D.I.Y. Updates/How Did That Hold Up?

DIY Updates! Ever wonder how things on A Beautiful Mess have held up over the years? Over the years, many of you have asked questions about how projects held up over time. Most of our projects go up on the blog soon after we complete them, so we don't always know. 

Today I'm here to share some of our favorite projects that have held up great and some regrets that we would do differently if we had a time machine. Ready or not? 

Counter topConcrete Countertop DIY. This was one of the most physically difficult projects we've had on ABM (tons of hand sanding, so lots of "elbow grease" needed), but it's SUPER inexpensive and looks great in person.

After 10 months we're thrilled to report that our countertop is holding up perfectly. So much so that we're planning to do it again in another space soon. It's beautiful, sturdy, and unbeatable for the price. 

Washer dryer makeover (with electrical tape!)Washer and Dryer Makeover. It's been almost a year since I decorated my washer and dryer with electrical tape. I am happy to report that they still look exactly the same! Since electrical tape is durable and water-resistant, I can still wipe the appliances. I still like the look of them and plan to keep them for years to come, but I also like that they're removable if I ever change my mind. 

Fabric lined shelvesFabric-Lined Shelves. We did this project a little over a year ago, and it's still in my bedroom today. One of the corners of fabric fell down a little (an easy fix with more rubber cement), and so I tried pulling it off (just to make sure it truly is removable after all this time), and it worked great. I would definitely do this project again, and it's super renter-friendly. 

Guest room cartGuest Room Cart. I wanted to mention this cart not because of how it held up (it's fine) but because it's been so incredibly useful. It really makes our guests feel welcome. 

Instax wallDIY Instax Wallpaper. This one has good and bad things about it. Here's my honest review! Does it work– Yes. It's easy (can be installed in a day) and cheap (mine cost $130 for a giant wall). Buttttt.... I got tired of how busy the pattern was. It's been up in my home for close to two years now, and I'm ready for a change. And now I have to pull 100 staples from my wall. 

If I had that aforementioned time machine, I would go back and change a few things. I would absolutely do this project again, BUT I would choose a smaller wall next time and use thicker cardstock (the 80 pound cardstock began to warp a little bit over time). 

Handwriting wallSimilarly, I painted over my handwriting statement wall after just one year (and have regretted it ever since!). I definitely miss it. After photographing it for the blog and then later for our book, I was ready for a change. Bold statement walls can be hard to live with. They're busy. With that said, they're also incredibly photogenic and beautiful. If I've learned anything from this house, it's how truly indecisive I am. 

If you like this look but don't want to commit to a giant wall, I suggest making the painting version

Painted tilesPainted Tiles. I wondered how these would hold up after a winter in the elements. After last winter, there were a few worn off spots. They could have used a fresh coat of paint, but it didn't bother me and I didn't repaint them (maybe next year). 

I would definitely do this again. I used porch paint and, honestly, it's exactly like painting your house or porch. It will need some maintenance, but it's totally worth it. We've hosted several back yard parties since I painted these tiles, and it's something people always compliment in our space. No regrets! 

DIY dining room tableDIY Dining Room Table. I can't say enough about how happy I am with this table. In the first few months after we moved into our home, we spent so much money. Moving is really expensive, and it was great to save thousands of dollars by making our own table that seats eight people. We've enjoyed it for more than two years now, and I would highly recommend this project to anyone who is on the fence. It's so worth the investment of time and supplies. 

Laura built the very same table in her home! She's still loving it too and she just painted hers white to contrast more with her floors. I laughed because I've been toying with the idea of painting mine too. Anyway– this project is highly recommended along with Emma's Honeycomb table (depending on the size and shape of your room. Hers also looks just as good today as the day she completed it! 

Yellow painted chairsPainted Chairs. These were an awesome solution to buy me some time before shopping for a matching set. After about a year of daily use, they were in need of a touch up coat of paint. I really liked these chairs and have used this oil-based Rust-Oleum paint for several other projects including my bar cart. It's great stuff! 

MudroomMudroom Organization. This was EASY, and two years later I haven't changed it at all and still love it. Sometimes the simple, functional projects are the best! 

Linoleum tile DIYProbably the most bummin' D.I.Y. of our year, when it comes to how it aged, was this linoleum floor. It was SO pretty at first, but after just a few months of heavy traffic, many of the corners broke. 

Time machine? Yeah– if we could go back in time, we'd use real tile. Not linoleum. It could work in a very low traffic room, but in our busy workshop, it didn't do so well. Not a huge loss, though, since it was super inexpensive. 

Make your own rugWe've made quite a few rugs that held up as good, or better, than retail store rugs. This rag rug has been in our studio kitchen all year. This rope rug is super durable (but also more difficult to make than the rag rug).  

