For two decades, Shannon Bowers’ thoughtful, client-driven interior design has been inspiring the residents of Dallas and beyond. The daughter of MILIEU Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Pamela Pierce, Shannon grew up with first-hand knowledge of the ins and outs of the design world through industry royalty. But despite her upbringing, the pursuit of flexibility and the desire to be her own boss is what ultimately led Shannon to her spontaneous career change into the field. Holding a master’s degree in educational administration and with 10 years in public education under her belt, she brings a unique perspective to her work and client relationships, merging practicality and artistry to achieve the perfect “function-meets-fabulous” style.
Through her office in the Dallas Design District, Shannon, who is also MILIEU Magazine’s editor-at-large, has made a name for herself by infusing her style with warmth and a deep affinity for vintage pieces. Please welcome our newest interior designer crush, Shannon Bowers’ Designs Founder, Shannon Bowers.
What inspired your interior design career?
I never thought that I would go into this field, but when my husband and I started our family, I knew that I wanted to continue working. I enjoy working, and my mom is an interior designer. I think I absorbed a lot more than I realized. So, I decided to make a career change, somewhat spontaneously, because I wanted something more flexible, and I wanted to be my own boss. It kind of happened organically, and that was 20 years ago now. I’m really blessed and grateful to have great jobs and great clients.
I think my background in education and my experience in the field really helped me do this job better. I wouldn’t trade it or do it any other way. I tell the young ladies who work for me that we do “people first,” and we do details. I have to work with all types of people, and I have to teach, lead and guide my clients and the ladies that work for me. I probably have to be more organized than I would be had I come from a complete arts background, so we’re highly organized and very structured. I’m really grateful for the way the careers are blended.
What is your design aesthetic?
My style — and I say this so sincerely — is client and job-by-job-driven. Basically, the client’s personality, the family, the lifestyle, and the architectural space — whether it’s something that’s going to be constructed from the ground up or that’s already existing — those factors come before my aesthetic. I really value that we have a variety of clients and that their styles are really unique. I think there’s typically a common thread that’s recognizable from job to job, but I’m really not interested in duplicating from one project to the next. In fact, I go to pretty great lengths not to duplicate fabrics or pieces or concepts. I’m pretty particular about that because I wouldn’t want my space replicated, and I don’t think my clients are paying us to replicate someone else’s work or someone else’s space.
With that in mind, what style are you the most drawn to?
It’s really challenging for me if someone isn’t drawn to using antiques and unusual finds or one-of-a-kind objects. I can usually talk clients into infusing a few antiques or one-of-a-kind objects into a project. If we don’t, it lacks warmth and depth and character and sophistication, in my mind. The other thing is that I don’t want to do just part of a house. I’ve turned down a job or two in the past year when someone said, “I’d love for us to just focus on the downstairs, and I’ll take care of my kids’ rooms.” I love doing children’s spaces, and I love for the children’s spaces to have the same character, elements and style as the rest of the house. So, if you have antiques and art in the house, then the children’s rooms should have that as well. It’s easier for me to answer what types of jobs I can’t do because I really love doing everything. I love doing new projects, and I love a good challenge!
What is your favorite project to date?
One of my favorite projects to date is a family home that I did with Jeremy Corkern out of Birmingham. That was my first project with him, and it was a ground-up, but we created a home that looked like it had been there forever, which is what the clients wanted. It was here in Dallas, and he came in for it. Now we’re doing another one. We’re restoring a beautiful Tudor here in Dallas. I love working with him; he’s wonderful.
Are there any trends that you’re passionate about? Alternately, are there any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
I try to avoid trends, and I err toward anything timeless, but usually, anything that’s a current trend came from somewhere, so it’s timeless at the same time. I really love a mix of natural materials, rich textures and a neutral background. That’s where I’m most comfortable. That’s my happy place. I’m excited that more designers and more people are being drawn to that. That’s one side, and then the other side is a more layered, lived-in feeling — interiors that are real and not for show. Interiors that are made for people to live in.
What is your favorite space or design element in your own home, and why?
My kitchen. I’m a cook, so I love being in the kitchen … or in a comfortable chair reading! Those are my two favorite things to do. I have a club chair by the fire with task lighting.
If you could choose an interior designer to redesign your home, who would it be?
I think it would have to be Darryl Carter, but it depends on the architectural style.
Where do you find your inspiration and your curated pieces?
Bill Gardner, who owns W. Gardner Antiques in Houston, is my favorite vendor. We like to buy from California, New York and Europe — we really buy all over. And I like to continue to do repeat business with vendors I trust. I’m grateful for those relationships, especially now that most people are working from their desks. Bill, for example, is only working with vendors that he trusts because when you purchase antiques, and they’re expensive, you want to make sure they’re authentic, well made and meet the price tag. I want to continue working with vendors I know have good quality pieces — especially when I’m buying off the [computer] screen, which I don’t love to do. I need to know that I can trust the product.
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What is one piece of advice that you can offer for people to elevate their own homes?
Be true to yourself and take some time to think about how you live, and don’t underestimate the effects of your surroundings on your family. Do your children need structure to counteract difficulty focusing? Does your family need a gathering place that draws teenagers together, making them want to be downstairs and not upstairs in their rooms? Your home is really about your family. It’s not about your neighbors or what your friends think; it’s a reflection of you, your style, and your family’s needs. If you can’t create something like that yourself, then it’s important to find a professional who will listen to you and value your family. They need to be able to achieve what it is you’re really asking them for — not what they think you should have.
Prior to [COVID], it was “go, go, go.” Sometimes people don’t know how to be still and be at home, so it’s almost as if the shelter-in-place trained us all to stop and pay better attention to our homes. It makes us think about what we need to do to make it an inviting place for our children and their friends. I always want to have a house where my children say, “Can so-and-so come over?” We have beautiful things, and I have a lot of white furniture, but I don’t care. I think this time gave everyone a chance to reflect on what’s important, and relationships are the most important both inside and outside of your home.
What design trends and inspiration do you anticipate for this year?
I think people are being more thoughtful about their purchases. I mean, they’re all “things,” and it’s all fleeting, but I think people are more long-term with their purchases. Hopefully, they’re buying quality things, even if it’s fewer things. It’s better to buy what you love, even if you have to wait and save for it. Catch your breath a minute, and don’t just buy to fill a space. Hopefully, people are buying fewer knickknacks and silly things that they end up getting rid of later … like a bunch of picture frames or throw blankets. It’s about being more thoughtful and careful and not so shortsighted in purchases.
Can you describe your design philosophy in five words?
Thoughtful, curated, unexpected, joyful, timeless.
See more of Shannon’s work on her website, shannonbowersdesigns.com.
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