Studio Visit

Shannon Fricke

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
27th of April 2012
Shannon Fricke at her home studio in Bangalow, NSW - photograph by Prue Ruscoe
Bayshore Bungalows in Byron Bay - interiors by Shannon Fricke,  photograph by Alicia Taylor
Shannon Fricke's home in Bangalow, NSW - photograph by Prue Ruscoe
Styling by Shannon Fricke - photograph by Prue Ruscoe
New bedlinen by Shannon Fricke - available to buy here.  Photographs by Prue Ruscoe.
New bedlinen by Shannon Fricke - available to buy here.  Photographs by Prue Ruscoe

Shannon Fricke had totally got is sussed.  After forging a successful career in interiors styling and decoration, Shannon glided effortlessly into TV - presenting more than sixty episodes of HOME for The Lifestyle Channel, and popping up in various other home decoration-related shows.  Along the way she's developed product ranges from ceramics to bedlinen, and authored numerous books - the latest of which, 'How to Decorate', hits bookstores this week!

As if that list of career highlights isn't impressive enough, Shannon has one other seriously envy-inducing achievement under her belt - in 2006 she moved her family from Sydney to a farmhouse in Bangalow in the hinterland of Byron Bay, where her business is now based.  The move to Byron Bay certainly hasn't slowed Shannon down - during the week she works on a great variety of design and styling projects from her light-filled home studio.  On weekends, you’ll find her cooking, gardening and looking after the farm - if she's not running one of her popular decorating workshops.  Sheesh.  This is a lady who we can safely say has it all. How infuriating!

But despite having the whole career / family / life balance situation well and truly sorted, Shannon is so genuinely likeable you really can't help but fall in love with her! She's one of those wonderful creatives who is so open and generous with their advice and contacts - her passion for beautiful interiors is something she can't help but share.

What is special about Shannon’s style is her seemingly effortless approach to decorating - her interiors are always super stylish yet completely relaxed, family friendly and somehow quintessentially Australian.  Shannon says home really should be a sanctuary – ‘I believe that how you decorate your home can have a big influence on how you feel living in it, and my aim is to offer people the decorating tools needed to create home they love’ she says.

Shannon's latest book, How To Decorate, published by Penguin, is based on the popular decorating workshops Shannon holds in her home studio in Bangalow. Offering practical, down-to-earth tips on decorating a home from start to finish, the book is priced at $39.95 and available now in all good bookshops!

To co-incide with the book launch Shannon has also unveiled a brand new website this week - do pop over for a little look around, and be sure to check out her beautiful new bedlinen range, and of course her much-loved blog.

Massive thanks to Shannon for sharing her story with us today!

Shannon Fricke at her home studio in Bangalow, NSW - photograph by Prue Ruscoe

Tell us a little about your career background – what path led to interior decoration and styling originally, and on to the varied projects you now work on?

I’ve had a varied career to date. As a young girl I dreamed of a creative career, and spent my days imagining a life styling photo shoots and writing articles about fashion and beauty (my number one loves!) I was lucky enough to spend many years as an editor (beauty, deputy, style) on magazines such as Dolly and Cleo and this is where I learnt the ropes and worked out how to navigate my way through what was and still is a very competitive industry.

As I grew older, got married and had children I had a major shift in focus – fashion and beauty took a back step and all things home became my life.  My mother had been an avid decorator and I realised that I had a bit of a knack for it too!  I spent a few years building my confidence decorating my own home before I unleashed myself on the world!

Over time I developed a style that I think people could relate to and a career developed organically from there. I try to apply my stylistic and creative principles to all of my work (whether that be writing books, developing a product line or decorating an interior) and this taken me on a journey that I could have never predicted at the outset. Really, at the heart of all of my work lies the same dream I held as a young girl – to spend my days working creatively and having fun along the way.

You work on an immense variety of projects - from decorating to styling, creating product ranges and authoring books!  What have been one or two favourite projects in recent years?

Oh it’s so hard to choose two – as all of my projects are like my children and I just can’t favour one over the other! However, if forced, I would have to say two recent favourites would be my new range of Shannon Fricke Bedlinen, and a small hotel (called Bayshore Bungalows) that I designed in Byron Bay.

Developing a product line has been a learning curve both creatively and organisationally – and there’s nothing that I love more than pushing myself to discover new ways of doing things and testing my abilities.

New bedlinen by Shannon Fricke - available to buy here.  Photographs by Prue Ruscoe

Working on a small hotel was a treat, particularly as it’s in my home town. The brief was to refurb what were existing (but outdated) brick bungalows making them contemporary without losing their charm. And then through the decoration, adding that lovely laid-back vibe that Byron Bay is known for… Plus, I was able to play around with my favourite colour palette (blue and green) – which is always a joy for me!

Bayshore Bungalows in Byron Bay - interiors by Shannon Fricke,  photograph by Alicia Taylor
Bayshore Bungalows in Byron Bay - interiors by Shannon Fricke,  photograph by Alicia Taylor

Your new book is out this week! Congratulations! How long have you been working on this latest title, and what can we expect to see in ‘How to Decorate’?

The idea for the book was inspired by my How To Decorate workshops that I have been running out of my studio for the past couple of years. I love to decorate and love nothing more than inspiring others to get down and dirty with the subject. I find that often it’s confidence (and the practical tools of the trade) that prevent budding creatives from embarking down the decorating path. The aim with this book is to provide readers with a decorating road map – a step-by-step manual to help them along their creative journey.

