Harmony and Happiness in East Memphis
(page 3 of 3)
The dining room features a lovely round table that to Shea’s mind “takes the edges off a square room.” The distinctive black and gilt chairs with golden leather upholstery are from Amy Howard, as are the two handsome large china cabinets. In the family room, one finds a sophisticated mix of furniture and accessories; these include an eighteenth-century Swedish clock and a huge Mazel and Jalix bronze apple sculpture, which, as the sculptors say, “stands solid but not lifeless.”
Shea is particularly fond of the Louis XV walnut enfilade (which she translates as being a long, low buffet) and the large black wall-lanterns that frame it. The adjacent kitchen is pure French-country style, with hanging copper pots and faience backsplash tiles. Long ago, one counter was specially cut to fit around an impressively large, solid-wood chopping block. A little walled garden off the kitchen is very European and more than a little charming.
The romantic morning room with pale blue walls and white furniture and upholstery seems right out of a Swedish summer home in an Ingmar Bergman film. This is affectionately called “the Lynda room,” and it is pure Shea magic and sensibility.
For the paneled library, Shea owned four early nineteenth-century Aubusson cartoons that were “looking for a happy home,” and she was delighted to be able to use them on the walls in this handsome room. An antique English walnut card table and Minton-Spidell premium reproduction chairs were a perfect fit here as well.
The large solarium at the back of the house offers sunny, panoramic views of the grounds. This was added in 2001 by John Millard of the Memphis architectural firm, Millard and Stevens, which designs outstanding custom homes throughout the country.
The master bedroom and bath are on the first floor. Three bedrooms and a sitting room are upstairs, which Shea says she refreshed with new draperies, bed linens, bedside tables, and wrought-iron chandeliers.
The truly amazing and extensive wine cellar consists of three connecting rooms packed to capacity with bottles. It has the weathered look and feel of something you might find underneath a magnificent Loire Valley chateau. As our Memphis magazine team was taking photographs, in fact, several cases of champagne were in the process of being delivered.
Upon our departure, Milton Schaeffer, the most genial of hosts, asked us if we would like to join him for a glass of bubbly. No arm-twisting necessary; the champagne provided the perfect end to a perfect day in a well-nigh perfect home.
Native Memphian Anne Cunningham O’Neill is the arts and style editor of Memphis magazine.