DESIGN INSPIRATION IN SEASIDE SAG HARBOR, NEWYORK

Posted by Paloma & Co on

Did you always know you wanted to be an interior designer? We’d love to hear a little about your early career journey.


PC: I have always loved design, but did not think of pursuing my passion professionally until later in my career. At a young age I didn’t really realize that this was a profession I could pursue, but I have always been very creative. I definitely fit the cliché of the future designer who was obsessed with organizing her crayons by color and constantly redecorated her room as a child. Languages were my first love, so after studying French for years, I majored in Spanish and Italian Studies. After graduation, I taught AP Spanish at the high school level for four years. While I enjoyed the subject matter and working with the students, I felt restless and disconnected.

I realized that my career was not the right fit for me and longed for a creative outlet. As such, I started my blog, La Dolce Vita in July of 2007 during the summer before what would be my last year as a teacher. It started out as a series of personal essays, but quickly took on a design focus because we had just bought our first house around the same time and I wasn’t able to find much design inspiration online at the time (to think how far we’ve come!), so I just wrote about what I found interesting and inspiring. Eventually, my audience grew and people took note. I took a huge leap of faith and left my teaching career. I focused on my blog and took on some freelance writing opportunities, taking my time to figure out what I wanted to do. It’s been such a long and winding road. I didn’t set out with a specific goal or a mission to gain X number of followers or to pursue specific collaborations or opportunities. It has all been so organic.

I eventually landed at Visual Comfort as their Director of Marketing for a few years. While I was there, we launched the AERIN collection. It was an incredible learning experience to understand the product side of the design business more deeply.

In 2013, I realized that I am happiest as an entrepreneur, so I started my design firm and never looked back. While I did not go to design school, I have an unorthodox education in design thanks to the various facets of the industry and invaluable mentors I have been fortunate to work with.

You have built a nationally-known interior design firm, Paloma Contreras Design. How did you initially start the process of building your team? How many people currently work for your company? What qualities do you look for when making a new hire?

PC: The process of building a team has also been pretty organic. You really have to trust your instincts in order to know when it is the right time to add a new team member. It is also important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and hire people who are strong where you are weak. For instance, book keeping and accounting are not my strong suits, so my first hire was a book keeper who was more knowledgeable than I am in that arena. I also believe in the best use of talents. There are things only I can do for my business, so I focus on those things and delegate the rest.

You are known for your “modern take on traditional style”. What have been your primary sources of inspiration as you’ve developed your signature aesthetic?

PC: 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.

Your first book, Dream Design Live, was published last fall — congrats! We’d love to hear about the inspiration behind your book and a bit about the writing and publishing process.

PC: Thank you! I began thinking about writing a book several years ago, but waffled back and forth on what the concept might be. I also had moments were it felt like such a pipe dream that I would just put it on the back burner and forget about it for a while. I finally got really serious about it and started working with my literary agent to get the concept tightened up. Once my book proposal was ready, my agent pitched it to different publishers, we fielded several offers.

I eventually landed at Visual Comfort as their Director of Marketing for a few years. While I was there, we launched the AERIN collection. It was an incredible learning experience to understand the product side of the design business more deeply.

In 2013, I realized that I am happiest as an entrepreneur, so I started my design firm and never looked back. While I did not go to design school, I have an unorthodox education in design thanks to the various facets of the industry and invaluable mentors I have been fortunate to work with.

You have built a nationally-known interior design firm, Paloma Contreras Design. How did you initially start the process of building your team? How many people currently work for your company? What qualities do you look for when making a new hire?

PC: The process of building a team has also been pretty organic. You really have to trust your instincts in order to know when it is the right time to add a new team member. It is also important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and hire people who are strong where you are weak. For instance, book keeping and accounting are not my strong suits, so my first hire was a book keeper who was more knowledgeable than I am in that arena. I also believe in the best use of talents. There are things only I can do for my business, so I focus on those things and delegate the rest.

You are known for your “modern take on traditional style”. What have been your primary sources of inspiration as you’ve developed your signature aesthetic?

PC: 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.

Your first book, Dream Design Live, was published last fall — congrats! We’d love to hear about the inspiration behind your book and a bit about the writing and publishing process.

PC: Thank you! I began thinking about writing a book several years ago, but waffled back and forth on what the concept might be. I also had moments were it felt like such a pipe dream that I would just put it on the back burner and forget about it for a while. I finally got really serious about it and started working with my literary agent to get the concept tightened up. Once my book proposal was ready, my agent pitched it to different publishers, we fielded several offers, and decided to go with Abrams because I loved the editor and they had produced some of my favorite books, including Tory Burch’s super chic book. I was thrilled when I found out I would have the same book designer as her.

Your new store Paloma & Co is a dream and such a nice addition to Houston! Had you always envisioned opening a storefront? What was your vision behind your store and how do you curate the shop?