Dream Domain

Harmony and Happiness in East Memphis

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The solarium designed by John Millard of Millard and Stevens offers a panoramic view of hte glorious grounds.

The 10-acre property includes a large guest house and swimming pool and in the distance, an old barn stands as a symbol of the area’s once-rural past. (Ben Page, the well-known landscape architect based in Nashville, helped out with some of the landscaping.) The plantings are spectacular, and Schaeffer is particularly proud of his vast numbers and varieties of daffodils and tulips, not to mention the raised beds that burst with 18 different vegetable varieties. He says he often drives his golf cart down to his fig trees to breakfast on their bounty — a bucolic image indeed. 

This home has lovely bones, and light streams through every window. Shea tells me her initial approach was to rearrange many of the superb antiques that Schaeffer already owned. Other pieces were handpicked or commissioned, allowing her to complete the design scheme. In particular, her client had some wonderful works of art, including French art-nouveau posters and a colorful Paul Penczner painting that she chose to put in an upstairs bedroom, not to mention countless oriental rugs that she has shuffled around or in some cases de-accessioned. For the most part, Shea kept to Schaeffer’s favorite color palette of rusts, corals, and burnt oranges. Throughout the house, the existing fine hardwood oak floors added considerable dramatic effect; they just needed a good polishing.

Shea characterizes her design style as “underdoing rather than overdoing.” While she has built her business around importing traditional French-country antique furniture and accessories, she loves contemporary furnishings, and now gravitates towards a transitional mixture of styles. She has a special talent for selecting the perfect detail, such as a sophisticated ruched banding on linen draperies, or a special piece of sculpture to punctuate a space.

In the entrance hall, Shea used what has come to be her favorite wallpaper, a print selection that looks for all the world exactly like limestone. Called Lokta-paper, it is handcrafted from the bark of the daphne bush that grows in the Himalayas, at altitudes up to 10,000 feet. If this sounds expensive, it probably is, but what a fabulous effect!

To go with the tall-case clock in the entry, Lynda chose a table lamp with the look of an Etruscan fragment, along with a nineteenth-century Louis Philippe period mirror. The only structural change made was to arch the entrance off the hall into the dining room, so as to mirror the living room archway.

In a niche below the elegant circular staircase, Shea provided a modern twisted-metal sculpture from her shop, and then found just the right vintage pedestal upon which to mount it. Ascending the stairs along the wall are six period English garden design prints. In the living room, among other things, she found a wonderful sculpture of a discus thrower along with an Etruscan-style coffee table to complement the antique tapestry and needlepoint chairs and other furnishings that Milton Schaeffer already had acquired. A modern touch is the large, bold calla lily painting by Jochen Labriola over the mantel. 

Jochen Labriola's calla lily painting adds a punch of drama to the classic living room furnishings.

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