Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)        Hi Guys! Most of you know by now that I'm pregnant and our little #gummerbaby is due in May (yay!). We decided to take a Babymoon trip to Palm Springs last month while I could still easily travel and we invited a few of our favorite pals to come along and make the trip even more fun! Since my list of things to do before the baby comes only seems to get longer and longer, I wanted to make sure and make a mini photo book of our trip ASAP before I ran out of time! It's was pretty easy to get a lot of cute pictures in Palm Springs because, well, the whole place is just so darn cute! Here's a few highlights from the mini book of our trip...

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)        Since I knew I would want to use some gold embellishments, this gold mini album was perfect for this book (page inserts here). The first time we passed the official "Welcome to Palm Springs" sign it was pouring down rain and already dark, so I was glad we could come back later and get a better picture of it while the sun was out. The desert area behind the sign is so pretty!

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)        We loved our Airbnb house and since we went in January it was really important to find one with a heated pool, hot tub (not for this pregnant lady though-wah!), and fire pit! 

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)        The Parker hotel is amazing!! The gardens were closed to non-guests on the weekend, so I need to go back and visit that spot again next time...

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)        We found the door!! So funny to be excited to see a "celebrity door" in person.

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)        It wasn't easy to find clothes in January for a Palm Springs trip when you're almost 6 months pregnant, but I was so glad I at least had a few looks that made me feel special for the trip—and they are all things I can wear post baby too! Yay!

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)        This was a fun book to use some 3D stickers with so I could place little flamingos or palm trees in certain spots and add a little dimension.

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)      We took a few panoramic shots during the trip so I used both sides of the pages to create one long photo and they look great! It's a nice way to break up all the single photos on the rest of the pages.

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)           Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)          I love using stickers whenever I can to spell out words or phrases. It takes a little longer than writing it out, and you need to have various sizes on hand, but I love how it looks when finished!

Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)           Laura's Palm Springs Mini Album (click through for more photos)           How cool are those gold chipboard letters? Love them. This was a great album to use gold letters and embellishments in and really compliment the gold of the album cover as well. I feel like this album has a colorful and fun vibe to it, which is perfect because so does Palm Springs! I can't wait to go back on another trip sometime, but until then, I can always take a stroll down memory lane with this cutie album...xo. Laura

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

Elsie Larson ©AlyssaRosenheckA renovation is a HUGE undertaking. It can shake even the strongest relationships and test even the most organized people. It's rough stuff. But I'm happy to report that ours is starting to feel like ancient history!

It's been over a year since we moved into our new home and more than six months since our frequent contractor visits have dwindled down to nothing. If you've lived through a renovation, you can relate with everything I am saying, but if not—just trust me... it's not all rainbows and gold hardware. 

But I'm not here to write a novel about our renovation woes. I'm here to share the fun stuff—OUR REGRETS. And also those things that we don't regret. As always, it's a mixed bag! I spelled out my big picture mistakes here, but today I want to go into specifics on our different choices. 

And I'll share some confessions about decisions I made based on Internet peer pressure—the absolute worst!! 

That Turquoise Floor. 

Let's start with the stuff people warned me I might regret! The decision to stain our living room floor a COLOR was a bold move. And, if you remember the whole story, the reason I chose it in the first place was because there was a stain in the middle(ish) of the room, and so the ultra light whitewash we did on all our other hardwoods wouldn't cover the stain. 

And it's funny because I remember standing in the room thinking it would be great if we could just cover this with a rug or a sofa, but the placement was all wrong. Well, fast forward a year and half.... our sofa is TOTALLY covering that stain. So in hindsight, I could have totally just done the light stain. 

However, I'm honestly glad we ended up with what we did. And even if we have to change it when we move (and we might now), it's just ONE room. It's not that hard to do and a completely fair trade in comparison to choosing dark floors for our whole home, which I just did not want. 

Elsie's living room ©AlyssaRosenheckThe verdict? No regrets on the turquoise floor. 

Contrast Grout. 

There are things that you just don't know about yourself until you've lived with something. When we moved in, I was gravitating heavily toward a light, airy, very clean aesthetic. But still I was nervous to do white grout with white tile because I was afraid it would look dirty or age badly. My instincts said low-contrast, but the logical side of my brain said "dark grout no matter what." 

Well, I ended up redoing (or recoloring) the grout in three spaces in our home. I just couldn't live with it. With the kitchen backsplash, there were just some sloppy lines that stood out in the gray grout (now they're basically invisible, and we did the whole thing with a white grout pen by the way!). 

