Some people are lucky enough to love what they do for a living. I am one of them, and so is Paloma Contreras. Her passion for living a beautiful life seeps through each page of her gorgeous new book Dream Design Live. Her layers of inspiration are explained in the first section of the book, DREAM. This is followed up by her processes of DESIGN and how to implement functional, well-scaled rooms polished with unique personal touches. Finally, LIVE finishes things off with how to truly enjoy the home you create. The advice is endless, writing personal and poignant, and photos exuberant and inspiring. Dream Design Live is a winning combination sure to excite any designer or non-designer alike.
DREAM. Throughout this section, Paloma alludes to the most successful rooms evoking a feeling. I could not be a bigger proponent for this sentiment. Do the rooms in your house make you feel happy, warm, cozy, secure, inspired? They should. Your kitchen should make you want to cook like Ina, your bedroom should be a safehaven of relaxation, and your living room should transport you to your favorite European vacation, surrounded by mementos you want to share with gathered friends. Paloma harps on the importance of creating a layered story in the spaces of your house to display your “visual DNA.” She reminds us that if you truly love something, it never goes out of style.
This section of the book especially resonated with me. I remember dining at Jasmine Porch in Kiawah, South Carolina over a decade ago while on vacation with my family. I was a sophomore in college, a tough year for me deciding between journalism or art history as a major. I thought it was life or death. I was stressed and overwhelmed, feeling like I had to decide what to do with my life in a single decision. But while dining at the restaurant, hearing the clanking of silver, low hum of good jazz, appreciating fresh white linens juxtaposed against chunky wicker chairs, and smelling rich southern food doused with the freshest of herbs, I was completely inspired. I remember telling my parents “I don’t know what I want to do, but I want to be a part of this, I want it to feel like this.” Little did I know that what I was trying to put my finger on was a life of design, seeking out and implementing beautiful interiors to transport people to their “happy place” and make every day feel like a vacation.
Thank you Paloma for putting these thoughts into words and reiterating the importance of a dream being an impetus for design.
DESIGN. I have read all of the design books out there, and I can truly say this one summarizes the important components of design in the most concise, clear, and approachable way. Paloma starts with the bones of the house and the significance of “honoring your home’s architecture” as a base plan. The processes explained get more specific from there, ranging from creating a consistent color palette throughout the house to collecting and displaying art, books, and accessories—the details that make a home really sing. While the pages of this section are filled with beautiful spaces Paloma has created, it is also inundated with utilitarian advice for the practical homeowner- from how to hang a gallery wall to maximizing your money for costly renovations. In summary, she makes clear that you can have a home that is both beautiful and functional. Amen!
LIVE. What’s a home if you don’t enjoy LIVING in it? The way you decorate must translate into how you entertain. The balance of practical and approachable but beautiful and unique comes into play. Contreras doesn’t advocate buying the most expensive dining table or the flashiest art, nor does she support spending hours slaving away over a complicated meal for guests. Instead, she reviews how a room can host a blend of original art and prints, as long as your collections are meaningful. Similarly, a seemingly effortless dinner party has that perfect mix of homemade + store bought components. As long as a room is decorated or a party hosted with thoughtfulness and purpose, it will be a resounding success. Cut fresh flowers and make time to set place cards, but take shortcuts where you need to. Ensure that you’re enjoying yourself during the process of planning and hosting.
Throughout the book, Paloma stresses the importance of how a space makes you feel and how surroundings have a significant impact on our state of mind. In a world full of noise, chaos, and stress, let this book be a field guide to enjoying the home that is your escape, a place to maintain peace and happiness. It is your own space to be inspired, unwind, and gather loved ones. Make it your best and enjoy it to its utmost potential.
If you have not been lucky enough to meet Paloma during her book tour, pick up a copy. It would make a beautiful hostess gift for Thanksgiving or a thoughtful token for that hard-to-please relative! You won’t be disappointed.