Basement Project: Finished!

It’s finished!

The former laundry room has been transformed to capacious and deluxe storage!

Remember what it looked like after a water main had backed up?


The only thing missing in these three photos is the massive pile of stuff we were storing by stacking it against the walls!


Here are those same three views, now that there are five sets of double-door storage! The electrical panel is recessed into the storage area, and a sheet of galvanized steel, to the left of the panel, serves as a magnetic board. With all of the pipes recessed, and the concrete sink gone, this is a wide open space where I can paint as needed during the winter. (I’ll use a sizable canvas drop cloth, of course!)


The finishes — Karndean loose-lay tiles, Formica “White Drops” laminate, and Sherwin Williams paint in Collonade Gray, helped give this room a soothing vibe! If you’re just joining this project, you can find my earlier posts, including finish details, here and here!


My man Micah from Gozley Renovations worked his magic on this room. Greg Stanek of Stanek Construction put together the CAD drawings for this project, and assisted Micah with the maple plywood cabinet build-outs. They rocked this project!base30

Cabinets are fastened to the walls, but also sit on brushed metal feet; a precaution to keep cabinet contents safe and dry.

The cabinets have soft-close hinges, too. An inexpensive upgrade I highly recommend!


The “L” in the corner provides for a deeper shelf on the right corner unit; that back space is great for storing items rarely accessed.


Check out the sculptural quality of the ceiling, which replaced a horrible drop ceiling on aluminum framing. Heat flows from the duct via a vent and there is an access panel for needed shutoff valves. The ceiling now has four recessed cans, which flood the space with light.

Thirteen-inch “Lansa” handles from Ikea look much more expensive than they are. I love how they look with the Formica laminate on the cabinet fronts.


The loose-lay tiles, held on with a static bond, thanks to a coating underneath each tile, went down like a dream. The entrance door (extreme right on this photo) now bends fully flat against the wall, too. Massive improvement!


The existing egress window had one panel replaced, and got a fresh coat of paint to go from brown to white.


Another ceiling shot! More of Micah’s drywall mastery!


All of my paints, glazes, waxes and stains have a toasty winter home! Once April comes and I move back to the garage, I plan on keeping my paints here, and just carrying out what I need for each individual job.base40


In addition to paint, these storage cabinets hold bulk pantry items, boxes of books and keepsakes, staging and catering accessories, etc. They are roomy. I’ve got a lot of space yet to fill if I choose!


Even the furnace/water heater room on the other side of the stairwell got new drywall, a fixed ceiling, new lighting and new, built-in shelves. It’s clean, dry and warm — the Taj Mahal of furnace rooms!base26

And so, this project is finally finished. The last switch plate went up on Saturday (I primed and painted each, along with the screws, to match the wall color; then finished them with a matte poly coat. Keeping them the same color as the wall helps them fade away, and keep the sight lines clean.)

This is the view from the doorway. So far, I have wandered downstairs more than a few times just to admire it!

This Lark is grateful for a much improved Nest!



Chip, Chip, Cheerio!



Chippy, vintage galvanized exudes great allure! I am drawn to it like a magpie!

I found this cool, architectural corner pediment while browsing recently at Shop 501, one of my fave vintage haunts in Chaska, MN.

In was in the space of  talented vintage dealer Betty Sorensen. For me: textbook love at first sight! In its previous life, it was a used on a corner of a building to provide decoration for the most functional of functions: a rain gutter downspout!

Love! I sealed the paint with two coats of good poly.

I plugged the opening with a plastic milk carton turned on its side, and then added reindeer moss and individually potted orchids inside their own containers, to catch water overflow. (There’s something funny there about not wanting water to come down the downspout, but I’m not dwelling on it!)orch12

I love how the orchids make a great splash against the gray walls of the dining room!orch14

While most of the accents in this room are turquoise and jade, the salmony pink of this pediment picks up that same color in the throw pillow below — sewn from 1940s drapery fabric found at the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena, CA!

I also enjoy seeing the pediment reflected in my dining room console mirrors. I recently completed the mirror project, which is the subject of another post, to come!

This wall planter provides a hot spot of color in what promises to be a lengthy Minnesota winter!  I may add a few more orchids and mound up the reindeer moss to really make a statement.

How have YOU added color to your life this week?




Giveaway! Win a Color Inspiration Notebook!


Remember that swell Color Inspiration Notebook in which Lark Nest Design piece was fortunate enough to have a piece included?

(Here’s the post, in case you don’t!)

