Thursday, July 15, 2010
At home with... Interior Decorator Shannon Fricke
Home can have a powerful effect on our lives and for Shannon Fricke her feelings about a particular house changed the direction of her career.
I was in my early 20s when I first encountered Shannon’s house. It was a fisherman’s cottage near the harbour in the Sydney suburb of Watson’s Bay and she had written an article for a magazine about renovating this beautiful old home. It was an article I cut out and kept, imagining the day – yet to arrive – when I too was living in a double-fronted cottage and slowly doing it up.
At the time she worked in the fashion magazine world, a childhood dream realised. ‘As a young girl my first love was fashion magazines. I discovered magazines at around the age of 12 and spent my teenage years buried in Dolly, Glamour, Seventeen and later, Cleo. I was completely enthralled by all of the visual elements that make up a magazine and after school, some overseas travel and university I landed a job on Dolly magazine, which was a dream come true.’
So how did she move from writing about fashion to writing about home? ‘It wasn't until I bought my first house with my husband that my interest really shifted from fashion to interiors.’
Being a creative person, it was no surprise that this move was an opportunity to express her creativity differently. ‘This house gave me a creative canvas that I hadn't had access to before and I took to this new medium with gusto. As with all forms of creativity, decorating a home is an opportunity to express oneself or – if you're part of a family – the greater needs of the group in a unique way. And it was this challenge that really appealed to me.’
And with this passion came the new career direction: ‘I took to researching and learning about design and decoration until it became the obsession that it is today.’
Despite this, Shannon’s design philosophy has actually not strayed far from her childhood experiences with ‘a mother obsessed with decorating.’
‘My decorating point of view has been largely shaped by watching my mother decorate and her belief that your home should be a representation of the life and loves of the people who live there. A belief that has become my decorating credo.’
It was only a few years after I cut out Shannon’s original article about renovating her first home that she appeared as a presenter on the Foxtel Lifestyle channel production Home. And not long again before she published a series of books Sense of Style about using colour and space to create a home that reflects who you are. By now, Shannon was well regarded as an interiors expert and it’s amazing to think that this unassuming cottage – her home – set her on such a different life course.
‘It was our first house as a couple, the place we were living when we had our children, my blank canvas where I really began to build my sense of style. I had hoped to live in this house forever. But things change, people grow and what fitted the bill at one stage doesn't necessarily work for another.’
This journey towards finding their new home landed Shannon and her family in the far-north NSW town of Byron Bay. She likens both homes to her children, ‘I'm attached to them all on a very deep, completely non-rational way! We are so lucky to have found this rambling old house in the hinterland behind Byron Bay. It's not perfect. It has been compromised in many, many ways from its original heritage. Even still, I love it.’
The family’s new home is evolving and growing as they do. ‘I love that we've only made small changes to the house to shape it into the type of home that we, as a family, love to live in. Not precious. Comfortable. Easy. But beautiful. We spend a lot of time being together in this house. It's large enough to be comfortable but not too large to lose your way. It's also very easy to keep clean, which is a bonus!’
Shannon’s decorating philosophy remains the same whether she is decorating a client’s home or her own. ‘First and foremost I try to create a home that is an extension of my client’s journey through life. One that is comfortable, that is a perfect fit. One that isn't so much dictated by fashion but is a representation of who they are on a grass roots level.’
There is one difference, ‘For a client you are working to a time frame. For my own home I can take as long as I like and at the rate I'm going it could be forever!’
But Shannon and her family are in no rush to move, for living away from the city has also created a lifestyle change, ‘Our house is on 88 acres of beautiful Byron Bay farmland and forest with views across rolling green hills. We have little creeks down in the rainforest which also gives us endless fun on a sunny weekend... a lovely way to spend one's days.’
Despite how much life has changed for Shannon since her childhood love affair with magazines began, her feelings about home have not. ‘I've always loved being at home. Even as a small child there was nothing that I loved more than hanging out at home and in the garden, playing with the ladybugs. And today, there's nothing more satisfying for me than a day at home hanging out in the garden. The only difference now? Age!’
To read Shannon's blog, visit http://shannonfricke.blogspot.com/
All pictures © Shannon Fricke