Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Style Files: Windsor Smith

Over the years, we have established several recurring series on La Dolce Vita. One of my all-time favorites, was “The Style Files” which ran from 2010-2011. It seems a lot of you enjoyed it as well as I get emails from readers from time to time asking that I bring it back.  At the beginning of this year, I spent sometime coming up with concepts for new series to feature on the blog, but my mind kept going back to “The Style Files”, so I am thrilled to announce that the series will be returning and appearing on LDV regularly. One of the most amazing things that my blog has afforded me is the opportunity to connect with likeminded individuals and with the people I admire within the design industry. Bringing this series back will allow me to share further insight into some of the most fascinating personalities in the design world with all of you.
Snip20140325_2 {The House of Windsor}
I am so excited to kick off  the return of the series with the one and only, Windsor Smith. Windsor is  a “lifestyle architect” and the founder of her eponymous design firm in Los Angeles as well as the creator of Windsor Smith Home, Inc. which includes a line of fabrics with Kravet, furniture with Century Icons, and Windsor Smith Home Collection—a private label line of bespoke furniture and accessories. Windsor’s work has garnered extensive media attention with features in House & Garden, Veranda, House Beautiful, InStyle, The Wall Street Journal, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP. As many of you probably know, Gwyneth scooped up the gorgeous House of Windsor (a showhouse whose concept was created by Windsor and Veranda ) in L.A.’s Brentwood neighborhood and has worked with Windsor on several other design projects, including the redesign of her Hamptons living room using Windsor’s Room in a Box design solution. I love that Windsor’s style is approachable yet rooted in tradition. Her rooms are vibrant, filled with color and interesting pieces and maintain an effortless elegance. Windsor’s beautifully-curated spaces are an exercise in “livable luxury” with a touch of “grounded glamour”. I recently had a conversation with Windsor to better understand her design philosophy, her inspiration, and what makes her tick. Her answers to my questions are sure to delight, inspire, and even surprise you. Enjoy!

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?
Windsor Smith: Eclectic, optimistic and elegant.
PC: Would you say that living in Los Angeles has influenced the way you decorate?
WS: The relaxed approach to luxury is in the DNA of all that I do!
Snip20140325_9 copy
PC: What does your home say about you?
WS: That I am daring, coy, and expansive in my taste and style, but a devout traditionalist at heart!
PC: What do you love most about being an interior designer?
WS: I love the intimacy of the work, the relationships, and the trust the client places in me to create their environments with and for them. And of course, the constant connection to tactile and beautiful materials.
Snip20140325_7 copy
PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?
WS: Everywhere! I am walking velcro looking for inspiration. I found a printing plate for a 500 dollar bill at a flea market and plated it in gold and had it made into a necklace. It was my P.Diddy moment! I totally embarrassed my kids by wearing it! Nothing is safe around me—I have no scruples when it comes to repurposing almost anything into an object of beauty, humor, and intrigue.
Snip20140325_8 copy
PC: Who are your personal style icons?
WS: Pharrell is my new style crush for his joyful, intuitive approach to music, art, and fashion. Slim Keith, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, and French and Italian women for their effortless sense of timeless style.
PC: What is your guilty pleasure?
WS: Shopping for vintage cars on Ebay.
mercedes 300sl
PC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
WS: Deliver on time and under budget!
PC: Finish this sentence: Before I die, I’d like to…
WS: I’d like to have a Benjamin Button experience and work my way back to the beginning of my life. It has been so great, I want to do it again before I go. EXACTLY the way it happened, only in reverse.
PC: Who/what has been your greatest professional influence?
WS: If we are not talking creative, but professional, I would say my own inner desire to do well by those who count on me. It makes me try harder and push the envelope from all sides creatively.
Snip20140325_10 copy
PC: What is your idea of living la dolce vita?
WS: I’m pretty simple: time for my family and friends uninterrupted by the mundane workings of life that steal our moments far too often. A quiet Bahamian hammock nap on the beach, a cool dip in the pool, and Italian linen shirt, a warm, airy home filled with light and fresh flowers; movie night in our pool house, soulful music on Pandora, 1stdibs, a great martini with almond stuffed olives, a well-made classic automobile with supple leather seats; cherry blossoms in bloom, a Bottega Veneta leather-bound family photo album, and a few chunky gold rings and I’m good. I will have lived.
PC: What can we look forward to next from you?
WS: My line with Century-- launching it is the perfect culmination of the pieces that I have found I want to use over and over for the feeling they bring to a room. More build projects that incorporate lifestyle and family into the design along with a larger presence in the digital space with In 2015, my book with Rizzoli launches as well as my line of whimsical and gorgeous objects with Arteriors.
Go-To Outfit: Pale Gray Linen Jodphurs with White Oxfords, a White Jil Sander Men’s Shirt, Gold Hermes Belt, and Gold Rolex Watch
Favorite Scent: Byredo’s Bal D’Afrique
Color I Never Tire of: Deep Navy
Favorite Flower: Pink Peonies
Indispensable Design Element: Soft Summer Slipcovers
Go-To Hostess Gift: Chanel Nail Polish in Blue Satin or Bundles of Fresh Sage from my Garden
Snip20140415_107 Favorite Meal: Anything from Mozza
Favorite Way to Unwind After a Long Day: A Swim or a Little Reading in our Pool Cabana
3 Things I Love about my City: The Sunshine, Synchronized Swimming Lessons at the Annenberg Center at the Beach, Disney Hall
Go-To Weekend Destination: Ojai
Favorite Hotel: Hotel du Cap
Favorite Artist: Richard Serra or Cy Twombly

{Images Courtesy of Windsor Smith}

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Style your Nest & Win a Trip to the Southern Living Idea House!

