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Conversations | Kelly Shannon


Kelly is the founder and principal designer at K Shan Design in Costa Mesa, California. She was born in the classic craftsman town of Pasadena and raised in the artsy, coastal town of Laguna Beach.


Describe a project you’re currently working on to a 5 year old.

One small decor project is for a 9 year-old girl here in Southern California. She wanted to put a fun wallpaper on her bedroom walls and because there are so many different wallpapers to choose from, I ordered a bunch of samples for her to pick from. She chose a light pink palm leaf print and now it looks like her bedroom is in a beautiful little tree house.


Your preferred method of getting that good creative vibe going.

Getting outside and exploring nature. There is no better source of inspiration for textures, materials, colors and color combinations - and the reminder that it’s always better when it doesn’t all match.


A piece of art in your home that you LOVE.

One that came to mind immediately upon reading this question is by my good childhood friend Adam Mars. It’s called LIFE (Ass-backwards and Upside Down) and depicts just about every emotion I felt during the pandemic lockdown days. Everything certainly turned upside down and well, went ass-backwards. This piece brought humor to a VERY strange time.


One living artist or designer you want to have cocktails with.

Frank Gehry. I went to his Q&A at Las Vegas Market in 2018 and it was one of the most informative and inspirational moments in my life. He holds such a wealth of knowledge and an unparalleled vision.


What drives you absolutely nuts about the (design) world?

'Modern Farmhouse' - every developer in Orange County only does that now. It has become grossly overdone in a place without...wait for it...a farm in sight!


A quote or lyric that your brain won’t shake.

If cauliflower can become pizza then you, my friend, can do anything.


Most recent song you've been listening to on repeat.

The B-52’s Topaz. I almost forgot how unbelievably good their Cosmic Thing album is.


Last book you read that you couldn't put down.

The Alchemy of Architecture by Ken Tate and Duke Tate. There are only two books I have ever read in one day and this was one (the other was when Adam Mars asked me to proofread his book...)


Recent life upgrade that's been a game changer.

I have been very into cleaning out and organizing my home lately. And in doing so, I’ve been sleeping better. There is certainly something to be said for decluttering - coming from someone who has struggled with sleep issues for many years.


If you could teleport to any bar right now, which bar would it be and what would you be drinking?

Oh man, what I would give to tread through the wall-to-wall shag carpet at The Highlife Lounge in Des Moines while drinking the champagne of beers.


Advice, compliment, insult... something someone once said you that you will never forget.

When I first started my business my mom said, “Don’t force your style into someone else’s home.” And I keep that advice top of mind always. Making a client's home theirs has been my goal from that day forward. It’s a far bigger challenge than what immediately comes to mind.

What was your most memorable field trip?

I went with three Laguna Beach friends to Scotland where all of our excursions were decided by the fate of a coin toss. Needless to say that after any educational moment, we always ended up in a pub.


What podcast or show are you recommending that others may not have heard/seen?

My days are so busy that I love a mind-numbing ending to my day… So I really hope I don’t completely turn everyone off by saying that I’m an avid reality TV watcher. I saw an ad for ‘Farmer Wants a Wife’ and honestly, I can’t wait.


If someone asks you to cook your "specialty" - what are you cooking?

Blackened salmon with cilantro-lime quinoa and a creamy avocado sauce.


Huge shout-out to _____ for _____!

Field Trip Art Advisory for your incredible ability to curate art for such a wide variety of clients. Art is so specific and interpreted differently by so many, it takes true vision and a great understanding of your clientele to be able to do what you do! (disclaimer: we didn't tell Kelly to say that 🙂)


Check out more of Kelly's stunning designs here.


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