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One Mercantile

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Three’s Company at Nest

Rural Intelligence StyleIn between planning carpools and sleepovers, Ellen Hubbard, Lisa Foster, and Mary Harvey planned the first incarnation of what is now Nest, a modern interiors and design house in Lakeville, Connecticut.

The trio met while their children attended Indian Mountain School, and the first seeds for Nest were sewn. Tucked off the main road across from the new firehouse in the old barn that once housed Harney and Sons Teas, the Nest ladies have some pretty impressive shoes to fill if they want to keep up with the heritage of the space, though at the rate they’re going it doesn’t seem to be an issue. The roughly 900-square-foot space is much larger than the Cracker Jack box size space they had for three years in Millerton, NY, which was itself many steps up the ladder from the booths at Millerton and Great Barrington Antiques Centers that started it all. Foster says of the move, “We felt our clientele was growing in Connecticut and from here it’s easy to go anywhere.” And they do, traveling all over New York and Connecticut for their loyal clientele like high-design carnies, working the trunk show circuit and events along the way, such as Fitch’s Corner in Millbrook in July and most recently shows from Bedford to Rye, NY.

Rural Intelligence StyleThe one-of-a-kind finds at Nest are a tight traditional mix of rare vintage ware (wicker elephant “bar” $2200), refreshed furniture, and accessories, but more than the obligatory scented candle and bud vase (although they have those, too). They have room-perfecting objet d’art, classic colorful lamp sets, pillows, like the 30’s-inspired floral print beauties Hubbard makes by hand. Foster explains,  “What fun we have finding vintage and unique items is our combined passion, as is fixing up old furniture, and bringing new life to unloved things.” Foster says the women’s passion for rarities helps. “The model of our store is 99% of what you see are one-of-a-kind items, as we sell things we go find more things. So we don’t have unmanageable inventory. We can keep our prices at moderate levels.” Hubbard goes on to complete Foster’s thought — they all carry on with a Thin Man-type rapport in the House of Nest, conversations swirl, they’re clever and quick-witted and exchange glances that volley back and forth and sentence finishing comes with the territory. “As we hunt and find deals we can set our own prices.” Harvey adds, “Throw pillows and a few well-placed key items can refresh a space without the need to keep on top of every trend.”

Nest’s services range from a design session to improve upon your existing collection to adding a few key touches to overhauling a client’s whole house. They’re best at working together, Foster says. “Nest is a collaboration of all of our talents, and it seems to work. We work well as a team.” The three work in unison and are in sync in design and duties, each person is as much of a team as they are equally independent, with the rule that if it’s over a certain amount they have to get the approval of another person. “I’ll call Ellen from the side of the road, tell her what I’m looking at and what I’m about to spend and, without seeing it, she’s usually as excited as I am about it,” Foster continues, “but it’s a safe rule.”

Rural Intelligence StyleEach has a defined role within their structure: Hubbard is the voice of Nest, she handles the lion’s share of their Facebook, Etsy, and a blog, and is in the middle of creating their website. The Washington D.C. native’s background is in art and preservation, with impressive stints in San Francisco at Butterfield and Butterfield auction house and Scalamandre in New York. Harvey came to Northwest Connecticut from Princeton and has training in design, art history and hung her own shingle for a while. She plays a key role in client relations and in-home visits as well as mapping out trunk shows. Foster has lived up and down the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida and has experienced success with Citrus, a former handbag line carried in Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Her role derives from the sales and marketing side, and she handles a lot of the store’s buying and day to day needs, and takes on the buying and transforming of finds like making a plain rattan chair into a coral lacquered masterpiece. Hubbard sums it up by saying, “Mary’s a real decorator’s decorator, and masterminds [getting us into] the trunk shows, and handles the financial side and Lisa has a great sense of color, she just has this eye. She decides most of the colors.”

Rural Intelligence StyleThey favor uncomplicated, traditional and comfortable interiors, but they’ll throw in a zebra print to freshen it up. Foster believes what Nest does is straightforward, “We find furniture we think is cool that’s not in great shape and we repair and refinish…Mary is probably the most traditional and Ellen is ridiculously crafty. She makes the most of the pillows.” But the impressive thing about Nest, besides a bold use of color that would make Kelly Wearstler proud, is how strikingly coherent and crisp their collection is. Although the shop is full of unique found items, Harvey points out, “We’ll have a few things that are always available,” like bar accessories (bamboo ice bucket $140) and high-end dog beds (three sizes, $120 & up) inspired by the Nest’s new mascot, a small mixed-breed rescue Foster brought home just in time. — Dale Stewart

11 Brook Street
Lakeville, CT
(860) 596-4357
Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., or by appointment.

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