UPDATE: Retro Chairs at Home!

ajc44-569x425Ah, Labor Day!

While many Minnesotans are getting in their lake time, this seemed like a good time for a lake-themed update!

 When I first wrote about this “Durachrome Do-Over” for Retro-Loving Client’s vacation spot at Loveless Lake, I promised an eventual photo of the revamped and dressed chairs, above, “in situ” !

lovelesschairHere they are!

Happily ensconced, RLC’s ’50s Durachrome dinette set is rocking her lakeside weeHouse (from the Twin Cities’ own Alchemy Architects)!

You can read her blog post about it here; check out her blog on creating a vacation retreat at!

Enjoy your day! Lark Nest is sourcing Carerra for a new St. Paul project!


Basement Project Update 1!


Here’s  a quick update on the basement storage room project that is getting the great LooseLay flooring, as chronicled earlier in the New Take on Tile post!

basecollage1.jpg All of the pipes on the back and side wall of this former laundry room are now buried or recessed.

The suspended ceiling has been replaced with a real ceiling. Recessed can lighting replaced fluorescent ceiling panels.

storageThe electrical panel will stay where it is; it can be accessed inside the storage doors!

Thie horizontal lines on the far left of this rendering are shelves, the inside view of the fifth storage locker. It forms an “L” at the corner.


These 13-inch handles will be placed vertically on the five sets of double doors.


This pattern will face the fronts of the storage cabinets. The contractor is fabricating those boxes now. It is a great fit with the “Ashland” LooseLay flooring from the earlier post.

“White Drops”  is a newer, matte Formica pattern. It is perfect for this storage-only room. Playful, but not screamingly so!

Look closely;  you’ll see the “white drops” are the dominant pattern, surrounding the smaller gray dots.

Love that!


A cool neutral, gray-brown paint, Sherwin Williams “Collonade Gray” — SW7641, will look great on the walls. It won’t be too dark in the small space, either, as the recessed lighting — and one egress window — flood the room with light.

More updates as the work progresses!



Carolina Collaboration!


Love the look of this footstool? It’s proof that long-distance collaborations do work!
footstoolHere’s the “Before” — a rickety footstool unearthed from my garage stash. Its leather upholstery job was fairly shot. It needed regluing, some tightening, and a total redo from the stuffing on out.

DDHmugEnter Debbie Dion Hayes, a fab faux finisher from Greensboro, NC, whom I met a few Junk Bonanzas ago. She was part of the team helping introduce Bonanza attendees to the wonders of Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan! The team stayed over after the Bonanza for breakfast at the Zumbro Cafe  in Linden Hills and a tour of the Twin Cities!

anniefun(That’s Debbie, Teryl Flettrich and  Lisa Rickert, chief of Annie Sloan Unfolded, outside the Zumbro after breakfast!)

ddh2Debbie had the idea for us to work on a piece together.

She is always checking out new techniques through her business, My Patch of Blue Sky, and decided she wanted to stencil an old hide, using Chalk Paint®,foot14Here’s what the hide looked like when it arrived at my house via the U.S. Postal Service. Her challenge to me?

Do something fun with it!

foot1One fun footstool, coming up! This one was more than ready for a refresh!

footcollage1 I removed the old leather — those tacks were a bear! Underneath, it was full of old muslin and even a more disreputable stuffing.

foot6I wanted to maintain the piece’s rustic look, so a dry brush technique was the way to go. After deglossing and repair, a light dry brush application of  Old White Chalk Paint® was a perfect complement to the stenciled hide. I shot these photos before waxing the frame.

lndHIDEI love how the stenciling shows light variations on the hide. I briefly considered waxing the hide, too,  but opted to leave it as is

foot10My specs called for gorgeous caramel upholstery tacks – I ordered a box especially for this project – and Amazing Upholsterer made them shine over a line of welting!


foot12 Now what? We’ll display this piece in the Annie Sloan Unfolded booth at Junk Bonanza Sept. 25-27 in Shakopee. Our pal Amanda Ficek of Mama’s Happy – an Annie Sloan stockist — will demonstrate several painting techniques there, including dry brush!foot13Debbie and I are happy our footstool found a purpose beyond our collaboration across the miles!

(You can read Debbie’s take on our project here!)

Hope to see you in September at the Bonanza, the rockin’-est junk round-up in the nation!


A New Take on Tile!

karndeanlooselaySummer continues to rampage forward — I liken it to having my arms around the neck of a speeding cheetah: Exhilarating ride, but really, moving way too fast!

All of those ongoing Lark Nest projects have made for a dearth of blog posts. One of those projects is  an experiment of sorts in my basement!

We’re reclaiming a former laundry room, which up until now has been the purview of haphazard piles of castoffs and the cat’s litter box. This room has been unused and, truthfully, unloved, for years, since we built our master bedroom on the second floor and installed a washer and dryer in the walk-in closet.

I’ll do a proper post on this (the Before pictures are frightening!) but wanted to share this photo of the flooring that is going into this space.

The color is “Ashland” and it mimics limed, weathered wood. This is a relatively new product from Karndean Designer Flooring, part of the genre newly known as “luxury vinyl”.

(I know, sounds like an oxymoron!)

These are called LooseLay tiles, and they are applied without interlocking or adhesive. A special coating causes a friction hold to keep them gripped tight. Individual planks can be removed and replaced, and they are entirely recyclable.

The buzz from contractors and users of this product (commercial and residential) has been pretty positive. One discussion thread on a forum for flooring pros noted they are using this product at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. So…

It is going into this very small room — the rest of the basement flooring is all heated slate.

That’s the experimental part. I want to know if  LooseLay lives up to the hype and wears well. I can’t recommend products for clients without knowing how they work!

Stand by for photos on this project next month. We’re building two walls of doored storage and carving out a nice place for painting during the winter!


Reclaim Cabinet 2: The Console!


 Remember my earlier post on a reclaim entertainment cabinet for a Minneapolis client?

That project is still on the workbench, but this one — a family room console — is another reclaim project for the same client. And it was finished first!


The client’s family/sunroom is long and narrow, and has an oversized coffee table that belonged to her mother. Its sentimental value rules,  but it meant we needed a fairly shallow piece on the wall across from the table in order to hold her plasma-screen TV. While a wall-mounted version would have been optimal, the existing model was a fairly new purchase. So we needed to work with it!

My specs for Alan, the reclaim carpenter, called for adjustable shelves, and room on the bottom for the client’s file boxes. My ulterior motive? To get the collection of files out of her built-in bookcases, which I had already edited severely! That’s another post!


The client has a lot of inherited Frenchy furniture with curves (we’ve reupholstered with fairly modern fabrics as a counterpoint), so I wanted reclaim wood to balance some of the fussiness. Enter a pile of wainscoting that Alan salvaged from an old hotel in Duluth!

He pulled it out for inspection. Its raised areas would make for a beautiful cabinet casing! A heat gun stripped the peeling paint to reveal this gorgeous wood! I knew the curves would look like a vertical version of Barbara Barry’s gorgeous fluted cabinet for Baker Furniture. Love!MEcab16Sleek Ikea “Orrnas” handles ($12.99 for two!) would update the wood, and look great with the modern fabrics, as well.

 A coat of gel stain provided the base coat. Check out the wainscoting on the far left of the left side of this cabinet. That’s liming wax, one of my favorite finishes for open-grained wood. The lighter finish was the right choice for the other pieces in the client’s room, and I previously limed her mantel. (Again, that’s another post, yet to be written!)


Inside are adjustable shelves. The top compartment will hold the Wii.console5

Love the utility!console6Even the hinges are reclaim!


 Here’s the amazing Alan, whose work has been featured in previous posts. Check out the armoire-from-a-vintage door project, my favorite! That big smile is quite possibly thanks to the six of Fulton Brewing’s  “Lonely Blonde” that rode along from Minneapolis. Alan likes his project tips in the form of craft beer!

The client’s family room is a long way from finished. Recently, we replaced an old and worn floor covering with a luxe and neutral-colored Hibernia wool carpet. I’ll shoot a picture of the console “in situ” once we’re done. Meanwhile, hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek. Happy Junking!


Annie Sloan Does it Again!


English entrepreneur Annie Sloan, the designer behind Chalk Paint® and other decorative finishes, has just introduced a home fragrance line, named for European cities and containing some rockin’ combinations of swell-smelling botanicals, herbs and essences!


I have a soft spot in my heart for Annie, one of the most humble success stories one could hope to meet. Our paths crossed in Chicago in 2011, the year her business was really beginning to rocket. It was at a workshop as part of the U.S. rollout for her paint lines. (Here’s an earlier Lark Nest post about the workshop!)

Why I admire her?

She modestly calls herself “a 20-year overnight success,” a nod toward all the years she worked tirelessly to build her business.

Why I admire her, too?

She is a fierce believer in small businesses, and in the women who run them. That’s why she only distributes her products through the small entrepreneurial shop owners she calls stockists, instead of via anonymous, big-box retailers.

(She’s also funny, polite, humble and has an accent that makes you wish you’d been born British! Here’s my Q and A with her the first year Annie Sloan Unfolded, the North American arm of her business, sponsored the Junk Bonanza. Fair warning: You’ll find her disarmingly charming!)


The home fragrance line has candles and reed diffusers in amazing smells. Lavender is blended with geranium, for example, with touches of ginger and amber.  Unwrapped from the box, one of these candles has gently perfumed the air of my living and dining rooms for days, before even being lit! In addition to Provence and Versailles, labels pictured above, there are fragrances called Antibes, Aubusson, Burgundy and Paris (with a laundry list of fab ingredients). Annie loves Toile du Jouy, one of the mainstay designs of her fabric collection, so it’s not surprising she pays homage to it with the box design!


Made of “green” paraffin wax with cotton wicks, the hand-blended and hand-poured candles burn for about 46 hours and cost $39.95. Ten reeds come with each glass diffuser (a glass stopper, too!) for $52.

Like Annie’s paint, these can be purchased from the Minnesota stockists who carry her lines: Mama’s Happy in St. Louis Park, St. Paul and Independence; Denim Rose in Prior Lake;  Nic Nac Paddywac’s in Anoka; ReBorn Home Furnishings in Luverne; Broken Broom in Duluth; Urbanesque in Bemidji and MECO7 in Glenwood! Addresses and other info can be found here!

It is a pleasure to share the news about these new products, which surely carry the sweet smell of success!




Guthrie Wedding, PART 2: The Event!

As promised, here is the second installment of the post about the Guthrie Theater wedding!

www.paul-vincent.comLark Nest Design and Linden Hills Florist teamed up on this July production, which took place on the 9th and 4th floors of the Guthrie, using the Amber Box for the ceremony, the Black Box (Dowling Studio) for the reception and the Endless Bridge area for the cocktail hour!

www.paul-vincent.comBride Katherine’s bouquet featured peonies, hydrangeas and roses!

You can’t tell from this angle, but her bouquet was much larger than those of the bridesmaids!

Pearl pins held the satin wrap in place!

Rose petals played a big part in the decor; the aisle was lined on each side with a border, too.

Smaller arrangements of the bridal flowers were repeated throughout the

Here’s the console that was featured in the earlier post!

I chose to use the bride’s collection of gilt mirrors and Florentine plates throughout the event space as decor.

The bride loves pink — we used it everywhere!

This is a snap from the cocktail hour, where each table featured votives nestled in a pile of rose petals, with loose flowers setting aside the votives.

The reception space! The lighting was spectacular! Tablecloths were a lovely dove gray, with white hemstitched napkins.

The bride and groom met in Paris, and live in Europe. Each table featured a postcard or photo and name of a major European city, chosen and stamped by the

 Looking into the Black Box! The open door was flanked on both sides by bar-height tables with tall mirrors and potted orchids, inside and out.


More mirrors!

Each orchid and bouquet went home with a guest!

Some tables had larger mirrors; others had a combination of smaller ones. Each table was different. Placing the votives atop the mirrors and around them provided maximum reflected light!

Square votives were a lovely counterpoint to all of the round mirrors!www.paul-vincent.comGuests penned well wishes on stamped cards, to be read on the anniversary that corresponds with the number.

Ribbon-wrapped vases with water stood at the ready for the bouquets of the bride and bridesmaids!

More mirrors, again!www.paul-vincent.comThe cake table!

We didn’t forget to adorn the cake!
www.paul-vincent.comA first dance, high above the city, with a Mississippi River view. Magical!

All photos, with the exception of a few stray snaps by me, are the work of the amazing Paul Vincent  of Paul Vincent Photography.

This was one fun gig! Back to regular decor and refurbishing jobs! Up next: a look at one of the custom cabinets for a Minneapolis client made from reclaim wood!



Guthrie Wedding, PART 1: The Prep!

www.paul-vincent.comSummer weddings are beautiful, and this one — in the storied Guthrie Theater on the Mississippi River — was no exception! Lark Nest planned the decor of this July wedding, partnering with Linden Hills Florist on the flowers! The ceremony took place in the theater’s “amber box,” cantilevered out over the rest of the building. Our bride’s colors were shades of pink and white, with hints of gold.

 A pink console, angled off-center, seemed the obvious choice to anchor the ceremony space. There was to be no altar — only decor and the beautiful wedding party!


The console’s earlier incarnation was as a foiled table for the Modern Glam look at the Weddings Lab in the Spring 2013 Junk Bonanza. I used a decoupage technique using aluminum foil and gel stain over an old wooden table, to resemble the look of hammered aluminum.

Pulled out of storage, the console was ready for its second act!


After deglossing to remove the stain finish from the foil, I sprayed coat of Rustoleum 2X Painter’s to provided a “candy-coated” shell!dg50

 The bride collects vintage gilt mirrors, so it was an obvious choice to incorporate them into the table decor for the reception. A combination of metallic paint and gilt-tinted wax provided some “shine” for the console, too.

ka53Here’s a closeup, using a flash, to show the veining the foil provided!

Here’s another view, with less-harsh lighting. The gilt clung to the foiled areas for texture and shine!

While the color and the texture may appear garish, they provided necessary “heft” — I knew the lighting in the amber box would swallow much of the color’s intensity, and flatten out the texture. To stand out in that lighting, they would need some wattage of their own!


Orchids were a big part of decor, too. Here are several lined up, ready for transport to the Guthrie!


 Linden Hills Florist owner extraordinaire, Anne Schultz, packed the bride’s bouquet!


Bouquets for the bridesmaids nestled snugly in boxes for carrying…


… and were packed into the back of Anne’s van along with centerpieces and two dozen pink roses, to be deconstructed for their petals. The pink table was ready to go, too!


The Guthrie’s huge service elevator had room for all of our stuff, as well as for Karen Scher, left, the Guthrie’s rocking’ catering director!


 The reception was planned for the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio, the “black box,” adjacent to the amber box (a.k.a. the Pohlad Lobby) where the ceremony was scheduled. Here are the tables as they were just beginning to be dressed. (That’s bride Katherine, waiting for a few pre-wedding snaps!)


Here are two more views of the dressed console, overlooking the River.  Also included: a few of the bride’s small Florentine trays.guth1

 These snapshots are mine, and show the glow of the amber glass. But see what this scene looks like in the hands of a talented photographer, Paul Vincent, the bridal couple’s wedding photographer:

Beautiful, spare and elegant. (And minus the amber glow!) Just what the bride ordered!

Watch this space for Part 2, with more photos of the general decor and dining tables (the ribbon-wrapped vases and orchids did double-duty there!)


Another Bathroom Begins!


A lot of the fun in starting a new decor project is pulling samples! I always start with some ideas (and homeowner preferences!) in mind, but the selection process rarely fails to surprise me — that’s because the materials and finishes in the marketplace are constantly evolving!

These are some of the pieces that are headed for a bathroom renovation project this summer in Carver. This Fabrique porcelain shower tile, above, is called Creme Linen, but it also reveals a gorgeous striae of gray and bisque.

This penny round tile is for the shower floor (this is a pre-grouted sample) that is called “Moss,” but it is a truly smoky taupe. Variations in the depth of color in each round will look wonderful!pa2

This floor tile has all of those same tones, and lots of variation. They are going to look spectacular together!


 This is a peek at the bathroom they’ll be used to update.

We’ll bid adieu to the textured ceiling and the heavy, dark slate tiles. That light fixture, too!

Toilet and sink fixtures are on order, as well as a frameless glass shower door! More on that and other updates as demo begins and the project progresses.

Have a great week!


Rachel’s Bedroom Makeover: The After!

When we last left this project, we had just found a suede headboard and finished the grommeted window coverings!

To recap, this job entailed turning a childhood bedroom into a comfortable guest room. Its former occupant, now a young professional living in San Francisco, still bunks here when she visits her parents’  Edina home.

DGbeforeagainYou’ll remember from this earlier post that the room was papered in pastels and contained several pieces of melamine furniture – high on utility, but crammed and crowded.

dgg13To set the palette and tone, I asked Fabulous Client and her daughter, Rachel, to respond to a series of bedroom photos reflecting different styles and tastes. They favored a calm and relaxing retreat. And they had one other request: that the wall color and accents match or coordinate with a cherished blue and plum bookcase that Rachel and her father had built.

The room is small, and the case had been constructed without crown moulding at the top right to keep it flush with the wall and  fit the tight space between the closet door and the window.

dgg10The client was firm; sentiment would not allow for any change in paint on this piece.

Instead, I matched the wall color to the interior color of the case (Sherwin Williams “Meditative” SW 6227), moving the case to this wall, previously occupied by the desk, below…

DGbefoagain2…so the missing moulding was not visible. Woodwork got a fresh coat of glossy Benjamin Moore “Cotton  Balls” OC-122, a rich creamy white.

dgg3The bookcase contents received a severe edit, as did the entire room. Paring this room’s contents went a long way toward making it tranquil. The books that remain on the shelf were favorites Rachel chose to keep, but could also work as great page-turners for guests who aren’t quite ready to turn in for the night!

(The goal is to eventually reduce the contents of the bottom two shelves, as well!)


This standard shade was replaced with a top-down, bottom-up version…


…that lets in light but still affords privacy. The window is now flanked by floor-lenth panels to visually expand the window space and provide balance to that overscale bookcase on the opposite wall. The rod is mounted close to the ceiling to help achieve that effect.

DG26DG26DG26 copy(The blue painter tape marks the center for the extra bracket ordered to brace the extra-long rod! This is one detail photograph I forgot to snap once the bracket was installed!)

dggwindowThis one is a bit overexposed, but you get the idea!DG26


The very cool Thom Filicia print for Kravet, “CitySquare” in Mistymorn, is 100 percent linen with a marvelous hand. It echoes the modern key design in this end table, purchased for its great detail. Previously red lacquer, the table received a new paint job in a high-gloss version of the matte wall color.All of the accessories were chosen with a nod toward adding texture, and repeating the silver gray, blue, cream and toast colors used throughout the room.

DGmid5This Serena & Lily area rug pulled the small space together. The former twin bed was replaced with a queen-size version, requiring extra finesse to make a larger bed “read” smaller in the space. Each item was placed carefully to keep the sight lines clean, with the rug placed horizontally underneath the bottom two thirds of the bed.

Hotel-style bedding provided additional texture, as did the nubby linen welting on this accent pillow, sewn from the same material as the curtains.

A pair of Ikea side lamps provided high style for less than $50. This one sits atop a Threshold side table from Target, with a custom metal paint job chronicled in a previous Lark Nest project, here.

dgg7Simple, mismatched baskets sit beneath each bedside table, providing a place to stash tissues and magazines.

dggmidEven the ’60s glass flush-mount light fixture got an upgrade; this semi-flush-mount piece, with a warm linen shade,  tripled the wattage on the existing ceiling light.

dgg8The Calvin Klein duvet cover beneath the silver-gray textured quilt features striated threads of cream, gray and blue. The overall effect is quite comforting.

The diamond-woven fabric is upholstered over a storage bench at the foot of the bed, necessary for making the most of storage options in this small room. It’s also a place where guests can sit to tie shoes! A chest of drawers unearthed in the basement was painted to match the walls and  is tucked into the double closet. A full-length mirror hangs behind the door.
The overall effect of layering textures and tone-on-tone color is one of comfort and relaxation. There are small pops of mauve/violet accents in the room: a cool Suzani upholstered stool, an art glass vase, amethyst stone coasters.

dgg14The framed photograph over the bed is an Italian street scene near and dear to the client; it was moved in from elsewhere in the house.

This project is done! The result helped transition Rachel’s childhood room into a space that retains enough of “her” to welcome her when she’s in town, yet provide a calming respite for other guests as well.

Coming soon: the final photos on the St. Louis Park home office reno!