To celebrate this gorgeous guide — compiled by Debbie Dion Hayes, a rockin’ decorative painter and blogger in North Carolina — I am giving away one copy!

To enter, just leave a “like” on the Lark Nest Facebook page (if you haven’t already) and  a comment there, too.

The contest will remain open until 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23!

I will use a random number generator to choose a winner and will post the winner’s name here and on Facebook!

Once you contact me, I’ll get your address and your prize will speedily be winging its way to YOU via the U.S. Postal Service!

Not feeling so lucky?! You can always order a copy, here! (Or multiple copies! This beautiful reference guide is perfect for holiday gift-giving! Debbie penned a great post this week on how to use the guide to inspire a makeover!)

Good luck!



Mary’s Home Office: In Progress!


Frequently, when Lark Nest Design enters a project, the homeowner is partly into the project before deciding to call in more hands.

That’s the case here, where the client had already removed a standard builder’s floor and added gorgeous hickory planking, and had painted the walls a pale version of robin’s egg blue. He wanted to put together a home office for Mary, his wife, who usually works with two computers, and — while she now likes to work “paperless” — had massive amounts of previous filing, no surface area, and even less storage!

(That’s another post; can’t wait to show you the closet!)rob1

Mary likes “happy” colors! I chose this print from the HGTV collection, knowing I needed to bridge the blue on the wall with the browns in the floor, and bring in some teal — Mary’s back is sometimes problematic, so an Aeron office chair was where I chose to put a significant part of the furnishings budget. I opted for the teal-colored model with white framing. This fabric, then, was the perfect choice.


The fabric was for a bulletin board I made using an ornate, vintage frame, then painted glossy teal. In this picture, it is not yet hung and rests over an antique mahogany desk I found for Mary. It’s a gorgeous piece and pays homage to her love of antiques. It was purchased to use as a credenza, though; Mary’s desk is custom-made for the space on the opposite wall (see it in the top photograph). It’s long and narrow, and makes the most of this room’s tiny space.

(The end table and floral arrangement, pictured below, are long gone, as is the tall-backed rolling chair. This is what happens when I snap photos over a long period of time!)
Work is continuing on Mary’s office, but I wanted to share a few of the pieces that ultimately will live here. They show the full palette we’re using and add a contemporary vibe to update some of the more traditional elements:

MR12These art papers will be backing for artwork I’m making for over Mary’s desk!
MRcollage1Among the accessories: teal and white photo frames and a tall green vase for flowers. The blue ceramic is the base of a retro desk lamp!


MRcollage4Top left: I used this paper to “back” the fabric bulletin board. Even though it’s not seen, I love that it coordinates with the board fabric. Details are worth caring about! Bottom left: another photo frame, awaiting the family’s son’s high school graduation photo. Bottom right: a wicker basket with a cover has all the right colors, and works as a pretty yet functional garbage can beneath Mary’s desk.


(In the no detail is too small department, I ordered a set of these cool floral thumbtacks for the bulletin board from The Indoor Garden Shop on Etsy! Forgot to shoot my own photo; the set I ordered was various shades of aqua and teal!)MRcollage2

More details, clockwise: a candlestick for the credenza, paper used in a custom shade by Light Reading (more on that later, too!), a lumbar pillow for the side chair next to Mary’s desk, and the faux snakeskin of a desk tray that will corral all of Mary’s desktop flotsam!

While most of the elements are ready, Mary’s office is not!

She’s still sorting and filing, so it may be awhile before I can share the finished product!

Meanwhile, hope you’ve enjoyed these glimpses of what’s to come. Mary says it is, finally, a comfortable, happy place. A satisfied customer makes for a happy decoratrix!



When the Weather Outside is Frightful…

WB7…we hardy Midwesterners turn to more positive thoughts!

Because the scene outside my window this morning looks like this (deceptively sunny, but only10 degrees):


I thought I would share this, just last weekend, when it was significantly warmer.


Decorating at chez Lark Nest has been late and haphazard lately, thanks to a huge workload and post-Junk Bonanza sleep catch-up!


But I wanted to share this year’s edition of the free-from-the-yard window box decor! WB4Annabelle hydrangeas, red cedar, yew and fern fronds make for a beautiful display!


Seed pods from the Wild Indigo add interest!WB2

I reuse the curly willow and red dogwood branches from year to year, too. This is the last season for some of those!

Hope this infusion of green gives you a lift, while snow and ice prevail outside!

Coming Monday: a peek at a home office project for a client who loves “happy” colors!

Stay warm!



Dynamic Duo Do-Over!


