Ever Green

This Forest Park townhome comes alive each holiday season with an abundance of greenery and lush florals.

“It took a village.” That’s how Mark describes the striking mural lining the dining room walls. The artwork began, ever-so-humbly, with him creating a template using an X-Acto knife and a cast-off refrigerator box. He then worked with friend and Birmingham artist William McLure to add details to the fig tree motif. Finally, Shoppe employee Caitlin Lawler embellished the piece with flourishes of bold color. Photos by Jean Allsopp

Some people dream of Christmas presents. Then there are Mark Thompson and Jay Draper, who dream of something altogether different—Christmas plants. The partners co-own Shoppe, the impossibly stylish garden-and-home store located on Forest Park’s Clairmont Avenue. It’s a venture that was a long time coming for both. “Jay has been working in nurseries since he was 14 years old,” Mark says. “And I’ve been knee-deep in gardening just as long. I was that neighborhood kid who would help all the old ladies in their yards. It was always, ‘Sure, I’ll take some of those daylilies’ and ‘I’d love a few hostas.’”

It’s no surprise, then, that during the holidays, their townhome, located a short walk from the store, becomes a showplace for decadent displays of seasonal flora and fauna. Everything from mantels and windows to doorways and chandeliers is twirled up with boughs of boxwood, magnolia, fir, pine, and more. Meanwhile, winter blooms such as amaryllis, paperwhites, and poinsettias punctuate tabletops and shelves at every turn. “We’re less about glitz and more about bringing the outdoors in this time of year,” says Mark.

The antique Oushak carpet inspired the living room’s scrumptious palette of rusty oranges and mossy greens. The combo is a perfect complement to the Fraser fir tree, which is bedecked in citrine-hued ribbons.

That philosophy also wonderfully sums up the design aesthetic the couple has applied to their home’s décor. Built in 1915 as the Clairmont Terrace apartments, the townhome boasts they-don’t-make-‘em-like-they-used-to details such as high ceilings and handsome millwork. And to showcase those old bones, Mark and Jay developed a simple, whole-house palette of mossy greens, rich browns, and rusty oranges. The earthy scheme makes an elegant backdrop for a bounty of inherited antique furniture and old family photos. As Mark says, “There’s nothing like creating rooms that remind you of where you’ve come from.”

And while the home oozes sophistication, much of it was pulled together (surprisingly!) with bargain finds. “I’m always looking for a deal, while Jay is always pulled toward more expensive items,” says Mark. “Striking a balance has been important at this house.”

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Mark’s drive for a bargain has led to numerous late-night internet searches and some very savvy second-hand purchases. Case in point: the elegant Baker sofa that anchors the study. “Jay told me I could do peach on anything but a sofa,” he says. “Wouldn’t you know I found the most perfect peach sofa the very next week?” There have also been times when Mark took design matters into his own hands, creating the large abstract artwork displayed in the living room (created from two-by-fours and drop cloth canvas) and hand-painting the dining room mural.

But that artful handiwork really has nothing on the couple’s aforementioned holiday creations. Together, Mark and Jay string garlands, craft wreaths, and arrange luscious florals. “We have a habit of one of us starting a project and the other finishing it,” Mark says. “It’s our form of teamwork.” Mixed into the already cozy, layered rooms, the decorations seem to beckon guests to sit and stay awhile, which is exactly what Mark and Jay want friends and family to do—especially during the holidays.

The townhome’s sunroom is a veritable showplace for some of Mark and Jay’s favorite collections—chief among them, potted plants and an impressive array of terra-cotta pots. The latter’s orangey hue is repeated many times within the home.
Art imitates life in the study, where Mark and Jay’s extensive collection of coffee table books (a job hazard when one owns a décor shop) has become a wall-to-wall, ever-changing installation. The display’s cacophony of color is balanced by neutral furnishings, such as the pale peach sofa and linen-upholstered armchairs.
Seasonal flora and fauna abound in the petite kitchen. Black granite and white subway tile make an obliging backdrop for fresh greenery and a bounty of clementines. Designed with efficiency in mind, the hardworking space features thoughtful details such as a pullout prep space above the dishwasher drawer (perfect for plating party trays) and open shelves that keep pots and platters at the ready.
The couple’s collection of silhouettes adds to the master bedroom’s style profile. Look closely: The one pinned directly to the wall is actually young Mark; the silhouette was made during a childhood visit to Chattanooga’s Rock City. The others are antiques, which can be quite pricey. However, Mark and Jay will only purchase those they find for $15 or less.
Joy to the world—or at least the neighborhood. Each year, Mark and Jay add festive flair to Clairmont Avenue with a twirled-up front stoop that includes lush magnolia garland (measuring nearly 2 feet in diameter!) and fruit-lined topiaries.
Have an unused alcove? Mark worked with a local metal worker to create a frame “that fits like a glove” within a wall recess on the front stoop. Built to hold 40 small terra-cotta pots, it provides an artful spot to display seasonal plants and clippings.

High-Low Style

Shoppe owners Mark Thompson and Jay Draper share tips for mixing designer pieces with bargain buys.

Choose similar finishes. In the dining room, we paired a hand-me-down dining table and an inexpensive sideboard with serious-investment dining chairs. The combination feels seamless thanks to similar wood tones.

Rethink humble materials, and go wild with pattern. The kitchen floor looks stylish but is merely vinyl tiles laid in a graphic stripe. The striking design definitely holds its own amongst the room’s niceties such as hand-glazed subway tile and performance appliances.

Consider a whole-house palette for a more refined feel. Choosing a cohesive color scheme and using it from room to room brings a level of sophistication and also elevates thrifty finds. In our case, we chose shades of green, orange, and brown.

Seeking Fresh Greenery & Beautiful Blooms? Visit Mark and Jay at Shoppe! 3815 Clairmont Ave / 205.224.4450 shoppebham.com FB:@shoppebham IG: shoppebham

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