Two Styles, One Room: Sleek meets Plush

Hello LDV Readers! It’s Rebecca and Paula from Sea Island Drive. We’re back with another great room where two styles come together effortlessly…Two Styles. One Room.

Photo via New England Home

Sleek and minimal interiors are becoming more desired, but so many clients are afraid that this style won’t feel plush or livable for their family. This inviting living room proves you can have both! A sleek room doesn’t have to be hard and cold feeling, it can feel as warm as any rustic interior out there.

All of the big pieces that are in the Living Room have simple sleek, clean lines. The details layered in add that plush and luxe feeling without getting fussy. A tailored sofa in a nubby chenille. Knife edged pillows in luxurious velvet. A simple blanket in a soft faux fur. Everything is screaming, “Curl up on me with a glass of wine and forget your day.”

We are not ones to fight that feeling, so next time you see us this is where we will be.

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Two Styles, One Room: Bold Meets Understated

Hello LDV readers!  It’s Rebecca & Paula from Sea Island Drive. Are you loving the new look of La Dolce Vita as much as we are?  We’re thrilled to be back today with the latest installment of our series, Two Styles, One Room. Today we’re looking at a breakfast nook that combines clean, understated lines and fabrics with bold, striking finishes.

Photo from Lonny

We love this kitchen nook for so many reasons, but mainly because no matter how gorgeous the dining room around the corner may be, you are probably going to end up spending most of your time sitting here…and loving it!  This space perfectly demonstrates that keeping things casual doesn’t mean sacrificing style.

Even though there are a lot of statement pieces here, they have kept them simple and understated which keeps this nook feeling casual and inviting.  The simple lines of the cone pendants, the clean banquette and the x-base table are all given an extra bit of oomph by the bold, high contrast finishes.  Two brass pendants, sleek and glossy black banquette, and a rich walnut table are all complimented and emphasized by the simple white cushions.

This room clearly shows you that going bold doesn’t have to mean going crazy, it just means letting every element pop and the best way to achieve that is with understated and clean lines.

I mean, wouldn’t you prefer to eat (and read, and have coffee, and chat…) in this nook even if you had a fabulous dining room just down the hall?  We would!

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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}


The 2016 Southern Living Idea House

Front exterior

For its 50th Anniversary Idea House, Southern Living returned to its roots in Birmingham, Alabama where the magazine is based. I am always marveling at the incredible design talent we have in the South and it seems Birmingham has a very vibrant design scene. I need to plan a trip there soon! Southern Living commissioned my friend, talented architect, Bill Ingram to design the beautiful house which features several of the hallmarks of Bill’s work. In addition, the magazine turned to a handful of young designers with Southern roots to design the various rooms throughout the house. The house will be open to the public through December 18, 2016 (full visitor details here). It was especially fun to see the tour of this year’s Idea House since several friends designed spaces for it!

foyer from the living room

{Designer Ashley Gilbreath designed a bedroom along with the 10 foot wide center hall which divides the kitchen and dining room from the living room and master bedroom on the other side of the house.}

kitchen overall

{In addition to designing the architecture for the house, Bill Ingram also designed the kelly green kitchen, back hall, and family room. This kitchen is not for wallflowers as it gives a major dose of color!}

banquette seating detail in dining room

{In the pattern-driven dining room, Margaret Kirkland sought to create a space that worked for everyday rather than just special occasions. That being said, a pair of banquettes for pre-dinner drinks certainly add a fun touch!}

overall of family room

{The beautiful family room by Bill Ingram features a dramatic and labor-intensive tented ceiling. The kitchen opens onto the family room, so the green palette is carried over. The space is both elegant and cozy.}

living room overall

{In the living room, my good friend, Mark D. Sikes opted for a timeless, neutral color palette and divided the large space into two cozy areas more conducive to conversation. The space also features chic plaster chandeliers by Stephen Antonson and beautiful furniture from Mark’s upcoming collection for Henredon.}

master bedroom

{For the master bedroom and bathroom, my sweet friend, Lauren Liess also used a neutral palette along with fabrics from her line, all executed in her signature relaxed, natural vibe.}

master bath looking through doors in bedroom

{The custom, slatted doors leading into the master bath mimic the diagonal lines on some of the kitchen cabinetry. The series of pressed botanicals echoes the look and feel Lauren created in the master bedroom.}

Amy Berry pajama lounge

{In the Pajama Lounge, my friend Amy Berry sought to create a fun space where girlfriends might enjoy martinis in their pajamas. She upholstered the walls and banquettes in an animal print fabric and placed a whimsical tête-à-tête in the center of the space.}

Paloma Signature