{Check out my tips for how to "Style your Nest" in the May 2014 issue of Southern Living}

A lot of exciting things have been happening for La Dolce Vita and Paloma Contreras Design this season. Most recently, I have teamed up with Southern Living and Nest in giving readers tips for how to "Style your Nest" across the seasons. If you aren't familiar with Nest, it is an innovative company that blends style with functionality in essential products for the home, including their amazing Nest Thermostat and their new Nest Protect Smoke + CO Alarm
The Nest Thermostat learns your schedule and preferences, programs itself, and can be controlled directly from your smart phone. It doesn't hurt that it is sleek and so much more attractive than any other thermostat out there! Nest Protect is intuitive and does so much more than send out annoying, ear-piercing beeps. Instead, it speaks to you to let you know what's going on, it can be silenced with the wave of your hand, and works with the Nest Thermostat to keep you and your family safe, automatically turning off your gas furnace (a possible source of carbon monoxide leaks) in the event of an issue. Fabian installed both products in our house and we are loving them both. Luckily, the smoke alarm hasn't gone off yet, but the Nest Thermostat makes keeping our house cool a breeze. My favorite feature is being able to adjust the temperature from my iPhone, which will come in handy this summer, if we're running around in the Houston heat and want to ensure that the house is nice and cool when we get home. 

Southern Living and Nest have teamed up for a fantastic sweepstakes! Visit and simply tell us how you style your nest and upload a photo of your favorite space in your home. The winner will receive a suite of Nest products, plus a fantastic, all-inclusive prize package for 2 including :

o   Hotel accommodations for a three-night stay at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Southern Living Hotel Collection property and site of the 2014 Idea House
o   Roundtrip airfare
o   Rental car
o   All meals included
o   Invitation to attend the Idea House VIP Party
o   Trip dates:  June 12-15, 2014 

Good luck! Have you tried any of the Nest products? 

{This post is sponsored by Southern Living Magazine and Nest. All opinions are genuinely my own.}

Dissecting the Details: Elizabeth Kimberly Design

Hello lovely LDV readers! Nancy of Marcus Design here, and I'm happy to be back with another Dissecting the Details. Today I'm looking at a few lovely bathrooms designed by the fabulous duo behind Elizabeth Kimberly Design. Here are 3 important elements they utilize in their bathroom spaces:

I adore the overhead chandeliers in combination with a pair of fabulous sconces. Embed the sconces right into the mirror or surrounding millwork, and the glam factor skyrockets!

Sink inlay, monogrammed towels, sculptural free-standing tubs, and hardware from heaven is the stuff dreams are made of. These fine details are what really elevate a space to something special.

I think you'll probably agree that slathering a bathroom space in marble can only be a good thing. Bordering details on marble flooring, and rounded details on the backsplash above make the marble sing. The lightness of the stone also helps to keep the spaces appearing light and clean.

There are so many things to love about these spaces, they are truly classic & refined rooms! To see more of work of Elizabeth Kimberly Design hop over to their portfolio.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Legends of La Cienega 2014

I am thrilled to be an ambassador for the sixth annual Legends of La Cienega event in Los Angeles May 7th-9th. If you've been to L.A., chances are you've been to the amazing La Cienega Design Quarter spanning La Cienega Boulevard, and Melrose Avenue and know that it offers some of the best design resources in the country. For over 60 years, La Cienega has been the go-to design destination for scions of design like Tony Duquette, Elsie de Wolf, William Haines, and Frances Elkins. Today, it continues to be a must for discerning designers and design lovers from all over the world and it always tops my list of places to visit anytime I am in Los Angeles. In my opinion, L.A. has the most vibrant and exciting design community in the country, so I couldn't be happier to participate in this year's Legends event.

{A Lovely Luncheon at Lee Stanton for the 2013 Legends of La Cienega Event]

"Legends is a 3-day celebration of design that brings together the top editors of the nation's prized shelter magazines with VIPs and tastemakers from the worlds of interior design, architecture, decor, art, and fashion for keynote panel discussions, cocktail parties, exhibitions, book signings, personal appearances, and receptions."  In other words, it is an incredible opportunity to mix and mingle with the top talents in the industry and to see what is new and next in the world of design. Each year, the Legends event has a central theme and top interior designers are selected to decorate the windows of the shops that dot La Cienega and Melrose. This year's theme is "Novel Interiors: Storytelling by Design" and the window designers include Diane von Furstenberg, Madeline Stuart, Mark D. Sikes, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, and Timothy Corrigan among many other leading design talents.

{A Panel Discussion at Last Year's Legends Event}

Keynote discussions include "Don't Hate, Collaborate" with panelists Jeffrey Alan Marks, Kathryn Ireland, Nathan Turner, and Martyn Lawrence Bullard, "The Power of Authenticity" lead by Veranda editor-in-chief Clinton Smith,  and "Smoke and Mirrors: Hollywood's Public/Private Residences among several other exciting keynotes. From power lunches, panel discussions, and book signings to special appearances and cocktail parties, Legends promises to be a fabulous and valuable 3-day experience for anyone in the world of design.  It is rare to have so many top designers and editors in one place, so don't miss out on this unique opportunity. For a full schedule of events and to register, click here. I hope to see you there!

This Week's Quote