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Welcome to Brierfield Farm: A Family Retreat

Margot and Gates Shaw’s new dream house in the country does double duty as a FLOWER showhouse
Watch the video above to learn about the inspiration behind the 2021 Flower showhouse. The house features native fieldstone from Oneonta, Alabama; cedar-shake and standing-seam red metal roofs; and reclaimed-wood detailing.

Only an hour from the buzz of Birmingham, Alabama, off a nondescript bumpy road, sits the idyllic farm property of Flower magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief, Margot Shaw, and her husband, Gates.

When Gates was a youth, his businessman father liked to go out every Sunday “riding and looking” for a piece of land in the countryside not too far from town. And finally, one day, he found an ideal parcel.

The sweeping countryside of the Shaws’ farm in Bibb County, Alabama

Over the decades, adjoining properties were purchased, giving the farm more privacy and expansive vistas. Under Gates’ stewardship, the plantings and topography have been tailored to attract and protect the sensitive quail population. While rustic cabins had been built over the years, Gates and Margot had been dreaming about a farmhouse with more creature comforts, but their busy lives postponed putting pen to paper.

At last, the time felt right, and the couple brought in professionals and friends to collaborate. Many factors came into play in the design, as Margot explains: “We wanted it to be modest in scale, all on one level to gently segue into the landscape, for it to feel timeless and be a place for fellowship. We’ve always had a big family Thanksgiving at the farm, and now we can enjoy it even more. It’s a place we plan for generations to experience the beauty of the land, the wildlife, and a snug, special home to take it all in.”

portrait of Margot Shaw, FLOWER magazine founder and editor-in-chief
Margot Shaw lingers over the Dutch door with just-picked oakleaf hydrangeas. Oilcloth vest and log carrier by Alabama-based Tom Beckbe, boots by Le Chameau, and lanterns by Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights
Gates Shaw, wearing a pale blue button up with the sleeves rolled up, smiles from the drivers seat of a vintage wood-panel car
Gates Shaw in the couple’s vintage 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Interior Design

Birmingham-area interior designer Mary Evelyn McKee, a longtime friend of the couple’s, was an ideal choice for the project as she was familiar with their lifestyle before she even started.

“With each project, I aim for visual storytelling,” says Mary Evelyn. “When I first visited the farm, it was winter, and the hay was dried to the color of wheat. On another visit, I saw an indigo bunting with its rich teal and peacock blues and the sunset with its stunning terra-cotta hues. All the visits revealed varied colors and references, and the land and sky inspired the palette for inside.”

With the color scheme in place, Mary Evelyn aimed to reflect casual beauty in the decor—“much like its owners,” she says. “I think you instantly feel that when you come in. We wanted things to be comfortable and natural, in harmony with the farm.”

Room-by-Room Tour

Click the arrows (or swipe if on a mobile device) to see more

entryway gallery seating, Flower magazine showhouse at Brierfield
Entry / Gallery: Filled with art and comfortable places to perch, a long, narrow room off the front porch connects the living areas to the bedrooms and den.
Flower magazine showhouse at Brierfield, living room seating, magnolia painting
Living Room: Exuding warmth, rich color, and character, this room is the ideal spot for fireside chats and movie nights.
dining table and chairs, Flower magazine showhouse at Brierfield
Dining Room: A gracious table and elegant setting invite family and friends to gather ’round.
breakfast room, , Flower showhouse at Brierfield
Breakfast Box Bay: Awash in morning light, a bay with views of the fields makes a cozy breakfast spot for two.
Flower magazine showhouse at Brierfield, kitchen island, cabinetry

Kitchen: Tucked-away appliances, eye-catching details, and spacious cabinetry create a beautiful and efficient kitchen for the open-concept floor plan.

children's room, twin bed, Flower magazine showhouse at Brierfield
Children's Bedroom: A pair of twin beds tucked in a cocoon-like space earn this room its playful nickname, the “snore room."
home office, Flower Showhouse 2021
Den: A handsome den does double duty as a study and spare bedroom.
black tiled guest
Guest Bath: A combination of Gothic-picket and leaf-mosaic tiles brings visual punch to the shower and plays well with the plucky brushstroke wallpaper.
main bedroom, Flower magazine showhouse at Brierfield
Master Bedroom: Mary Evelyn’s deft hand with pattern, texture, and color is showcased in a restful retreat.
en suite bath, Flower magazine showhouse at Brierfield
Master Bath: Rustic and refined pieces join to create a calming space.
covered porch spanning the length of the house, Flower Showhouse
Front Porch: Brick floors add a textural element, while Adirondack chairs call for porch sitting and taking in the views.
outdoor dining table and chairs, Flower magazine showhouse
Hayfield Terrace: Off the back of the house, the terrace offers alfresco dining and a comfy seating area for outdoor gatherings.
Arteflame firepit and chairs
Fire Pit: Nestled in a copse of hardwoods and pines, and encircled by low-slung chairs, this is the perfect spot for s'mores.
bedroom chest of drawers, Flower magazine showhouse at Brierfield
Full House Tour: Watch a complete tour of the 2021 Flower showhouse at Brierfield Farm, and find sources for every room and outdoor living space.

