March & April at A Beautiful Mess

Mandi for A Beautiful Mess

I’ve been loving life since stepping hanging up my barista apron to work more with the team at A Beautiful Mess, even if it means I spend a bit less time here at my own blog. But just look at all of the fun things I get to make! Some of these projects are super easy, while others definitely take a bit more time. But be sure to follow the links to my original projects at A Beautiful Mess and clear some time in your schedule to get crafty! You’ll be so glad you did.

Mandi for A Beautiful Mess

Spring Easter Egg Display / Plant Stand DIY

Mandi for A Beautiful Mess

Decorative Wire Vase DIY / Peeps Bunny Place Card Holders

Mandi for A Beautiful Mess

Make a Sculptural Hand Dish / Pennant Pillow Project

Mandi for A Beautiful Mess

Make Your Own Typographic Art / Brass Succulent Planter DIY

Mandi for A Beautiful Mess

Zip-Your-Lips Pouch Tutorial / Create a Wallpaper Look with Stenciling

Mandi for A Beautiful Mess

Floating Window Planter / Thunderbolt Earrings

My Geometric Stencil Project at A Beautiful Mess

geometric wall stencil

I did something crazy in our bathroom. And this story doesn’t involve potty humor. No, it involves one sharp blade, a little paint, a paint brush, and lots of time and patience. I stenciled our bathroom walls with this beautiful art deco pattern! And I couldn’t love it more. Check out how I made my own stencils and laid out the pattern by reading my post at A Beautiful Mess.

Oh- and how cute is that Sugarboo art from Uncommon goods?

geometric wall stencil

February at A Beautiful Mess

Mandi Johnson for A Beautiful Mess

February’s projects for A Beautiful Mess were full of learning opportunities for me! I learned so much about working with concrete, I used a jigsaw for the first time (addicted!), and I tried out a quick and inexpensive way to screen print a poster. Check out the links below to view all of my February projects for A Beautiful Mess, and check out the rest of my contributions right here.

P.S. I’ll be contributing full-time for A Beautiful Mess now! I stepped down from my Starbucks job to make it all possible, and it’s just been too much fun. So don’t pinch me, whatever you do!

DIY Concrete Letter Candlestick Holders – These candlestick holders are perfect for weddings, parties, or just for a special dinner at home. I learned quite a bit about what not to do with concrete- so this post is worth checking out for that advice alone!

Wood Block Mosaic Art DIY- This project was so simple- it was a nice relaxing project to enjoy! It looks awesome hanging up in my brother’s bachelor pad, too.

Mandi Johnson for A Beautiful Mess

Convert a Cabinet into a Pull-Out Trash Bin- I was able to save quite a bit of money by using plywood and drawer slides to make this pull-out trash can to hide in our cabinet. I did mention that I’ll be removing the door hinges and screwing the cabinet door to the pull-out trash can’s apron- It will save us a motion while using it. We still haven’t gotten around to doing that- but we’re loving the hidden trash can so far!

Starburst Ceiling Medallion DIY- This was my first time using a jigsaw, and I couldn’t believe I had waited all this time to give it a try! Now I’m looking around wondering what other things I can make with this handy dandy tool.

Mandi Johnson for A Beautiful Mess

How to Make Professional Looking Gift Bags- Making your own gift bags is so easy, but there are a few tricks to making them look really professional. It’s a good skill to have if you’re forgetful like me and don’t buy proper wrapping supplies in time!

Screen Print Your Own Conversation Hearts Poster- This project was inspired by Andy Warhol and was also my first time trying out a bootleg version of screen printing using supplies I already had on hand. 

January at A Beautiful Mess

Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Last month, my projects for A Beautiful Mess were all about getting organized, making this pretty, and having fun! Check out the links below for more photos and the full tutorials for completing each project in your own home.

DIY Chalkboard Toy Box on Wheels // Lucy’s been having a ball with this one! And look at how beautiful her baby penmanship is. So proud of my little girl.

Make Your Own Gold Leaf Checkerboard // We love board games at our house, and pretty board games are even better. Phil’s already been beating my pants off at checkers since I made this set, so I think I’d better practice up.

Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

DIY Speaker Box Covers // Making our ugly sound system prettier has been on my to-do list for a while. I’m so glad I finally got around to it! It’s made a big difference in how our media set-up looks in our living room.

Try This: Hanging Baskets for Bathroom Storage // We’ve been getting a bit more organized around here, starting with toilet paper and hand towels! These basket crates were a great storage solution in our tiny “master” bathroom. They were really easy to hang, too.

Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Build & Organize a Corner Shelving System // I shared the details of how I planned and built this handy dandy shelving system in an empty corner of our home. It’s much less expensive than buying a system at the store!

DIY Modern Metallic Candle Holders // The days are short, and the nights are cold! So we’ve been getting cozy with candlelight ’round these parts. Check out how I made these fancy candle stands- they’re so easy.

Cut a Bold Photo Mat for a T.V. Gallery Wall

How to Balance out a T.V. with a Gallery Wall

Gallery walls can be these crazy intimidating monsters that either turn your home into a tacky mess or consume your every waking thought until your wall is perfect. Which it never is. So basically, they’re just monsters. It’s so tricky to do a gallery wall and do it right! But I knew that’s what I wanted to do on our T.V. wall, because let’s face it, T.V.s are big ugly black things that aren’t easily disguised in an otherwise white room. But a gallery wall can be a great solution for deemphasizing a T.V. So I embraced the monster.

cutting a photo mat

Mandi's dad from Making Nice in the Midwest

The trick to helping a t.v. fit in nicely with a gallery wall is to balance it out with another bold, black piece in the arrangement. I considered buying a dark, graphic poster (and by graphic, I mean bold, not explicit…), but when it came down to it, I realized that this wall was going to look extremely busy if I didn’t start simplifying things. So instead of using a dark poster, I decided I would put a large black mat inside one of my thin 13×19 black frames, and keep it simple by cutting only a small section out of the mat to frame a little vintage snapshot.