Well, autumn in Minneapolis was nice while it lasted! It’s Tuesday, in the ’20s, and I’m headed out to International Market Square on a fabric hunt for a new client. Yes, we’re in the market for some hot pinks (which will warm up her living room, freshly painted in cool gray.)
cpCallaLilly copyShe used Mythic paint 139-2, Calla Lilly.

The client has family chairs she’d like to imbue with new life:


This set of Eastlake side chairs belonged to the client’s grandparents, and have great sentimental value.

They could use a fresh outlook. Not only is their upholstery tired and spongy, they also need varying degrees of structural repair. They’ll need a fair amount of work to fit with her townhome’s more contemporary aesthetic. Fabric choices come first, before we address finishes!

The client, a young career woman, loves hot, vibrant colors, oversize damasks:

cpdamaskShe likes florals, too.

cp3I love this textured piece; it’s also got white-gray cherry blossoms in relief (you can see a hint of that in the first photo in this post.)

This cool geometric didn’t make the client’s first cut.cpH2)MGI Multi loom

We’ve ordered a sample of this to test for fabric weight and whether its light grays (they’re there!) will work with her walls!

Off to the marts of commerce, shod in mukluks and well-wrapped in a muffler.

More to share once swatches are in hand!



SLP Office Reno: Before and After!


This project, for a home business office in St. Louis Park, was a challenge and a pleasure!

It was done in a little more than a month’s time, on a $1,000 materials budget, and as a surprise for one of its occupants!

Linden Hills Florist co-owner Anne Schultz wanted to redo this office as a surprise for her Mom, Susanne, with whom she runs the business. The plan was to get this all finished while Susanne was out of town for 10 days.

Susanne had NO idea this was in the works.

Stealth was called for! (You can find more about the paint and fabric choices here, from an earlier post!)

Here’s the basement office, “before” — Anne and Susanne run the their floral business out of studio space, so they took over a basement room at Anne’s as an office. It was a mad jumble, not only of their stuff, but also the detritus that Anne’s family had crammed into storage.anne2

The first item to be addressed was lighting. Ordinarily, we would have removed the textured ceiling, too, but the budget did not stretch to that. A fresh coat of paint and an updated fixture with three times the wattage was a major improvement.

The old office had a desk for one. This new desk — a fabricated top from Home Depot and set atop three scavenged filing cabinets — provided room for two. A new, textured area rug grounded the space, and a pair of Ikea lamps provided task lighting.


A tiny window screamed “basement.” Before, a vintage desk was used as a tabletop to store vases, and a closet, right, was covered with a castoff purple drapery panel (Behind it was a closet stuffed with junk.)anne50

A spot right inside the doorway housed filing cabinets and a jumble of loose paperwork.


This bookcase replaced all of that. The case was the only piece of furniture retained from the room’s previous furnishings. It holds file boxes in gray and purple, and photos of LHF client work.
anne32The small window was disguised with a floor-length panel, set partially to the left of the window, to give the illusion of a larger opening.

By removing the vintage desk, we created a space for a table from Anne’s garage (painted the same neutral gray-beige as the walls) where Anne and Susanne could meet with potential clients as needed, or enjoy a coffee break away from their desks.


Love this fabric, “Sangria,” for the vibrancy it brought to this space!


This is the closet area, before. While placing a curtain panel near the window, I removed the one that hung over the closet.



By removing the rod and adding adjustable shelving, Anne and Susanne can move the shelves as needed for whatever vases and stock they have on hand at any given time. Open storage also encourages them to keep the shelves neat and tidy!


This is the “before” wall to the left of the door. It is where the black bookcase previously stood, along with a lineup of pieces that served mainly as a resting space for clutter.


Now the wall is home to an oversize fabric “inspiration” board. This board was designed to hang vertically, but Anne was sure her Mom would prefer a horizontal presentation. She was right! I had also chosen a larger, more ornate moulding, but Anne knew her mother would like a cleaner, less fussy look. My photo skills are sub par; the moulding is plum gloss enamel and contrasts nicely with the hot pink fabric.


The paint color was chosen to match the existing carpet, and the fabrics and accents were chosen in Susanne’s favorite bright colors: purple, pink, lime green and orange. The filing cabinets were free castoffs in perfect condition, courtesy of the Richfield Chamber of Commerce, which was remodeling its offices.

They were perfect for our needs. By supporting the desktop, they replaced the existing rickety black file cabinets and provided even more storage.

ascollage1Glossy plum enamel dressed up the clipboards for daily orders, as well as the LHF letters from the store’s old workroom, now redeployed on the office door. Decorative paper provided colorful labels for the gray Ikea storage boxes.

ascollage2Mindful of the budget, we used chairs on hand for this project. Two of these for the desk…

ascollage4…and two of these, for the client consult area.

ascollage5Orange pieces from West Elm provided a pop of color; the plum file boxes were ordered online.

