Kickstart your creativity with the help of stylist & author Shannon Fricke, with the first in our exclusive video series.
Our Editorial Director Karen McCartney travelled north last week to co-present at Shannon Fricke’s How to Decorate workshop, held at Shannon’s home near Byron Bay. Here she shares her account of the day, along with images of Shannon’s beautiful studio and home.
Shannon Fricke has been running decorating and styling workshops for two and a half years now but this was the first one held on her property in the hinterland of Byron Bay. The fourteen women who came (from near and far) to ‘kick start their creativity’ couldn’t have been more charmed by the setting Shannon and her team, Nicky and Jen, had created.
Right from the outset the atmosphere is established. The timber pavilion with classic sandstone steps, flowers and flags is charming and inviting. Shannon’s distinctive decorating personality is everywhere – from the white pitched-roof building where the class was held, to the clusters of flowers in assorted vases on the linen table cloth, to the inspirational mood boards placed around the room. Women signed up for a variety of reasons but all were clear that this was a time dedicated to themselves, and an opportunity to explore and develop their unique decorating style.
The interior is an entrée into Shannon’s world. Creative and stimulating but pretty and approachable. White-painted Thonet chairs sit around a generous linen-covered table scattered with clusters of flowers and boxes full of fabric swatches and wallpaper samples.
The beauty of Shannon’s approach is her directness in acknowledging the lifestyle we live and thinking about how to harness that and make it part of your decorating philosophy, rather than trying to achieve a picture perfect style that will not allow for the ebb and flow of family life. In a start-up exercise that proved part therapy, part guidance each person brought along an object they could discuss as indicative of who they are and what they wanted to achieve. It is a clever way to break the ice and start people thinking about what it is they really wanted to achieve. There is something about saying it out loud that helps crystallise thoughts and in Shannon’s words provide a ‘springboard for your scheme’.
Another section involved deconstructing what it is you are drawn to and why. We all like to tear images out of magazines, which is often an immediate, almost subconscious act. What is then important is to ask yourself what is it about an image that appeals to you. Is it the colour combinations? The furniture? The way the ceramics have been grouped? By this process you begin to understand what you like but you also make a step towards educating yourself about what works and why. To show how a mood boards looks Shannon has some of her own illustrating her love of her signature blue and green. Old postcards sit next to stripped fabric swatches , pages from magazines and paint colours.
The room is set up to be inspiring at every turn. In one corner, against the decorative pressed-metal panelling, sits an old iron bed, layered with cushions. The painted bedside table is an unexpected hit of colour and the feather wall hanging a playful addition.
After lunch, held in the adjacent pavilion with the view of rolling hills as a backdrop, the hands on bit began. In order for each person to create an inspiration board Shannon opened up her Pandora’s box of fabric swatches, wallpapers, printed sheets of furniture choices, and a host of images from magazines. It quickly became apparent that it was a task of trial and error, of trying and rejecting, of experimenting and fine-tuning. While everyone was stylistically different there was a real sense of focus and a high level of creative achievement. What was interesting to me was that while ostensibly Shannon takes her class through a series of stages – Your Story, Colour, Mood Board and Vision – there is something deeper going on as women have time just for themselves, to think, to plan and to be creative in a supportive environment. It may have been the first workshop at the farm but I am sure it will not be the last.
As everyone worked away creating their boards Shannon moved around the room giving advice. To find out more about upcoming workshops contact Shannon via her website. If you can’t get to a workshop but love her style, her new book, “How to Decorate” would be a good place to start. It is a beautiful but incredibly useful book that handholds you through the decorating process. It’s also available via her website.
Shannon’s personal style
While I was visiting I took a few snaps of Shannon’s personal decorating style, which I thought I would share with you.
A sideboard in the living room shows Shannon’s stylist eye at play. Objects, books and art works that may not naturally sit together are curated to create a well-balanced and personal display.
While Shannon uses many vintage items, she mixes them up with new and classic design pieces. This Richard Schultz Petal table sits on top of a beautiful ornate rug from Mokum Textiles. Her signature flower clusters give it a relaxed feel.
The wonderful timber curves of a Thonet sofa sit in front of a Florence Broadhurst wallpapered wall. Piles of art books and objects mean it is used more for display than for sitting. The message being – everything does not have to be used prescriptively.
The wall in the kitchen combines seemingly random tiles and plates but all a linked by colour and their intricate decorative patterns.
Exclusive to Temple & Webster members, here is the very first look at Shannon’s brand new video about how to start the creative journey to finding your own decorating style.