I also originally asked for gray grout on our marble floors in the kitchen, and after I saw it halfway in, I FREAKED OUT and had to change it. It just looked dirty to me. (I'll talk more about our new white grout in that high traffic kitchen below.) White was so much better

This is definitely a personal choice, and I LOVE high contrast in other people's homes. But I will say that with tile, the craftsmanship has to be a lot more pristine. Especially with small tile (that comes on the mesh sheets), if the lines aren't perfect, the high contrast makes it stand out even more. It's one of those things where once you see it, you can't unsee it, and now everywhere I go I am checking out coffee shops and hotels' tile jobs. Haha! 

Elsie Larson's Kitchen ©AlyssaRosenheckThe verdict? No more contrast grout for me. And in general, I've realized my eyes love a low contrast design... at least in my own home where I see it all day, every day. 

Marble VS. Quartz Countertops. 

This is a BIG one. The biggest. 

I knew I wanted to do quartz countertops all throughout our home because they are easy to maintain and age well (if not perfectly). But marble was/is SO TRENDY. 

Right before I ordered all our countertops, I read a blog post where an interiors blogger was dissing quartz because it "can't look real" and "isn't as pretty" as marble. 

I couldn't get her voice out of my head. And when you're spending thousands of dollars on these big choices, it can feel like a very scary commitment. So I split the difference, and I got the more practical choice (quartz that kind of looks like marble) for our kitchen and the prettier choice (real marble) for our bathrooms. 

The marble is prettier. 100%. 

But those real marble countertops are probably my single biggest regret. For one, there were small marks and texture differences before we even moved in (thanks, contractors!). And over the past year, we've gotten a few more mystery stains. 

Now I will say, they are small and probably not noticeable to 99% of people. I don't feel like we're going to have to replace them. I just feel like for me, personally, I'd rather not be constantly stressing about it. 

Yes, they are sealed (like 3 times), but it's just a part of having real marble that small imperfections and wear will happen over time. Even from things as simple as water and soap! And I use a lot of face oils in my beauty routine. So I do feel like I'm constantly thinking about it, wiping the counters up, and checking under things for marks—haha. 

I know so many people who have real marble and it's not perfect, but they LOVE it and it's worth it to them. It's NOT for me. In the future I will stay in my lane and just do the quartz. Even if it's not quite as pretty. 

Elsie Larson's master bath ©AlyssaRosenheckThe verdict? If you value your ability to be lazy or messy—don't get marble countertops. Big regret for me. It's pretty though. 

White Marble Floors. 

OK, so we also got REAL marble floors throughout our kitchen, breakfast room and sunroom (a lot of square footage of high traffic living space). And we LOVE it. 

I know you're thinking, "Lady! I just had to hear your long a$$ rant about marble counters, how can you love your marble floors?" 

I still don't completely understand! Haha! 

I think it's because they are lower to the ground. They do get small spots and texture differences over time. We use coffee, oils, lemon and red wine in our kitchen on a weekly basis (I think those are the really bad ones), and it's not a problem. We sealed them ourselves three times while they were still perfect, and now we use a cleaner with a built-in sealer. And the floors still look AMAZING. 

But the white grout.... that's a different story

The grout didn't age well in the kitchen. But we came up with a couple solutions, and now it's going great. The first solution is to do a yearly (or hopefully longer than a year next time) grout refresh with the Miracle Grout Pen. Those little pens really are a miracle for touching up grout! 

The second solution we now use is that we tightened up our "no shoes in the house" habits. Now, just Jeremy and I keep to that. We don't ask guests to do it, but I do feel like it generally helps keep the house cleaner longer (which has been great for us since we don't have a house cleaner anymore!). 

Elsie's breakfast nook ©AlyssaRosenheckThe verdict? I would do marble floors again. I consider them a lot easier to care for than countertops. Although now that my friend has been putting quartz tile floors into his flip houses, I am curious to try that as well! 

Ask me again after I've had a kid for a year or two.... haha! 

Painting Brick, Stone and Dark Wood White. 

I'll sum this up quickly. 

Zero regrets. 

I firmly believe in decorating your house how YOU want to. When we looked at this home for the first time, I was madly in love with it, but I told Jeremy that I wanted to paint the dark stone fireplace and the exterior white. And that it was a deal breaker for me. He agreed, and since painting both those things, the house felt 100x more my style. 

You do you! So many people don't do what they really want because they're afraid of resale opinions. But what if you knew that you didn't paint that brick you REALLY wanted to paint, but then the next person after you did??

