IN CONVERSATION with Shelley Craft

August 07, 2018

IN CONVERSATION with Shelley Craft

Currently well-known as The Block co-host, Shelley Craft has graced Australian television screens with her sunny vibes for many years now, appearing in a range of well-loved Channel 7 shows, from Saturday Disney to Domestic Blitz. The role that’s seen her travel the furthest has been as one of the presenters on The Great Outdoors. Shelley spent an epic seven years with this show at the height of its popularity. The Great Outdoors provided the opportunity for Shelley to explore many wonderful places around the world – a real dream job! However, the frequent travelling was tiring and ironically Shelley turned to craving a more stable home environment. So it makes perfect sense that after she left The Great Outdoors she moved into renovation and home-making television programs.

With her experience on both Domestic Blitz and The Block, Shelley has a lot of insight into what people seek out as a satisfying home environment. Her and husband Christian’s family home in Byron Bay has a laidback, mid-century modern vibe, finished with natural materials such as timber and leather, and decorated with pieces collected over the years, many of which have a story behind them. Splashes of yellow reflect Shelley’s effervescent personality, particularly in the new studio! The Dharma Door appreciates Shelley’s energy and enthusiasm for the happiness that comes from home-making with heart, and we’re thrilled to invite you into her family home today. Thanks for having us, Shelley.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Brisbane where I lived with my mum, dad, sister, two brothers and a menagerie of animals. Mum and dad renovated our first home when I was about four, built our second home when I was seven, built our third home when I was 12, and I moved out at 17! Then they moved again and renovated an old city terrace in Brisbane.

Tell us a bit about your background and your career as a TV presenter and personality. What path led you to what you’re doing today, with your current focus on co-hosting The Block?

I really had no career aspirations toward television. I visited the Channel 7 studios when I was very young to watch a live recording of Seven’s Super Saturday (starring Agro the puppet!) but that was as much insight as I got into TV production. Coincidentally that was the same studio I recorded my first episode of Saturday Disney in about 10 years later.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t the most studious of kids. I loved school for the social and sporting aspect and I enjoyed the classroom environment, but as my teachers would all say, I could’ve applied myself a little more. High school was much the same. I loved speech and drama and started to think acting was a possibility, but the careers advisor thought hospitality management was a more solid career choice. I took a gap year straight after Year 12 and got a job working at MOVIEWORLD on the Gold Coast as a presenter. To cut a long story short – I enquired about work experience at Channel 7 in Brisbane and after a week of sweeping floors and riding in the news chopper, I was offered a job as a production assistant and then an audition for Saturday Disney. Seven years on Disney while moonlighting as a sports reporter lead to The Great Outdoors, which involved seven years travelling the world as a travel show host. It sounds crazy to most, but I tired of all the travelling and resigned from that role in 2007. Channel 9 then offered me Australia’s Funniest Home Videos and Domestic Blitz which I hosted for six years or so before I rolled onto The Block. We have just wrapped filming the 14th series of The Block and it will start on air in late July.

As a wife and mum to two little ones, can you give us a little insight into your family life? What are some of the things you enjoy most about being a parent? And what do you find particularly challenging or frustrating?

I love being a mum – my girls are seven and six and family life is the greatest joy I have ever known. They are challenging, independent, loving, strong-willed and gorgeous. I certainly have days where I question my parenting style, but I believe they’re growing into well-rounded people and I’m excited about watching their life journey. I was lucky to have lived a very full life before the girls were born, so workwise I don’t have a strong drive to chase new challenges. I feel I can devote my attention to helping my girls grow whilst still maintaining a working life without too much pressure or desire to propel my own career forward.

We should also introduce your beloved pup Aldo! Can you tell us more about Aldo? How does he fit in with the family?

Oh yes – beautiful, handsome Aldo. He is a four-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback. We adopted him from a breeder on the Gold Coast when he was 12 weeks old. We like to say that he chose us. When we went to look at the litter of puppies, be bounded straight up to the girls and followed them around for the whole visit – he must have known he was going to be our new fur child. Of course he was much smaller then, and by the time we came to see him next, he was bigger than most of the dogs the girls had ever seen, although still only 10 weeks old! When he came home with us he became the love of our lives. He and Eadie have a particularly strong bond. She was a baby when he joined us and they spent hours just hanging together. Now, he’s almost 60kgs and so strong but still beautifully gentle and caring with all the children. There’s no doubt he’s got a big scary bark on him. And if you are new to the house - stand still. He can jump as high as your head and won’t let you touch him till he’s sure of you. You’ll always find Aldo positioned strategically between an outsider and me. Subtle but in control. He’s my baby boy.  

I understand that you travel to Melbourne regularly when you’re working on a season of The Block. What’s the schedule like and how do you manage your work/life balance during those periods?

The Block is a 12 week shooting period and in that time I travel to Melbourne for two days a week. It’s a pretty easy schedule to work in with our home life. And I’ve always travelled for work – it’s just what I do and it’s all the girls know. When we are not in a filming season, I work from home, focusing on my ambassador roles. So it may seem a little unbalanced for a period of time, but as far as a working mum’s schedule goes, it’s pretty terrific.

What is it like spending a lot of time around renovation projects, interior designers, builders, etc – does the enthusiasm and activity rub off? Have you done any of your own builds/renovations?

