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— Essentials —

TARA SHAW AND BROTHER LUCCA AT HER NEW ORLEANS WAREHOUSE. PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRENDA COFFEE ©1010PARKPLACE, 2018
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For the last 25 years antique importer and designer, Tara Shaw, has walked through one open door after another. She calls it her spiritual journey. When a book agent told Tara, ‘I know you have a book in you,’ Tara said, “I sure do. I’ve been working on it since 2004.” Instead of sending the agent a book about design, Tara sent the memoir she’d been working on, The Coat Your Father Gave You. “I feel each person has a coat from God,” Tara said. “It’s very unique. Authentic. We listen to our heart, and it’s our calling. We go through the doors. That book was my spiritual stories from 20-something years of traveling in Europe and working in China and India.”

When her agent told Tara she didn’t want an Eat, Pray, Love book, Tara wrote the design book. It will be finished in 2019 and published by Abrams in 2020. 

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— Essentials —

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Hi diddly dee, an actors life for me. A high silk hat and a silver cane. A watch of gold with a diamond chain.” – Pinocchio

As much as I strive to maintain a sense of style, a high silk hat would be a bit much here, where baseball caps and floppy hiking hats are de rigueur. Continue Reading

— Essentials —

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I may be many things, but one thing I know for certain… I am not wasteful. We’ve loved our Keurig machine for years now. We love the ease and convenience it provides to make exactly the coffee of your choice, in the size you want, exactly when you want it. I especially love the way it stays-put as we travel, its little rubber feet, clinging to it’s pride-of-place on the RV counter as we jaunt around the country. But trouble’s been brewing for a while now. Since we’ve been on the road, managing our coffee pod subscription delivery has become a challenge.

We’ve missed carefully planned deliveries, leaving us rationing pods like a couple of addicts. And then there’s the greater issue of the pods themselves. Wasteful, not recyclable.

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— Essentials —

BRENDA COFFEE REFLECTED IN HER POWDER ROOM MIRROR. PHOTOGRAPHS © JENNIFER DENTON, 2017.
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This time last year I took you on a video tour of the house I bought. That was the “Before.” Now I’m going to show you some of the “After.” Even though the house had been “flipped” before I bought it, the bathrooms were a disaster. On my first walk thru, the instant I saw the master bath and the powder room, I visualized what I wanted to change, and that’s never wavered.

Except for things like flooring, most of the pieces in my new bathrooms, I already owned, and each piece has a special story.

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— Essentials —

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From the time I was quite young and first read The Boxcar Children, the idea of living a very small life has appealed to me. Not small in the sense of unadventurous, safe, invisible… but small as in square footage. I’ve been a tiny house fan since the early 50’s!

A little back-story: In March, 2015, we sold our 3,500-square-foot home with a pool and large private yard. We had tired of being house-keepers. We downsized to a lovely 1,200-square-foot leased condo. Last July we downsized again, this time to our 900-square-foot apartment. Our motor home trip in April from Austin to Key West and points in-between, was all it took for us to commit to going “full-time” and downsizing into our 300-square-foot motor home. Continue Reading

— Life —

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After every other great vacation I have always been glad to get home. Glad to sleep in my own bed and see all of my “stuff” again. This time was different. It became obvious when we chose to stay another day in Houston, and then chose to spend the night at Lake Georgetown, rather than going directly to our RV garage and unloading from there… We were both stalling.

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— Life —

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A friend and I were having coffee when we started talking about how lovely it was not to go out any more. She’d seen a sign in a gift shop that read, Let’s Stay Home, and we both thought it was just beautiful.

The whole Hygge trend, embracing the Danish notion of comfort, reflects that my friend and I are not alone.

Dining out at the new hot restaurant or going to an A-List party has been surpassed by pillows, reading socks and tea.

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— Essentials —

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Considering my rocky start, it’s a wonder I’ve developed anything that could be considered style. In college my decor was Early Affordable which included bookshelves and an “entertainment center” made from bricks and boards found in an alley. My dining table was a giant wooden spool that once held telephone cables, and the dining chairs were smaller versions of the same spool.

Least you think I’m too matchy-matchy, the smaller spools just happened to be in the same alley.

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— Essentials —

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It was my friend Patrick who warned me about the dangers of theme decorating. I had regaled him with my dream of a Scheherazade-style dining room: kilim rugs on the floor, ikat runners down the table, camel-shaped teacups, brass candlesticks, giant paisleys painted on the walls, and heaping platters of Basmati rice on the buffet.

The whole scheme made Patrick nervous. He didn’t want to see my dining room jumping the shark. In the upper echelons of the design world, theme decorating is frowned upon. It’s a big fat no-no.

God forbid you decorate an entire house in beach décor when a tasteful trug of seashells will suffice. And even more pox upon you if your house is not situated on an actual beach.

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— Essentials —

The author shopping the Paris flea market
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So who likes old things, please raise your hand. Me too!

A few years ago, I decided to open a shop selling antique and vintage objects and art. My shop would be online only, and in order to stand out from the crowd, I would curate my old treasures into stylish little vignettes that a person could plop into their home for an instant look.

It’s been really fun for one main reason, which you already know. Old things come with the juiciest stories attached to them. Continue Reading