Designer Tara Shaw has a passion for antique treasures. After moving to New Orleans, she was charmed by the culture and enchanting French influence of the city. Her love for furniture and European antiques inspired her to start her own company, Tara Shaw Maison. She spoke with us about what makes an antique special and how to hone your eye for design.
How did you get started in the design industry?
I had been importing from Europe for several years and selling out of a warehouse in New Orleans when Veranda magazine came to see the warehouse at the port of New Orleans in 1999. The editors then asked to see my home and photographed both home and warehouse. I was so fortunate to make the cover in May/June 2000. What happened after that was so magical. Harry Connick Jr. called and asked me to come and work with he and his wife Jill on their home on the East coast. It was my first design project.
When did you know you wanted to work with design and antiques?
When I was about seven years old and had chosen a mid-century banquette for my bedroom and asked to have it upholstered in an animal print. I have had a love affair with furniture and fabrics all my life.
What makes antiques so special?
The one-of-a-kind aspect of the antique makes it a treasure hunt because many times you will not see the item again. I never regret what I purchase, only the items I miss.
Is there a piece you wish you’d bought that you still think about now?
What’s your favorite all-time antique or vintage find, for you or for a client?
I purchased four Italian oval fresco mirror frames with cartouche at a fair in Parma, Italy, sold three and kept one for my reproduction line. I love looking at this mirror in my dining room and have used the reproductions as a pair over a client’s Waterworks vanities—so beautiful.
What’s a good way for someone to hone their eye?
I am a self-taught importer and designer. I read anything that pertains to décor and I find that you will define your own style as long as you are not trying to emulate anyone.
What are your three most-prized possessions?
1. A painting from the school of Genoa that hangs in my dining room of the Garden or Gethsemane.
We asked Tara Shaw to pick out items she would love to have in her own home. Here are her top picks: