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Instagram is my favorite hangout place when I want to meet kindred spirits and feel inspired. It has become a cliché in the design world because it’s been so often said but it has been said so much because it happens to be true. Instagram has become the great connector and by far one of the sweetest people I befriended on Instagram is Heather Strommen, of the blog Sweet Shady Lane. I met Heather a year and a half ago and was instantly charmed by her friendly demeanor and excellent taste in design. I soon discovered that we share a love of relaxed and cozy interiors, an appreciation for blue and white and, we even have the same favorite interior designers we look up to.

Heather has recently opened her own design consultation business, perfectly complemented by The Vignette Box. A carefully curated selection of decorative objects hand-picked by Heather herself, The Vignette Box will imbue the same sense of style to your own vignettes. Her home, lovingly named Mona Bina, which means Home For All, has been Heather’s design laboratory over the years and, as illustrated by the pictures below, she has a knack for creating beauty in every nook and cranny. It is then no wonder that her work has been featured in several national?magazines and her Vignette Boxes were listed in Minneapolis Home Design as one of the 100 best of local design. Today, ?I am delighted to welcome Heather for a quick and fun Q& A session!?

Q: Welcome Heather!?I’m so happy we’re finally doing this. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for interior design. How did it all begin?

A: Honestly, I started decorating around 9 years old. My mother would come home and I would have rearranged the living room sofa and moved knick knacks from here to there…I always loved the day we would clean my own room and were able to make little changes, like kitty cornering the bed. Sometimes, I still feel like that little girl after I’ve moved things around in my own home—excited, renewed and ready to accessorize.

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Q: How would you describe your style??

A:?Because we live on a lake, my style is very Nantucket inspired in the classic tradition. I’m drawn to all things nautical—usually vintage inspired clipper ships (I have slight obsession with these) and any brass maritime accessories. I love mixing antiques with new pieces and layering a room with vignettes that evoke emotion and a sense of home.

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Q: Your home is stunning! Do you have any design rules to follow (and/or rules to break)?

A: My design rules are this…I have to love it. If I question it even for a second, I know it won’t be staying long. I’m a quick decision maker—I know what I like instantly.?Rules that I break…Hmmm. Because I’m not professionally trained, I probably break a lot of so called “rules.”

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Q: Do you have a favorite room in your home and why?

A: My favorite room in my home is actually my bedroom, which I am redoing as I type this. I’ve never totally pulled it together they way that I prefer and am replacing the rugs and searching for new bedding. Why is it my favorite? Because it was built around the views of the lake and every time I enter—it always takes my breath away, even in the winter.

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Q: Where do you find inspiration??

A: I find inspiration in home design magazines, (my husband used to instantly sweat when I’d run into the grocery store to get a few, because he knew I’d get way too many ideas,) design coffee table books; One Man’s Folly, The Welcoming House, All of Suzanne Reinstein’s books, and I love Beautiful, by Mark D. Sikes. Currently though, Instagram is my favorite inspiration source. Every one that I follow, I genuinely am inspired by.

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Q: Do you have any favorite designers whose work you follow?

A: Favorite designers that I follow are Sarah Bartholomew, Mark D. Sikes, Phoebe Howard, Tessa from Nine and Sixteen Home, and I love a classic like, Bunny Williams.

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Q: Who are your style icons??

A:?Hands down…Bunny Melon and Furlow Gatewood.

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Favorite home fragrance –?

My favorite home fragrance is actually from The Ritz Carlton in Laguna Del Mar that we visit. Every time I walked into the lobby, I was greeted with a fresh ocean, breezy scent, and after a few days of admiring it, I walked up the concierge and asked what it was and luckily, he said I could buy it right in the gift shop. Needless to say, I stock up on it every time I can.


