Designing Windows: Paloma Contreras Design at Memorial Antiques & Interiors

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Memorial Antiques & Interiors, one of my favorite design destinations here in Houston as well as a sponsor on LDV, recently asked me to participate in their “Designing Windows” series. Since the beginning of the year, local designers have been invited to design the windows at MAI’s Building 1 and Building 2 for a month at a time. I was honored to be asked and was quite excited to design the windows at Building 2 because I love designing vignettes or “moments” within larger spaces and felt that this was an opportunity to make a big visual impact in a small space. I’m always up for a challenge and I knew that designing the windows for August would be quite a fun one!

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 I knew going in that I wanted to incorporate certain elements that I often use in my design work– white lacquer, gilt, beautiful lighting, a touch of Greek Key, great mirrors and art, and of course, a mix of modern and traditional pieces. Then, I decided that I wanted to show two versions of a similar concept– a vignette that could work just as well in a living room, dining room, or entryway and that featured several of the same elements, but done in two styles. For the left window, I decided to develop a modern, fresh vignette. I had the walls painted in one of my go-to colors– Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy and paired a beautiful white buffet with a Louis XVI-style chair in a fun graphic pattern, modern lamps, a bold abstract painting in shades of pink and orange, along with pops of blue and white from antique Chinese pottery.

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 {Left Window}

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 {Left Window}

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 {Left Window}

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 For the right window, I opted for a lot of the same elements– a beautiful console, classic Louis XVI-style chairs, a gilt mirror, and sumptuous Scalamandre silk tiger velvet pillows with the intention of creating a more formal vignette. I love that the color palette is tight and pulled together. The composition in this window is pretty similar to the composition in the other one and you’ll notice a few of the same elements repeated, but my goal was to show how versatile these classic pieces can be and the fact that when you stick with the classics, you can make them work in a traditional or modern setting with bold pops of color or with a minimal, mostly neutral color palette.

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 {Right Window}

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 {Right Window}

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 {Right Window}

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 {Right Window}

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 {Right Window}

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 {My window designs will be on display at Memorial Antiques and Interiors Building 2 through the end of August. If you live in Houston, I would love for you to check them out. I posted a sneak peek of each window on Instagram while I was installing them on Friday and the more modern window on the left received more likes. Which of the two windows do you like best?}

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Project Reveal: A Glamorous Before and After Part 2

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 {After: The Dining Room}

Thank you for all of your sweet comments on Part 1 of this project reveal last week! Today, I’ll be sharing more of the first floor of the house, including the dining room, entry, living room, and two powder bathrooms. You’ll see in the before photos that we were dealing with a lot of the same issues that we had in the kitchen, breakfast room, and family room that I showed you last time– dated colors and finishes, too many gimmicks, an inappropriate use of scale, and an overall lack of warmth and cohesion. Let’s begin the tour, shall we?

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 {Before: The Dining Room– This space is rather large in scale and feels even larger because it is open onto the entry and formal living room, so again, we were faced with adjoining rooms that actually felt quite disjointed in their previous iteration.}

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{After: The dining room features extensive and heavy millwork, including big pediment archways on two sides, dentil moulding, tall baseboards, and a tray ceiling, so I wanted something that would make the room feel lighter and more airy. My client had mentioned that she was open to doing a patterned wallpaper in this room and we found just the thing in Farrow & Ball’s Silvergate wallpaper, a classic damask pattern. My client had also come to me knowing that she wanted this specific type of dining chair. Since the rest of the room is so feminine and glamorous, I paired it with a large, trestle-style table to temper the femininity and ground the space. You’ll notice that we didn’t use a rug or curtains in this room and that was intentional in order to make it feel lighter and less imposing. The scale of the room looks so much better now. Before, everything felt a little too small. The crystal and iron Adrianna chandelier is more appropriate in size and you’ll notice we also used a rather large Venetian mirror and substantial mercury glass hurricane-style table lamps atop the buffet.}

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{After: Details on the Buffet}

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{Before: The Entry– You can see more of the pediments and millwork I mentioned above in regard to the dining room and this gives you a better feel for how everything is laid out. The dining room is on the left, the formal living room is straight ahead, and the study is to the right.}

