We all have our different morning routines but mine is lovely, simple and utterly addictive: First thing, Monday through Friday, before coffee, orange juice and Miss Coco wrestling in her crate, I read my favorite blog, La Dolce Vita, which always seems to pop up just when I want it. Whether Paloma is covering her Friday favorites, her “Fabulous Room,” her “In the Mood” or (my personal favorite) her “Style Files”, I always relax and enjoy a few more minutes of pure indulgence before tackling the tasks of the day (and the pesky dog in her crate – yes, we do crate!).
So imagine my surprise and delight when “La Dolce Vita Travels: The Best Antiques Shopping Trip in Paris,” popped up on my screen and I got to relive our wonderful trip to Paris through Paloma’s eyes! I didn’t dare text poor Meg or Catherine (our trusted BFF helper) at that early hour to share the good news so instead I subjected my Monsieur, and Coco, to several renditions of the blog with my own superlatives and exclamations thrown in. OMG, Paloma, thank you for the beautiful blog!
Although we’re a tad jealous of your gorgeous chair, Paloma, we sure loved getting to know you on our buying trip! (And pssst … readers, she is as lovely, kind, genuine and down-to-earth as she comes across in her blogs.)
One of the many positive outcomes from every trip is getting to know our guests and discovering what they’re passionate about, because every one is so different. As Paloma mentioned in her blog, this past trip was filled with lovely, talented women from all backgrounds with very different perspectives. Getting to know them was such a treat that we thought we’d share it with you — because these are ladies we think you’d want to know. So for the next few months, we’ll introduce you to some of them, starting with Anne Wagoner, a very talented and smart interior designer from Raleigh, N.C.
Anne, tell us about your business:
We’re a full-service design firm in Raleigh, NC that specializes in high-end residential interiors. Our studio is in the heart of downtown, which adds a lot of positive energy and buzz to our studio. Raleigh is literally growing around us. New shops, restaurants and businesses are emerging every day. It’s an exciting time to be here. We’ve passionately curated a collection of fine resources and master workrooms for our clients. Our philosophy is quality over quantity.
What has been your journey as an interior designer?
I grew up in the industry. My grandmother’s passion is antiques (she’s now on the decorating committee at her retirement community) and I was lucky enough to get the nod for several of her buying trips abroad. I later returned to Europe on my own for a five-week study abroad in England, France and Italy. I honed these introductions with an internship at Ainsworth-Noah, followed by six years of work as an associate designer for two well-known design firms in the Southeast.
How has your style evolved or what do you consider the most important tenets of your style?
My designs start with a classic, timeless foundation. The challenge is reconciling this with furnishings that are thought-provoking, refreshing and unique. My favorite quote is, “The secret to a beautiful design is unexpected inspiration mixed with classic design principles. It’s understanding the rules but knowing when to break them.”
Every room should have at least one …
Antique. No matter how modern the space, every room should have something old. Antiques have a story, a history, a soul. It’s an energy thing you can’t put into words.
We know from our travels with you that art is an extremely important part of your design aesthetic. Where does this love of art come from?
My high school art teacher, Mrs. Seagraves, took us on a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art when I was 15. It was a free-for-all of unappreciative, immature high school students and I was bored. Until I turned a corner and discovered John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. It changed my life forever.
How do you integrate art in to your clients’ homes?
One of my favorite ways to start a design is with a piece of art. My mother’s best friend is a former art gallery owner. She once told me to look for a piece that make my heart skip a beat. If I can find a piece of art that makes my client’s heart skip a beat, the rest of the design process is very organic.
Who are your favorite artists?
John Singer Sargent, Peter Keil, Joan Miro, Michael Marlowe, any artist who captures emotion through a charcoal sketch.
What were your favorite purchases from the trip?
My art. I know this doesn’t surprise you 😉
You’ve been doing this a while and we know from talking to you that interior design is an ever evolving challenging profession. What advice would you give young designers starting off in the business?
I would tell young designers the same thing I remind myself of every day. Focus on why we’re here to begin with. Delegate logistics efficiently to create space for creative inspiration.
You love to cook: Dinner party with four artists or designers. Who are they? What do you cook?
I would invite John Singer Sargent, Elsie de Wolfe, Albert Hadley and Suzanne Kasler. The meal would be Beef Bourguignon over whipped potatoes and delicious wine. (Oooh, we’d love to come!)
What’s your guilty pleasure?
How do you unwind?
The only time I truly unwind is when I take a trip with my husband and there are no set plans.
You are happiest when …?
I’m happiest spending time with my daughters and husband, designing, traveling, antiquing, connecting with art, enjoying fine food and wine, laughing.
Oh and did I mention that in addition to being smart, sharp and funny, Anne is beautiful? When you hear this story, you might think I’d be ever so slightly resentful of this fact, but for some reason, maybe because we both laughed it off and Anne is so cool, I’m not. We were walking through the Paris flea market when an elderly gentleman (admittedly with an unsteady gait) approached us and said distinctly to Anne, “Beauteefull!” Ha, ha, ha, we laughed. Then he looked at me pointedly and said, “Jalouse! Ha ha ha !”
Ok maybe a little, but I still really like her!
P.S. You can follow Anne on Instagram at Anne Wagoner Interiors and Paloma Contreras at Paloma Contreras. And if you’ve been deprived of the best early morning routine, make sure to sign up for Paloma’s blog, La Dolce Vita, and you’ll be in for a real treat!