Architecture

Birmingham architect Pete Pritchard champions the idea that “good clients make good homes.” And he found that to be true when working with the Shaws.

Pete walked the property with Gates for a while considering locations for a new farmhouse. “We wanted to place it on the slope that allows for meadow views surrounded by trees—not hidden, but still in an intimate setting,” says Pete. Many examples of local Alabama farmhouse architecture, as well as English styles, were considered.

stone patio, outdoor seating, Flower magazine showhouse
The Hayfield Terrace, with bluestone tiles and brick detailing, features outdoor furnishings from Summer Classics Home, planters by Pennoyer Newman, and lanterns by Bevolo.

“The result is quite an eclectic mix that appeals to both Gates and Margot. The original concept was smaller, but we decided to grow the footprint to allow more space for guests. Still, it is restrained in scale, cozy, and a true retreat for the couple,” says Pete. “Gates is delighted that we designed a plan for two people that can include more when needed, but without any empty spaces that will go unused and with comforts for Margot, all in keeping with this very special property.”

Floor plan for the 2021 Flower magazine's showhouse at Brierfield Farm n Bibb County, AL

Landscape Design

Nashville landscape architect Ben Page of Page | Duke Architects was engaged to listen to the land and make subtle changes to enhance rather than take away from the country setting.

“Gates is very engaged in the rhythm of the natural world and is such a steward of conservation—something that we both agree on,” says Ben. “The idea of refuge was upmost in our thinking. Gates had already made the place a Four Seasons resort for quail, but we wanted to highlight Margot’s passions. She loves flowers and aspects of English gardens.”

box bay breakfast room, exterior view
‘Snow Queen’ oakleaf hydranges frame a view of the box bay, where the breakfast room is situated. Photo by Laurey Glenn

The plantings, many native and historic, speak to these goals for the landscape while being both humble and elegant. “Near the house, I envisioned a well-loved country garden with old-fashioned shrubs that Margot could bring into the house to make bouquets in that old Southern vernacular,” says Ben. “It’s evocative of both their personalities—site specific; simple, broad brushstrokes; approachable; and ecologically sound.”

Meet Our Team

2021 Flower Showhouse team photo, including builder, architect, interior designer, and landscape designer

Left to right: builder, Larry Gemmill; architect, Pete Pritchard of Pete Pritchard Architects Inc.; interior designer, Mary Evelyn McKee of Mary Evelyn Interiors; landscape architect, Ben Page of Page | Duke Landscape Architects (Photo by Dee Moore)

Not pictured: landscaper/horticulturalist, Gary Webb of Gary A. Webb Horticulturalist Inc.; building project foreman Christopher Harris

Produced and Styled by Amanda Smith Fowler | Text by Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by David Hillegas | Floral Design by Suzanne Graves of Wildflower Designs | Container plantings by Shoppe

On the Cover: The inviting living room at Brierfield Farm, our countryside showhouse, exudes warm and comfort with a palette that takes its cue from the surrounding setting. Photographed by David Hillegas.

This story appears in Flower magazine’s September/October 2021 issue on newsstands August 31. Subscribe or find a copy in a store near you.

2021 Flower Showhouse

Showhouse Sponsors

Bevolo logo, Flower magazine Showhouse 2021 sponsor
Century furniture logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor
Crossville Tile logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor for bathroom tile
Currey and Company logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor for lighting and decor
Hickory Chair logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor for furniture
Replacements Ltd logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor for tabletop
Signature Kitchen Suite logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor for appliances
Summer Classics Home logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor for outdoor furniture
Arteflame logo
Ainsworth-Noah logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor
Benjamine Moore logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor
Beverly McNeil Gallery logo
B. Viz Design logo
Coco-Cola United button logo
Kravet fabrics logo, 2021 Flower magazine showhouse sponsor
Leontine Linens logo
Osborne & Little logo
Paige Albright Oriental rugs logo
Portraits Inc Logo