Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Bungalow 56: Karyn Frazier & Jessica Nicolls on Curating Dream Homes

Jessica Nicolls & Karyn Frazier, the owners and designers behind Bungalow 56. Photo Credit: Samantha Goh & Kristen Vincent photography.

If you haven’t stopped by their storefront or invited them into your home already, meet Karyn Frazier and Jessica Nicolls, the creative minds and best friends behind Bungalow 56, an interior design firm in Coronado. The pair grew up together in Truckee, CA, and later began working in the same specialty-fashion shop as teenagers. Karyn managed the shop which Jessica joked made her “Employee of the Month every month,” but without jest their teenage years became where Frazier and Nicolls struck up a passion and knack for interior design and refinishing furniture.

While Jessica went to design school in San Diego, Karyn nabbed a full-time job in Northern California working as an assistant for the “Devil Wears Prada” of Interior Design, a “ruthless but savvy” businesswoman who “got through the recession with her business intact.” Their experiences allowed them to learn the business quickly and find their way back to working together in 2012.

So, how did you land in Coronado?
Karyn: “Jessica and I had talked about getting back together and opening up a business in Tahoe, but she met her now-husband and decided to talk me into coming down to San Diego.”
Jessica: “She would send me pictures of the snow in her driveway, and I’d send her pictures of my feet at the pool.”
Karyn: “I think I had just cleared off my car and the driveway, and right as I was about to back out for work, the snow plow trapped me in. I was finally like, ‘Fine, I give in!'”

How long have you been in business together?
J: “Ten years. We gauge it on the birth of my daughter. We have a picture of our first office in the front of my kitchen: we had closed the little sliding door, and she figured out she could open it and crawl over the printer to escape out of the office. That’s when I thought, ‘We need a nanny!'”
K: “We were there for a year, but outgrew our kitchen office quickly and Kraig [Jessica’s husband] found our current spot.”

Jessica and Karyn later expanded from the Interior Design space into their retail roots as well, knocking down the walls between 1022 C Avenue to combine with 1016 C. Though the construction project would be halted by the sale of the building to a large development company and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – events that when combined “killed all of our foot traffic” – the two have prevailed well in both spaces and do not show signs of slowing down.

What have been your favorite projects you’ve completed or your favorite part of the Interior Design process in general?
K: “My favorite part of the Interior Design process is that we have so many clients that have become like family. We’ve worked on several projects together, and they continue to use us throughout the years. We know them so well and it’s a mutual, great relationship.”
J: “Project-wise, I think [a home at] Star Park Circle is my favorite. It was very detail-oriented but came out so pretty.”
K: “My favorite kitchen project was in the Cays. They basically just said, ‘We do not care what you do’ and let me run with it, and it came out so cute.”
J: “There’s such a process [we follow] too: a client will give us their parameters, their style, how many people they like to entertain and fit, and then we do tons of research on price points, colors, and everything fitting together, so it’s fun when we can more so just ‘run with it.'”

A still from Nicolls and Frazier’s Star Park Project. Photo Credit: Samantha Goh & Kristen Vincent photography.

Their twenty-plus-year friendship certainly has something to do with how seamlessly the two work together, but Karyn and Jessica bring “complete opposite” skill sets to the table.
K: “Jessica does all the creative stuff: she does the drawing, our website design; I do a lot of the product and furniture sourcing. All the stuff no one loves to do.”
J: “You love it! I feel like I do math all day.”
K: “Yes. Jessica does math, and I handle the logistics. I put out the fires.”
J: “I start them!”

Whether working in Coronado, throughout San Diego County, or on projects in Florida and Hawaii, Karyn and Jessica exemplify the phrase ‘partners in crime’ with their banter throughout our interview. So, what’s their favorite part about working together?
J: “It’s seamless. We just work so well together.”
K: “It’s so funny, her husband always goes, ‘Don’t you guys get sick of each other? You work together all day, you hang out on the weekends, and you call each other or text each other all night long!’ We’re more like sisters at this point.”

Predictions for 2023 trends or advice for people looking to make a change?
J: “I think it’s all about warmer tones, textures, darker woods, moodier colors. Almost like French-European design meets modern-organic.”
K: “Mixing more traditional elements in is coming back for sure. There’s an eclectic mix of elements and styles right now.”
J: “We lean towards the natural stones and products. Things that will age over time and get that ‘live-in’ look, like marble.”

A still from Nicolls and Frazier’s Bay Project. Photo Credit: Samantha Goh & Kristen Vincent photography.

To see more of Karyn, Jessica, and Bungalow 56, follow along with their 21.2K Instagram followers here or visit their Moving Sale now through April 15th. You can then find the pair at their new “home” on 1001 B Avenue, #201, starting April 30th.

Caroline Minchella
Caroline Minchella
Caroline was 15 years old when her family moved to Coronado. Though she was a “transplant”, Caroline found a home in the Coronado community near-immediately: she became an intern for “The Coronado Times”; helped reinstate the CHS newspaper, “The Islander Times”; was a volunteer dog-walker for PAWS; and a faithful Concert in the Park attendee.After completing her BA in English at the University of California Santa Barbara, she went on to craft answers for Amazon Alexa devices and write creatively on the side. Fast forward seven years, Caroline is thrilled to return as a Reporter for “The Coronado Times.” Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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