I found this little photo of my dad posing in front of my grandparent’s family car back in ’62, and I knew it needed to be hanging on our wall. The photo is originally only about 3.5″ square, so I scanned it onto my computer and resized it to be about 6″ square, so it wouldn’t get completely lost in the gallery wall. Then I went to the store and bought a piece of dark gray (almost black) mat board to frame it out.

How to Cut a Photo Mat

Here’s what you need to cut a photo mat:

  • Photo
  • Frame
  • Mat board at least as large as the frame
  • Craft blade
  • Mat cutter (I found this freehand one for $10 and it works just fine!)
  • Non-slip steel ruler
  • Pencil
  • Cutting Board 

How to Cut a Photo Mat

cutting a photo mat

Step One: Lay the glass from your photo frame onto the corner of your mat board, trace around it with a pencil, and then cut out the mat with a craft blade and steel ruler. Be sure to use a fresh blade for best results! I like a non-slip ruler for obvious reasons, but I know other people who dislike them because your blade can slide under the raised edge and make your cutting less accurate. I don’t think it’s a big deal in this instance, though.

Step Two: Draw the lines for where your mat will be cut. I made the cutting area 1/4″ smaller than the size of my image. I wanted the border to be equal around the photo on the bottom and sides of it, so I measured in from the outsides and bottom of the cut mat board.

How to Cut a Photo Mat

Step Three: Place a new blade inside the freehand mat cutter by unscrewing the black knob and sliding the blade in until the rounded top of it reaches the line for the type of mat you are using. I am using a standard mat, so I tightly screwed in the blade to the line that says “STD.” If you are using a double thick mat (which would be absolutely luscious!), screw the blade tightly into the line that says “DBL.” Be sure the black knob is tightened as tight as you can get it, or it will move during cutting and really mess up your edge.

Step Four: Place your ruler along one of the lines you drew for the cutting border, and rest the mat cutter against the edge of the ruler. You will begin piercing the mat board 1/4″ above where the edge of your cutting line begins. After inserting the blade into the mat board, readjust the ruler if necessary before slowly dragging the mat cutter along its edge. Hold the ruler very firmly so that it doesn’t move during cutting, or else your cut edge will be wavy. This is where the non-slip backing of the ruler comes in handy!

Be very sure that you are cutting on the correct side of the line, which would be the inside of the square. If you are cutting from the outside of the area you are cutting out, then your mat will be cut in reverse. Think before you cut! I’ve made that mistake before and it’s unnecessary and frustrating.

How to Cut a Photo Mat

After your mat is cut, place the photo behind it and use tape at the corners to keep it in place. Matt board is easily scuffed and marred, so be careful when transporting it from the store, and be extra careful when you’re working with it too. I put my freshly cut mat and photo behind the painstakingly cleaned glass of my frame before I came to the conclusion that the glare against the black and the glass was just the worst thing in the world. So I took out the glass, and now my mat isn’t protected, but I figured reprinting a photo and cutting the mat wouldn’t be half as bad as being aggravated by glare every time I glance up at the photo. Priorities.

How to Cut a Photo Mat

How to Balance out a T.V. with a Gallery Wall

arranging a gallery wall

I further simplified the gallery wall arrangement by removing the art that was previously in those two matching white 8×10 frames and filling them with these creepy eyes that were inspired by Twiggy and T.J. Eckleburg. I drew them digitally and just printed them out onto presentation paper to stick in the frames. Instead of putting a photo in the top right picture frame, I painted some card stock with fuchsia and orange acrylic paint and called it art.

In my opinion, gallery walls do need a little interest, as long as they’re not too busy. I don’t typically enjoy using all of the same frame and art styles, but I know when you mix it up, things can get really busy really fast. I found interest by mixing sizes, shapes, thicknesses of frames, and textures, but I kept the color scheme limited to neutrals, blues, and hues of orange. I balanced out the wood pieces (two wooden frames and the vintage sign) by hanging them caddy corner from each other, and I tried to do the same with other colors involved in the arrangement, like the blue found in both the Hammerpress Iron & Wine poster and the framed needlework piece. I also thought about balance with the placement of the white frames caddy corner from the white void that’s to the right of the television.  The yellow circles pop art piece and the little orange acrylic painting were similar enough in color that I thought they should be separate from each other for balance too.

I’m sneaky and arranged (and rearranged, and rearranged) all of my art in Photoshop to make sure everything would fit nicely, moving things around digitally before actually hammering nail holes in my wall. I was attempting to work with just the art I already owned, but when I had everything how I wanted it in Photoshop, there were some empty spots that still needed filled- like where the 2 8×10 white frames are now and where the little square frame is at the top right. I noted the size of the gaps and went out to the store to buy the frames to fill them. It cost me $25 total for the three frames (from Pat Catans and Marshalls), and the art I put inside was homemade/free, so I’d say I did a pretty good job compiling the gallery wall without running out and buying new things to beef it up. I was concerned about the open space to the right of the t.v., and thought about buying some art to fill it, but instead I just put a plant there and I really like how it looks. Now- to keep the plant alive!

I’ve been pinning gallery wall inspiration recently on Pinterest if you’d like to take a look at my “In My Home” board!

How to Balance out a T.V. with a Gallery Wall

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