A lesson I've learned with (big) D.I.Y. projects is that what you get out of it is usually pretty equal to what you put in. When I invest more time and effort into projects, I usually get a better result that I end up loving for longer. When I rush though decor projects, I tend to get tired of them more quickly.

What are you curious about? Scan through our D.I.Y. posts and let us know what you are curious about! We're here to help. We'd love to give you honest feedback about any of our older projects. And if you have stories from your own D.I.Y. experiences, we'd love to hear them! xx. Elsie 

Easy No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasYou can keep your spooky ghosts and ghoulish goblins— give me all the pumpkins! Okay, okay... Honestly though, as much as I hate to say it— I'm really not the biggest fan of the pumpkin flavors that are so popular this season. But I think I can redeem myself in a world of squash-crazed bloggers with my utter adoration of the pumpkin itself. I mean, just check out my dining room in the image below! If that's not love, I don't know what is.

When I was a kid, the only time I was allowed to use a Sharpie marker was at pumpkin carving time. After scooping out the insides and separating the seeds from the orange goo, my brother and I would, with great exhilaration, wield our dangerously permanent markers and carefully draw the designs we wanted on our pumpkins. Meanwhile, Mom would make hot chocolate as Dad checked on the pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven. It was a special time. I think I usually just drew out pretty basic jack-o'-lantern designs, and then Dad would take over with the carving knife to make my designs a reality.

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasfloral pumpkin decoratingThese days, pumpkin carving is still fun, but pumpkin decorating is a lot easier. Plus, pumpkins last a lot longer when they're not carved. I always seem to let jack-o'-lanterns turn mushy before getting rid of them (because who likes throwing away pumpkins? No one!). So this year I decided to skip the carving all together. I invited my (now adult) brother and his girlfriend over to help us decorate our pumpkin loot, and we had so much fun! I put out baskets full of paint and supplies, and we had a grand ol' time listening to Ella Fitzgerald, sipping wine, eating cookies, and decorating a pumpkin or two.

Check out the easy no-carve designs we did below!

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasPAINTED PUMPKINS

My favorite technique for pumpkin decorating is definitely a simple paint job. When arranged together on a door stoop or mantel, a variety of paint techniques can create a visually stunning display.

graphic gold leaf painted pumpkinwhite striped painted pumpkinGold Leaf Paint // Painting a pumpkin with gold leaf paint creates a bit of glamour. Glamorous pumpkins? They're not just for Cinderella stories, folks. Phil free-hand painted the top left pumpkin using the natural vertical lines of the pumpkin as his guide.

Bold Stripes & Puffy Paint // The pumpkin next to the gold one was gloriously squatty and warty. All it needed was some white paint to make it over. I used larger white stripes to contrast the gold-painted pumpkin to the left, and accented those stripes with white puffy paint. It made an interesting, sophisticated-looking design without being complicated to paint.

puffy paint pumpkins

house number painted pumpkins

Puffy Paint Lace // Puffy paint was a lot of fun to work with when decorating our pumpkins. I easily drew a lace-like pattern with white puffy paint on this light colored pumpkin above left. The paint did take a few hours to dry, though, so be careful when moving it! I smudged mine a bit.

Painted House Numbers // Rather than attempting to free-hand numbers onto a pumpkin, I printed out large numbers, cut them out from the paper, and traced around them onto the pumpkin with a black marker. Then I filled it in with black paint. Pretty easy! It will look great on my brother's front stoop.

white and gold painted pumpkinstencil-painted pumpkin

Sponge Painted Pumpkins // This little guy got a nice coat of white paint (brushed on acrylic craft paint), including the stem. Then dots were created by dipping a sponge paint dabber in gold leaf paint. The smaller dots were made with a pencil eraser! Then I pushed in brads to accent the larger dots. To give detail to the stem, it was given a light brush coat of gold paint too.

Stenciled Pumpkins // I love the intricate, yet graphic look that stenciling gives. I bought a set of Martha Stewart craft stencils which worked beautifully on the pumpkins. They are already sticky, and can even stretch to conform to the curve of the pumpkin. Perfect! The possibilities are endless when it comes to stenciling.

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasEMBELLISHED PUMPKINS

Embellished pumpkins are easy to decorate, and because there's no paint involved, they can be easily altered according to your whims. I think all of these pumpkins coordinate nicely and would work beautifully to create a long tablescape for a dinner party.

Flower dotted pumpkin decor decorate pumpkins with twine and ropeFloral Dots // Pop the head off some plastic daisies or mums to make quirky flower-dotted pumpkins. I adhered my flowers with glue dots, but you could use straight pins instead.

