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

Living Room Updates: The Sectional is Here!

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

When you first move into a new home, it’s a bit frustrating putting your old belongings to work in the new space. Sometimes you have to set aside cherished things because they don’t work with the floor plan, and other times you just need to make room for the awesome orange chairs you found at a garage sale for five bucks. (Try not to be jealous- but yes- that really happened!) But after living with hand-me-down furniture weirdly arranged to suit our lifestyle, it’s really fun to finally step back and see our home finally coming together! I think our new Ikea sectional is largely to thank for the dramatic difference.

We had been wanting a new sofa for a long time now, but there just wasn’t room in our meager budget. So we decided to pinch our pennies and every month put $100 into an envelope with the words “sofa fund” scrawled across it. I knew a sectional would be a great choice for this space- our one and only living/family room, but it seemed like we would never be able to afford the Room and Board sectional that I’d been pining after for so long. And really, after thinking about it through the months of saving, getting such an expensive sofa with a young family just didn’t seem prudent. We decided to no longer save for the pricier sectional and settle for the Karlstad from Ikea instead, ordering new legs (which I’m still waiting on) to help elevate the look of the less expensive Ikea sofa. So now we can continue to save $100 per month, but we’re putting it towards other needs- like dining room chairs!

Walking into Ikea with a fistful of cash was really satisfying, but I’m even more satisfied with how the sectional purchase has helped transform our living room. It’s much less disjointed than it was when we first settled in. Also, I think after getting rid of my doily decorations and whatnot, our home is becoming a great reflection of who we are as a family! If you have any questions about where anything is from, ask away and I’ll answer in the comments below.

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Making Nice in the Midwest- Living Room Updates

Dining Room Decisions: THE CHAIRS

DIY ceiling medallion

Window shopping for dining room chairs has always been fun and easy. I’ve filled Pinterest boards with different inspirational dining rooms and chair options, But of course, now that I’m actually ready with an envelope of real, live, dirty greenbacks, I can’t make up my mind to save my life!

Why is it so difficult for me to decide on dining room chairs? I have completely changed my mind from the last time we discussed this. I think I’m having commitment issues. But like I said before, if we’re going to get new chairs, I’d really like them to be chairs we’ll have around for a very, very long time- if not forever! You guys brought up a good point, though. If we’re going to invest in forever chairs, I probably shouldn’t be crunching number so tightly. What’s a few more hundred dollars for a real dining room investment? (I’ll tell you what a few hundred dollars are- they’re about half a year’s worth of home improvement savings!) But I’ve decided to wait to take the dining room chair plunge, and really settle on a set that we truly love.

Here are the top contenders right now- of course, the one I love the most (this white spoke dining chair) is the most expensive. But I’m crossing my fingers for a sale. Oh- and while we’re talking about my dining room improvements, check out this ceiling medallion DIY I shared at A Beautiful Mess today!

West Elm Spoke Chair

I love this spoke dining chair from West Elm, because it has the traditional feeling of a spindle-back windsor chair, but the tapered style of the back lends the chair a bit of a funky vibe. It would be easy to wipe clean, and its more substantial size would stand up well against our large farmhouse table. This chair is a winner- but we’ll be saving quite a bit longer to take home a set of six.

Panton knock-off chair

The idea of having a grouping of these Panton style dining chairs alongside our rustic farmhouse table seems like a perfect contrast to me. I love the sleek style and mod design of these chairs, but they are a bit bulky, visually speaking, and the knock-offs that I actually can afford (The originals are more than $300, and I prefer the West Elm chair for that price.) have this weird webbing behind the curve of the seat, to give the weaker material extra support. The chair really doesn’t look so elegant with the webbing, so I’m not so sure I’d like to have the Panton knock-offs lined up in a row at our dining room table. Maybe somewhere else in our home?


Modern Sleigh Chair

This modern sleigh chair reminds me of a cross between the Panton chair above, and the gorgeous Saarinen tulip chair that I shared in my last dining room chair post. I love its sleek and mod vibes, and that it’s much airier that the clunky looking Panton chair. The cushion can be removed for cleaning and even recovered- which would be a great way to change up the look and add pattern to our dining room. But I’m just afraid that this style is such a statement that I’ll grow tired of it as the years progress. Also, would its small frame not work well with our bulky table? And could I ever commit to such a funky chair? I’m just not sure!

So what do you all think? I have a while to think about all of our options, because right now we’ve decided to save for six of the West Elm spoke chairs (option one), which will take a bit of time, unfortunately. Waiting is so difficult sometimes, but at least when the time comes, I’ll know with confidence which chair we want. Or will I?

Image sources: first dining room  image by Lena Ostling for Hus & Hem via Bright Bazaar Blog, second image by Barry Calhoun for Style at Home, last image by Daniel Mahon of Kirra Jamison & Dane Lovett’s home via The Design Files.

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.

