The potential of what you have.

by the Artist

Photo by Brooke Lark via Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark via Unsplash

We welcomed two new carpenters to our team last week. Luke and Todd. Will take photos soon. We are super busy as we head into summer with a full project load. The Carpenter manages to keep all the “hammers” in the air as the weather heats up. We continue to search for more crew members. Always.

I have started following via instagram these days. I was an avid Joanna Gaine’s groupie and then I found Brooke Christen- a home designer. I was craving some color, some cozy but modern. Brooke inspires me. Her style is bold, cottage, modern and yes cozy. She embraces small spaces, and uses her small Cape on the East Coast to display her style. She isn’t afraid to paper one wall with a bold pattern, mix it up with color, use black (to ground it all) and even has a blush pink front door. Yep. She’s refreshingly eclectic. Yet maintains a fresh modern sensibility.

I love that she embraces the potential of what she has. That feels true to me. I have evolved. I treasure my small home, my small camper, my previously owned SUV :) and a simpler life. In my 20’s I dreamed of my Carpenter building a big home for us. Now I dream differently. Well of course that perspective comes with age. But still.

I recommend visiting Brooke’s blog or instagram account. I hope she inspires you as she has me to embrace the potential in your home. And maybe add that bold wallpaper you’ve been thinking about. Just one wall. :)

Catching up!


by the Artist

Summer is taking its time to arrive here in Minnesota this year. Old man winter is needing a good “kick in the….” to vacate the area. Everything is behind.. lilacs are just blooming, trees are sporting immature leaves. We get one or two days of seasonal temps and sunny skies… then plunge right back into gray and wet. And more gray and wet. We are all so ready for steady warm temps and sunny skies!

The bright spot of this winter here at Applewood was the arrival of our Carpenter Adam’s first child.. Raegan Marie. She is as cute as can be and looks like her momma.

The crew has kept busy post the Bald Eagle Barn project with a downtown White Bear Lake bath remodel, a kitchen renovation with Fluidesign Studio We worked with them on the Lecuyer Project. Both projects they designed, we built.

The Carpenter continues to fill his time picking up materials for the crew, meeting with potential customers, and project managing. You can catch him running around the area in his well used Dodge Ram truck.

We’ve got a couple of new employees starting the end of this month which we are very happy about. Just in time for the busy summer!

Mother’s Day weekend we took a trip to my friend’s farm in Baldwin Wisconsin to see all the new baby calves - 13 to be exact! The Carpenter loves all animals and thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

More to come as the “build” season progresses! Thanks for stopping by!

Staging to sell or stay!

the Artist


I am currently helping a friend stage her home to sell. A few weeks back we took a Friday off to shop for decor to freshen her very neutrally beige home. I decided on a palette of colors to base our decisions on. I picked that palette based on her current decor- the feel of her living room and much to her surprise- two wingback chairs in a pattern she dislikes. I saw cobalt blue, deep magenta and an off-white neutral. Her furnishings had a north woods lodge feel.

Armed with my color plan we took off and hit Home Goods, Hobby Lobby and Marshalls. She was on a tight budget and I knew I could find some nice items to build strong visual interest. We had a lot of fun and were quite successful.

We bought cobalt blue pillows, a beautifully textured off white shag rug for under her coffee table, not matching interesting lamps, picture frames in weathered navy and bronze, a beautiful navy wood sign for over her mantel as well as candles and navy patterned glass bowl. We also found a really amazing side console for her entry way that she ended up going back and buying the next day.

While at Home Goods I ended up helping a customer choose a rug for her living room. She was in the middle of a small remodeling project. It hit me again how much help people need in making decor choices for their homes. Especially in the midst of remodeling. It is very overwhelming. The customer asked if I was a designer and I said yes.. she said well your friend is very lucky to have your help.

It is amazing with what you can do using decor that you already have, and purchasing just a few items to freshen and update your home to sell. Well that along with decluttering!

Now my friend doesn’t want to sell her home. ;)

Hope you all are having a great week!

Just a few photos from our shopping. I didn’t take photos of everything. Will shoot some “After” photos and upload here. It is good to take lots of photos while shopping for comparison and decisions!