This budget-conscious red0 scored a lot of impact for a relatively small price: it brought in more light without needing to create an egress window or recessing can lights, both of which would have been great, but costlier, solutions.

Lark Nest is a fan of small changes that score big improvements!


Basement Project Update 2!


So, that’s not an arty angle, just my particular take on the world these days. Home from the Junk Bonanza with a bodacious head cold, so everything is tilting somewhat!


Look what has gone on in the last few weeks!

You’ll remember what it looked like during the last update!

And what it looked like when we started, after a water line backup! Here’s a brief reminder:


Scary!base15Ah, much better! All of the pipes that were visible on the wall (for the laundry in the upstairs, walk-in closet) have been recessed, creating much more usable space. The ceiling has been drywalled, too!

Cabinet and base moulding has been painted. Note in the picture at the top of this post that I placed a few boxes on the shelf to see how they fit. Can’t wait to have all the stuff that is reposing in the rest of the basement snuggled neatly into this storage space!


Maple plywood cabinet bases have been installed! (Skip back to the first shot to see the full framing on top of these units. Looks swell!)


The drop ceiling has been replaced with drywall, and studded with four recessed can lights. The walls have been painted…base11

…as has the window frame. The outside, lower window was replaced.base9

The concrete double sink (used perhaps twice a year) is gone! This wall is adjacent to a powder room in case water is needed for anything.


The corner unit is in!

The Karndean loose-lay floor is partially installed in this picture.

It went down and is adhering like a dream!


Still loving its bleached, driftwood-y look!

This week should see the finished cabinet doors go on. Work continues on maple shelves for the furnace room across the other end of the basement.

More photos to come as this onetime laundry room turned junk pile is reshaped for storage!


Inspiring Color in an Inspiring Reference Guide!


DD1Talented friend and decorative painter Debbie Dion Hayes of has compiled “Color Inspiration Notebook for Creating Gorgeous Painted Furniture.”

The name says it all!

bluetableLark Nest Design is honored to have a piece included in her color reference guide! You might remember this periwinkle and jade coffee table from my website, in the Interiors/Refurbished section!


This is one of my favorite paint jobs!

Front Fan1Debbie, whose studio is in Greensboro, NC, created this 6-by-9-inch notebook to spark ideas about paint treatments in different colors.  Who among us isn’t inspired by seeing the work of others?


The coffee table resides on the Blue page! It began its journey when, while junking, I unearthed it from the farthest reaches of a St. Vincent DePaul shop. It was a $2 rescue and its two leatherette panels on top were scarred with a few cigarette burns and deep scratches. Filler, paint, sanding and a few other treatments remedied those situations!

DD4The photos, of work by Debbie and many of her painter friends, are rich and luscious. My iPhone photos don’t do them justice.

DD5Blue-Green is a great page! Debbie is a stencil artist, too, and many of these pieces showcase her skills.


The Grey page is one of my favorites. Love the treatments on these two chests!


The Black page has a great vibe, too! Debbie’s fan deck is 48 pages on heavy coated stock, with blank pages in the back for adding notes, fabric samples and other bits of ephemera that inspire! Debbie’s book can be found at several retailers; it’s also available for purchase on her site sidebar via PayPal for $19.95 plus shipping.

Lark Nest is thrilled to be included with such august company, and thankful for Debbie’s generosity in including this piece in her work!

What colors are inspiring you this morning?!


Another Reclaim Piece Gets Started!


Each new custom piece is an adventure!

There’s a lovely process that spans from the client’s first fond wish, spoken aloud, to a tangible result.

In between comes lots of talking, planning, dreaming and the work of skilled artisans. (At Lark Nest, there is usually a fair amount of scavenging involved as well!)

beck1 Today’s post documents the start of another journey, this time for the creation of a console that is destined for the client’s Arizona vacation home, filled with beautiful pieces that pay homage to the American West. Here’s  a snap of the amazing salvaged barn wood —  in rare, 22-inch-wide pieces! — that will form this piece, which will repose between soaring windows with a killer view!

beck3A trip to the salvager’s has already yielded a great and rusty hasp closure for the doors, and a search is underway for the metal strapping that will make this piece fit perfectly with its surroundings.

Most days I think I have, quite possibly, the world’s best job! Here’s to the start of another swell project!