For our designer Shannon Tate, design is more than just pretty things–it's part of creating a more fulfilling and holistic life for yourself.
Photos by Joyelle West.
You’re coming up on your first anniversary with Homepolish! Congrats! What first led you to design?
“Well, I grew up in a really artsy fartsy household. (All 3 of my brothers went to school to become art teachers, and then, there’s me.) There was always music playing and art supplies scattered on the dining table. When I was around 10, I started to change my room around every few months. I noticed that changing the room changed the way I felt. I even started to make little pieces of furniture. When it came time for college, my dad said, “You know….there’s an actual career called interior design.” Sounded like a super fun job to have, so I applied to FIT and was accepted. I ended up leaving school in my second year, because I wanted more creative freedom. I also had a deep hankering to help people in a practical way. That desire led me down many paths over the years, even to becoming a certified Holistic Life Coach. After five years of coaching, I realized that design changes the way we feel about everything AND it helps people. After that realization, I dropped everything else I was doing and began my own design business. I’ve never felt so alive and so sure I’m doing the right thing.”
Wow, we love how how your life and passions have led you to an interior design profession. In your time as a designer, have you had any favorite projects?
“That’s actually hard to answer. I’ve loved them all! As you know, I have a penchant for bachelor pads (a result of being in a family with three brothers). I really think that a well-designed masculine space can be the biggest turn-on. I would have to say, though, that my first kitchen renovation stands out in my mind as a favorite. It was here in Massachusetts and it was a complete gut renovation. The clients were planning on selling in the next six months and knew the kitchen needed an upgrade if that was going to happen. I had never done a kitchen before, so it was a major learning opportunity. I just dove in and trusted that even if there were hiccups along the way that I would figure them out. It taught me that the best kinds of personal growth happen when you move forward despite any fear that comes up… pushing through and getting to the other side of it shows you what you’re made of. The clients really embraced my thinking outside the box and coming up with artistic and fun solutions. Best part of all was that when they put their home on the market, it sold the very first day! The couple who bought it said they were buying the house because the kitchen looked like their “Pinterest dream kitchen.”
To be a successful designer, you need to have an attitude of gratitude & genuine interest in getting to know what makes people tick.
Guess you could say you’re making dreams come true! Speaking of which, do you have a dream project of your own?
“I dream of a home office made from a shipping container, mostly windows, in the backyard of either a) my cutie bungalow in Southern California OR b) my farmhouse in upstate New York. Clearly, I have some figuring out to do.”
That sounds pretty cool! So bachelor pads, kitchens, offices… regardless of the project, what do you think you MUST have in hand to be a successful designer?
“Clipboard, paper, sharpie, tape measure, Iphone, and an attitude of gratitude & genuine interest in getting to know what makes people tick. Those are all essential.”
And do you have a particular style that you feel your work falls into?
“I definitely feel like I fall under a ‘contemporary bohemian’ vibe. I love pairing old and new–that’ll never go out of style! It even translates to my wardrobe. To me, the words ‘contemporary bohemian’ mean a lover of clean lines, bright spaces, and timeless classics sprinkled with traveled, collected, handmade, soulful pieces. In a space, that’s white walls with a large piece of art, a linen sofa with a dozen handmade throw pillows crafted from antique fabrics or tapestries. Fashion-wise, that’s a pair of skinny Levi’s with gladiator sandals and a top from Free People. It’s all the same in my mind.”
I’m constantly falling in love with new places and spaces every day.
Sounds like clothes and design go hand-in-hand for you. What other things keep you inspired?
“I have a daily little ritual to keep me fresh. After I drop off my 10 year-old daughter at school, I make a latte and dork out on Pinterest for at least 15 minutes every morning before I start work.”
Is there a space or trend you’ve seen recently that you especially love?
“I have to preface this by saying that my answer will likely change in a day or two….because I’m constantly falling in love with new places and spaces every day. BUT, I am very taken by the Riad Goloboy in Marrakech right now. The cut-outs, the details, the Moroccan tile… OMG, I could eat it! I LOVE.”
Sounds like a trip might be in order… what other things do you do outside of design?
“I make pillows and many other things with my sewing machine, I do woodworking projects, and when I’m not in designer mode, I am always in “Mama mode.” “Mama mode” includes being a super expert on making gluten free, egg free, dairy free foods for myself and my daughter (we both have the same allergies). Giving hugs, listening, asking questions, and being an expert in all the things that embarrass my daughter, which includes: making weird faces, breaking out in dance when the feeling strikes, and singing in public… sometimes all 3 at the same time. And generally trying to stay on top of my game, because I realize that (WOW) being a parent really means my child learns like 98% from my behavior, and about 2% from what I say.”
And you have a chef husband/partner-in-crime we hear?
“My sexy chef hubby Dino? We like to host dinner parties. Most recently, he made smoked pork shoulder tacos with pickled ramps, radishes, salsa verde, creme fraiche, and jalapeños. I made a crisp for dessert: Mutsu apple, blueberry, strawberry filling (cooked quickly in coconut oil and vanilla) then topped with a mixture of Bob’s Redmill GF oats, coconut palm sugar, chopped almonds, and coconut oil. And don’t forget the coconut milk whipped cream on top!”
Um, we only have one more question… When can we come over for dinner?
Be sure to follow Shannon on Instagram at @shannontateinteriors