Podcast, Ep. 143: antiques expert Tara Shaw

Antiques expert Tara Shaw talks about her new book and her passion for antiques

Antiques expert, designer, and author Tara Shaw joins the show to share her passion for antiques and how to decorate with them in our homes. She talks about sourcing antiques, steps for bringing beautiful pieces in our space, and the inspiration behind her new book Soul of the Home: Designing with Antiques.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode:

  • Tara’s new book, Soul of the Home: Designing with Antiques ties in education about designing with antiques and explanations of how furniture that is both old and modern can work together. Take it from us, it will be the kind of book you want to bring out on a relaxing morning and savor with a cup of coffee.
  • Tara’s amazing story of how she made the transition from antique importer to working on Harry Connick Jr.’s home in Connecticut, and how the experience of “doing it afraid” opened the door to take on new clients.
  • How she went to school for education, worked in apparel, and ended up in antiques.
  • What an exponent is, and why personal carvings are so special when shopping for the right antique piece.
  • How Tara’s suggestion of purchasing one nice piece a year can really lead to an entire home of beautiful antiques after some time.
  • Tara’s real confessions on what she keeps for herself, and how she decides just what items she can’t live without personally.
  • Why Tara loves mid-century and how to effortlessly mix different styles of furniture.
  • Why she buys mid century and its a good thing to mix with antiquity so it doesn’t feel stale.
  • A glimpse into Tara’s process of shopping for antique items and bringing them home for her now sought after container parties.
  • Start with one room and an anchor piece. Take a minute to find your voice and be fearless to execute it.
  • How her love of canopy beds and hand forging them keeps artisans in New Orleans employed.

Decorating Dilemma:

Hi ladies! Thanks in advance for your help.

I’m a self-described grandmillenial decorating my new house. I love traditional style and Matthew Carter is a big inspiration.

In my living room, I have a beige couch and dark wood coffee table on beige carpet. I like color so I bought the Ballard green linen curtains for my living room windows. The twist is I have a light pink velvet chair (from my old apartment) opposite the couch. My dilemma is that I can’t figure out how to make the bright green and pink make sense in a traditional style in the way that Matthew Carter can! Any advice? A picture is attached for visuals. (Having a hard time figuring out couch throw pillows in this space as you’ll see below.)


Pink and green living room decorating dilemma

We love that you encompass exactly what talk about in this episode – you know what you like and you are fearless about it! This room screams pink and green to Tara, a Palm Beach look that is congruent with the Lily Pulitzer type fabric. It would also look more bespoke if you found trim that you could trim your draperies with, and use a drapery hook with pointy edge rings instead of a clip. Some art that can thread the colors in together would be great, and we love the pink chair.

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply


    July 12, 2020

    Hi. Always LOVE your podcast. During the decorating dilemma you (I think it was Caroline) suggested the person add hoods to the drapery so it could be used with rings. How do you do that? Wouldn’t it rip the fabric? I am helping my friend select curtains and we want a pair of yours but it has the tabs on the back rather than hooks and so we thought we couldn’t use them?? Please help.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      July 14, 2020

      Thank you so much for listening and for taking the time to comment. Here is a post that shows the back of a curtain panel with drapery pins/hooks. You will slide the drapery hook through the back of the panel. If you’re using it on a panel with existing tabs, I would probably use the drapery hooks between the tabs instead of on the tabs. Most curtain panels are reinforced enough at that top seam to wear it should be fine. Sheers might be tricky, but they’re also super light so maybe it wouldn’t be a problem.
      I hope that answers your question.
      Best of luck!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      October 12, 2020

      Yes, you should be able to use drapery hooks instead of tabs! It depends on the fabric. If it’s a very gauzy, delicate fabric, it could be an issue. If it’s a heavier, lined fabric, it should be fine. If you want to be extra careful, you could order some hook tape and sew it onto the back of the panel to give it extra structure.
      Good luck. So glad you’re enjoying the show.

  2. Reply


    May 28, 2020

    I typically listen to your podcast on Ballard’s How to Decorate website, rather than via a podcast service. However, for some reason, episode 143 with Tara Shaw has no audio included on Ballard’s show notes’ website. The audio is available on Stitcher, so I can still listen to the podcast. But I thought you should know about the website glitch. Thank you, stay safe, and have a great day!

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      May 29, 2020

      Thanks, Jen. We have fixed it and now it’s in there!