The Owner of the ‘Most Beautiful Independent Store’ in Missouri Has an Equally Lovely Home

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(Image credit: Katie Prestemon)

Name: Lauren Thorp, husband, two children, cat and dog
Location: Historic Shaw Neighborhood — St. Louis, Missouri
Size: 2,700 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, owned

My husband, two young children, dog, and cat live in our 122-year-old home in the Historic Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. Our house was rehabbed down to the studs in 2016 by investors who we purchased it from. We’ve been able to focus on cosmetic upgrades rather than the more expensive upgrades such as wiring, plumbing, etc.

(Image credit: Katie Prestemon)

With four livable floors, the house sounds large, but as plots of land were smaller than they are today, homes in our neighborhood were built up instead of out. At approximately 2,700 square feet, we have a half-finished basement that serves as a playroom for our children, a main floor with a powder room, living room, and a kitchen/dining area. On the second floor we have three bedrooms and two full baths, and the third floor as a second master suite, which we use as a guest room and a home office for my husband.

(Image credit: Katie Prestemon)

Situated on a corner lot, our property also has a separate 500-square-foot retail space that has been used to operate various businesses by the generations of families who have previously owned this house. Over the decades, the building has housed a tiny grocery store, a candy shop, and most recently, a convenience store. Irma S. Rombauer, the famed author of “The Joy of Cooking” lived a few blocks away from the shop, and I like to imagine that she popped into the shop to pick up groceries. The shop space was boarded up from approximately the 1980s until 2016 when we purchased the property from rehabbers.

(Image credit: Katie Prestemon)

I have always wanted to run a little shop, but the opportunity never presented itself, and I struggled to work out the logistics in my head of running a shop and caring for two tiny kids at the same time. While we were house hunting in 2016, finding a house that came with a shop felt like a dream come true. We had to seriously re-evaluate our home budget, as the home was $100K over what we wanted to spend, but we rearranged some finances to make it work.

(Image credit: Katie Prestemon)

Shortly before we closed on the home, I was researching the home’s history and stumbled upon a picture of previous residents, a mother and child, selling bubble gum rations—five pieces per child per week—to neighborhood children during World War II (the headline read, “Gum Shortage Brings Bubble Trouble”—who knew Leslie Knope was writing headlines in the ’40s?). Seeing that picture inspired me to name the shop I wanted to open “Bonboni” as a nod to the building’s past life.

(Image credit: Katie Prestemon)

After we moved in and our family got settled in our home, I began developing the premise of my shop: A home and gift shop featuring vintage and antique items plus a curated selection of gifts for the whole family. Bonboni began to form as I collected vintage and antique pieces from across the Midwest, scouring flea markets, estate sales, auctions, and random connections of people wanting to downsize their homes. In late 2017, Bonboni Home & Gift Co. opened its doors. 2018 was a whirlwind, watching the shop grow and receiving honors from various publications. Architectural Digest named the shop “The Most Beautiful Independent Shop” in Missouri, and St. Louis Magazine named my shop “The Best New Home Goods Shop” in 2018.

(Image credit: Katie Prestemon)

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Colorful vintage eclectic.

What is your favorite room and why? I love our master bedroom. We recently had it painted a deep navy blue. This is the first time in our marriage that our bedroom has felt pulled together. Previously it had always taken a backseat to other rooms in the house. The color palette I used creates a good balance for us between masculine and feminine.

(Image credit: Katie Prestemon)

Any advice for creating a home you love? Go slow, but be okay with placeholders. You’re more apt to create a home that you love by slowly adding pieces that you are completely in love with, rather than finding pieces that work “just for now.” However, I do use some pieces as placeholders, knowing that I can’t afford the piece that I really want, or knowing that it’s just not practical for this stage in life (i.e. a bright velvet Chesterfield sofa with two small children, a dog, and a cat). My placeholders are purchased cheap (or free!) and I know that eventually my dream piece will come.

Thanks, Lauren!

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