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!


Headed to the Junk Bonanza in Style!


This Meadowlark is taking flight today, headed to Canterbury Park to prep for the Junk Bonanza, opening Thursday, April 10, for a three-day run!

Every Bonanza teammate needs a piece of utility clothing, and I’ll be clad in this rockin’ carpenter’s apron — a special custom job by Karla Cunningham of Remixed Stitches!

Does any of this fabric look familiar?!

Each is from a decor job for a client or from a piece I finished and sold for Lark Nest Design!

apron2Fab fabrics from the top down: Pillows and chair upholstery, upholstery that updated a castoff Breuer-like chair, a vintage wicker ottoman topper and seat cushions. Here they are on Karla’s Florida worktable while she figures out a plan. I asked for a pocket sized deeper than the standard iPhone because I’ll have special lenses snapped over the casing. I also needed pockets for cash, ID, a business card case and even a lipstick.


I mailed away the scraps…Karl1

…and they returned to me as a beautiful apron, lovingly wrapped with a gracious message!karl3-318x425I was a bit giddy to tear open the tissue…


… to reveal each little detail. Karla added the key and token as a zipper pull…


… in addition to this vintage La-Z-Boy Reclina-Rocker tag I sent.


(My private joke, because I am anything but La-Z or reclining during the Bonanza!)

karl6She hand-stitched it to the front pocket so it will hold on tightly during the wild ride that is the Bonanza, the Nation’s Premier Vintage Show! Don’t know about the Bonanza? More than 150 vendors of vintage treasures, antiques, architectural salvage and artisan repurposed and up cycled goods. It’s the Disneyland of Junk!


Karla is an amazing seamstress and artist. The Ki Nassauer Shop at the Junk Bonanza will be filled with her handiwork, from pillows to short- and full-length aprons, to name a few. Check out her blog to see more of her work!

I’ll be all-Bonanza, all the time, until about midnight Saturday! (Catch a sneak peek at the fun from an earlier show here!)

Watch this space next week for pictures of great design spotted at the Bonanza!

Vive le junk!


Belgian Linen Arrives!

linen2Check out this beautiful Belgian linen!


A five-yard roll arrived last week during the great Minnesota melt, so it was delivered to a mostly dry front porch. (Yes, it IS time to remove the expired holiday decor of birch branches and pine garland!)

linen4The beautiful herringbone pattern in this linen is subtle, but perfect. This fabric will be used to create a slipcover for a Minneapolis client’s antique, drop-leaf dining table. The table belonged to her mother, but she doesn’t need it to function as such. We’re using it as a console instead.

A tailored slipcover in this wonderful fabric will impart a casually elegant vibe. The perfect match for the rest of the room.

This will be off to the seamstress soon! Can’t wait to share it with you!


Reclaim Project 1: The Entertainment Cabinet!

MEcabFIRSTEvery decor project has elements that make it unlike any other, and a three-room project I’m working on in Minneapolis is a great example! Specific challenges required us to go custom for a small entertainment cabinet that needed to house a woofer and other stereo components!

MEcartcollage2Our floor plan calls for placing this cabinet beneath a living room windowsill in the client’s early 1900s home, setting the height dimension for this piece. And because woofers require no impediment to sound waves, the cabinet front needs to be porous.


Radiator screening — lightweight and patterned — was a good choice for the door panels. Metal screening has another attribute I favor: the ability to be made to look old when it’s not!


Here’s that same aluminum radiator screen after it’s been painted and antiqued. It looks naturally aged with the appearance of patina built up over time!


I started with a coat of Rustoleum metal primer, then brushed on a first coat of Modern Masters iron paint. When dry, a second coat is applied. Then, an acidic patina activator is applied when the second coat of iron paint is still wet. A combination of spraying and sponging yields the uneven look that mimics a true patina.




This cabinet will also use reclaim elements. Here are the cabinet feet…


… which started their journey as stair spindles!

They received the same patina treatment.


For less than $4, this slightly curved handle — oil-rubbed bronze over a copper-lookalike finish — provides a lot of style. Handles will be placed vertically!

The aqua patination and touches of copper color will work great in this room, where we used a coral-y terra cotta on the walls, and touches of teal in the upholstery. More on those choices and palette later!

This piece is at the reclaim carpenter’s now! Can’t wait to share the finished piece! We’ve got a second reclaim project, a long, narrow console, planned for this client’s all-season sunroom. More to come!



Warming Trend On A Cold Day!


The Winter Without End has begun to wear a bit. I sat down to post about a chaise lounge project, and found myself thinking about one of my favorite upholstery fabrics instead,  simply because I wanted to look at something bright and happy.


I’ve used this fun Richloom”Wizard” fabric before — I love it here on this fun retro chair! — and even though it has a gunmetal gray background, it is anything but neutral.


The perfect, mood-perking fabric!


It certainly gave this chair a boost!


A solidly built estate sale find with mismatched seat and back materials, this chair nonetheless had swell lines. Too bad they were swallowed up in the cheesy gold velour!

Removing the tufting on both ends provided a much more modern look. I drybrushed the chair with French Linen Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan®. Before: The caning looked contemporary but the fabric was dated. After: the dry-brushed paint treatment gave the caning and wood frame an aged, more elegant look, making the contemporary floral print the frame’s perfect foil.

Love when that happens!

This chair has long since gone to a good home, but its good karma lingers. The bright, happy posies provide a harbinger of better weather to come!


We Have a Winner!

Becky Haugsdal of New Town, N.D., you are the lucky winner of the free copy of the latest Flea Market Style magazine!

Please contact me at!

I will mail your copy once I have your address!

Thanks to all for participating!

Watch this space; later this month we’ll be giving away a pair of Early Bird tickets to the Junk Bonanza at Canterbury Park, April 10-12!