I once gave my life for Tara Shaw, almost. This is what happened:
You know how I say that I hyperventilate for antiques? Well, it’s true, I do. You think I exaggerate? It all started when, after years of owning a To-The-Trade showroom in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina blew Ms. Shaw to Houston. We were all thrilled to welcome her, in fact, antique lovers were positively abuzz about her arrival. Finally, Houston interior designers had a chance at the big time – buying 18th and 19th century antiques straight off the boat, without having to pay any middlemen – and at true To-The-Trade prices. At the very first unloading show, there was a preview of the inventory the day before the sale. The next day, the line at the door was very long and everyone was given a number. Once your number was called, you could run into Tara Shaw, race to what you had previewed the day before, pray it hadn’t been sold, and if it was still available, you would pull the top tag and the antique was yours. That day I suffered much anxiety because my number was quite high and I nervously fidgeted watching most of the people in line be let inside before my number was finally called. But luck was with me and what I had chosen to buy the day before was still available. Later that day, when the time came to pay, to my horror I didn’t have my wallet and had to run home like a maniac to get it before the shop closed. All the way home, my heart was racing as I weaved in and out on the back streets trying to beat the closing. At my house, I bolted upstairs to get my checkbook, and back in my car I noticed my heart was practically beating out of my chest, beating so hard, and or so long, that it scared me, and I thought “I am actually having a heart attack over buying a set of antique chairs!” The next day I made my first appointment with a cardiologist. When the doctor asked why I was there, I explained: “I was at Tara Shaw’s opening sale and my heart was beating like crazy and wouldn’t stop!” After a battery of tests, he pronounced me alive and healthy but lectured me about getting too excited at Tara Shaw’s. Don’t laugh. It’s a true story. I seriously thought I was having a heart attack over Tara Shaw’s beautiful antiques!
And I’m not alone. The store seems to have that effect on people. Tara Shaw, the beautiful and chic shop owner, has an unerring eye for what you want. Her shops are filled with just the very antique you lusted after in Veranda last month or on Southern Accent’s current cover. She specializes in French, Italian and Swedish antiques with their beautiful woods, the painted finishes, or the gilding done to perfection. The showrooms’ ceilings drip with crystal chandeliers, or lustres, as Tara prefers to use the original language when describing her goods. There is bois, and jardineres, trumeaus and biblioteques – the array is dazzling and extremely tempting. And Tara Shaw is true To-The-Trade only. Really. And her prices reflect this. She deals with antique store owners from all over the country who come to Houston and New Orleans for her unloading sales, or they purchase from the internet. To get the true values found at Tara Shaw’s, interior designers would have to go to Europe themselves and deal with all the shipping hassles. Tara Shaw takes care of that for you instead. Her prices are enough to make a mere mortal swoon, or visit their cardiologist, take your pick! I can’t stay away from Tara Shaw for too long and there have been just a few unloading sales that I’ve missed, and only because I was out of town. My clients have benefited from her shop too – many of their homes are filled with pieces from there. Houston has been very lucky to have Tara Shaw open here and we proudly share her with New Orleans.
Recently there’s been some rumblings that Tara was off on a new adventure, manufacturing her own line of furniture, inspired by original pieces she owns in her private collection. For the past few months, her web site has hinted at the new venture: MAISON, it’s called. The web site featured only one picture from MAISON to whet your appetite, not nearly enough to satisfy all the curiosity. Until this week, that is, when the new Tara Shaw web site was finally launched, formally introducing MAISON to the public. The debut was worth the wait. The new MAISON pieces are gorgeous, their authenticity is unrivaled by anything available on the market today. Besides wonderful tables, chairs, and bookcases, there is a great array of smalls – candlesticks and mirrors, crowns and jardineres. One could certainly furnish a house with the MAISON line, that’s how extensive it is. The craftsmanship is superb, each piece was created under Shaw’s knowledgeable and watchful eyes. The finishes are perfectly aged – it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the inspiration piece and it’s newer counterpart. The Italian wood chandeliers are gorgeous and come in two sizes. The mirrors, too, come both huge and tiny. The best part of MAISON is the pricing, again. The line is realistically priced, just as her antiques are. One of the nicest things about doing business with Tara Shaw is you walk away feeling you’ve paid an honest price, not a price fabricated to make someone, somewhere uber rich. I can’t rave enough about Tara Shaw, her antiques, her reproductions, her store, her interior design (yes! she also dabbles in interior design), her sweetness, warmth and friendliness. If you haven’t been to her web site, be sure to visit - if you are new to it, you will need to register first. And if you aren’t in the trade, the staff will gladly direct you to a dealer who will be able to help you purchase an antique or an item from MAISON. Tara tells me she hopes to soon have the MAISON line in stores around the country – and we can’t wait until everyone in America ends up hyperventilating over them!
MAISON: It’s hard to believe these are reproductions – the detail is amazingly authentic. The banquette and chair reflect the growing popularity of Swedish antiques - hard to fine, impossibly expensive, until now, that is. The Italian gilded wood alter table with stone top is based on the original which is in Tara’s private collection.
MAISON: The stars of the line: The painted blue-gray French biblioteque and Italian gilded table with mirrored top. The Italian chair is part of the line, too.
