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.

Friday Favorites 01.05.18

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve been staying warm. It has been so cold in Houston this past week, but I know it is nothing in comparison to what our friends on the East Coast are currently experiencing. The weather is supposed to warm up significantly here this weekend and I am so ready for the warmer weather! It has been really nice being back in the office this week after taking a short break during the holidays. We are working on some exciting projects at Paloma Contreras Design and I have been working on writing the final components of my book like the dedication, acknowledgements, and all of the captions. Writing a book is truly a labor of love, but I have enjoyed the entire process so much. I’ve also made it a priority to make this a week of reflection and introspection and spent time outlining my goals for the new year as well as working on getting into a positive mindset to set the tone for the rest of the year. Have you set your goals for 2018? I would love to hear what the are! In the meantime, here is what is currently on my radar.

Design: asked a group of designers for their interior design predictions for 2018 and I was included amongst a wonderful group of my peers including Nick Olsen, Timothy Corrigan, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Suzanne and Lauren McGrath, Miles Redd, and Peter Dunham. My prediction? “I predict that classic, traditional design elements will be back in a big way in 2018! They’ve certainly never gone away entirely, but over the past few years, everyone has gone mad for modern. Given the uncertainty of our current political and social climate, it makes sense that people would gravitate to classic, sure-fire favorites to make their homes a true respite from the rest of the world. Get ready for antiques, traditional brown furniture, and printed fabrics such as floral chintzes to make their mark in the new year.” To read all 16 interior design predictions, click here.

Style: With the cold weather, all I have wanted lately is to bundle up in cozy sweaters. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time in the warmth of my house, opting to stay in rather than go out in the evenings. I tend to favor neutrals in my wardrobe, but even more so during the winter when it’s all black, gray, and camel, all the time! I am currently loving this cozy sweater, this alpaca cape, this comfy coat, and this classic cashmere turtleneck.

Travel: One of the things I think a lot about in the New Year is my travel schedule for the year. My work frequently takes me to places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, High Point, and Atlanta, but I want to give some thought to where we might travel for personal reasons this year. I am sort of loyal to a fault, so when I love a place, I tend to keep going back there rather than exploring new places. There’s nothing wrong with that, although we might change that up this year! Harper’s Bazaar just published their list of the 18 Best Places to Travel in 2018 and it features several destinations that I have yet to visit, but that have been on my list for a long time such as Mexico City, Mallorca, Charleston, and Big Sur, California. 

Events: Mark your calendars, Atlanta friends! The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market is taking place at AmericasMart January 9th – 16th. I’ll  be heading to Atlanta next Friday and will be speaking on a panel, Design Coast to Coast, along with fellow designers and bloggers, Amber Lewis and Erin Gates on Saturday, January 13th at 10:00 am in Building 1, Floor 14, Vignette Gallery, 14-D-9. It should be fun to hear our different perspectives on design as we collectively represent the West Coast, the East Coast, and the South. I hope you’ll come by and say hello!

Health: One of my goals for 2018 is to make healthier choices, whether that means eating healthier, exercising more often, or drinking less. I indulged way too much over the holidays, so I need to make some changes. I didn’t want to tie arbitrary numbers to that goal such as “go to the gym 4 times per week” or “lose 10 pounds” since my life can get pretty hectic with my work and travel schedule sometimes. I don’t want to set myself up for failure! One of the things I definitely want to do is drink less. I love drinking wine with dinner in the evenings, but I could probably stand to do it less often. This interesting article from My Domaine outlines “What Happens to Your Body When You Cut Out Alcohol“.

Shop: Few things are as chic as creamy, winter whites, especially in ones wardrobe. I am currently obsessed with this chunky sweater, these chic jeans in the perfect warm shade of white, and these ultra-cool zodiac mules, shown in my Scorpio sign, but available in all signs.



Friday Favorites 12.15.17

Happy Friday! It has been a great week, but I am feeling a little run down and am ready for the weekend. Fabian and I started off the week on long weekend getaway in Napa Valley. We headed home and back to reality on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, we had our Paloma Contreras Design team’s holiday dinner at Le Colonial, a chic and delicious Vietnamese restaurant in River Oaks District. It was so nice celebrating the holiday season and another wonderful year with my amazing, hard-working team and their sweet spouses. I am so lucky to have such a fabulous team. I thank my lucky stars everyday! This weekend, I am looking forward to getting a facial, possibly going to the movies, and finally binge-watching Season 2 of The Crown since we were out of town last weekend! What has been on your radar this week?

