Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)           I am so BEYOND excited about this project. It's, like, totally one of those moods where you finally know how Maria feels when she sings, "The Hills Are Alive" in The Sound of Music. Yeah. It's that level for me. I have been obsessed with the comeback that lucite (the clear acrylic) has been making over this past year. The term "Lucite" is actually a brand name for a type of acrylic, but lately it's become synonymous with the general product (kind of like how you say "kleenex" when you mean a tissue). Anyway, I've been dying to work a little lucite into our new house, but once I saw how crazy expensive it can be, I thought I'd try the DIY route to see what I could come up with instead. I'm in the middle of making over our guest bathroom, and I decided that a lucite and gold towel bar would be a great addition to the space. This project is so easy too! It literally took only minutes to complete!

Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)
Supplies:
-clear 1" acrylic rod (I had mine cut to 26".)
-ceiling brackets for 1" drapery rod (x2)
-gold spray paint
-drill or screwdriver
-super glue

Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)           Since my ceiling brackets were a little more antique gold than I wanted, I first painted the brackets with a few coats of gold spray paint and let them dry.

Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)           Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)           Once the brackets were dry, I mounted them to my wall (where I wanted the bar to hang) about 24" apart (use painter's tape and a level to get a straight line to go off of). The lucite rod was 26", so mounting the brackets in a little closer allows some of the lucite to hang out either side of the bracket, but you can adjust it how you like and buy whatever length of rod you need. 

Slip your clear rod into the brackets and either tighten the screws that come with the brackets to keep the rod in place, or you can use a bit of super glue to glue the rod into the brackets.

Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)        Once your towel rack is complete, add those towels and let it get to work!

Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)           Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)      Lucite Towel Bar DIY (click through for tutorial)           The look of the lucite and the gold is just so polished, and I love how it brings the coolness factor of a simple towel bar up a million and a half notches. If you can spend a little bit more on your project, you can use these brass end brackets instead of the ceiling brackets, but it will cost about $80 for the towel rack instead of closer to $30 like mine did. Now that I've completed one task with lucite, I can't wait to think of more places for it—challenge accepted! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Laura Gummerman and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

DIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersI've always thought it would be cool to have a collection of beautiful decanters adorning an artfully styled bar cart, but I'm not sure if I'm fancy enough for that. And besides—I really do love the look of well designed bottles of alcohol. So instead of working on a decanter collection, I thought I'd dress up my hodgepodge bar with coordinating bottle stoppers. I made my own so I could have variety and achieve a cohesive style. And let's be real—I just love any excuse to feel super crafty with a really easy project.

DIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersThese wood burned bottle stoppers were really fun to make, and bonus—the project left a faint aroma of a bonfire in my home, which is a welcome scent in the dead of winter. (I just wish I'd had some s'mores to round out the whole experience....) This was my first time using a wood burning kit, which intimidated me at first (everything I try for the first time intimidates me), but it ended up being really easy and fun!

If you don't have or don't wish to purchase a wood burning kit, you can easily use paint instead for this project. Though I personally love the appearance and texture (and smell, apparently) of burnt wood.

DIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersSupplies:
-wood block or knob (You can find these at most craft stores, or purchase a bunch of blocks here and big knobs here and small knobs here.)
-cork (These corks fit snugly in all of my bottles, these were a tad too small, and these were a tad too big, sticking out pretty far on top of my bottles.)
-super glue
-wood finish of your choice
-pencil
-wood burning tool

DIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersStep One: Draw your design onto the wooden block or knob. Use a ruler if you need or draw freehand. Press lightly so you can erase any lines that show in the end.

Step Two: Outline your pencil lines with the heated wood burner, then fill in any parts of the design you'd like to be bold by using the edge of the tool, moving it slowly across the surface to be filled. The filling in process takes a bit of time, but the outlining goes quickly. Make sure you take it slow, though. You can't erase any mistakes!

Warning: Burning will create some smoke, but not so much that it should set off any smoke detectors. However, you don't want to get too close as you work or the smoke will cause your eyes to burn, just like sitting too close to a campfire. Or you may choose to wear safety goggles. Also, the wood burner is obviously extremely hot. So be careful, and don't leave this tool unattended around children or pets.

DIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersStep Three: Finish the burned block or knob with wood stain or oil. I recommend sealing the wood so that your bottle stoppers won't be affected by splashed wine or tinted beverages during use.

DIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersStep Four: Apply super glue to the wide end of the cork.

Step Five: Center the cork onto the bottom of your designed block or knob and hold in place for as long as the glue manufacturer's instructions specify. And then you've finished the project!

DIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersI created quite the assortment of bottle stoppers and plan to make even more to give to friends. This project is really easy to do, but the results look like something you'd purchase from a boutique. Just the right kind of craft for homemade gift giving, if you ask me, and a great accompaniment for a bottle of wine as a housewarming gift.

DIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersDIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersDIY Wood Burned Bottle StoppersHere are some of the bottles from my bar, all topped off quite nicely now. These bottle stoppers make my collection appear much more stylized and pretty to look at! And I gotta ask... who else isn't a connoisseur and selects their alcohol based off the bottle design? (Yeah, that's definitely me!) -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Suki loves the new sofa!I'm really excited to share the progress we've made in our living room today. This room has been a puzzle for me. I'm STILL in the process of imagining what I want it to be... but it's also one of my favorite spaces for so many reasons. 

It's the first room you see (beyond the entryway) when you walk into the house. It has turquoise color washed floors, beautiful vaulted ceilings and a giant window. Until this past week, it had zero furniture (except for the piano). I would stand in there often and just try to imagine all the different layouts we could do. But I knew that ultimately, the only way to REALLY imagine it was to get a few of the big pieces of furniture in there and build from there. 

But first, a little time travel! Last May, our living room looked like this... 

Before(See the full BEFORE post here.) I wish I could show you how it looked when we viewed it the first time (fully furnished) because the previous owners fit a LOT of furniture into the space. I'm glad we experienced it in that way because when we came in on closing day to an empty room, it felt much smaller. 

It's weird how furniture can make a room feel bigger OR smaller. 

We lived with it empty for about four months, and I'm glad we did because now we have a much better idea of how we'll use the space and what the flow of our daily lives is vs. having guests and entertaining... and we can design the room for both! 

Living room progress reportFirst let's talk about those floors

I have ZERO regrets about this choice. It makes the room so custom and special, and now we get to decorate with all neutrals, which I LOVE. I envision a lot of layered neutrals, whites and texture. I want it to feel super comfortable and cozy, but also bold and unique. 

I feel like this house really is a fun way to explore different parts of my style. A lot of rooms are mid-century and Palm Springs inspired... lots of white, brass, marble, fluffy blankets, plants... I'd say that's like 75% of the house. But then in a few rooms I get to explore different sides. The dining room is so much more Hollywood Regency and BOLDER than the rest of the house... a style that I love in small doses, but if every room were that style, it would be way too much. In this living room I feel like I can explore my more rustic side, which is inspired by my grandmother Corina. She loves Wyoming, farm life, and the southwest. One of her most prized possessions is a ranch oak sofa set that was inspired by something she saw in one of the Kennedy's houses. She's definitely my muse for this room, and I am excited to incorporate some elements with that inspiration. 

Living room progress report OK, let's talk about these sofas! 

I knew I wanted light tan leather sofas. They are the perfect color to compliment the turquoise and really the only natural color of leather that I feel fits our vibe. We looked at lots of options and ended up choosing the Sven Charm Sofa from Bryght

I first heard about Bryght because my friend Katie had just bought the same sofa (in black) for her home. I got to test it out at her house, and it was super comfy, so I was sold. I'm not totally against buying things online without seeing them in person (I've done a lot of that), but it's always a BONUS when you can try it out in person. 

I love that they are comfy (I will totally be taking a random Sunday afternoon nap there) and look worn in and a little aged. I like that because I feel like they will age well over time because that's how they are supposed to look.

Living room progress report  Something I noticed after stalking the Bryght Insta is that this sofa seemed to photograph as different colors in different lighting. And it's TOTALLY true. I've already noticed that it can look much darker or lighter depending on the angles. As someone who is DAILY taking photos at home, I kind of love that.

