Modern Chic in New Orleans: Tara Shaw
New Orleans interior decorator, antique dealer, and furniture designer Tara Shaw has been serving up her curated selection of old world Europe for 25 years, specializing in Swedish, French, and Italian pieces. Along the way, the recognized taste-maker found her ideal house which now acts as a backdrop for the distillation and expression of her modern chic aesthetic. The house; a stately French “Haussmann” inspired gated residence, newly built in New Orleans’ historic Uptown district near Audubon Park, is a rare find.
Tara has spent the years since filling the interiors with her edited collection of European antiques and her personally designed reproductions, combined with contemporary elements, which she balances with a serene, monochromatic palette. An edited use of color renders all the pieces virtually timeless. New and old merge effortlessly with color and pattern removed to differentiate them. She layers a variety of textures and finishes to create depth in each room. The results are a quiet juxtaposition of formal and informal, fine and rustic. The effect is Tara Shaw’s impressive signature style of modern chic.
In the opening photo, we see the living room. A sisal rug tempers the formal architecture. Tara’s pet whippet perches on a Gustavian daybed upholstered in a Holly Hunt mohair, next to a pillow in a Fortuny fabric. A contemporary Verellen sofa upholstered in a Libeco linen anchors the sitting area across from the large armoire which holds the television and stereo equipment. Holly Hunt velvet covers the 18th-century Italian armchairs. A re-purposed Italian gilded wood altar table with a stone top serves as the coffee table. The absence of color is more than just a design statement. She wanted the interiors to be calm and comforting.
In the grand entrance foyer, Tara combines distressed antiques with contemporary pieces to create a memorable first impression. Immediately you are made aware that this is a special home with a sophisticated collection. Her style is not precious and never intimidating. The interiors, though white, are not cold or gallery-like. Instead, they are charming and graceful.
In the dining room, high-gloss white floors allow the antique furnishings to shine in greater relief. The Tara Shaw Maison dining table is a reproduction modeled on a painted Swedish table she sold in her shop years earlier. It comes apart to form two Demilune Consoles and a smaller drop-leaf table. Antique Swedish chairs, some with Donghia linen slipcovers, and others upholstered in a Holly Hunt leather surround the table. A 19th-century Italian chandelier sparkles above the room. A significant antique oil painting hangs above an 18th-century Swedish bench. There is also a Gustavian Buffet a Deux Corps. The Italian Fresco style oval mirror and the floor mirror are Tara’s designs.
In the breakfast room, a Gustavian drop leaf table gathers with contemporary chairs by Mario Bellini on a sisal rug beneath an Italian giltwood chandelier. The corner cabinet and long-case clock are Swedish reproductions by Tara Shaw Maison. The painting is a 19th-century Belgian still life by Jules Hubert Brouwers.
Numerous major antique pieces fill the cypress-paneled study/library including a Louis-Philippe daybed. Tall drapery panels in a Holly Hunt fabric frame the windows. A pair of contemporary lamps by Regina Andrew illuminate Tara’s mirrored top antique reproduction table that acts as a desk. An antique urn stands atop an acrylic pedestal also by Tara Shaw Maison.
The master bedroom really expresses Tara’s brand of modern chic and includes her contemporary two-tone, high-gloss iron canopy bed from her collection. The ornately carved and gilded mirror above the side chest is also from her home collection. Placed at the foot of the bed is an 18th-century Swedish bench upholstered in a Kravet velvet. A Benjamin Moore white paint covers the walls. White continues in the Dedar fabric draping the windows and the Libeco linen covering the Gustavian daybed. The high gloss ottoman coffee table and the framed intaglios are her designs. The entertainment equipment stores away inside the large armoire. Some declare that this is no longer “in style,” but I strongly disagree. I keep my electronics inside large beautiful armoires. They easily hold large flat screen televisions and provide additional storage just as well as ever. I would never consider not using them.
In the master bath, Tara combined a Louis XVI console with an Italian marble mortar to create the sink, with fixtures by Grohe. A Venetian mirror hangs above it, flanked by contemporary light sconces from Restoration Hardware. An 18th-century Swedish armchair covered in a Libeco linen stands before it. The antique wall paneling around the contemporary soaking tub came from the South of France. An antique crystal-dripping chandelier suspends above it all.
In the guest bedroom, a 19th-century Directoire daybed with gilded Neoclassical urn carvings is dressed with linens by Peacock Alley. A Donghia fabric forms the bed drapery. An 18th-century German painted commode holds an antique jardinière before a framed Neoclassical lithograph. An 18th-century Swedish secretary holds writing stationary. Libeco linen covers the 19th-century chaise. There is also a 19th-century French gilded Tabouret beside the bed and Tara’s opaque glass console behind it. A pair of Trumeau mirrors flank the rear window which is dressed with curtains in a David Sutherland fabric. Of course, an antique chandelier completes the scene.
A 16th-century petrified wooden statue from Avignon, France stands along the rear windows and doors that look out onto the rear lawn.
The rear terrace holds plenty of outdoor furnishings by David Sutherland for outdoor entertaining. The Flagstone surrounding the saltwater pool echoes the arch of the terrace. A 19th-century French urn stands on the corner. There is also a cabana with guest quarters back here.
The stucco exterior is very attractive and not at all what one expects to see in Uptown, New Orleans. Eighty trees line the wall around the property to ensure greater privacy.
Tara’s signature Modern Chic as expressed here in her New Orleans home, is what has made her a success. Her effortless mixing of old world pieces with sophisticated, contemporary art and upholstery in a way that is fresh and timeless is ideal for today’s luxury lifestyle. The house featured on the cover of Veranda magazine.
That concludes our design inspiration for today, my friends. Be sure to check out Tara’s website to see the other fabulous houses she has decorated in her signature modern chic.
Tara Shaw, LTD – Design/Antiques/Maison @ www.tarashawmaison.com
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