With a little paint, fabric, and inspiration, there’s no such thing as a lost cause. Take a design cue from this Southern stylemaker and turn a diamond in the rough heirloom into a statement-making treasure.
Tara Shaw Antiques in New Orleans, LA
Who she is: European antiques importer and designer of a furniture-reproduction line, Tara Shaw Maison.
Her style: Refined combinations with rich patina and texture.
Shop her store: 1240 Camp Street; tarashaw.com
Why restore old furniture?
It gives you a home that is totally unique. Antiques were typically commissioned for an individual, so they’re often one of a kind. When you use them in design, you don’t have to worry that your next-door neighbor will have ordered the exact same thing.
What are you shopping for right now?
Mid-century Swedish chairs. Canapés, chairs, and banquettes are my favorite pieces to make over because seating is so functional. I also have a great passion for painted furniture.
Favorite shopping spots?
I scout the European markets searching for something I have never seen before. It’s like a treasure hunt!
What’s your makeover philosophy?
My goal is to make pieces that are functional and suit a client’s lifestyle. I want people to enjoy and use the furniture that has been handed down for centuries. I also try to enhance what is already there, not detract from the piece’s original beauty. For me, the patina and style are what make a piece worthy.
Makeover secret weapon?
Great fabric! Using neutrals in fabrics allows beautiful aged wood finishes to steal the show. I love Belgian linens by Libeco Home, soft leathers, and luxurious velvets and mohairs. With a mix of rich textures, who needs pattern?
What about painted furniture?
I look for pieces with original patina, so I don’t repaint furniture. But if you’re unhappy with your finish, I love Fine Paints of Europe’s marine paint that’s as shiny as glass and a total update on a classic. I also like City Loft by Sherwin-Williams as well as Ivory White by Benjamin Moore—slight off-whites that aren’t too yellow.
Any advice for decorating with vintage finds?
Stay true to yourself. Buy what you love, and then reinvent it every five to ten years with new fabric. You will fall in love all over again!