The Most Versatile Dining Table

paloma contreras saarinen tulip table

{My Breakfast Room | Photography by Brittany Ambridge for my feature in the Winter 2014 Issue of Domino}

As a designer, I have found so much fulfillment in how different various client projects are from one another. Executing a variety of styles allows me to spread my creative wings. While my clients’ homes vary in aesthetic from one to the next, they are all infused with my own style and feature some of the same elements that I find to be fundamental. I try not to use the same pieces all of the time, but there are a handful of things that I have used multiple times. One of these key pieces is one of my favorite dining table styles in existence. Eero Saarinen’s iconic Tulip Dining Table is an absolute classic in my eyes. It’s clean lines work in just about any environment and it pairs perfectly with a variety of chairs. The original, available through Design Within Reach is available in round or oval options, in a variety of finishes, the most popular being a white base with the option of a marble top, white laminate top, or Rosewood veneer top. There are also plenty of Saarinen-inspired tulip tables out there for a less cost-prohibitive approach.

I have a tulip table in my breakfast room (pictured above) and I love it so much. It is so sculptural and adds a perfect touch of modern style to the space. I paired mine with Ballard Design’s Dayna Side Chairs and a Choros Chandelier from Visual Comfort. I recently removed the layered geometric rug and have plans to reupholster the chairs to change up the look a bit! For a different look, I recently used a laminate top tulip table in my clients’ breakfast room pictured directly below. They have young children, so it was important to use low maintenance materials. We paired the table with white Bertoia side chairs with white vinyl cushions, a striped indoor/outdoor rug, and a custom-designed, upholstered banquette in Perennials fabric.  We added a roman shade in John Robshaw fabric, an Extra Large Hicks Pendant by Thomas O’Brien, and hung my clients’ collection of plates on the wall. I have rounded up some examples of stylish breakfast rooms that illustrate that the tulip table really is the most versatile dining table there is, along with a few of my favorite combinations.

Paloma Contreras Design | Tulip Table | Hicks Pendant | Bertoia Chairs | Custom Banquette

{A Sneak Peek of a Breakfast Room I Recently Designed for a Client | Photography by Max Burkhalter}

tulip table cococozy

{A Classic White Tulip Table Paired with Bistro Chairs | via Cococozy}

tulip table jenni kayne thonet chairs

{A White Saarinen Table with Thonet Armchairs | via Rip + Tan}

tulip table mark sikes

{My friend, Mark Sikes has a tulip table in his kitchen, too. He originally paired it with white director’s chairs which have now been changed out for wicker armchairs.}

tulip table platner chairs lourdes gutierrez

{This chic breakfast room by Lourdes Gutierrez is fabulous! She paired a white tulip table with white Platner chairs and a roman shade with built-in window seat in green Arbre de Matisse, one of my very favorite fabrics. | via Quadrille}


The Most Versatile Dining Table | La Dolce Vita

{Classically Pretty: A Marble-Topped Tulip Table, Jonathan Adler Chippendale Side Chairs, and Visual Comfort’s Choros Chandelier}

The Most Versatile Dining Table | La Dolce Vita

{Young and Modern: A Tulip Table paired with Bertoia Side Chairs, Ikat Pillows for Comfort and a Dose of Color, and Everyone’s Favorite Extra Large Hicks Pendant}


The Most Versatile Dining Table | La Dolce Vita

{Elegant + Traditional: If the tulip table is the most versatile dining table, the Louis XVI style dining chair wins the prize for most versatile chair, but that is for another post! I love the high contrast of the white table, dark upholstery of the classic Louis XVI side chairs, and antiqued brass Mykonos Chandelier. The look is effortless and timeless.}

The Most Versatile Dining Table | La Dolce Vita

{Finally, if you’re aiming for a Parisian bistro-inspired look or want something that works in a coastal-style environment, you can’t go wrong with a tulip table, Serena & Lily bistro side chairs, and the classic, yet relaxed Square Tube Hanging Shade by Visual Comfort.}


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!

