After nearly 20 years in the publishing industry, Nancy Eike was ready for a change of pace. Interestingly enough, this new chapter of her life is one she already had bookmarked.
“I’ve always been super passionate about interior design and décor,” Eike says. When she returned to college at the age of 39 after raising her family, Eike initially planned to pursue interior design. Fate, it seemed, had other ideas. “My first class was a humanities class, and I fell in love with creative writing,” Eike says. “So I took that path and got my [Bachelor of Arts] in English. But through all of that, I’ve always loved decorating.”
Eike began editing one of our sister publications, White Bear Lake Magazine, in 2012. Even before that, she was working as a freelance writer for her own writing firm. But when she turned 60 this past August, Eike says she paused to reevaluate things. “I said, ‘OK, what do I really want to do in this next chapter of my life?’” Eike says. The answer was home décor.
Eike launched her home styling venture—The Festooned Farmhouse—last year with the goal of helping people add those finishing touches that transfigure a house into a home. “I can come into a person’s space and talk to them,” Eike says. “[I] figure out how they want to live in their space, what they’re looking for and what kind of atmosphere are they trying to create.”
Unlike a certified interior decorator, Eike notes she doesn’t have ins to trade workrooms or furniture showrooms. But just because she isn’t sourcing wholesale carpeting doesn’t mean she’s not bringing something to your (coffee) table. “How I like to look at it is the finishing touches that actually makes a room or a space feel comfortable,” Eike says. “I like to look at it as the accessories that you have before you walk out the door; it’s the jewelry that actually pulls everything together.”
Eike says she likes to work with the décor items clients already have, but she’s also no slouch when it comes to hunting down pieces for clients or herself. Her newly-built farmhouse HQ is a testament to this.
The first thing you notice when walking into The Festive Farmhouse’s design office is the barn-shaped structure. “Our house is on six acres,” Eike says when describing her Stillwater abode. “[It’s] a farmhouse style of house, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cute to have a small barn that I could use as a studio/office/she-shed?’”
She and her husband found just that with Star Barn, a panelized kit from Little Cottage Co. The white barn building replicates an 1872 structure from rural Pennsylvania, complete with transom windows on the main doors, structural corbels lining the roof and a tower-like cupola rising from the center, topped with a decorative copper finial. The eponymous stars also make their appearance under the roof peak on each side of the barn.
“It was shipped here, and my husband had to construct it,” Eike says. “Obviously, I helped and all that, but he had to do the majority of it. It took basically all summer.” Once the barn was raised, Eike set to work creating a space that both encapsulates and inspires her style.
“It’s small,” Eike says in regard to the barn. “It’s only 10x20, but I think when you first walk in, you’ll see—obviously—the chandelier. I made sure it was front and center.” This gilt and glitzy piece, like many of Eike’s décor elements, was sourced from the St. Croix Valley area, Midtown Antiques in downtown Stillwater, in this instance.
From the gold and crystal chandelier, your eye travels down to a plethora of white and warm neutrals. “I tend to like the white and the wood. I like that combination of textures,” Eike says. “I find it’s really easy to incorporate seasons when you have that neutral palette. Then I can add colors, depending upon the season.”
Many of Eike’s pieces, from the vintage mantel to the deconstructed cane sofa, come from Reclaiming Beautiful, another Stillwater-based business. “Reclaiming Beautiful is a wonderful little shop in downtown Stillwater,” Eike says. “Their decor and the ambiance of the store really fits with my style, which tends to lend itself to very cozy and inviting spaces.”
Eike notes that Reclaiming Beautiful and its vendors have a lot of upcycled pieces, which range in style from farmhouse and cottagecore to mid-century modern. Open Thursday through Saturday, each week at this shop tends to become an event in and of itself. “They style the shop Wednesday night,” Eike says. “And every Thursday, there’s a whole lot of people who like to get in there and see what’s the deal.”
When she’s not perusing the many local antique shops in and around Stillwater, Eike is scrolling through Facebook Marketplace for unique pieces and upcycle projects. The dresser in the barn is one such find, which Eike altered to better fit her style by repainting and adding new knobs.
“I like really fun and distinct pieces that have a story behind them,” Eike explains. “That’s really key for me with the vintage pieces. I like to look at them and know there’s a story behind them.”
With her new headquarters up and running, Eike is ready to lend her experienced eye to clients. She’s also ready to tackle projects beyond home styling, having found a natural dovetail to another service The Festooned Farmhouse can provide. “I do home styling, and I also do events styling,” Eike says. “For example, I just helped a Realtor put together a big party of 120 people ... she just bought this beautiful old home, so I styled it for the party. That’s part of what I can do.”
Although she’s moved away from the hectic schedule of the publishing industry, Eike says the passion for writing hasn’t left her. To read more about her journey as The Festooned Farmhouse or learn more about Eike’s services, visit thefestoonedfarmhouse.com.