Twine & Rope Designs // Nailheads secure twine or rope to give graphic detail to these pumpkins. This design looks complex, but it was so quick and easy to achieve! Just wrap the twine around the first nailhead and push it into place to get started. Leave the other nailheads loose until the design is complete, then push them into place.

use nailheads for easy pumpkin decorating decorate pumpkins with garlands for easy fall decorNailheads // Pushing nailheads into the skin of a pumpkin is so quick and easy. You can do something as simple as random dots or make patterns with the nailhead placements. Depending on how many nailheads you want to use, this look works better with small and medium pumpkins.

Garlands // Wrapping a fall garland around a pumpkin is also very simple, but creates an elegant, whimsical look that makes a beautiful table centerpiece. I used straight pins to secure the garlands, and then bent the wire twigs to make it look a bit more natural and carefree.

Decopage pumpkins with fallen leaves to add a natural vibe to your fall tablescapeuse corn husks to make striped pumpkins

Decoupage Leaves // Decoupaging pumpkins can be difficult because of its spherical shape, but I was determined to decorate this squatty pumpkin with leaves if it was the last thing I did. I found the trick was to work with the natural way the leaf bends and curves, and to use straight pins to hold the leaf in place as you brush a top coat of Mod Podge on it. As the Mod Podge began to set up, I brushed more on top of it to really get the leaves to lay flat.

Corn Husks // Want a more naturally looking striped pumpkin? Corn husks are the way to go. Unless you can find long corn husks, this look works best with smaller pumpkins. I found my corn husks in the Mexican food aisle of my local grocery store, then cut them to size, and used Mod Podge and brads to hold them in place.

easy no-carve pumpkin ideasHow festive do these guys look? I think they look magical! The mix of embellished, painted, and gold leafed pumpkins is such a fun way to decorate for the season.

IMG_7648gold leaf pumpkin paintingI love the way all of the painted pumpkins have turned my home into a wonderland of autumn, but my absolute favorite? Why, that would have to be the gold painted pumpkin above. Don't you think Phil did a good job with that one? Which one's your favorite? -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection and Pearl from the Fresh Collection.

Try This: Washi Tape Mirror Frame

Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror    Sometimes good things come out of being lazy. For example, I was trying to get our studio living room ready for its room tour (yay!), but our simple white mirror looked a bit dull against the plain white wall. I thought maybe it could benefit from some stripes, but the idea of pulling out all the paint and taping off the necessary areas sounded like a bit of a chore at the moment. Then I thought, "Hello! Washi tape!" and my stripe problem was solved. 

Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror  Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror   Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror
Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirrorOnce I wrapped the tape around the back side of the frame, I just used an X-Acto knife to trim the excess on the inside. If you're worried about the ends pulling up, just use a bit of glue to tack them down for good.

Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror     Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror      Washi tape stripes! Easy way to add color to a boring mirror       This mirror is definitely getting into the spirit of the rest of the room now! Bring on the color! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Sarah Rhodes & Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection.

Creamy Garlic Mac & Cheese

My favorite mac and cheese recipe you can make in a crock potOh man, you guys. I LOVE macaroni and cheese. It's got to be one of the all time best comfort foods in the world. It makes sense that it tends to be a kid's menu favorite. Kids know what's up when it comes to macaroni and cheese. 

You'll notice that this particular macaroni and cheese is made in a slow cooker. Although my slow cooker doesn't appear to be turned on. 


Guys, it's not witchcraft. Everyone calm down. After this was done cooking, I unplugged my slower cooker and moved it by a window to take this photo because my kitchen was super dark. It was raining outside, which made it the best time to eat some mac and cheese.

Best slower cooker mac and cheese This mac and cheese is thick, creamy, super garlicky and so good. You'll eat so much, you'll end up needing a nap afterward. You have been warned. 

Secret ingredient for creamy mac and cheeseCreamy Garlic Mac & Cheese, serves 5-6.

16 oz. macaroni noodles
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
4 oz. cream cheese
3 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, colby jack, or a mixture)
2 eggs
salt + pepper
chives to serve with (optional)

Cook the noodles according to the package directions for al dente. You really want the noodles to be slightly undercooked (as opposed to overcooked) because they will absorb more moisture while they cook in the slow cooker.

Slower cooker macaroni and cheeseIn a large sauce pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Now add the cream cheese, 2 cups of the milk and the shredded cheese. Stir until well combined and the cheese begins to melt. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and remaining 1 cup of milk. Add a little bit of the hot, cheesy liquid to this bowl and stir. This will help to temper the eggs so they don't cook too quickly. 

Now add everything to a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Give it a stir. Place the lid on top and cook on low for 1 hour.