Happy Birthday!

by the Artist


To the most steadfast, loyal, hardworking and talented carpenter in White Bear Lake! Your integrity and perseverance in pursuing your vision and goal for the highest quality construction work stands alone. Am I bragging? Am I not able to be totally objective? Maybe. But I’m the only one who has been by your side for the past almost 39 years and I have witnessed all the ups and downs and in betweens. You truly are a craftsman and most of all a good man in a sea of mediocrity.

Happy Birthday Mr Carpenter. For all your hard work and years in a very tough competitive industry… you deserve the best. And maybe a vacation!

I love you.

The end!


by the Artist

Our “post and beam” barn project is complete. In the coming warm months (being optimistic here) it will get a coat of stain and some clean-up of any build items still lurking beneath the mounds of snow. The Carpenter is pretty sure his missing shovel is buried beneath the white.

It has been a terribly old fashioned winter weather wise… with massive snow and cold. It’s record breaking. Not very comforting. We’re thankful to have the crew out of the cold. We start a small bath project inside a nice warm house this week! The Carpenter and I met the homeowner at a local tile shop last week to finalize tile selections. Demo day is tomorrow.

We know spring is coming as we are starting to get more contacts. We look forward to a busy spring and summer build season. Though right now is the perfect time to tackle a project so you are free to enjoy our short but lovely Minnesota winters!

I spent last week running around getting caught up with taking finished project photos (projects going on before and during the barn project). Will be posting to Facebook tomorrow. Always nice to visit the project site post completion and see it with “fresh eyes”!

Take care and thanks for reading these posts!

A frigid shoot. Barn style.


by the Artist

On a subzero Saturday morning last weekend, the Carpenter and I met the homeowner at the Bald Eagle Barn project. I needed to take a photo of the guys for an upcoming White Bear Press article (hats off to Shannon Riley who wrote a beautiful story) featuring the barn build.

Saturday was at the tail end of the some of the coldest weather we have experienced in many years. We arrived a little early to prepare. I asked the Carpenter to set up one of the kerosene heaters to position directly in front of the guys. (I envisioned hours of photoshop work to fix red faces) He thought it was a crazy idea. But it worked. I came close a couple of times to backing into the flame and melting my snow pants! (hey all for a good shot!)

It took some time to get the lighting and best locations figured out. We had to make due with small spot lights on saw horses.

When we were ready I sent the Carpenter to retrieve the homeowner who had been outside snow blowing his driveway. He came in and said… “I’m just sweating” He proceeded to take his coat off and he was steaming! Clouds of vapors surrounded him. All the years I’ve lived in MN I have never seen that. I thought.. “oh no!” This is a photo challenge I haven’t run into before! Well he put his coat back on, jauntily wrapped a warm scarf around his neck and was good to go. No more steam thank goodness!

After almost one frigid hour I had a good photo. The homeowner was a lot of fun to work with. He has good energy. The Carpenter was a bit stiff.. but then it was so very cold!

Anyway… we got it done and ended up celebrating that night with the homeowner and his lovely wife at a nice place in downtown White Bear Lake. We had a great time getting to know each other and talking about the project and how wonderful it had turned out.

It was a good end to a good day, and what has turned out to be a wonderful project for us and the homeowners. We are blessed. And we have new friends!

You can read the article by clicking here– Or if you are local it will be in the 2/13/19 White Bear Lake paper edition.



by the Artist

Today is the crews first day back at the barn after a week of subzero temps. It’s been a rough month. November was bitter, December moderate, January bitter, and hopefully if the trend continues February will be kind to us. We’ve been able to keep on schedule up until the “polar vortex”. The Carpenter bought another propane heater and the crew moved inside to finish the Bald Eagle Barn’s second floor loft and staircase.

During the cold snap the Carpenter and the Bald Eagle Barn homeowner, met with writer Shannon Riley from the White Bear Press. The Press is featuring a story about the barn, and the partnership between the Carpenter and the homeowner to achieve his vision of building a special barn on the property, to match his historical home. The article will be out within two weeks. Will give a heads up when it lands.

We hope that there will be others that would appreciate putting up a barn of this quality. The company that creates these barn kits has been wonderful to work with, down to the last detail. I spoke with my father last night and he asked about the barn project. I said it is exactly the type of barn you wanted to put on your property in Pennsylvania. Oh how I wish he were young and healthy enough to have been able to build that barn. It would have been perfect.

I hope you all have been well and staying warm. It sure has been a long winter even with little snow in the Twin City area. I don’t want to start looking for spring yet but I did hear today that the “Groundhog” has predicted an early spring! Oh we can only hope!