Jeremy + Elsie LarsonBefore:After Back of the house!It's just paint. No regrets. Let's move on. 

Open Shelving in the Kitchen. 

Every time I post a photo of my kitchen, someone asks me something about how hard it is to keep clean. I have learned quickly that open shelves really scare people! 

I have to say—I don't get it. 

I love our open shelves. Yes, it helps to have kitchenwares that match (ours are almost all white with a little natural wood). Yes, once a year I have to take everything down and scrub and wash everything including the shelves (which I LOVE doing). Yes, things can get dusty or a little greasy up top (we don't cook with that much oil and never deep fry, so it's not that bad—plus using our hood when cooking helps a lot).

THAT SAID, it's not a daily inconvenience. The stuff on the lower two shelves gets used so often that it doesn't have time to get dusty or anything. The stuff at the very top is what we use more for parties, so when I get it down, I give it a quick wash or a wipe if it's been up there a long time. Not a big issue. 

Every single day our kitchen makes me smile. Every day. The other day I posted a pic of it right before we cleaned. And it's crazy because even when it's at its messiest, it is still pretty photogenic. 

I love our kitchen, and I would totally do this design again in a future house... if it fit the house. 

Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess ©AlyssaRosenheckThe verdict? Zero regrets

Well, that's all I can think of for today! Let me know if you have any questions about our renovation or how our choices are turning out over time. I love being open and honest with you, sharing the good and the bad. I learned a lot on this renovation! xx -Elsie 

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Alyssa Rosenheck for domino magazine (aka—the shoot I will NEVER stop using in my blog posts because I love it so much!)  

Experimenting with natural dyesI've been experimenting with natural dyes for the last few months with an increasing curiosity for the broad range of colors that can be found in nature. I used to think of natural dye colors as muddy and dull, and while you can get plenty of those, there are some fantastic hues that make all of my pink and yellow dreams come true! There is more on this subject to share than can fit in one blog post, so I'm sharing a brief overview of what you'll need to get started as you resist the urge to dye everything in your closet!

One of the reasons I love this medium is that even though there are general scientific guidelines that will ensure you get colors within certain ranges, each color experiment is dependent upon the kind of water you used, the freshness of your materials, the mordants you use or don't use, the type of fibers you are dyeing, the temperature of your dye pot, the length of time you allow it to sit, and whether or not it's the first, second, or fourth item in the dye pot. You can usually get a bright pink, red, and purple from the same cochineal dye pot! 

Experimenting with Natural Dyes on A Beautiful MessSo much color!Natural Dyes 

I've shared links to some of the harder to find dye stuffs below, but there are plenty of vegetables and plants that are probably already sitting in your kitchen somewhere. In fact, my favorite outcome from this process ended up being the avocado pit dye that gave me the perfect blush! You can get beautiful shades of caramely-orange from onion skins, and a vibrant clementine shade from turmeric (although I'm still working on how to keep it from fading in the sunlight), and a lovely blue from dry black beans!

If you're able to gather your natural dye supplies, think about in which part of each season to look for them. Goldenrod in the early fall will offer a much brighter yellow than if picked in fall's later months. Ask me how I know this. Ha! Be sure to gather items responsibly and without trespassing if you're foraging in your neighborhood or the countryside. We made sure to only take as many black walnuts as needed last fall to ensure the squirrels weren't going to go hungry on our street. 

The amount of dye stuffs you'll need will differ depending on the dye. Measurements are usually given based on the dry weight of the fiber you're dyeing, so it's a great idea to check out some of the books mentioned at the end of this post for more specific measurements. For example, I only used 2 oz. of cochineal to get that dark fuchsia/cranberry color and probably could've used only 1 oz. for the desired fuchsia I was after. I used 6 oz. of dried marigold petals and still had a weaker color than I was expecting. Take notes of your measurements as you experiment so you can make adjustments down the road.

Avocado Pits=light peachy pink on linen, light peach on silk, light blush on wool

Marigolds=light yellow on cotton and linen, olive green when used with iron

Turmeric=bright tangerine on linen, bright yellow when mixed with white vinegar

Yellow Onion Skins=warm orange on linen

Red Onion Skins=grayish purple on linen

Madder Root=bright rust on linen

Cochineal=bright cranberry on linen and silk

Hibiscus=a cool pink on linen

A color study with natural plant dyesMordants 

Mordants allow the dye to chemically bind to the fabric. You can add mordant to your fabric before you dye it or add it to your dye pot. Mordants such as copper and iron will also alter the color of your dye. For example, using only one marigold dye pot, you can dye one piece of linen a beautiful shade of yellow. Then after adding the appropriate amount of iron to the marigold dye bath, you can dye a second piece of linen olive green!

