Story By Donna Cornelius • Photo by Lee Walls Jr.
Southern architecture typically means graceful proportions, classic details – and a great big front porch.
The Johnston-Clark Estate, this year’s Decorators’ ShowHouse, doesn’t disappoint in any of these categories. And Blackjack Gardens has made sure that the wide front porch, which runs the length of the house and turns the corners on both ends, makes a great first impression.
This is the 11th ShowHouse for Blackjack Gardens, said Tammy Powell, the company’s sales manager. She said the Alabama Symphony Orchestra fundraiser is important to Blackjack Gardens owner Frances Gorrie.
“She’s really involved in the symphony,” Powell said.
The porch has no shortage of inviting places to sit and take in the view of the sprawling front yard.
“The furniture is from Lloyd Flanders’ Low Country collection,” Powell said. “It seemed to be the perfect style – traditional, comfortable and Charleston-y.”
The furniture has vinyl and aluminum frames that won’t rust, she said. Its seats and backs have a pretty light-brown weave. Teak tables and consoles are from Lloyd Flanders, too.
Color comes into play with pillows and accent pieces.
“The Elaine Smith throw pillows are totally for the outdoors,” Powell said. “Most of the pottery is from Vietri in blues, golds and other gorgeous colors.”
Tall terra cotta vases are from Lincoln Imports.
Planters on the front porch are from Pennoyer Newman. Powell said they’re made of pummeled marble and rock mixed with resin.
“They’re lightweight and weather resistant and are handmade in New York City,” she said. “The pots are cast from historic originals that have been on the lawns of private estates.”
The planters at the ShowHouse were modeled after those at one of the homes owned by financier and banker J.P. Morgan, Powell said.
“Frances Gorrie saw the planters at the Antiques at the Gardens show at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and fell in love with them,” Powell said.
The planters flanking the front door are filled with topiaries set in dried moss.
On a table in a seating area that’s front-and-center on the porch is a lively statue of a prancing horse. Since 1942, the Gorrie family has owned Blackjack Farms, now a nationally known hunter-jumper training center.
“We love horses,” Powell said.
Thought went into choosing accessories with a connection to nature, like pillows with dragonfly motifs and a rustic Park Hill birdhouse that looks like a quaint English cottage. On the wall near the entrance to the kitchen are two deer heads made from teak by Palecek.
The theme of the porch is “Southern Sophistication.”
“We came to visit the house to get a feel of the house’s character and charm,” Powell said. “You have a beautiful scene as you come up the driveway – and a beautiful view from the porch.”
Blackjack Gardens is at 5549 Derby Drive in Birmingham. For more information, visit www.blackjackgardens.com.