Best slower cooker mac and cheese  While that cooks, you could steam some broccoli to serve alongside this and make yourself feel better about all the cheese and carbs you're about to consume. Also, steamed broccoli is delicious. Top with chives and maybe a little more pepper. If you have leftovers, warm them up the next day for lunch. Don't waste good mac and cheese!!!! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

Tips for a Shared Kids' Room

Shared Room TipsOur oldest son has had to share his room with his little sister ever since she arrived on the scene almost five years and two houses ago. We have had a few different furniture arrangements between cribs, twin beds, and now a bunkbed as their needs and room sizes have changed. We have also switched their room decor from vintage-inspired to something more modern, but have always managed to make it a fun space that reflects each of their personalities whilst feeling as cohesive as possible.

It's a little tricky making one space work for both a boy and a girl, but I love a good design challenge. Below I've shared a few things I've learned along the way.

Gender Neutral Shared Boy Girl Room1. Design with each of them in mind.

I've already shared how I won my battle with the dark built-ins in a tutorial here. I wanted to use this space as a way to display their stuff without it turning into an eyesore. One of the ways I was able to keep it both interesting and gender neutral was by using pattern and color instead of relying on a theme.

I repeated the same geometric-style theme and colors elsewhere in the room in strong amounts but left the rest in smaller doses. You'll notice a lot of black, white, and yellow tones. However, Ruby's handmade quilt also has plenty of pink, red, aqua, and green in it. I also chose to display items that belonged to each of them that fit within the black, white, and yellowish color scheme. Sebastian's black Darth Vader clock is displayed alongside Ruby's yellow stuffed elephant. Decorating with belongings within your chosen color palette allows the room to be both personal and cohesive.

Wall Decor in Kids' Shared RoomOrganize and Stash2. Aesthetically pleasing storage is important.

The loud and proud pink princess accessories are contained in the coordinating yellow bins in the bookshelf, and Sebastian's primary color lego pieces are neatly stashed in clear plastic tubs hidden under the bottom bunk. Stuffed animals live in a large coiled basket and larger toys are stashed in their shared closet. Their possessions each have a home where they can be easily accessed and that look lovely when their room is picked up. I can make no promises for an aesthetically pleasing space halfway through a play date though. 

Special TouchesSave Space When You Can3. Give them their own special spaces.

Ruby spends a lot more time in their shared room because Sebastian's in school, so it's usually just her stuff spread all over the floor at the end of the day. I knew Sebastian needed a place to put his lego creations once he was done building them with the peace of mind that his little sister wouldn't break them apart during a feisty round of pet shop.

I moved all of the out-of-season linens and board games out of the built-ins in their closet and stored them elsewhere so that Sebastian would have a place to display his many creations. It's a little dark in there, so I also added a battery powered LED light from Ikea so he can see even with the door closed. He said it feels like a secret fort and loves knowing they won't be smashed. Ruby and I love that we aren't stepping on legos all day. 

Shared Kids' Room4. Utilize furniture that is multifunctional.

Put your stuff to work! Not only is the furniture in the kids' room appropriate for their age, it'll still be useful a few years down the road barring it's still in good condition. The shared dresser used to belong in our bedroom but is now split between the two kids. The Ikea shelving unit holds toys and books but might also one day hold Sebastian's budding record collection. The bean bag is an easy spot to lay a squirmy baby but also useful for when the kids have friends over. The coiled basket full of stuffed animals will someday hold all of their dirty laundry. The bunk bed will be used in one of their own rooms purely for sleepovers when they no longer share a space. 

The point is, that having multifunctional items will help save you money when you transition spaces. Think about what your kids' needs are at the moment and what they will be in the next two years. They grow so quickly that sometimes it's more practical to save a little on the items that won't stick around long and splurge on those that will. 

Art Wall 5. Involve them in customizing their room.

I like to give my kids controlled choices. I really wanted them to feel like they had a part in decorating their shared room without handing over the reigns completely. Part of this was to keep it from becoming a battle over how much Captain America was too much Captain America and whether or not it was fair to have a pink floral rug in an eight-year-old boy's room.

For example, I asked them to create some art for the art wall but limited their color choices to black, yellow, or shades of blue so that whatever they created would be cohesive with the rest of the room's design. Ruby made a fun abstract painting and Sebastian drew a battle scene of some Star Wars legos. I mixed those in with a photo of all three kids, enlarged a photobooth picture from a few years ago of the older two, and made a fun felt pennant utilizing one of Ruby's favorite sayings. They love to show off their work to any company that come over, and I love that this was a joint(ish) effort.

Personal CollectionsWe're actually moving soon to a house where Sebastian will get his own room and Ruby and Smith will eventually share once he's moved out of our room, so I'll be referring back to my own tips in a few weeks! What have you learned about decorating a shared room? -Rachel

Credits//Author: Rachel Denbow. Photographer: Rachel Denbow and Heather Gray. Most photos edited with The Signature Collection.

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