Harmony and Happiness in East Memphis
Photography by Andrea Zucker
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Milton T. Schaeffer is a man clearly in love with his family, his home, and life in general. He brims with exuberance and good humor, and for the purposes of this article at least, much of his enthusiasm is reserved for the talents of Lynda Shea, his interior designer.
Schaeffer and his wife first moved into their home on Forest Hill-Irene Road in Germantown back in 1967; now a widower, Schaeffer felt some updating of the house was in order. As he likes to tell it, one day on a whim he walked into French Country Imports on Old Poplar Pike, met Lynda, and to coin a phrase, “It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Theirs is clearly a mutual admiration society, because Shea calls Schaeffer “a dream client,” and jokes that “if I could clone him, I would.” Happily, it so happens they share a love of France and all things French; Shea tells us his accommodating response to most of her design suggestions has been: “Just do it, Lynda!”
Milton’s family is widely known around town for its many automotive enterprises; he himself is the retired owner of Bluff City Buick. Additionally, he is a generous patron of the arts and currently serves on the boards of the Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Germantown Performing Arts Centre, and IRIS Orchestra.
Schaeffer modestly suggested at the outset of this project, however, that Lynda Shea and her stellar decorative talents be the focus of our story, although he did insist that we mention his loyal staff members — Fred Gilmore (with Schaeffer since 1964) and Wanthani — without whom his house could not function.
The first impression of the Schaeffer home is that it seems a world apart from the nearby bustling Poplar corridor. Dating from the early 1930s, this graceful, Colonial-style house seems to float in the distance, beneath a sheltering canopy of trees, as the visitor approaches. Its white pillars, dark-green shutters, and welcoming boxwoods stand out against a soft, cream-colored exterior.