A home on the Sound


When the process of buying a house fell through, Emily and Tom Shaw decided to take matters into their own hands and build a home.

The resulting 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom home they have created is beautiful inside and out, with bay windows overlooking the waters of the North Sound, and creeping fig blanketing much of the exterior.

“We wanted the house to feel old and English; it is lovely for the natural elements it brings as well,” Emily says of the climbing plant. “We have a pair of bananaquits that nest in the creeping fig on the lanai. We also have a theory it might help with CUC but fear it’s just a theory.”

The home’s plans were modelled on a beloved family home in Asheville, North Carolina, and tweaked to suit the needs of Emily and Tom.

“We had always loved the house in Asheville so we decided to build a house based on the floor plan,” says Emily. “It makes getting the scale of furniture, built-ins etc. much easier. It made the design process much quicker too so we started building as soon as we could.”


As well as managing the build, Emily took on the work of the interior design herself, painstakingly finding ideas on Pinterest and incorporating them into the space.

Eucalyptus in the main shower

“All of the furniture in the house, with the exception of our bed which is from Serena and Lily, is from Restoration Hardware – inside and out,” she says.

A neutral colour palette creates continuity, and contrasts beautifully with the dark wood Brazilian walnut floors which flow through the majority of the home.

“It is quite plain but we wanted the rooms to feel connected, peaceful and cohesive,” explains Emily.

This continuity extends to the outdoors as the Shaws used the same paint colour on the exterior and interior to create a seamless flow between outside and in.


Parisian artwork

Alongside Tom’s career as an attorney, he and Emily co-own Ledger & Looms with Andrew Ledger, and utilise rugs throughout their home which both complement the design and are perfect for busy family life, with 3-year-old son Kit, and dogs Scrunchie and Layla.

“Right now, my favourite types of rugs are vintage, worn, loved, used, lived in, liveable rugs,” says Emily, who notes that her favourites in her home are at both ends of the size scale, and both in high-traffic areas – the 20-foot dining room rug, and small kitchen runner.

“Both are over 70 years old, and you can tell,” says Emily. “They’ve got lines and imperfections and a completely different texture from a new production rug and they work in the space with the dogs and the kids and the playdough and the flying meatballs.

Meticulous details

“I’m into the vintage at the moment because you don’t really have to worry about spilling something on them. I’m sure they’ve been spilt on lots in their lifetime and they’re quite easy to clean.”

Emily is refreshingly realistic when it comes to balancing kids, pets and having a beautiful home. Careful selection of materials and furniture allow the Shaws to live their lives without being overly protective of material things.

“For the furniture and rugs, we tried to select material with natural fibres instead of synthetic. Natural wool and linen is much easier to clean. We’ve spilt loads of food and drinks on our sofas and the dogs drag in all sorts of things but everything comes out,” says Emily.

“For the rugs, the wool is very easy to clean and Andrew has taught us to love them and give them life – you have to use them and the more you use them, the nicer they get. The natural oils from your feet rejuvenate the lanolin in the wool and gives it a nice aged patina.”


Most of the family’s entertaining is done in their outdoor space, with landscaping planned and maintained by Vigoro.

Peter Pan themes in Kit’s room

A swimming pool and inviting loungers, lie adjacent to an outdoor kitchen, with Bull gas grill, Big Green Egg and Ooni pizza oven.

“It’s a great space because the parents can sit enjoying the views while the kids play,” says Emily.

A gazebo, which can be enclosed if the family ever needs extra rooms, features an outdoor bathroom and shower and a hanging chaise overlooking the lapping waters of the North Sound, where the family paddle boards often.

A dock is also in the property’s future, adding to the usability of the outdoor space, and proving that homes grow and change with their owners.

“Houses are ever evolving and never done,” says Emily.

The family enjoy entertaining in their outdoor space, which features a kitchen and gazebo with an outdoor bathroom and shower.


This article appears in the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue of InsideOut magazine, now available at magazine stands and delivered to select homes.