How Did That Hold Up? (Vol. 5)

It’s always helpful to know if some of the bigger DIY’s you might see on A Beautiful Mess are worth the time or money spent making them, right? Apart from the satisfaction of making something greater than the sum of its parts, it’s important that some of these projects last awhile and are suitable for most lifestyles, i.e. those with pets or kids and maybe those who rent instead of own their home. I’m happy to share that all of the projects in this post are still golden! If you’ve ever given two thoughts to making one of them, consider this your green light and get to work!

This Woven Leather Bench DIY lived at the foot of my bed after it was finished, and even though it spent a lot of time supporting baskets of clean laundry, it did it with great style. Ha! Not only was this one of my favorite (and relatively easy) DIY’s to create, it was one that always drew comments when it was shared on Instagram. It felt more expensive than it really was because the elements that made up the construction were substantial materials. I’m forecasting this bench lives a very long and happy life. I couldn’t bring it with me during my recent move, but it’s found a good home with Emma so this won’t be the last you see of it! If you’re looking for a home refresh or relatively simple furniture project, this one is a great option for a bedroom, a hallway, a dining table, or even a studio.

If I had to do it over, I might have sealed the pine bench with something before adding the leather, but I still wouldn’t have painted it. I love the pairing of warm wood and caramel-colored leather.

This Transformable Hairpin Leg Desk has been a workhorse in my studio. It’s been in use since I made it and made the cut list for what I like to refer to as “the BIG move” to my next place. I love that I can easily switch it from a corner desk to a long workspace for packing orders in assembly line fashion depending on my workflow that day. The surface is still nice and flat and as sturdy as the day I made it. In fact, I switch it back and forth so often that I stopped drilling the screws in that hold the two pieces together where they overlap. I just set it up where they fit together and the two legs underneath, as well as the puzzle piece joinery (if you can call such a simple overlap joinery) hold things in place nicely. I sealed it with a poly seal originally and it has protected the pine beautifully.

This project has probably gotten the most bang for its buck in regards to how often I use it and for how much it adds to my space visually. Those powder-coated legs aren’t cheap but you can get a similar look with more economic raw steel legs, if you don’t mind getting behind a can or two of spray paint.

This Indigo Envelope Bolster Pillow DIY was one of my favorite projects from 2017! It’s still the star of the show on my bed and only gets more lovely with time. It has faded slightly with washing but the white parts are still white and the pattern is still beautiful.The unassuming canvas drop cloth I used from a local hardware store is the key to this project because the cotton softens over time and shows the indigo beautifully. I never had any issues with the blue rubbing off on anything because it was usually just used decoratively and had been washed at least once before use on the bed. Working with an indigo dye kit can make this a really fun late summer project and you’ll probably end up with more than a dyed bolster pillow!

This Denim Rug DIY was made over three years ago but only recently shared here on A Beautiful Mess. Three years and tons of cycles through the washing machine and it’s still looking great in our master bathroom. I’m not sure if it’s because denim is just naturally so sturdy or because of my excellent craftsmanship (ha!), but this one gets a gold star. If I could go back and remake it, I would make sure all of the different denim pieces I used were 100% denim and didn’t have any elastic in them. I remember thrifting all of the denim used from jeans at a few different thrift stores and I was a little less aware of the fabric make up and more focused on the shades of blue. I also think I would have left out the brightest blue and just done more muted and darker shades, but I still love the vintage vibe this rug offers. And did I mention it’s still looking great after a jillion washes? Worth all of that hand-piecing.

If you’re not already familiar with your sewing machine, this one may offer a bigger challenge, but I believe in you!

This Modern Toddler Bed has been one of my favorite woodworking projects in the last year because it turned out looking exactly like I wanted. It’s survived over a year of being jumped on, slept on, and snored in and is still as sturdy as the day it was built! My youngest is 4 1/2 and still fits in this bed, but I imagine we’ll be upgrading him to a twin in the next year. It helped free up more floor space for their shared bedroom and I think he loved the coziness of his bed frame being above the mattress. I also designed it with legs that could be detached and moved to a twin-sized box frame (or any other project that might need a cute set of legs).

I wouldn’t change a thing about how this one turned out.

I just sold this Modern Wooden Wardrobe DIY to another small business owner after using it for over two years. Our old house didn’t have a lot of easy access clothing storage, so I built this versatile piece to solve a storage problem. It ended up becoming an anchor in the layout of the room—adding some visual height and allowing me to display seasonal accessories that also acted like decoration. I didn’t seal this piece when I built it but if I could do it over, I would’ve sealed it with beeswax to bring even more warmth out of the wood and protect it from dust wanting to stick to the wood grain fibers.

