Paloma Contreras’ former Texas home took years to renovate
While moving into a new home is a great start to an exciting new chapter, saying goodbye to an old one is always a bit emotional – especially when you designed every detail yourself. Such was the case for interior designer Paloma Contreras, who transformed her former three-bedroom family home in Houston from top to bottom before selling it earlier this year. “This house has seen a lot of personal and professional growth for us, so it will always hold a special place in our hearts,” says the designer, who has released his second book. The neoclassical home: modern meets traditional style, It just came out last month. Now, she looks back with only fond memories of the place she happily called home.
As an interior designer, Contreras has access to a long list of contractors and craftsmen. But she actually turned to her husband, Fabian, to do a lot of the handy tasks, including installing fixtures and light switches, painting the walls, and attaching cabinet hardware. (Fabian, head of hospitality and contract sales at Visual Comfort & Co., isn’t great at business – but he’s brilliant!) “It’s a blessing and a curse, because, on the one hand, it saves us money, but on the other hand, it takes up all his free time, Projects can get delayed,” Contreras says of keeping renovation in the family.
As for the rest of the space’s design, Contreras led the charge, changing almost everything about the aesthetic of the circa-2001 home — except for a few architectural details. “The moldings were stunning—like what you would expect to see in a home three times more expensive,” she says. “We were sold on the home’s dining and living room windows and soaring addition surrounding the fireplace.”
These were the only remnants of the original house that Contreras kept. “We didn’t move walls, but there wasn’t a surface, finish or fixtures that we didn’t touch,” she says. One of the most outrageous elements was the color palette, which the designer felt reeked of the 90s. “Think yellow, tan, and sage green. We painted the majority of the house I’m in, Benjamin Moore White Dove, and added wallpaper in some of the main rooms,” she says. Contreras also swapped out the original fixtures, tiles and countertops with alternatives that look both contemporary and classic. “It’s a process of tweaking, editing and assembling before the layers of the house are perfectly layered,” she explains.
Although Conteras and her family moved last spring, after seven years in a prominent townhouse in Houston’s Historic District, she will always think of it with love. In fact, she says, “It was a very solid, classic house, and it provided a wonderful backdrop not only for our interiors, but also for a very beautiful chapter of our lives.”
“Most of the time my family and I spent together in this house was usually in this room. It was where we relaxed in the evenings, played with our young daughter during the day, and where we gathered with family and friends,” Contreras says.
I made it more attractive with sofas made of soft to the touch fabrics. Sofas: Verellen, in Kravet fabric. Coffee table: Custom designed by Paloma Contreras. Mirror: Antique nineteenth century.
Unlike many families, Contreras and her family only used their formal dining room for special occasions. “We enjoyed all of our meals in this dining room,” she says. dinning table: Builder Williams House. dining chairs: Antique Andre Arbus. chandelier: Visual Comfort & Co.
In the home’s half bath, Contreras enjoyed bright, abstract wallpaper that didn’t detract from the rest of the home’s classic look. Wall paper: Fornasetti. faucet: Kohler. Mirror: Louis Philippe in the nineteenth century.
“While some may find brown bold, I find this chocolate color comforting, warm, and inviting,” Contreras says. coloring: Alexis Walter. Wall paper: Schumacher. Table lamp: Paloma Contreras Visual Comfort & Associates.
“Once this Schumacher ripple wallcovering came out, it transformed the space. It felt like the most inviting room. It definitely looked elegant, but there’s something about that rich color that makes me feel instantly at ease,” adds the designer. chair: Ballard designs, upholstered in Schumacher velvet. table: classic. Seat: antique, Schumacher fabric.
“When it came time to design my daughter’s nursery, I knew I wanted her room to be feminine and pretty, but not overtly feminine or youthful. I chose a beautiful wallpaper by Iksel called Xanadu Landscape, which is made up of beautiful green and pink tones.” It was one of my memories My favorite in this house is seeing her pointing out the birds, butterflies and flowers in the wallpaper. It really sparked her imagination,” notes Contreras. Wall paper: Excel. chair: Doll toys. sheep: Vintage Baguès from a Paris flea market. bed skirt: biscuit; bed: Serena and Lily.
Question and Answer
Beautiful house: What is the reason/inspiration for the new design?
Paloma Contreras: I sought to make the house my own and make it more vulnerable. It took several years to reach this iteration. The bulk of the renovation work was done early on, but the interiors took a few years to get into place before we put the house on the market.
G: Did you encounter any memorable obstacles, challenges, or surprises during the project?
PC: Fortunately, there aren’t any major events that I can remember. Maybe I blocked them from my memory!
G: How did you save money/make your own/become skilled? Please detail as many of these as you can!
PC: My husband Fabian is very helpful and loves projects, so he likes to do a lot of things himself. He installed the light fixtures and dimmer switches himself, painted the rooms, and installed the cabinet hardware himself. He loves to mess around!
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