Top Decorating Tips From The New Book Dream Design Live
If you haven’t heard of Houston-based designer Paloma Contreras, you may recognize her blog, La Dolce Vita. In her new book, Dream, Design, Live, Paloma wants to show readers how to inhabit their homes in beautiful ways. “The joy that you will derive from being surrounded by things that you love and that have personal meaning will extend into other facets of your life,” she writes. Here she outlines some concrete tips on how to make your decorating aspirations a reality.
“A beautiful fabric or wallpaper often inspires the design of a room,” notes Paloma. In her own living room, she framed six-foot-tall de Gournay panels in bamboo-look frames to complement their chinoiserie motifs. “When it comes to your home, your taste is what counts. If you love it, go for it. Life is too short not to!”
A custom-cut seagrass rug adds texture and grounds a client’s glam library. “I often use natural fiber rugs, which lend an effortless, relaxed quality to any room and usually keep it from feeling too formal. The other great thing about natural fiber rugs such as seagreass and sisal is that they are durable, neutral, and generally inexpensive,” she says.
“Lighting is my very favorite element of design. It truly is the jewelry of any space.” Decorative pendants over the island provide ample task lighting, while a sculptural modern chandelier in a client’s living room helps illuminate architectural features, such as the handsome wood beams.
“Kitchens are expensive to renovate… which is why I am such a huge advocate of embracing timeless material and classic finishes in kitchens. You’ll get so much more mileage out of your kitchen this way!” Paloma’s own kitchen was dated, but the layout had great flow and the quality cabinets were worth holding onto. “Our kitchen is a wonderful example of how the right finishes can completely elevate a space when you have good bones to work with.”
“I have found that it helps to give the children a voice and allow them to feel involved in the process, even if it is in a small way, such as helping to pick the paint color for the walls.” To create a dreamy feel in this nursery, Paloma papered the walls in Cole & Son’s whimsical hummingbird wallpaper. Details like monogramming a diaper pouch and a Greek key trim on the drapes make even a baby’s room feel personal, and well considered.
Paloma’s client wanted a big wow factor in her principal bathroom, so she tiled a huge wall with a hexagonal mosaic tile that became the focal point. “More and more people are incorporating luxury amenities such as sculptural freestanding tubs and coffee bars in to their bathrooms. Not everyone needs all of the bells and whistles, but you should tailor your bathroom to your personal preferences.”
She didn’t want to cover up the wallpaper in this bedroom, but Paloma needed something to direct the focus upward towards the coronet detail on the top of the pretty canopy bed. She chose two convex gilt mirrors — her signature mirror — to do the job. “No only will a beautiful mirror immediately increase the glamor quotient of any room, it is also a great way to cap off a chic vignette.”
“I frequently create a reading nook in clients’ bedrooms, which consists of a big, cozy chair, sometimes with an ottoman; a small occasional table or garden stool; and a floor lamp to create the perfect place to curl up with a book and a cup of tea — or a glass or rosé — I am not judging.”
“Having a well-defined, distinctive style that is all your own is important because it cultivates confidence, helps to make you or your brand more identifiable, and makes day-to-day life easier and more fulfilling because every selection is in line with your core aesthetic,” says Paloma. Get more of Paloma’s advice on finding your signature style in her book, available here.