Design: Style arbiter, Jenna Lyons’ new Soho loft was recently featured by The New York Times and it is just as chic and inspiring as you would imagine. You can see a full tour here.

Style: Ever since my In the Mood post earlier this month, I have been “seeing red” and have been so drawn to this beautiful, rich hue. What is more glamorous than a lady in red? I wore this dress from Ann Mashburn to our holiday party the other night and previously wore it to another dinner a few weeks ago and have gotten so many compliments. Plus, it is so comfortable! This simple gown, this lace dress, and this column gown with bow detail are all super chic if you’re also feeling the red vibes!

Read: One of my favorite new books is The Authentics by Dara Caponigro, Creative Director of Schumacher and lauded photographer, Melanie Acevedo. The Authentics profiles luminaries from the worlds of art, design, and fashion including Kelly Wearstler, Ashley and Katalina Hicks, Nicky Haslam, and Joseph Dirand among others, who go beyond simply living stylishly, but also apply a sense of authenticity and individuality to everything they do. 

Watch: I know most of you have probably already watches Season 2 of The Crown, but I am so excited to delve in this weekend! I am hoping it is as good as the first season and am looking forward to seeing The Kennedys and Lord Snowdon enter the lives of the Royals. On a side note, does anyone else have trouble hearing what they are saying on this show? The soundtrack is always so loud and seems to overpower people when they are speaking. I’ve tried adjusting my TV’s settings, but it seems like it might be a sound editing issue. Either that, or I am crazy!

Eat: I am hosting Christmas Eve dinner at our home and will also be hosting another family dinner a few nights later, so I am currently trying to figure out what to serve. Some sort of roasted meat always seems like a good option when serving a big crowd. I’m thinking a roasted tenderloin will definitely be on the menu for one of the dinners. Food & Wine has some great, “Easy Holiday Recipes” that I have been perusing. What do you like to serve at the holidays?

Shop: Have you checked everyone off of your holiday shopping list? If you still have some shopping to do, look no further than this year’s LDV Holiday Gift Guides for stylish, thoughtful gifts that are sure to please everyone on your list! Shop them all here: For the Hostess | For the Decor-Obsessed | For Her | For Him | For Children | Under $150


2017 LDV Gift Guide: Under $150

As I have worked on this year’s holiday gift guides, I have been surprised to see so many stylish, quality gifts for under $150. In fact, most of the items on today’s list are under $75! The items in today’s gift guide prove that no matter who you’re shopping for, you don’t have to spend a fortune to give a fabulous gift. Happy shopping!

{1. 2018 Desk Diary in Grey Napa Leather | 2. Addison Weeks 24 Karat Star Stud Earrings | 3. Le Labo Santal 26 Classic Candle | 4. Donald: The Book by Donald Robertson | 5. Taylor Tassel Drop Earrings | 6. J.Crew Vintage Pajama Set | 7. Vogue Living: Country, City, Coast | 8. J.Crew Medium Genuine Calf Hair Pouch (on sale!) | 9. Men’s J. Crew Ribbed Crew Neck Sweater |10. Kiel’s Men’s Starter Kit | 11. Tan Leather Valet | 12. Men’s Striped Wool Smartphone Gloves | 13. Engraved Cufflinks | 14. Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs’ Favorite Restaurants | 15. Men’s Cotton Pajama Pants in Dog Print | 16. Ralph Lauren Wyatt Triple Nut Bowl in Silver/Saddle Brown | 17. Parker Thatch Wine Tote | 18. Addison Weeks Middleton Corkscrew in Brass/Moonstone | 19. Set of Handpainted Blue & White Chinese Vases | 20. Set of 4 Embroidered Plastered Cocktail Napkins | 21. Set of 3 Forma Gold Objects | 22. Parker Thatch Classic Clutch | 23. Living in Style: How We Live Book | 24. Set of 3 Copper and Brass Clip Bookmarks | 25. Crewcuts Girls’ Striped Tee with Bows | 26. Set of 10 “Dive Into the Past” Book Collection | 27. Fredericks & Mae Dominoes Set | 28. Boys’ Colorblocked Cotton Crewneck Sweater | 29. At Home with Dogs and their Designers by Susanna Salk | 30. Harry Barker Personalized Vintage Stripe Dog Bed}

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}