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Favorite places to shop

Oh boy….Usually out of town! I’m head over heals in love with Nantucket, and try to buy my most treasured pieces at; Sylvia’s Antiques, Atlantic, Ack Antiques. I also love the Buckhead area in Atlanta and all the wonderful antique stores; Foxglove, Dearing Antiques and Boxwoods. New York; John Derrian, Paula Rubinstein, ABC Home, KRB, The Upper Rust Antique store. In California; The Mart Collective (fun antiques,) Hollywood At Home, Elizabeth Eakins and Abbot Kinney street in Venice. ?In Minnesota; A Rare Bird Antiques, The Sitting Room, Traditions, Loft Antiques, H & B Gallery, Grace Hill, Harvest Home, The Atelier Collection.

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Favorite movie –?

The Color Purple. I saw it when I was a teenager and actually did not want to go, but somehow, fell madly in love with it and can’t pass by the color purple in a field, without thanking God. It also inspired me to write and I am in the process of finishing my very first novel.

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Favorite movie set –?

Has and always will be “Something’s Gotta Give” beautiful Hampton design by the talented, Beth Rubino. I’ve never been so enamored with a home in my life!

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Favorite destination /or destinations.?

Nantucket, California, NYC, Atlanta, Florida.

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Guilty pleasures –

The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and the best one…Bachelor In Paradise. I’m squirming in my chair typing this ??

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Q: What is your ideal way to relax after a long day?

A:?I love sitting with my two English bulldogs, Buster and Dorothy on our porch with my husband staring out at the lake we live on…It’s glorious and I never take it for granted.

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The Vignette Box – Summer Edition?

Q: Please tell us a little bit about The Vignette Box and how it came about.

A: I mentioned above that I am writing my first novel and in my writing group, my mentors mentioned that publishers want to know who you are… like Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter etc. Basically, they already want you to have a following of some sort.?I had already started the blog, but it was really just for friends and family who were interested in the restoration of our beloved 1937 home, Mona Bina. I was like…Hmmm…I guess I could start an Instagram of a few design elements and voila…@sweetshadylane was born and I am still in shock that people actually follow along and I love that they are inspired by own personal style of decorating.?One day, I was feeling kind of foolish trying to find something to take a picture of and had a sobering moment, wondering what on earth I was actually doing, and then the idea hit me, Vignettes! A Box! I called my daughter who lived in NYC at the time and worked in advertising, and told her my idea and she said, “Mom, this sounds amazing. I’ll help you.” And The Vignette Box was born.?

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The Vignette Box – Christmas Edition

Q: ?What has been the most?challenging aspect of starting your own business?

The biggest challenge with the boxes has been creating something that I would purchase myself, which is why there is always an antique or one of a kind landscape or a custom frame with darling fabric. I knew there had to be a piece that was unique and special for me to get behind it and get excited about.

Q:? And the greatest reward??

Hearing how people love their boxes, and that they collect them and use the treasures inside—mixing and matching and adding to other vignettes. I simply love the idea that my boxes or my Instagram get people decorating and seeing their homes in a whole new way. That inspires me!

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Q: Do you have?any nuggets of wisdom for other?women entrepreneurs staring their creative business?

My advice would be to TRUST your gut, your instincts and your talent. You know what creates a fire in you…Let the world see it! I created the possibility to live powerfully and creatively; found an editor, wrote a book, created a business and will create a coffee table book honoring the emotional aspect of creating a home. For me, it’s all about celebrating what makes your soul sing.

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Thank you so much for joining us today, Heather! As always, it’s been a pleasure! For the rest of our readers, if by any chance you’re not following Heather yet on Instagram, please rectify that as soon as possible ?? Her IG handle is @sweetshadylane.

Have a lovely day!




  1. Mary
    October 18, 2018 / 2:55 am

    Gosh, what a pretty home. I’m definitely going to check out her Vignette Boxes…and save all her favorite shops on Google maps! Thanks for the introduction!

    • Eva Contreras
      October 18, 2018 / 6:28 am

      Thank you, Mary! I’m glad you enjoyed yesterday’s post!! Heather is not only kind but incredibly talented. She’s definitely one to follow ?? xo