Paloma Contreras is an award-winning interior decorator, tastemaker, and design blogger based in Houston, Texas. Paloma’s design sensibility is a modern take on traditional style– gravitating towards classic silhouettes and timeless pieces paired with a touch of glamour and an infusion of color. Paloma launched her widely read blog, La Dolce Vita in 2007 where she continues to write about “the sweet life” on a daily basis. She has amassed a significant, loyal following of design enthusiasts who turn to her for the latest and greatest in design, fashion, and luxury travel.
As an interior designer Paloma Contreras fills her days (and evenings) putting together unique personalized (and ultra chic) looks for her clients, but her work does not stop there. She is also an author, shop owner and award winning blogger. Not only does this require a great deal of hard work and dedication, but she does it all with creativity to spare. Her work has been described as having an “effortless sophistication” and we could not agree more. Through her extremely popular blog, La Dolce Vita, (a title that is very fitting for a site that is filled to the brim with beauty) she shares her own design work as well as the lovely and aesthetically pleasing places and things that capture her imagination. We had the chance to discuss her work, style, life and how she manages to do it all!
Images Courtesy of Paloma Contreras
Wearing no fewer than four hats at a time (designer, blogger, author and store owner), each a career unto itself, we wondered how Paloma is able to not only get it all done, but to make it look so easy. She explains: “I am not going to lie, it is a lot to juggle! For me, it really boils down to setting and understanding my priorities. I have an amazing team—primarily my husband Fabian who is so supportive of my career and my demanding travel schedule. I truly could not do it without him. Having a partner in Paloma & Co has also been invaluable. Knowing that the shop’s management team is here to handle the day to day, manage our shop’s staff, take care of our clients, and liaise with our vendors gives me a real sense of peace of mind. The team at Paloma Contreras Design is also really wonderful at keeping the wheels moving while I am away, so I can travel for a book signing, client meeting, etc and know that things are still happening while I am gone. It truly takes a village!”
Of course, she is not only known for the scope of her work but for the quality, consistency and true artistry that goes into each of her projects. Her work feels fresh yet never trendy, modern yet classic. “I personally love things that have a timeless, enduring quality. In order to achieve that, I really believe that you need a classic foundation. I love looking to the spaces designed by some of my idols from generations past and thinking about how to reinterpret some of the ideas in a way that feels fresh, current, and appropriate for the way we live today. Ultimately, it is all about the mix.”
Recently, the designer shared her journey and what inspires her in her new book, “Dream, Design, Live.” Interestingly, she began her career as a high school Spanish teacher. “It feels like a lifetime ago! After a while, I realized that I felt creatively stifled and was not happy. My career was not a fit. Eventually, I landed in design and have been in this industry for the past 13 years.” Though she loves the work she does now, it does not come without its challenges. “The most challenging part of my job is balancing all of the different facets of my business. I literally work everyday of the week and more hours than I can count, but I truly love what I do.” Despite the never ending search for balance (one that most all of us can relate to on one level or another), she finds much satisfaction through her projects and working with clients. “I absolutely love the creativity involved in being a designer and also love the personal relationships we develop with our clients. Designing a home for someone is a very intimate process requiring a great deal of trust and transparency. Learning about my clients throughout the design process to ensure that the homes I create for them are reflective of their story and lifestyle.”
4 Questions with Paloma Contreras
TLV: What do you do to unwind and / or for self care so that you may give so much to your work? Or to combat burnout?
PC: Travel is really my escape, even if it is work travel. I always draw new inspiration and energy from a change in scenery. I also get regular facials and like to unwind with a glass of wine and Bravo in the evenings.
TLV: Where are your favorite places to get away?
PC: Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, Round Hill in Jamaica, and Paris
TLV: Favorite places (and tips) for antique or vintage shopping?
PC: I love shopping at the antiques markets and fairs in Paris. Take the time to at least learn a few key phrases in the native language, smile, and always negotiate!
TLV: Can you share or describe how you decorate your own home?
PC: My home is a true reflection of my core style and my favorite things– abstract art mixed with French antiques, a mix of modern and traditional, masculine and feminine. Most of the pieces in my home hold special meaning or have been found on our travels.