Drawing on their Stateside roots, this couple created a suitably American ambience in their London dwelling
Elizabeth and Morgan Shaw may have been slightly daunted by the prospect of a blank canvas, but they were excited about the challenge, too. ‘ We were looking for a home that was large enough for us and our three children, Annabel, now six, John, four, and Owen, three,’ explains Elizabeth. ‘That’s when we came across a repossessed property in southwest London. And although it certainly needed a lot of work, we could see there was scope to extend upwards, backwards, sideways, and even below.’
Straight away, the couple knew the renovations would require an expert, so they hired Mark Sylvester from Icon Architects. Mark and his team dug out the cellar, extended at the front and back, and filled in the kitchen side return to create enough space for everything the family needed to live, work and entertain. Once all the building work was complete, Elizabeth could not wait to start on the interior decor.
Elizabeth asked a close friend, interior designer Summer Williams, for help. ‘Summer is from Morgan’s home town in Georgia and they even went to kindergarten together,’ says Elizabeth. ‘Initially, we just bounced ideas off her but she gradually became more and more involved until it naturally evolved into the two of us taking on the project together.’
The aim was to create a family home that was both stylish and practical. ‘Aesthetically, Elizabeth and Morgan wanted a fairly traditional look but they weren’t afraid of some modern touches that melded American with English elements,’ says Summer. ‘It was quite a rare scenario in that we all have
American roots, but we’ve also lived in London for a significant period of time.’ Summer points out that in her work she tries to be mindful of the historical sense of a building, while telling the owners’ story through their surroundings, offering subtle reminders of their life.
With this in mind, Summer focused on photographs from Elizabeth and Morgan’s South Carolina wedding for ideas. One image of a Spanish moss tree was the main theme for the scheme in the family room, and an enlarged version now hangs in prime position in here.
Other rooms also enjoy very personal associations with the past. ‘Our bathroom scheme was inspired by that of the Palmetto Bluff hotel, where we got married,’ says Elizabeth. ‘In true American fashion, we opted for a luxurious shower with seating, instead of a bath.’ It is thoughtful touches such as this that allow their home to tell a story.
This once-rundown house has now been turned into a stunning family home that lets the Shaw family’s interests shine through. An industrial theme reflects Morgan’s tastes, while Elizabeth’s preference for blue, orange and geometric patterns can be seen in accent pieces throughout. All of which beautifully combine to create the best of two worlds in this vibrant family home with a southern feel.
FUTURE PLANS ‘ I would like to have my two boys share a room on the top floor so I can turn the nursery into a little office for me’