t’s never easy saying goodbye to a home you love. Especially one you’ve poured your heart and soul into designing. But Caroline McCulloch is doing just that as she prepares to move on from the house, she bought with her husband Alan almost 20 years ago.
“It didn’t look like this then,” the founder of shoe brand Frankie4 tells marie claire, gesturing towards the open-plan living room as she sits in an outdoor lounge chair bathed in afternoon sunlight. “It had a very Cape Cod look to it when we bought the property in 2006.
I remember when we eventually decided to renovate [in 2019], Shaun [Lockyer, a renowned Brisbane architect] came by the house for the first time and asked, ‘Do you want to knock it down and start from scratch?’ But we loved the bones of the house and wanted to renovate around that.”
About halfway through the extensive revamp, Caroline and Alan started questioning whether or not they wanted to move back in. The couple had purchased a second property much closer to Brisbane city and were living there with their two children during the renovations. “I felt dreadful because we had done all this work and we were building our dream house,” explains Caroline. “Even sitting here now and looking around – this is our dream home!”
So what exactly happened? “Our lives changed and so did our priorities. When we first moved out here, we loved being on acreage. And with small children and starting our Frankie4 business from home, it suited us to be further from the city.”
Caroline and Alan, previously both practising podiatrists, started the footwear company on the kitchen bench in this very home in 2010. By the time their renovations were complete, in 2022, the business had become a footwear empire, with staff numbering close to 200 in total and about two million pairs of Frankie4 shoes sold.
“We’ve come into a new phase of our lives, and we have realised that for work we need to be much closer to the city,” explains Caroline. “Besides, our children are growing up: Max is 11 and Rosie is now nine. They want to be closer to school for their friends and for sport.”
As they prepare to move on from their dream home, Caroline is adamant she’ll be taking her favourite pieces with her. These include the art, namely a giant brass rhino in the garden and a special work she dreamed of owning for years: a Kelly Wearstler Echo Totem sculpture. She also reflects on what she’ll be sad to leave behind.
“I’ll miss the backyard and the space we have enjoyed here. It’s so peaceful. But most of all I’ll miss our neighbours. We have been lucky to live next to amazing people and breaking the news to them that we were moving on was really hard.”
Mostly, Caroline and Alan feel fortunate for what the house provided them with – namely the space to work on a start-up that has become their livelihood and legacy. “We’ll always have the memories of building the business from scratch here,” adds Caroline. “It’s a house that has good karma”.
5 Minutes At Home with Caroline McCulloch
Who is your style muse?
Australian actor Cate Blanchett, who never puts a foot wrong. She makes bold choices but they still work.
What’s your at-home uniform?
Relaxed and comfortable. Usually a T-shirt, skirt or pants and a pair of Frankie4 slides. I am dead against walking barefoot on hard surfaces, whether it’s wooden floors or tiles.
How do you unwind after work?
For the past 12 months I’ve been on a bit of a health journey where I’ve started walking and I’d like to say jogging but it’s actually more of a shuffle.