Tour Paloma Contreras’s Pretty and Polished Houston Home

During the search for her new Houston abode, AD PRO Directory designer Paloma Contreras grew frustrated by the abundance of new builds she saw sporting open-plan spaces decked out with trendy finishes. So, when a realtor showed her an off-market listing for a 3,700-square-foot home built in 1987 with a classic layout revolving around a central hall, Contreras snapped it up. “I’m a traditionalist at heart,” she points out. “I like walls because we collect art and I like decorating distinct rooms.”

Contreras and her husband, Fabian, the director of hospitality and contract at Visual Comfort & Co., decamped from the lively Museum District to the more family-friendly West University neighborhood (yet conveniently still near Contreras’s office and Paloma & Co., the home decor shop she founded in 2019) with their young daughter Margot in 2023.

Although the previous owners had made impressive renovations and Contreras was taken with such details as the millwork and Versailles pattern floor in the entry, noting that they “make the house feel older than it is,” ample updates were necessary. There were rigid move-in and move-out dates to contend with too, leaving Contreras only one month to oversee the revamp.

The red brick façade was painted, the gray ceramic pavers were swapped for bluestone, the shutters were removed, and inside, Contreras was eager to embrace color, a departure from her more neutral last residence. Take the dining room, complete with a corner banquette ideal for settling in with an aperitif. Located just off the entry, its starting point was de Gournay’s verdant Portobello wallpaper, one of Contreras’s favorite designs, which she paired with spring green drapery “to add a sense of energy,” she says, and Paul Lange’s photograph of a large-scale peony she first fell for when she displayed it in the sunroom that she designed for the 2022 Kips Bay Palm Beach Decorator Showhouse.

André Arbus chairs from the 1930s, found on one of Contreras’s trips to Paris, were reupholstered in a treated mauve-tinted suede and join the two regal host chairs around the pedestal table that she designed with a fluted base. Like many of the light fixtures found throughout the home, the chandelier comes from Contreras’s collection for Visual Comfort & Co.

Across the foyer, in the living room, Contreras relishes the look of the original double hung windows, but they are shallow, so she opted for “old-school balloon shades, something more formal and glamorous,” she explains. She melded them with the likes of a box-pleated sofa because “it felt so pretty and fresh” and a console inherited from her parents that she lacquered in a rich chocolate hue to give the room some heft. She also transformed the hearth and fireplace surround with a honed Nero Marquina marble that felt more graphic than its shiny hunter green predecessor, and showcased a series of plaster, charcoal, and pencil works by Birmingham, Alabama–based artist Jane Timberlake Cooper.

Past the 19th-century Louis XVI commode—the first antique Contreras ever purchased—in the hallway is the powder room flaunting marble salvaged from the kitchen countertops and the bar the old owners converted from a closet that Contreras reimagined the bar area with a Fine Paints of Europe Prussian blue.

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