Shannon's brand new book, How to Decorate, published by Penguin and out now in all good bookshops!

Can you give us a little insight into the inner workings of Shannon Fricke inc!? Where are you based, how is your office structured, how many do you employ to tackle the great variety of work you do, and what significant tasks do you outsource?

My studio is based in my home town of Bangalow/Byron Bay – a small town in country NSW where I’ve been living with my family for the past six years. Working remotely has been both fulfilling and challenging, and I’ve had to be resourceful in how I structure my business.  Our location has meant that a major component of the work we do is online or computer driven/generated. However, the workshops (which I hold in my studio in Bangalow) are an important and very personal way for me to remain connected with my audience and fellow decorating enthusiasts.

We run a tight ship here, and there are no more than two to three of us working in the studio at any given time. Luckily though, I have a large network of supporters who are at the ready to come on board when things get a little crazy - with photo shoots and the like. Byron Bay is full of the most extraordinarily, creative people so I’m never at a loss when I need an extra hand. In Australia, particuarly in a creative field such as decorating, it’s important to be a multi-disciplinary business. It’s not uncommon for us to be working on product or interior design, photographic shoots, website design and PR and marketing on any given day. Most things we produce, that relate to the brand, are driven out of my studio – I find that it’s the only way to remain faithful to my style and brand.

Which Australian designers, artists or creative people are you loving right now?

I’m a big fan of local artist Hilary Herrmann – her work is ethereal and simply beautiful, and reflects my love of whimsy and shadows.

Designer Anna Spiro is always an inspiration. Her work is joyful and her style is instantly recognisable which is the mark of a great creative I feel.

Julie Paterson from Cloth is always up to great things. And on the fashion front, the girls at Ginger and Smart always enlighten me with their cutting edge patterning and feminine shapes.

Can you list for us 5 resources across any media (websites, magazines, blogs or books) you turn to when in need of a bolt of creative inspiration for a new brief or new project?

I’m a collector of books – everything from design and travel to Deepak Chopra! I find that sometimes, it’s not what you see, but how you feel that really gets the creativity going, and Deepak can do wonders to connect you to your inner stylist! (I know, so Byron Bay!)

If I’m pushing the gauntlet then Australian Vogue Living or UK Elle Decoration help take me to another level. I love online shops such as Anthropologie, West Elm and Bloomingville for a bit of product and catalogue design inspiration. Sometimes my favourite photographers (such as Prue Ruscoe, Hugh Stewart, fine art photographer Gregory Crewdson and more) will help me tap into my creativity, and you’ll often find me on photographic websites checking out what’s going on in their worlds.

Styling by Shannon Fricke - photograph by Prue Ruscoe

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

No two days are ever typical which is why I love what I do so much… Generally though, I wake early (around 6.00am), hop in the shower and if it’s summer I’ll head to the beach for a swim or in winter straight to my favourite café to get my daily dose of coffee and catching up with my café friends. Then, it’s back home, get the kids ready for the bus and off to the studio by 9.00am.

The day consists of lots of calling, emailing and organising. I tend to finish up at the studio by 4.00 - 5.00pm, collect the kids from the bus or after school stuff, and then home for dinner. More emailing, writing or working ensues! Bed by 10.00pm. Shoot days are of course, completely different. Up at 4.00 or 5.00am – finish at dark… Loads of running around inbetween! Then there’s the travel days!

What would be your dream creative project?

Developing further product lines – such as fabric, table top, bathroom ware would be so much fun…. More books…  A TV show filmed at my farm (so I don’t ever have to leave home!) would be lovely too! Or the design of a small hotel on a Caribbean island would be a thrill. So hard to stick to one dream!

What are you looking forward to ?

This year is shaping up to be a huge one – and I can’t wait to see how the book and bedlinen are received out there in the market. I’m also looking forward to my next trip to NYC – I’m very excited about growing our market beyond Australian shores to our US friends…

Byron Bay Questions

What initially drew you to Byron Bay, and what is it you love most about living here?

I love the free spirited nature of Byron Bay. Where you can be exactly who you are without constraints and judgement. The beaches are the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen anywhere and spending every day in paradise is a blessing.

You favourite shops / fossicking spots in Byron for furniture / soft furnishings and home accessories?

I love Island Luxe in Bangalow, and Island Luxe Tribe in Byron Bay for all things haute boho. One Fine Day in Station Street Bangalow is just so cute for paper products and bits and bobs, and Brauer Birds for quirky style.

Heath's Old Wares is a favourite haunt for fossicking and treasure hunting as is Chinderah Bay Antiques and Red Neds Salvage in Tweed Heads.

What and where was the last great meal you ate in your local area?

At breakfast this morning at Targa in Marvel St, Byron Bay where I ate Gravalax Salmon on a potato cake with a poached egg! Yummo…

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Swimming at Clarkes Beach down in Byron Bay, then a coffee stop at The Top Shop followed by farm chores and gardening!

Byron’s best kept secret?

The beautiful mountains that surround Byron Bay are filled with the most extraordinary delights. Minyon Falls, Eltham Pub for lunch, the markets at the Channon and shopping at Bangalow. Pure heaven…

Shannon's stunning Bangalow property, as photographed by Prue Ruscoe

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