Oh, it’s definitely contagious. I think you start assuming everyone renovates all the time. My husband Christian and I have always been around building and renovation sites, and interiors. My parents loved to build and tinker and so did his. We have both bought, renovated and sold many properties and together we have just finished our third renovation! Christian also worked on Domestic Blitz and The Block, as well as The Great Outdoors, so we’ve travelled and seen many wonderful hotels, locations, and ideas all around the world. I like to think of our family home as a beautiful mix of all our experiences. And luckily we have had a few homes so not all of our ideas land in the one space.

Your experience would provide you with a broad knowledge of home products and finish options – does it make it easier to make decisions about how to design or decorate your own home?

Actually it makes it harder! So many options, so little time. In general, I think it’s very important when styling to work with the architecture and not fight the original bones of a house. This makes it easier to whittle down all the ideas and products.

How would you describe the style of your home? Are there any particular features of the home’s design that stand out for you? What are some of your favourite pieces, both from a functional and decorative point of view?

Our home was designed by architect Paul Ulhmann and has a very mid-century aesthetic. I worked with that when recently designing our studio and pool area, although I didn’t want it to be cliché “Palm Springs”. I wanted something a little softer and more mature. We have a lot of timber and leather. We have collected many pieces over the years (not many projects are like The Block where you can furnish from scratch). It’s very homely, it’s not precious and it’s an incredibly easy space to live in. I’ve been a little cheeky and tried some cheap hacks for redecorating – like wrapping the kitchen cabinetry with vinyl wrap. I find it hard to commit to expensive changes so I like to test things out first. I went from a white kitchen to a black kitchen in a day and I love it!

Our studio is the newest addition and it had to flow seamlessly from the main home. Some people love to totally change the style when extending but I thought it was really important to keep with the mid-century lines of the main home and work within that genre. I think we nailed it!

What kind of interior products do you find yourself drawn to and why do you think that is?

I love anything that uses natural materials. I love the uniqueness and the rawness and the individual nature of each piece. Leather, timber, grass weaves, pottery. Each piece tells a story and it’s wonderful if that story is obvious to the eye. I love when visitors comment on a particular item of furniture or decorative piece if it reminds them of something from their own experiences of travel or childhood. I adore The Dharma Door wall hangings and jute floor mats. Actually, my grandma had similar mats in her home. I always loved the feel of them underfoot, so it’s been the perfect addition to our family home.

Could you tell us a bit about your lifestyle. What are some of your family’s favourite ways to spend time at home?

We love having friends around and just hanging out – very low key. We also love adventuring overseas, and hope to do more of this now that the girls are a little older. We live in the greatest location in the world. But nothing makes you appreciate that more than actually leaving, exploring and then coming home.

What key tips would you share with someone who wants to renovate or refresh the décor of their home? How would you approach it, given your experience and knowledge of the industry?

Budget before ANYTHING ELSE! And then add 30%. Don’t forget to include your furnishings in that budget as well. There’s nothing worse than having a brand new home and no money left to furnish it. Timeframe is the next hurdle – how long can you afford for the reno to last? If you are planning on doing most of the work yourself, how much time can you spend on it (be honest!)? If you are contracting a team, be clear from the start about your expectations around time and quality of finish. Then you can start the fun stuff like choosing features and finishes.

On a more personal note, having spent many years on TV and being a recognised personality, how do you stay grounded and down-to-earth? What’s important to you? What do you value?

It’s a great job, but it’s exactly that – a job. People may define me by the work that I do, but I certainly don’t. I’m exactly the same in ‘real life’ as you see on television and I value my family above all else. My life has been exceptional so far and I am grateful for that every day.

Aside from your TV commitments, you do some advocacy work for NBCF, RIZE UP, Lifeline, Planet Ark, National Tree Day, Jeans for Genes Day, The Smith Family and The Fred Hollows Foundation. Could you tell us a little about this?

I help out where I can. When people know how to find you, they often ask for assistance in raising awareness for the causes that they champion. If I can use my profile and accessibility to help others, then that’s a wonderful thing to be able to do. I love engaging with charity organisations – these people are the real heroes in this world. 

What are you looking forward to from a creative point of view? And also from a more general life point of view?

I am very content in my life. I’m grateful every day that I have a healthy and loving family, a beautiful home and a job I really enjoy. In my free time, I thrive on helping others and being there for my girls. That’s it. What more could I want.

To wrap things up, we’d love you to share:

A fav dinner or reliable go-to recipe? 

I’ll be honest, I’m not flash in the kitchen, but I have a sure fire pumpkin recipe that I learnt from my friend’s 10-year-old son! Grab a butternut pumpkin, cut it in half, oil both sides and sprinkle with paprika. Place on a tray in a preheated oven and bake until perfect. Don’t bother slicing, just share it around. Enjoy!

Your most memorable holiday destination from the last three years? 

We love going to Fiji. It’s a quick and easy escape and it feels a world away. It’s family time, at a slow pace with great cocktails.

An album or song you've been listening to lately? 

I’m not ashamed to say that The Greatest Showman soundtrack has been on very high rotation in our house and cars – I love a show tune! My preferred music style is a little more laidback than that. I love the Spotify Indie mix tape selections.

Follow @shelleycraftofficial to keep up to date with what Shelley’s up to!

Interview by Jo Hoban

Photography by Jessie Prince

 

 

 


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