Bottled Up

TJ Douglas’s home reflects a man with refined tastes—and a love of sneakers.

By | Boston Home |
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Photographs by Jesse Burke. Styling by Chrissy Beale.

TJ and Hadley Douglas had one important requirement when searching for their South End home almost seven years ago: It had to have enough space for TJ, an avid collector, to stash his myriad objects. “I moved a lot as a kid, so I couldn’t bring many things with me,” says TJ, who, along with his wife, owns the boutique wine-and-liquor mini chain the Urban Grape. The three-bedroom townhouse they found proved to be the perfect showcase for TJ’s designer sneakers (40 pairs in all), trove of old-school decanters, and prized collection of wine bottles (signed by winemakers he’s met over the years). “For a long time, my most treasured bottle was a Bruno Rocca Rabaja, signed by Bruno himself, which I got when I was working as the GM at Armani Café,” TJ says. “But this year, I picked up a bottle of Pappy 20-year signed by Julian Van Winkle. We’re going to let that appreciate to pay for the kids’ college education.” Here are some of his other favorite treasures.

VIEW FROM THE TOP: (Pictured Above) TJ, photographed on the couple’s South End roof deck (“It’s like having an extra room for four months of the year,” he says of the outdoor space), is outfitted in a plaid shirt by Café Coton, Seven jeans, and an Omega Seamaster “Planet Ocean” watch, a 30th-birthday gift from Hadley.

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SIGNED AND SEALED: Signed bottles aren’t necessarily worth more, but “they represent my evolution in the wine world, and the people I’ve met and shared memories with,” TJ says nostalgically. His extensive collection includes (from left): the Boy Grenache blend from Charles Smith; Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve; George Pinot Noir, from George Levkoff; Illumination, by Quintessa winemaker Charles Thomas; Robert Foley Claret, by Robert Foley; Le Clos des Fées VV, from Hervé Bizeul; the Creator Cabernet blend from Charles Smith; and the most prized bottle, a Barbaresco from Bruno Rocca.

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FREEZE FRAME: The third-floor photo wall, which contains some 120 frames, is visible from TJ and Hadley’s bedroom. “We can lie in bed and look at all the photos, and the kids love walking by and talking about them,” TJ says. “Everyone is represented: parents, siblings, in-laws, kids, pets….If you’re in the family, you’re on the wall.”

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BOTTLE ROCKETS: From yard sales to antiques markets, TJ finds interesting decanters just about everywhere, including this bottle of Hibiki, a Japanese whiskey sold at Urban Grape, and a Louis XIII cognac bottle that he picked up while working at Armani Café. “Louis XIII sells for around $200 a pour in most restaurants,” Douglas says, “so needless to say, I took the empty bottle home and filled it with something more affordable!”

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MIX AND MATCH: TJ is always on the lookout for fun button-down shirts, and his collection includes styles from Ted Baker, Hugo Boss, J. McLaughlin, and Saks Fifth Avenue. “I like that I can take a classically preppy shirt—like a pink gingham from J. McLaughlin—and pair it with off-the-wall sneakers and make it something it wasn’t originally meant to be,” he says.

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JUST FOR KICKS: In TJ’s estimation, one can never have too many sneakers. “Some for every season, some for hanging out with the kids, some for date night, some for working out,” he says. His neon-green Jordans were a gift from Olympic gold medalist Cat Whitehill, a former Urban Grape employee.

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RECORD DRINKING: TJ keeps a book filled with labels of special wines he’s savored, often with accompanying observations and memories of the tasting experience. “I enjoy wine from a wide variety of regions, and I think this page shows that,” he says. “French, Italian, and Washington state—all on one page. I just need to look at the labels to be back in the moment.”