This piece is very renter-friendly because you don’t need to attach it to any walls and it can be unscrewed for a big move. You can customize your shelving according to your needs using the basic tutorial I shared in any room where you need more storage or an open-shelf display piece. I would easily build another one of these again in any future space if I needed one.

This sturdy canvas Gym Bag DIY has accompanied me on several weekend trips and weaving workshops in the last year and is so useful! I love how large and roomy it is as well as how easy it is to carry. If I were to do anything different, I would’ve ordered a longer zipper so that I might have wider access to the inside. The zipper I purchased was the longest they had in the store and I was in a hurry to finish it before I took it on vacation. It works fine but a longer zipper would be ideal. The pockets on each end were definitely a good idea for stashing smaller items, too. It’s usually where I toss my sunglasses and chapstick on the way to the beach or stash my water bottle when I’m packing up for a day trip.

The extra wide straps on this design are probably vital for this size to be comfortable lugging around, so be sure you don’t skip that and go for the standard option. I ordered the yardage online and got them pretty quickly in the mail. I definitely paid less for this project than it would’ve cost to purchase something similar at a boutique store and it’s still doing a great job.

I made this Hand-Stitched Pouf last fall and it is still in use. The kitty, however, takes up a lot more space on it than he used to! The exterior is really sturdy but the filling has gone a little lumpy, as sometimes poufs do. In hindsight, I would add in bean bag stuffing along with the repurposed items I stuffed this with so that it had a little more cushion and filled out even more. It was perfect for movie nights when my big kids wanted to sprawl out and there wasn’t any room left on the couch. Ha! It also got dragged upstairs to their shared room a few times during the winter when we needed a little more coziness for bedtime stories.

It was beautiful in a warm white but after having used it for awhile, it’s definitely showing a little dirt. If I did it again, I might choose a busy pattern in a complimentary color to our home colors that might hide possible stains or dirty toes crawling on it. I think this original design was wishful thinking, considering we have three kids and two indoor pets. Ha!

My Small Space Vertical Herb Garden was doing great until we left for vacation last year and then the hot June sun did its work. So, my suggestion is to make sure you have helpful neighbors who will water your water-sensitive plants while you’re away or move things to a shady spot and hope for the best. Otherwise, the black fabric held up great and the plants were getting bigger and filling in the gaps.

This project gets an A+ for construction but needs to be maintained with regular watering. It’s perfect for apartment living if you’ve got an outdoor patio where you can add a hook to the wall. It’s also perfect for people that remember to water their plants everyday. On another note, this might be the perfect organization project using wool felt or canvas and located indoors. With similar construction and smaller pockets, you’d be able to hang it over the back of a door and keep things within arm’s reach!

So, which of these is your favorite? If you could pick one to have someone else build for you, which one would you choose? I hope your summer has included at least one or two fun projects for your space but if not, there’s always this fall! – Rachel

Credits//Author: Rachel Denbow. Photography: Rachel Denbow and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Love the closet and the bolster pillow, but it’s hard to pick a favorite. They’re all 100% amazing!

  • My fave is the wardrobe! I’d love a DIY post for a front hall organizer of some sort – we’ve got the worlds teensiest foyer and not a single downstairs closet, and for the year-plus we’ve lived in this house I’ve been struggling to come up with something that will organize shoes, coats, bags, and mail for our family of four.

  • So many beautiful projects and I remember them all. My favourite (still), the bench, the bed and the wardrobe!

  • I gotta say my favorite is still the leather bench! It has such a great Charles and Ray Eames vibe to it. Endless options for finished look depending on the paint and fabric selection. Has the leather held up good tension, or is there sign of sagging in the middle?

    • Hey! The leather is still in fantastic shape. The top of the bench is a solid piece of wood with the woven leather as a decorative element on top of it. It’s woven neatly so that there isn’t much room to have it catch and snag on anything when it’s sat on.

  • Honestly, I think this has got to be the BEST list of DIY projects I have never seen before. I’ve been following you guys for years and I haven’t had a chance to see so many of these. The closet is SUCH a cool idea and something we definitely need over here. The hairpin desk is EXACTLY what my husband has been envisioning for your studio/ craft room and I love the way that workout bag looks! Seriously, I’m going to have NO time to work on my own blog projects because I’m so obsessed with all of yours! Thank you for continually being so inspiring.

  • It’s so nice to revisit some of these DIYs! My favourite is definitely the Modern Wooden Wardrobe – kinda wish the person you sold it to had been me! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • I love the Modern Wooden Wardrobe too! My boyfriend and I have been intending to build something similar in our nearly closetless room.

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