MAISON: \The Swedish dining table is a highly versatile piece – it comes apart to become two demi lune consoles and a smaller table. Four tables in one! The chairs are part of the line as is the Swedish corner cabinet. The gorgeous Italian wood chandelier comes in two sizes.
MAISON: a close up of the Swedish barrel back bergere. What a graceful shape! Notice the intricate carving, just beautiful!
MAISON: Candlesticks are so popular today – and Tara Shaw has several different sizes. There is also one made into a floor lamp.
The Louis XVI mirrored table comes in two sizes.
MAISON: one of my favorite pieces in the line is this Swedish banquette, perfect for the living room or the bedroom.
MAISON: there are two mirrors – one small, one huge.
Besides the new MAISON line, there is of course, the original antique store – here is a glimpse of the Tara Shaw showroom.
In the stores and online, here are a few of my favorite items for sale. This Italian lustre, or chandelier, is really my style!
This 18th century Swedish Rococo sofa is remarkably like the one in the MAISON line. This would be perfect in an living room, or a dining room too.
A 19th century Swedish clock buffet – perfect for an entry way or living room.
A French Napoleon III canape – of course I would love this! This would be beautiful in front of a king sized bed, or in an entry hall.
A Louis XVI lit, or bed, ala Charlotte Moss. Fabulous!
19th century Louis XVI chaise, so perfect for a dressing room or bedroom.
To die for: 18c Set of 8 Louis XVI Caned and Original Lacquer Chairs – Genoa. I would give anything to own this set!!!
18th century Louis XVI chest – such beautiful hardware!
What every house needs – an 18th century Louis XVI trumeau. I love the store’s reflection in the mirror.
Is anyone remodeling their kitchen? This would make the most perfect show stopping island: 19c Marble Top Comptoir.
There is always an amazing array of garden items, like these 19th century jardineres. Of course – these would have to come inside!!!
Right now in the showrooms are great series of framed art, including these Italian coral pieces.
This was my first glimpse of Tara – a cover story about her house in New Orleans. It was the year 2000 – and it made me crazy to know her store was out there, but not in Houston!!! I couldn’t wait to go visit.
She has moved her showroom since these pictures were taken – pre Katrina – but what lover of antiques wouldn’t go wild – or hyperventilate – looking at this? Those chairs! That table! Those sconces! Those jardineres!!!
The Veranda cover story in 2000 that introduced Tara to the world.
Her living room – with the ballgown, taffeta curtains that New Orleans is famous for. Seagrass and antiques, Fortuny and linen – a great mix.
Tara’s dining room is filled with pieces she buys for Tara Shaw but somehow make it home. I love the chandelier, the Lustre! The silk taffeta curtains flow into this room too. And notice the rustic jardineres flanking the Louis Philippe console – just perfect!!
In the study, a beautiful Louis XIV chair is covered in white suede.
The gilded iron cachepot is in Tara’s new MAISON line, perfectly reproduced – using her original, see above, as an inspiration.
In the powder room, the walls are covered in fellow New Orleans designer Angele Parlange’s wallcovering.
How is this for a dressing room? Pretty nice! I love that daybed covered in a Nancy Corzine brocade, but the oil painting is definitely the focal point here.
Tara’s bedroom with more antiques – the gilded console is matched with the less dressy botanicals. The antique books, the Italian lamp – everything is so beautiful!
The cover shot – with, for Tara, a rare English antique – a burled wood bed. The painted walls plays off the gorgeous silk taffeta curtains in the same luscious apricot shade. To die for!
Tara Shaw made another huge smash when the house she decorated for Emil Lagasse and his wife Alden was published in Veranda in May 2005. No one could possible have known then that in just a few short months – New Orleans would be devastated by Hurricane Katrina – the storm that forced Shaw to open her store in Houston. Here the Lagasses’ beautiful living room with its pale tones punctuated with sea greens, seen in the antique table, chest, and paintings.
In the house there are candlesticks all around – some made into lamps. The MAISON line has recreated the candlesticks in different sizes, including one that is electrified.
A vignette with a wonderful painted trumeau and metal with stone table.
The family room with its antique stone fireplace and Italian chandelier. MAISON has two sizes of this fixture available.
MAISON’s smaller 12 arm Italian chandelier. How gorgeous is this????!!!
The Lagasses’ very dressy dining room – with a large mirror reflecting everything, including a Swedish Moro clock!
MAISON carries a similar floor mirror – this huge painted, French inspired version measures 53 x 95 inches!
I can only imagine the meals cooked in this kitchen!! What a gorgeous chandelier. Notice the crown on the table.
Of course MAISON has its own crown! Italian, gilded wood – 15” tall.
Over the past four years that Tara Shaw has been open in Houston, I’ve bought my fair share. For instance, I got these sconces from the shop. I had originally planned to show everything that I have bought from Tara Shaw, but when I added it up, it got to be just a little excessive and a tad embarrassing. Suffice it to say – I’ve been a good client! And now with the new MAISON line – I’m sure I’ll be an even better client!!!!!
For more information on Tara Shaw MAISON and Tara Shaw Antiques, please be sure to go to www.tarashaw.com. If you are new to the site, you will need to register. In the box that asks where you heard about Tara Shaw, please be sure to say Cote de Texas! I would really appreciate that!!!!!