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Inside the Rocker Chic Home of Styx's Tommy Shaw

Musician Tommy Shaw and his wife, Jeanne, find a new home in Oak Hill. (Jan 2015)

Written By:  Suzanne Corey

Photographers:  Shannon Fontaine

After two decades of living in Los Angeles and touring around the world, Tommy and Jeanne Shaw were ready to return to their Southern roots. For years, the couple—he grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and she in Clarksville—had been checking on real estate in the Nashville area, waiting for the right time and place. In 2011, Tommy, the guitarist and singer for Styx, recorded his first solo bluegrass album here and fell in love with the city’s energy. Two years later, the Shaws sold their L.A. compound and bought a home in Oak Hill.

Tucked off the road, the 11,000-square-foot property sits on a four-and-a-half-acre lot that includes a pond, pool, and garden, providing just the sort of tranquil setting the couple was craving in contrast to their jet-set lifestyle (Tommy performed more than 100 shows last year).
At first, they were overwhelmed by the size. Jeanne says she didn’t even want to look at it, but after viewing 50 houses, she decided to give it a chance. They loved the vibe of the home, which once belonged to disco legend Donna Summer. Even though it needed a complete overhaul, the Shaws paid homage to Summer by keeping certain design elements on display.

Jeanne, who oversees Styx merchandise and helps with Rock to the Rescue, a nonprofit founded by Styx and REO Speedwagon and run by Tommy’s daughter, Hannah, has renovated 18 homes in their 21 years together, ranging from a mobile home on the beach to multimillion dollar estates. The result of her most recent project is a collection of distinct rooms that flow easily and are constantly put to use.

The basement level is Tommy’s sanctuary. His extensive guitar collection is housed in temperature-controlled rooms next to a drum room, sound booth, and recording studio. His gold and platinum records cover one entire wall. Upstairs, Jeanne melded a chic and polished aesthetic with her love for all things vintage and meaningful. An avid collector and estate sale pro, she has a knack for repurposing discarded pieces, and each comes with a story. In the kitchen, for example, a 1900s oil lamp–turned–architectural installation from Preservation Station—one of Jeanne’s favorite local shopping spots—hangs over a large island.

The kitchen opens to a textural cream and white living room with picture windows that give a panoramic view of the property. It then flows into Tommy’s “turntable” room. Jeanne transformed the cherry wood study via a coat of matte gray paint, two worn leather chairs, and a Bettina lamp (also from Preservation Station). Records fill the shelves.

“We all come in and sit. Now everyone is returning to vinyl and you’re meant to listen to the whole record. It’s a whole different experience,” says Jeanne. “This is a dude room, although we all come in here.”

Rounding out the floor is the guest suite (which used to be Summer’s master), a parlor, and the dining room, featuring an antique Jupe table with upholstered benches under one of the disco star’s glittering chandeliers. Throughout the house, Jeanne has created quietly elegant spaces that are punctuated by antique finds. The couple collects chairs, vintage posters, and lamps.

“We’re chair people,” says Tommy, who adds that he has a thing for Windsor chairs (they own several from around the world). They both also have a deep reverence for art. Jeanne’s favorite piece hangs in the entry above a white chaise from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams: a life-size portrait of a dark-haired Parisian woman by Hungarian painter Pál Fried. “She came from this really great place in L.A., Blackman Cruz, that I can only go into when things are on sale,” says Jeanne. “But she will come with me wherever I go.”

On the next level of the home, Jeanne created a master floor with a cozy bedroom attached to her study and a luxuriously large master bath, which doubles as the couple’s personal living room. “For [us], it’s like a spa,” she explains. “This is where we have the most serious conversations. Our life plans are made in our bathroom.” Topping off the house is a yoga room, which sits one more short flight of stairs up from the master floor. For the Shaws, coming full circle is a good thing. Since Styx’s reincarnation in 1999, the couple has traveled the world—but they’re always happy come back home.

“When you come back after you’ve been to all these places, you realize this place is awesome,” says Jeanne. “You need to leave and experience things so you can have a deeper appreciation.”

The couple’s favorite local spots include Radnor Lake, The Southern, Pinewood Social, Acme Feed & Seed, and just about every eatery in 12 South. Jeanne does most of her shopping at Preservation Station, Woodstock Vintage Lumber, Gilchrist & Gilchrist, Mitchell Gold, West Elm, Artifacts, White’s Mercantile, and the Persian Gallery of Nashville.

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