There’s a new sheriff in town…

…and she’s got 12 arms! Say hello to the latest addition to our family and hear the wild and wonderful story on how she came to be.

Last September my husband and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. We tossed around all kinds of grand plans to commemorate it but the reality is we don’t have anyone to watch our kids for ten days while we click around Greece or the South of France thinking we’re all that.

So we settled on a quick flight to New Orleans for a three day weekend in style. We’d tried this once before when our son was old enough to stay with family. You know that first big trip away after baby? We survived! We’re still ourselves! Party! However when departure time rolled around -surprise, surprise – I was blessed with our second child and my usual ill first trimester. Needless to say my first foray in the big easy wasn’t quite what I had envisioned so thank goodness for second chances. New Orleans take two!

Little did the big man know, his evil wife was scheming and making calls behind the scenes to the lovely and beautiful Tara Shaw Antiques. You see I’ve had my heart set on this chandelier from her Maison line since its launch years ago and this was my chance to finally see it in person and what better excuse than our ten year to ask for it??? See other favorites here.

When we walked in it was love at first sight (naturally). I was determined she make it back to Atlanta with moi and my great guy husband said “sure, here you go little lady” and handed me the ever important wallet. Months and months passed and finally she was in stock ready to ship. She had to be completely wired and the only game in town to leave that tall task to is the fine folks at Lamp Arts. They are the dream makers.

A close up of their work. Tedious job but seamless nonetheless. I couldn’t be happier! Of course, I didn’t trust myself to put the baby up so I had a professional come and do that bit. In fact, I would recommend having a professional install all light fixtures so they’re installed properly. If you need any fixtures installed, you can use this link to find a suitable electrician.

My dining room went from this:

To this:

I lost the rug because first and foremost, I’m always a student in this life, especially to those I admire like Joni over at Cote de Texas. I can hear her saying “custom cut seagrass is best” even though we’ve never actually met. My Ballard Design version wasn’t cutting it so we edit.

Prior to install, I had all sorts of plans for this room but once up, I was completely satisfied with the impact she had on the space. My dramatic and oversized anniversary gift had done the trick. I like to break the rules from time to time and you can do that in a dining room. It’s a great room to experiment with. Go large!

My wall color is Appaloosa by Pratt & Lambert and has been for five plus years now and I’m tired of it. It could be construed as that trendy gray color and somedays its a little doom and gloom for sunshine girl. I’m considering painting it Almond White (an old Duron color you can find at Sherwin Williams) like the majority of my house. I wanted to layer on a very bold and graphic stencil on the walls in two muted colors perhaps or a beautiful wallpaper. I’m still dreaming of this. Just taking it slow. My ceiling is painted a blue green color by Pratt & Lambert (I can’t believe I forgot the name. Coos maybe?). I love it and hopefully always will.

I purchased this piece from a friend of mine at Lakewood Flea Market never intending it to be used here but for now I dig it and it works. I’ve filled it up with glassware, white dishes and silver (that I refuse to polish because I like the tarnished patina and really who has time for that?) and some John Derian for Target boxes for my dinner napkins and the kids art supplies because real life happens here. Let’s not kid ourselves. My dining room never looks this good and functions as a craft room most days.

My wedding silver. I like mixing crusty with fancy so I display it in a wicker basket because a. I love my wedding silver and I like to look at it and use it. So many keep it boxed up and away for special occasions. Life is a special occasion! My husband’s Grandmother Genevieve had the pattern first (la scala by Gorham) and I fell for it when I was setting the table way back when. It causes me to pause, admire and run my fingertips over the pattern. The one off piece is Mom & Dad’s cake knife from their wedding day with the date and initials engraved. Love it and it loves me back every time I glance by.

One of Mom’s great antique finds. They remind me of Oliver Twist. More porridge please…

Just in case our cousin decides to build another boat we’ll forever save our wine corks. The footed compote was a gift from my Mother-in-law. She gave the best gifts.

An old silver bowl found at the Goodwill filled with old buttons, wooden spools, and an old French bouillon tin that Mom hand picked. The “S” stands for super girl. Ok its Schoenberger. You got me.

And I’m not sure why I love this shabby ole theater seating chart but I do. I think it’s because I picture the opulent theaters our nation has preserved, restored and saved from ruin like Detroit’s Fabulous Fox Theater, The Detroit Opera House or The Gem Theater. These all came to light while I was growing up Downriver Detroit. Part of the slow but steady renaissance we pray comes to fruition for the Motor City. I have it propped up here and slightly tucked behind for added texture, charm and the reminder of their exquisite interiors.

I spotted this painting at the Queen of Hearts Antique Mall. I fell in love with the lady in the pink hat dining solo and I just love outdoor cafe scenes in general. I really wish we all wore more hats.

My husband painted this for us. He paints and writes poetry too. He’s a catch. 😉

Moving over to my window treatments, a simple Robert Allen linen in “Snow”. I’ve contemplating customizing these many times. Maybe running a tape across the bottom or down the sides or adding a second color panel to the bottom but I keep coming back to letting them be. The shabby chic patio chairs were a find from my late mother-in-law Jan and I recovered them in my favorite ticking stripe fabric.

The pillows were two fabric samples that Grandma Jan had eye’d and they mean a lot to me because she chose them as part of her vision for her dream house on Torch Lake. She had an incredible eye and was a fabulous designer. I can’t wait to tell you her story someday. My stellar friend made them into pillows for me. Again not really where I intended they’d land but for now enjoying them here.

Another view of the room. You can really see my blue ceiling color here. The two shell urns were a Homegoods find. I styled them here but scooped em up with the intention of being wired for a stunning pair of lamps, complete with burlap shades.

She’s just as grand lit up at night too, maybe even better. I hope this goes without saying but it’s imperative you have dimmers installed throughout your home, especially here. Change your lights, change your life.

And now for the best part of the story. Saved the best for last and couldn’t wait to share this with you all.

I hadn’t really considered putting chandelier shades on her but I recalled buying a big stack of them years ago at the Goodwill for something like $2.68. I know how quickly shades can add up and thought for sure they’d come in handy someday so in my cart they go. Fast forward to me frantically digging them out and counting one…two…three…hells bells there are only ten!

So I searched and searched and searched on line, in all the stores, finally found a pair on line that were the exact same dimensions but when they showed up, all wrong. I was staring ordering all new ones in the face but I was stubborn in that they were the perfect shape, style and color, darn it.

I made one last ditch effort at this obscure lighting shop in a neighboring town. Once again, no go. Ticked I walked out and thought well I came all this way, might as well peek inside the Goodwill next door and make the trip worthwhile. I said to myself what are the odds? No way but yet I had that feeling when you know this could be good. Well low and behold I walked in and shazam!

TWO! Exactly like it. Can you stand it?! I had to take a picture because no one will ever believe me?! Really? Not one, not four, just the two I needed – all for me. I raced up to that check out line sharing my story and wouldn’t you know the nice lady gave me a discount to top it all off. I ran out of there with a big ole smile on my face, drove fast in my car, windows down, music blaring and sang my heart out like I was singing back up for Aretha! All the while thinking if that’s not Mom saying hello than I don’t know what God and Heaven is friends. It was a great day and a great end to my lovely new light fixture. Thanks for allowing me to share it with you. Peace out.



  1. Jen – fabulous story! I love the way you write… feels just like talking to you!! And who knew Mike was so artsy?? xoxo

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