& follow Rebecca and Paula on Instagram

Project Reveal: A Glamorous Before and After


I was incredibly fortunate that right after I started my firm, Paloma Contreras Design a little over a year ago, I met a client who hired me to take on her very large design project. She liked my style and hired me before she actually purchased her home. We have had a wonderful client/designer relationship with her trusting me enough to step out of her own comfort zone a few times because I knew the end result would be worth it. She ended up purchasing a large home just over 6,000 square feet in size. It is a solid house and while everything was in good shape, it just felt very dated and was neither her style nor mine. She came to me after being divorced for a short time, knowing that she wanted this home to represent a fresh start for her and her two children. She wanted the palette to be serene and she also wanted the house to be unabashedly feminine and glamorous. I blogged about my inspiration for the project here last summer. It was so rewarding to work on this project, not only because I love my client, but because it was a major overhaul. We essentially kept what she originally liked about the house and changed everything else. It’s kind of crazy to see the before and after photos side by side! Because this is a rather large house and so many rooms were involved in the project, I will split up the reveal into two or three posts so that it is more digestible, but I am so excited to share these images with you!

dodd before aerial

{Before: An Aerial View of the Family Room, Breakfast Room, and Kitchen}


{After: The Same View of the Same Room with New Paint, Flooring, Lighting, Furniture, Countertops, and Fixtures}

dodd before breakfast room

{Before: The Breakfast Room– You’ll notice this room and the entire area had less than attractive ceramic tile floors and pickled wood cabinetry, moulding, and trim literally everywhere. If you’re not familiar with pickled wood, it is essentially peach in color. Yep, peach.}


{After: We painted all of the walls a soft gray hue and added steel-colored silk dupioni curtains which really helped to frame and soften the tall windows looking over an enormous backyard. We added a rug, and child friendly furniture including a custom, tufted banquette in a great indoor/outdoor fabric and I had the Louis XVI style dining chairs upholstered in faux shagreen vinyl of all things. It looks fantastic and she can just wipe the seats off anytime the kids make a mess.}


{After: The Vestry Chandelier by AERIN is truly the showpiece and jewelry of the room. This particular client completely understood the importance of beautiful, quality lighting, so you’ll see that we used some gorgeous pieces throughout the house. We splurged on the chandelier, but balanced it out by using a table from Ballard Designs since this is such a high-traffic room. }


{After: Looking Towards the Family Room from the Breakfast Room}

dodd before kitchen

{Before: While my client didn’t want to gut the kitchen since the house is only ten years old and the high-end appliances were in like-new condition, we knew this room would be in for a drastic overhaul changing it as much as possible while avoiding the use of a sledgehammer! Notice all of the pickled wood cabinetry which matches the ceramic tile almost exactly. The lighting, dated black and tan granite countertops, and backsplash would also have to go.}

 dodd before kitchen3

{Before: As you can see the kitchen, breakfast room, and family room are part of one very large, very open space. My goal was to create a cohesive, glamorous environment that was still conducive to a young family and that softened the vastness and harsher elements of the space.}

dodd before kitchen2

{Before: I’m not sure if you can see them all that well, but the backsplash had bronze rabbit inlays. Through the archway, you can see a peek of the old dining room, which I will share with you in another post.}


{After: Beautiful Honed Carrara Marble Countertops and a Fresh Coat of White Paint}


{After: We continued the ebony stained wood floors in the kitchen, added an undermount sink, Rohl Bridge Faucet (I wish you could see the one before– oh my!), and new polished nickel cabinet hardware. The island was painted in a nice, dark gray hue.}


{After: The new faucet, sink, and countertops look so much better! Isn’t this a pretty view for doing the dishes?}


{After: As I mentioned before, my client was very easy-going and only had a few requests. She had just discovered the AERIN collection of lighting right before we met and she wanted to incorporate several of the chandeliers because she felt they epitomized glamour. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have put these Sanger pendants over a kitchen island, but my client said they made her smile every time she looked at them and she would be spending a lot of time in this part of the house. Luckily, she doesn’t cook very often, so she doesn’t have to worry about having the crystals cleaned as often as an avid cook would!}


{After: Another View of the Pretty Pendants and Marble Countertops and Backsplash}

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first part of this “Before and After” project reveal. Next time, I will share photos of the formal living room, dining room, and the powder bathrooms, all of which received a pretty dramatic makeover as well. While my own style is a little more masculine and modern that what we did in this house, the goal with each project is to create an environment that the client truly loves and feels at home in. Each of the projects I’m currently working on is completely different in look and feel from the next, but they all have a little bit of my own style in them and are rooted in the “modern meets traditional” style that I love. I feel so blessed to get to do what I love each day and to work with such amazing clients.  It is so rewarding to create beautiful environments for people and to bring them joy in this small way. Thank you for letting me share this with you!


{“After” Photos by Max Burkhalter}