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{After: You can really see the detail of the ebony floors we laid throughout the house. We used various sized planks to add interest and you’ll notice that I had the quarter round trim painted white instead of matching the wood. I find this to look much cleaner and more polished. We kept it pretty simple in the entry with a pretty chandelier overhead, an antique  mirrored console table, crystal lamp, and series of framed artwork to greet guests as they make their way into the home.}

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{After: A Detailed Shot of the Pieces in the Entry}

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{Before: As we move on to the formal living room, you’ll notice that scale continued to be an issue. Everything was too small and the furniture was pushed out to the extremities of the space.}

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{Before: An Additional View of the Room to Give you a feel for the Space.}

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{After: We used the same wall color as we did in the areas of the house from Part 1 of the reveal, which are to the left on the other side of the wall. You’ll notice we had the black granite fireplace surround replaced with white carrara marble so that it was cohesive with the nearby kitchen. My client was really open to the idea of navy blue velvet roll arm sofas, so we did a pair of them parallel to one another on either side of the room. Notice that we didn’t put anything right up against the walls. We also brought in a new chandelier, lamps, a pretty coffee table, and a pair of antique Louis XVI-style armchairs. I wanted this room to feel a little more formal and to use fabrics that were rich and sumptuous to give my client the element of glamour that she craved while ensuring that the room was comfortable for hosting guests. Everyone has a place to set their drink!}

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{After: Looking towards the Dining Room from the Living Room– the chairs and martini table usually rest atop the rug, but full disclosure– we moved them out a bit because the perspective in the photograph looked better.}

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{After: Mirrored Obelisks and a Gilded Sunburst Mirror bring Glamour to the Fireplace in the Living Room}

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{Before: I’m calling this the Navy Powder Bath and you’ll see why soon. This room is actually pretty large for a powder bathroom, but it felt so chopped up before between the long mirror hung horizontally and the huge bookshelf over the toilet. I never really understood why that was there. The slate color on the walls didn’t really do much for me or my client either and you might recognize the same black and tan granite that was also in the kitchen before.}

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{After: I knew that I wanted rich, deep navy walls for this room and my client was totally up for it! Other than that, we brought in some of the glamorous elements seen in the rest of the house — beautiful lighting, a Venetian mirror, polished nickel fixtures and hardware, new honed black granite countertops, and a beautiful polished marble basketweave floor. We also added a simple roman shade with navy tape trim to tie everything together and soften the space a bit. You’ll notice we ripped out the bookshelf over the toilet! It feels like the room can breathe now. Sometimes, less really is more.}

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{After: Pretty, Classic Details}

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{Before: It’s hard for me to decide which of the powder bathrooms received the most dramatic facelift since I think they both look drastically different than they did before. I think this one, the Silver Powder Bath may be the winner. Before, there was a busy gold and brown wallpaper, another ornate, horizontal mirror, a random alcove (I wish builders would stop doing this. What’s the point?),  and a very heavy wood and dark marble sink cabinet with a bright white porcelain sink with a bronze faucet, and dated lighting overhead.}

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{After: We simplified the room tremendously! I had sheetrock put over the old alcove and had the walls covered in a grayish/silver Phillip Jeffries metallic grasscloth. We got rid of the old sink and replaced it with a classic polished nickel and marble washstand, pairing it with a tall, narrow mirror which works with the height of the room. We added a pretty new chandelier, and sconces, continued the black and white marble basket weave flooring, and added some framed art over the toilet. The result feels fresh, pretty, and timeless.}

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{After: I just love the way this powder bathroom turned out and my client couldn’t be happier.}

I hope you’ve enjoyed Part 2 of the tour and would love to hear your thoughts on the changes we made. I was really so very lucky to have a client who was so open to change and willing to trust that my design decisions would give her the results she was looking for in the end. I will share the third and final part of the tour early next week. Happy Monday!

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{“After” Images by Max Burkhalter}

Project Reveal: A Glamorous Before and After

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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!

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

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

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{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.}

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{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.}

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{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. }

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

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{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.}

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{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.}

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{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.}

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

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{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.}

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

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{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!}

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{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!

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{“After” Photos by Max Burkhalter}