Hello Beautiful Barn!

by the Artist

The winter hasn’t been too bad so far. November started out miserably cold, we started the “Post and Beam” style barn near Bald Eagle Lake. December’s weather moderated and we ended up with little snowfall and warmer days. That helped the crew keep a good pace.

Today 50 mph winds slammed in. Thankfully the crew was working on the sunny side of the barn mostly out of the wind. We still have relatively little snow. Mostly just patches of precariously slippery rutted ice on the job site which has made for careful walking. I wanted the Carpenter to build a plank walking path to get too and from the vehicles. Don’t think that advice was heeded.

The barn project itself has had a bit of a learning curve. Challenging as we have not built from a “kit” before (Sandcreek Post and Beam). But challenging in a good way.. like working on a great big grainy puzzle! I think other then working during the winter months the crew has enjoyed it. And it is certainly turning out beautiful and is fitting perfectly with the historic home and cottage nearby. Same architectural lines. It features shed dormers on both sides, and an overhanging “hay hood” (in original barn construction, a hay hood was a projection of the roof on the end of the barn which the farmer would hoist hay up to the loft) on the right side to mirror the home and the cottage. (the cottage was part of the original property.) It is all wood. And is built so snuggly I’m sure it would withstand a tornado! Definitely not “stick frame” construction.

The homeowner will be doing renovations on the home in the future and is excited to start with this beautiful barn to enhance his property and provide much needed storage. In fact it has come to the attention of our local paper- The White Bear Press- who will be doing a feature story on the home in the near future.

So while the wind blows and the flurries fly… we move forward to complete this exciting project. Perhaps we will have a “barn raising” party to celebrate at its completion. In the summer of course… under sparkly lights and fireflies, and the quiet lapping of the lake nearby.


by the Artist


Late last week the “Post and Timber” barn lumber was delivered. Three semi-flat bed trucks from Nebraska. It was bitter cold, an inch of snow lay on the ground… that had seemingly frozen solid overnight. The wind was whipping off the lake. It maybe was 20 degrees if you pointed your face to the sun and stood in the shelter of a wall. What an unexpectedly cold beginning to what we know will be a wonderfully “warm” project.

I drove over to the site to capture some of the frozen action. Thankfully the machine the Carpenter rented to use during the course of the project.. had a heated cab. That came in handy.

I arrived just as the homeowner arrived. I was parked in his driveway and he had no idea who the frozen chick was or what I was doing in his driveway. I quickly introduced myself and we had a nice conversation. He even invited me in to see part of the gorgeous historical home and his plans for it. I will certainly get a full tour later!

I am especially excited about this project because the home is gorgeous and has so much history, the area is full of history- Ma Parker and Baby Face Nelson rented a cottage right down the road during the gangster days. Many gangsters found refuge in the White Bear Lake area.

I have been promised historical facts about the home that I will share in a later post. I love homes that are from another era that have a story to tell. All the lives that have been lived in a home built so many years ago. We won’t know those stories most likely but I can just imagine. Really I can.

You can follow the progress of this project on

Our website

Or on Facebook

A visit...

by the Artist


Last week the Carpenter and I visited a custom cabinetmaker’s workshop. The Carpenter had met Tim at our local gas station where he does his best networking. So on a sunny brisk day we headed to the workshop.. which happens to be very close to Applewood headquarters.

We spent almost two hours speaking with the owner Tim and his employee Ian. It was great to meet another company similar to ours.. where detail and craftsmanship is valued over quantity and shortcuts. It was so refreshing to meet two craftsmen just like the Carpenter who believe in building the best and with the “highest care”. Working with pure materials- all wood, no interior laminates for their cabinets.

I’m hoping that we can partner up in the future, when there is a need for custom cabinets where quality and pure sustainable material is valued.

We start the “Post and Beam” barn build this week. The material is arriving from Nebraska Thursday along with the cold and snow flurries. It was as cold when the foundation was dug and the walls and floor were poured back in October. We are hoping this November cold snap is just a “snap”. That would be nice.

As I sit here writing this it is almost dark at 4:30 PM, and a light coating of snowflakes like powdered sugar have dressed our shingles. Are we ready for this? The darkest days of the year. It is good to think of holidays when family gatherings and festive lights will brighten these gloomy days.