL: Katherine Graham of The Washington Post

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

JL: Anytime I can go somewhere without my phone and computer

{Jean’s Favorite Summer Getaway in East Hampton via her Instagram, @jeanliudesign}

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

JL: We’ll be finishing up several new construction projects—all of them modern in style; we are also working on a new apartment concept catered to millienials, and look out for some fun new collections and collaborations from our outdoor furniture line, Stori Modern.

{Chic Outdoor Chairs from Jean’s Company Stori Modern via @storimodern on Instagram}

Go-To Outfit: For work, straight legged black pants by Cos with a collared J. Crew top, and Gucci Ghost leather slippers; For going out: Dolce Gabbana silk pajama set and matching heels. So comfortable, chic and a bit irreverent.

Style Mantra: Keep it stupid simple

Scent: Premier Figuier by L’Artisan Parfumeur

Piece of Jewelry: Vintage Rolex watch from the year I was born. I love the weight of it on my wrist. I don’t use it to tell time anymore but it serves as a reminder to make the most of each day.

Color I Never Tire Of: Black and White

Flower: Lenten Rose

Indispensable Design Element: Really good art

Era for Design: Mid Century

Dream Project: A Bed and Breakfast

Fabric/Textile: Silk velvet of any kind or color

Hostess Gift: A box of Kate Weiser chocolates

Meal: My grandmother’s dumplings—she only made them once a year to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Drink: AM: The Gem’s Green Glow with Cayenne; PM: A Moscow Mule

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Having dinner with my family

3 Things I Love About My City: The airport; the Nasher Sculpture Museum; the “can do” attitude

Weekend Destination: New York City

Hotel: Fendi Private Suites, Rome

City: New York…every chance I get…

Museum: Cooper Hewitt

Artist: too many to just name one but Jonas Wood, Gillian Carnegie, Thomas Struth

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”

Actor/Actress: Meryl Streep—she just keeps getting better…

Prized Possession: My small drawing by John Currin

Risk Worth Taking: Jaywalking while I’m out for a run

Greatest Extravagance: Taking Blade to the Hamptons

Go-To Color Palette: Black and white

Rule to Break: In everyday life, starting a sentence with a conjunction. In design, there are no rules. That’s what it means to be a creative.

Movie Set Design: The Intern

I can never have too many…pieces of Old Paris Porcelain



2018 LDV Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is just over two weeks away, but don’t fret! Whether you are shopping for your own mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, or wife, our Mother’s Day gift guide is sure to have the ideal gift for anyone on your list including fragrance– both personal and for the home; jewelry and accessories both casual and dressy; as well as beautiful books and a few other tokens of appreciation for the most special women in our lives.

{1. AERIN Figural Leaf Pitcher 2. Hemstitch Guest Towel in White 3. AERIN Limited Edition Mediterranean Honeysuckle Three Piece Set 4. Charlotte Moss Entertains: Celebrations and Everyday Occasions 5. Melange Collection Necklace 6. Tory Burch Lettuce Ware Pitcher 7. Peonies: Beautiful Varieties for Home & Garden 8. Wicker Basket 9. Tory Burch Decorative Leaf Plates, Set of 4 10. Long Sleeve PJ Set in White 11. AERIN Wave Gallery Frames 12. Mother and Child 13. AERIN Ardsley Champagne Bucket with Woven Handle 14. Jackie, Janet & Lee: The Secret Lives of Janet Auchincloss and Her Daughters 15. AERIN White Confetti Stemless Wine Glasses 16. Crete Wicker Clutch 17. Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way 18. Monogrammed Duet Cocktail Napkins, Natural (Set of 4) 19. Cuyana  Leather Travel Case Set 20. Diptyque – Baies, Roses And Figuier Set Of Three Candles}
{Lead Image: Sneak Peek from Dream. Design. Live. \ Photography by Max Burkhalter}