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Set The Table With...Interior Designer and Tastemaker Paloma Contreras

Right now, dinner party dreams are just that: dreams. But Homeworthy is here to make them a reality – at least, without any guests. We've asked an eclectic mix of notables to set the table they wish they could invite people to and share all the details for our new series, "Set The Table With..." This week we're featuring the lovely and multi-talented interior designer Paloma Contreras, the author of Dream Design Live.

HOMEWORTHY: What was your inspiration for this tablescape? 

PALOMA CONTRERAS: My inspiration for this tablescape was really my "modern-meets-traditional, classic-with-a-twist" design sensibility. It's about bringing together elegant pieces but adding in a little something unexpected.

HOMEWORTHY: What items did you use on your table?

PC: The plates are one of my favorite patterns--Richard Ginori's Oriente Italiano which is a fun play on a classic Chinoiserie theme. The linens are from Julia B. Her pieces are hand-stitched and are endlessly elegant. The wine glasses are William Yeoward and the water glasses are these super fun, hand-blown octagonal swirl glasses that we carry at my store, Paloma & Co. Since I am all about the mix-- modern and traditional; masculine and feminine; high and low-- the cutlery was an Amazon find!

HOMEWORTHY: Do you follow any rules when setting a table?

PC: Beautiful, fresh flowers are an absolute must! They really set the mood for the gathering and I get so much joy out of arranging flowers. The flowers you see here (along with the plates and wine glasses) came from the loveliest shop in Lake Forest, Illinois called M on the Square. I usually plan my table a few days in advance which gives me time to have the linens pressed; allows for flowers to open up a bit, and it gives me the time to set the table the day before so that I have time to make any tweaks if necessary.

HOMEWORTHY: Any particular friends you imagine sitting at your table?

PC: When I set this table, it was in an historic home in Lake Forest. I set it as an homage to some of my style icons including the great architect David Adler and his sister Frances Elkins. Mrs. Elkins was one of the first professional women decorators and she and her brother completed numerous homes in Lake Forest and along Chicago's beautiful North Shore. In addition, I also set places for other style icons including Lee Radziwill, Andre Leon Talley, Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley, and for myself and my husband Fabian.

HOMEWORTHY: Do you envision a certain music playlist for this meal?

PC: Yes! Music is so essential to the mood of a gathering. Given the setting and the guest list, I'd envision plenty of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. If we needed to liven things up a bit, I might switch to a playlist from the Hotel Costes in Paris. They always have the best music!

HOMEWORTHY: What are you planning to serve at this dinner party?

PC: I chose a menu that was classic and comforting, but executed in an elegant way. I am a good home cook, but certainly am not a chef, so I usually stick to tried and true dishes when entertaining. The starter was a simple green salad with mustard vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, and radishes. For the main course-- beautiful roast chicken with pan sauce, velvety truffled mashed potatoes, and haricot verts with shallots. For dessert, a simple berry crumble topped with vanilla ice cream.

HOMEWORTHY: What are your go-to beverages for a party?

PC: I like to start the evening with a cocktail or champagne to get everyone relaxed! At dinner, I usually offer an option of red or white wine. In this case, a Sauvignon Blanc or a Cotes de Rhone, both of which pair nicely with the chicken.


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