Living room progress report    From this angle, I still feel like the room looks awkward. This is what you see from the entryway. I want to put a cute table behind that sofa. On the hunt for something super light wood and a great shape! 

Oh—and you can see the big window from here. We had it replaced, and it's so pretty, fresh and OPEN now. Plus it doesn't leak anymore—woohoo! 

Living room progress report     Over here there are a lot of to-dos on my list. Above this sofa I think I want to do some kind of large scale art piece or maybe a group of juju hats. 

I'm not sure why, but I've been avoiding gallery walls so far. And the one I have is all black and white. I think I just did SO many in our last home I kind of want to try other things this time?

What would you do above the sofa here? 

Other things—we'll be shopping for a neutral rug, a coffee table and some other small pieces. Not in a huge rush, though. I also need to find a BIG, awesome pot for our cactus. 

Living room progress report      Last angle, over on this wall I am thinking a skinny side table and big round mirror are in order. 

Whew! What a process! This is a FUN room to work on. I'm glad we have the chance to decorate it slowly. 

By the way, I'm about to start sharing ROOM TOURS! I made a schedule for all of 2016, and I'll be sharing about one room a month. There are quite a few that are already very close to being ready. I'm glad I have my sharing schedule to keep me motivated throughout the year... thanks to YOU guys! Haha!

Have a great day! xx- Elsie 

Credits//Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions.  

5 Easy Watercolor Techniques (via abeautifulmess.com)With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share five cute and super easy homemade card designs I came up with. Some of these are loosely based on a few Happy Mail designs I worked on this past year. Each card showcases a different watercolor technique, all of which ANYONE can do. You ready? 

Pentel watercolorsI'm working with our longtime supporters at Pentel for this post. I used their awesome watercolor set for each of these cards. I loved having so many colors to choose from as I tried to dream up some fun designs. :)

Moon phases card Moon phases insideThis first card is probably my favorite. I just love how it turned out! I decided to make a square card featuring phases of the moon on the front (to go with my inside message). My moon phases probably aren't perfectly scientific, as I simply cut them out based on an image from Google and altered it slightly as I felt it worked better with my overall design. 

It's not a science project, it's a Valentine's card. And that's that. :)

Salt and nail polish techniqueTo give my moons some texture and the appearance of craters, I simply used table salt and nail polish remover. Just add while the paint is still very wet. Once dry, gently rub the salt away before cutting out the phases and adhering to your card. Easy!

Crayon resist card Crayon resist card insideThis graphic card has a few fun things going on. First I used a crayon resist technique with my watercolor paint. Then I cut out and added the "XO" from glitter paper. I also stitched some vellum to the outside so the card kind of has two layers. I did this with a sewing machine, but you could easily do it by hand or even use a stapler instead. 

If you make Valentine's cards this year and don't use any glitter, you're doing it wrong! 

:)

Crayon resist techniqueHere's how the crayon resist works: just draw your design in white crayon, then watercolor over the top. I tried out three different designs, but in the end I liked the black and white stripes the most. 

Ombre cardYou can use water to thin out just one color and create and ombre effect to the front of a card. I then added some big, gold adhesive stickers to the front. You could also print over the top or add letters using stamps once the card is dry. 

Polka dot card Polka dot techniqueThis one is probably my second favorite, but I'm a sucker for polka dots. :) I just used a Q-tip to add the watercolor polka dots, and once dry I added a big, glitter paper heart. You could use all sorts of different objects to stamp with here and the watercolor gives it a messy, imperfect effect. 

Splatter card Splatter techniqueAnd last I got really messy with my paints and splattered around the edges of a card. I did this in my sink so it was easier to clean up. Once the card dried, I removed the paper from the center and added a short message. 

Color wheel card Color wheel insideBonus Card! This one doesn't really use a specific "technique" as I simply painted eight different triangles solid colors to create a color wheel. I could have done this with construction paper or some other kind of paint, but I do kind of love how the watercolors give it more texture. I feel like the message in this one is perfect for that fun friend in your life. :) 

Are you guys making cards this season? Any fun designs you've dreamed up? xo. Emma

P.S. If watercolor just isn't your thing, you should check out this awesome hand lettering tutorial Elsie shared last year.

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

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