Some dye stuffs (avocados, onion skins, and black walnuts) contain tannins, which act as mordants. This means you can skip this step altogether unless you want to change the color. Always use precautions when working with both dye powders and mordants so as not to inhale them. Some mordants may irritate sensitive skin. 

alum—Alum is one of the easier mordants to use and should always be added to a cup of warm water to dissolve before being added to a dye pot. Pairing it with cream of tartar can help brighten the overall color. Too much alum can affect the softness of your wool, so don't get crazy with it. Try 2.5 - 3 tbsp of alum and 1 tbsp of cream of tartar.

cream of tartar

copper—Copper is usually used to dull or darken your colors. 

iron—Iron can also darken and change your colors. Use it to get greens, greys, or browns. 

white vinegar—I used white vinegar to brighten my turmeric dye, and it changed it from a bold orange to a bold yellow. I also tried using it to see if it would brighten the blush in my avocado dye pot, but it faded the color instead. The moral of this story is that one mordant won't do the same thing to every single dye. No, that would be too simple! Lesson learned. 

Turmeric and avacado pit on linenFibers Used

I used 100% linen to test all of my colors because I wanted something consistent. Linen is a cellulose (plant) fiber and took all of the colors well, although some dyes needed mordants and others didn't. Wool and silk (protein fibers) accept dyes best. Plant fibers (cotton and linen) need a mordant or a dye with natural tannins (avocados, onion skins, or black walnuts). 

All fibers should be scoured prior to dyeing for the best results. Scouring is the process of removing oils or chemicals occurring in nature or through the manufacturing process. You can scour linen and cotton using hot water and a pH neutral laundry detergent in your washing machine, or scent-free dish soap in a pot on the stove top. However, you will want to scour wool in a pot on a stove so you don't accidentally felt it. 

7Tools

Once a pot or tool has been used to dye something, it is no longer food safe. So be sure you're not using your fancy stuff! I always look for large stainless steel pots at thrift stores and garage sales and have a separate place in my kitchen for everything so it isn't accidentally pulled out at dinnertime. Copper and aluminum pots should be avoided as they will act as natural mordants throughout the dye process. So, unless you're wanting to use them to alter the specific color of your dye, stick to stainless steel. You can also store excess dye for later use as long as you strain all of the dye bits out of it and refrigerate it. 

stainless steel pot(s)

stainless steel tongs 

clothesline or drying rack 

colander

measuring spoons

mason jar(s) with lids for storing unused dye

5GET STARTED

So, you have gathered your linen and are ready to make a set of cloth napkins! Here's the rundown:

Step One: Wash 1 yd of 100% linen in your washing machine with a pH neutral detergent in warm to hot water or heat it in a pot of water and unscented dish soap until it's boiling. Simmer for an hour and let cool. Rinse with cool water. Add it while it's wet to your empty dye pot.

Step Two: Prepare your dye pot by filling your stainless steel pot with enough cool, filtered water to cover your 1 yd. of linen fabric. Add your dye stuffs to your pot and bring it to a simmer. You don't want it to boil as it will muddle your color. Let it simmer for 45-60 minutes before turning off your heat and letting it cool. The longer you leave your linen in your dye pot, the stronger the color may become. Understand that the color you see when wet may be slightly darker than the color of your linen when dry. 

Step Three: Let your linen air dry in a shady spot before rinsing it in cool water. Feel free to wash and dry as usual. Linen will obviously get softer with each wash cycle. 

Step Four: Cut and sew your fabric into linen napkins by double-folding the edges and stitching along the inner fold.

6A wide range of colors from natural dyes Cochineal

There's something intrinsically special about using plants to dye your own fabric. It connects you to the process of designing your own clothes and home goods in a way that gives you more respect and curiosity for the materials used and the process itself. Whether you're interested in natural dyes as an alternative to synthetic ones or are just curious about all of the colors you can find in your own backyard, you are sure to get hooked! 

Pinks
Two books that have greatly aided me in my natural dye experiments in the last few months are The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar, and Natural Color by Sasha Duerr. They are two of the most beautiful and knowledgable books on the subject that I've come across in my research. I've also heard good things about Botanical Colour at Your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos, although I haven't had the chance to flip through it yet. There are also a wealth of older publications that you'll be able to find at libraries, book stores, and thrift stores. All of the dye extracts that I purchased were from Griffin Dyeworks and Fiber Arts

Dyeing with indigo is an altogether different process than the ones described above. You can find my tutorial for working with pre-reduced indigo and creating a beautiful pattern using shibori techniques here. Looking for something much simpler? Check out this faux-indigo technique shared in this tutorial, and then make your own dyed cloth napkins using this tutorial. -Rachel

Credits//Author: Rachel Denbow. Photography: Rachel and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with the New A Beautiful Mess actions.  

DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial)     _ Hello lovelies! I'm Kara from the blog A Kailo Chic Life, and I am so excited to be joining the ABM team to bring you colorful DIY projects every month. I jumped into the creative world 12 years ago with my company Kailo Chic and have been sharing my love of prints, patterns, and all things colorful with the world ever since. So thank you for letting me share my passions with you!

I have made it my New Year's goal to add more plants to our house. The greenery just livens up every space and makes it feel so fresh and alive. But along with all these new plants comes the need for more planters. These DIY gradient planters are so colorful, and the unique shape makes them perfect for pretty much any room in the house. Plus the fact that you can customize the colors to fit your decor, well, that's just a bonus!

DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial)_Supplies:
-large planter
-small planter (you want to make sure the bottoms of the two planters are roughly the same size)
-spray paint in several colors to create your gradient
-industrial strength adhesive
-plants, soil, and white rocks

DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial)_Begin by taking the planters outside and use the spray paint to paint bands of color around the planters. The smaller planter will be turned upside down when you attach the two planters together, so take this into consideration when spraying the layers. You might also find that you need to go back over layers at the end to create the perfect gradient effect.

DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial) _Once the paint has dried for an hour or two, use your industrial strength adhesive to line the bottom ring of the smaller planter. Then set the larger planter on top and let the glue cure for 24 hours.

DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial)  _The final step is to add your plants, dirt, and decorative rocks. If your planter has a hole in the bottom, you may need to add a drip tray under the planter, or cover the hole with plumbers putty to prevent the water from getting all over the ground.

DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial)   _If sealing up the drainage hole, remember to add a few rocks to the bottom of the planter to keep the plants roots from staying too wet after watering. Once your plants are in, you can add a few decorative rocks to hide the soil, and then place them near a bright window. These planters will even work outside!

DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial)    _ DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial)       _ DIY Gradient Planter (Click Through for Tutorial)        _I love the subtle gradient of color in these planters! And after making these two, I have a feeling I will be adding new ones to every room of my house. So, what colors will you choose for your planter? xo. Kara

Credits // Author and Photography: Kara Whitten. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess Presets for Lightroom.

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Scrapbook Sunday February Messy Box (abeautifulmess.com)Are you also obsessed with office supplies? I find I'm always stashing away my favorite scissors and pens. Do you hide your favorite supplies too? I was so excited to open my February Messy Box to find the cutest retro office supply themed kit. I think my favorite part of the kit is the cork board number stickers. Plus, the colors are perfect for this time of year in Phoenix. It's already starting to feel like summer! The bright pastels are so cheery! 

Scrapbook Sunday February Messy Box (abeautifulmess.com) Scrapbook Sunday February Messy Box (abeautifulmess.com) Something I really love about the Messy Books are the 9 x 12 page protectors. I feel like these challenge me creatively, but I always like how they turn out. I wanted to use those adorable cork numbers, so I used a two from this Messy Box and spelled out February. The weather is getting warmer and the sun is setting a lot later here in Phoenix. It has been so wonderful, that I wanted to make a page to highlight the beautiful February weather.  

Scrapbook Sunday February Messy Box (abeautifulmess.com)   Scrapbook Sunday February Messy Box (abeautifulmess.com)   Scrapbook Sunday February Messy Box (abeautifulmess.com)     The little 2 x 2 inch plastic cards are so cool! The retro phone was perfect for documenting my time catching up with friends from out of state. They are slightly transparent, so I layered one by just stapling it to a 3 x 3 card. I went with the vintage phone and keyboard print to symbolize my video chats with friends. Documenting the little special moments are always my favorite!

Scrapbook Sunday February Messy Box (abeautifulmess.com)      Scrapbook Sunday February Messy Box (abeautifulmess.com)      The peaches ink pairs really well with the colors this month. The bright pastels are so pretty. This retro office supplies themed kit was so fun to scrapbook. My February layouts are all about time with family and friends as well as my new garden. I'm hoping to get everything planted before it gets too hot! What are your February layouts about? How are you using those cute 2 x 2 plastic cards? xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Hager. Photos edited with Scrapbook from the A Beautiful Mess actions.

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