Dining Room Before & Afters

Making Nice in the Midwest

Phil had just returned from a day in Columbus, cheering on our Ohio State Buckeyes as the snow piled up around him and countless other fans who braved the weather for the sake of their sport. I, however, was cozied up at home, braving an altogether different task- painting the walls and baseboards in both our living and dining rooms with a hyper toddler afoot. It’s a difficult task, without ending up with baby foot prints tracked around our home with fresh paint. But I did it! And when Phil returned, I was still on my home makeover high, so I convinced him to tackle our ugly fireplace for a fun date night activity. What can I say? The man loves me. Now that the fireplace facade is gone, I’m feeling the momentum to finish up the plans I’ve long had for this space. Poor Phil. If he’d only known, he probably would have never known that helping me with the fireplace would get him more than just a trip to Funkytown, but also a trip to Ikea, CB2, and the antique mall.

Well, since I’m obviously excited about the changed we’ve been making in our home, I thought I’d share the progress we’ve made in our dining room, and then share my plans for the near future! Check out the before and during photos of the fireplace below, and see how it originally looked in the first photo I took of this home before we ever purchased it.

brass fireplace surround removal

When we initially had the home inspected, we learned that one of our two fireplaces (the one in the dining room) needed a lot of expensive work done to the cap, flue, and lining. Since money is something we have very little of, unlike patience, we just ignored it until that one fateful day this winter when I just couldn’t take it any more. Our plans are to have a professional install a set of gas logs which will look nice and also put out heat in the space. There’s a gas line in place (the pipes will need replaced, though), and we can just block off the flue instead of repairing it.

The fireplace facade was easier to remove than I thought it would be, though Phil did all of the muscle work. The initial surround was bolted on from the inside, and we used a crow bar to pull it off the wall after everything was unscrewed. There are still holes where it had been bolted on, but I can live with that for now until I learn how to weld, and then I’ll make a new, minimalistic surround to cover up the holes. It looks much better now, though I can’t wait until the day when we can use gas logs and a new surround, designed by yours truly.

brass fireplace surround removal- after

When we moved into the home, it was all painted in an awful sea foam green- a color I left in our bathrooms where it looks nice, but promptly covered up in the rest of the rooms. In my haste to have the dining room and living room painted while I was pregnant and escaping the fumes at my parents’ home, I made the mistake of choosing a color I really ended up hating and living with anyway for two years. You can read all about it and see these photos below in color right here.

Dining Room Before Picture

Dining Room Before Picture

For Christmas this year, my mother-in-law gave me these pretty yellow curtains that I had found on Amazon (right here), which so nicely replaced the makeshift sheers that have been hanging on our windows for far too long. Since the photos above were taken, I also replaced the busy kilim rug with a 7-year-old West Elm rug I had in storage, added some plants from our patio, and replaced the chairs I had been so giddy about finding last year with our old Ikea ones we’ve had since we were first married almost 7 years ago. Why did I do that? Well, because I’m selling them on Craigslist so I can put the money towards a set of dream chairs! The problem is, I just can’t decide which chairs are my dream chairs. Because I like them all. Ahhhh! 

dining room during photos

bar china cabinet

vintage crewel art and Milton Avery canvas

To complete the room, I’d like to get new dining room chairs, a new light with more of a presence (we’ll move this one into the kitchen, close to the ceiling), and a new hutch (this is one I thrifted years ago as a placeholder). I’ve been really drooling over this globe chandelier at CB2, and I think that it would match the curtains I have up. I can get a little color crazy, but I’m trying to keep it simpler in the dining room. As far as a hutch goes, I’d love to get something primitive looking (like this one), and paint it a bold black, or a crisp white. I found a huge one I loved at a local antique mall last year, but it was $500, and not in my budget.

As far as chairs goes, I was so close to buying option A below, but then it occurred to me that if I get new chairs, they should be ones I’ll keep for a very long time- like maybe a lifetime- and according to the reviews, though the price is unbeatable ($113 for a pair), the quality is not. So, I thought maybe I should just spring for my forever love- the tulip chair (option C below). I could get a set of two from Amazon here for $239. Not too bad! Especially for a new set. I can’t even find used ones for that price. But if I’m being realistic, $478 for four chairs is still a lot of money for my little family. So I’m beginning to think that this wire Bertoia style chair (option B below) might be the ticket. It’s a beautiful chair that I lived with at my brother’s house for two years, and though not the most comfortable  chair in the world, they’ll last forever, and are classic pieces that I think are just beautiful. Plus, I can get 4 chairs for $389, which is really affordable for a design classic like this. I sound like I’m talking myself into making the purchase, don’t I? Maybe it’s true love after all.

modern dining room chairs

dining room with houseplants and yellow curtainsmark rothko poster in dining room

  • Framed poster above fireplace:
  • Crewel art right of curtain: vintage
  • Beach Painting right of curtain: Encore Editions
  • Bird drawing left of curtain: vintage

So that’s all for now, folks! I’m working on making some plants stands in the near future to spruce things up even more, and you better believe I’ll be back to share all of my progress as time goes on!