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Real Estate / Houses

The Farm Office is a Sweeping Hilltop Stunner

Sprawling Ranch Complex Hosts a TCU Entrepreneur’s Organic Beauty Empire

BY // 07.02.17
photography Manny Rodriguez

On a sweeping hilltop in McKinney, Texas, beauty entrepreneur Shannon McLinden has turned a five-acre rural plot into a work-live-create oasis.

Surrounded by white picket fences, two horses graze on the grass, and baby donkeys frolic in mud. A gravel road leads to a massive, modernist ranch house, and black-cherry tomatoes, red-garnet micro amaranth, and loofah plants sprout in a chic little greenhouse.

Here, McLinden lives and works as the founder of FarmHouse Fresh, a line of organic skincare and body products with such cheeky names as Sweet Cream Body Milk, Splendid Dirt Mud Mask, and Fluffy Bunny Body Wash.

Her empire launched in 2005 when the Texas Christian University alum created a simple foot scrub out of rice-bran oil and sea salt to combat cracked heels. When Oprah Winfrey added it to her coveted favorites list, FarmHouse Fresh catapulted to global recognition — even Friends actress Courteney Cox wrote McLinden a thank you note.

Organic lavender from Washington, pumpkin purée from Oregon, milk from Wisconsin cows, and honey from Texas — FarmHouse Fresh ingredients are all grown in the United States. Some, including the aforementioned amaranth, tomatoes, and loofah, are sourced from McLinden’s own backyard.

Last fall, Cartermere Farms out of Celina, Texas, “grew two or three thousand pounds of organic cucumbers,” McLinden says. “They were put into our Peat Perfection Mask; it’s calming and leaves skin really dewy.”

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Of all the products borne out of McLinden’s McKinney farm, the vegan Sand Your Ground face mask (free of gluten, parabens, and sulfate) is on constant rotation.

“It has red Arizona mud in it and leaves your face so shiny and exfoliated that any serum you put on gets sucked right in,” she says.

She puts her Guac Star mask in the fridge before application and uses the Three Milk Moisturizer to soothe rosacea. FarmHouse Fresh is also the only brand in the industry to partner with liquor companies for its product recipes. Launching soon: a moonshine scrub that uses Fitch’s Goat moonshine.

“We almost feel like chefs,” McLinden says. “We give a true farm-to-table treatment, mixing the art of cooking and growing and relaxing and celebration.”

Completed in 2016, McLinden’s sprawling ranch compound not only serves as home for her and her husband, but it’s the primary office for FarmHouse Fresh, for all employees who work in design and product development.

An indoor breezeway connects the home and office wings, which needed to be unified despite being separated — something Dallas-based interior designer Janet Gridley considered while crafting the concept.

The residence-to-office breezeway. Visual Comfort Morris Lanterns; antique pot from White Elephant Antiques; Park Hill Collection cast iron mirror.

“I took inspiration from the playfulness of the brand and a certain utility and practicality to the structure,” says Gridley, the designer behind the interiors of James Beard-award winning Minneapolis restaurant, The Bachelor Farmer. “We took inspiration from plants, animals, and country elements; it’s a woman-owned business so there was the ability to make it more feminine.”

Between fig trees and hanging plants, greenery thrives in the office, along with a suspended birdcage chair and a black-stone tile fireplace. On the second floor, a conference room with lemon-yellow doors has cushioned benches and a long farm table, typically set with fresh juices and snacks.

There’s a spa room with massage tables, where McLinden tests products and trains aestheticians, cosmetologists, and massage therapists from the many spas around the world where her products are sold. Woodhouse Day Spa, The Four Seasons, The Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, and Dubai’s Westin Heavenly Spa are among her clients.

Artist Peggy Jones hand painted a cloudscape on McLinden’s bedroom walls. “We had a lot of discussion about the clouds,” Gridley says. “Even the question about the point-of-view where you’d be seeing the clouds is important. It’s a 3-D cloud bedroom — magical.”

For McLinden, daily life is dictated by the space in which she lives. In the home section, natural light floods the kitchen and living room windows, and a towering Edith Bogue magnolia tree reaches for the ceiling next to the dining table. It’s an ecosystem where work, life, and personal passion coexist.

“I call it quintessential creationism,” she says of how she mixes the professional and the personal, “from what goes in the field all the way to how you serve it on the table.”

Will those five acres soon become more? Time will tell.

FarmHouse Fresh, 8797 County Road 858, McKinney, 888.773.9626.

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