French It Up - The Wall Street Journal

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ree Decorator  September 14, 2012

Because all rooms need a little histoire

By SARA RUFFIN COSTELLO

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Paul Costello For the Wall Street Journal

French up the room

When people ask for decorating help, I always start with a character study, theirs or someone else’s. Casting the life that will be played against the backdrop-to-be helps inform taxing decorating decisions. At the outset of scheming my friend William’s New York apartment, we concocted a character called “Cecile,” a Bard graduate turned head of fundraising at the Metropolitan Museum whose favorite restaurant is the SoHo bistro Raoul’s. This translated to pale lacquered walls hung with thoughtful art, persimmon velvet curtains and sleek furniture balanced by a few important French pieces. William couldn’t afford the 18th-century leather Bergere chair that trust-funded Cecile could, so I directed him to New Orleans-based Tara Shaw, purveyor of excellent real and reproduction French period pieces. Ms. Shaw has a staggering inventory of storied furniture and accessories guaranteed to anchor any room. Whatever the story, French is always chic.

—Sara Ruffin Costello

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From top: French Floor Mirror, $3,238, and Swedish Banquette, $3,830; tarashaw.com

Sara Costello