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Have you ever seen a beautiful piece of furniture in a boutique or design magazine and decided you'd sell your soul to make it yours? I recently saw a woven bench online with the most perfect caramel-colored leather and couldn't stop thinking about whether or not I could make my own. I searched online to see if it would be more cost effective to just buy one instead of DIYing it and quickly realized this was easily going to be the more affordable route!

I was able to source a wooden bench for my base (thanks IKEA online shipping), and then found my leather hide at a local leather shop and put it together in the span of a Saturday afternoon! It is one of those projects that exceeded my expectations. It has some of that old world Cuban charm but with a modern California vibe. I love how it pairs with this oversaturated pink rug in my studio, but I imagine it might one day find its place at the foot of our bed. Versatile furniture is always a bonus at our house, and this one is surely going to be around for awhile!

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Supplies

Supplies:

-solid wooden bench similar to this one from IKEA (A smaller bench will mean a smaller cut of leather or pleather.) 
-side of leather at least 4" longer than your bench with enough leather to also cut enough straps 4" wider than your bench. Essentially you will be covering the same square footage twice as you weave your straps together. To cover the bench I used from IKEA, you'll want between 22-23 sq. ft of leather. I'll cover some leather choosing tips below. 
-staple gun 
-5/16" (8mm) staples
-rotary cutter
-self-healing mat
-24" metal ruler
-chalk

Leather

Walking into a leather shop can be overwhelming with so many choices and such a large range in prices. So I'm here to give you a few pointers for what to look for with this kind of home decor project.

Color: I'm the first to admit that the color is my biggest deciding factor. So I do suggest you purchase a leather hide in person if it's a possibility. You can find leather sides in all kinds of colors, but those subtle differences between a rich caramel with an aged look and a flat orangey brown are harder to spot when purchasing online. Most leather stores carry a range of natural colors as well as hides dyed in a range of colors of the rainbow. You can find prints, metallics, patent leather with a bit of shine, or even white. Avoid oiled leathers as they're likely to rub off on clothing. 

Thickness: This kind of home decor project will need a leather thin enough that it won't create a lot of bulk when woven together but also thick enough that it won't stretch too much or rip near the staples. Stick with cowhide and make sure it's between 4-6 oz. 

Consistency: Once you find a hide you're interested in, be sure to unroll the whole thing to check for random holes, creases, or discoloration in the dying process. Since you're going to be using the majority of your leather, you don't want to come home and find a quarter-sized hole in the center. 

Price: A side of leather for this type of project can range between $100-$200 depending on your store and their selection. If you're not in a rush, keep an eye out for sales when you can get a significant discount. With Tandy stores, you can purchase a membership at different price points and it will pay for itself with a large hide, and then you'll get a discount price (20% or more depending on your membership level) on each future purchase. 

If you love the look of this kind of project but want something a little more affordable, go with a smaller bench size and a smaller cut of leather or check out the scrap leather for a few pieces from the same color lot that would work together. You could even use vegan leather in its place and still get a lovely woven piece of furniture. 

The size of your bench will affect how much leather you need to purchase. You'll need a hide that will yield enough straps to cover the length of your bench plus 4" as well as enough to cover the width of your bench plus 4". I suggest figuring out your bench measurements (strap thickness as well as lengths) before purchasing your hide so you can ensure you're purchasing the correct amount. 

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Step One: Measure the width of your bench top and then decide how wide you'd like to make your leather straps so that they are evenly spaced. The length of your straps will be two different sizes, but the width of your straps should be consistent for the most pleasing effect. Be sure to allow for about 1/4" of space between each strap so there is room for the weaving to breathe without bunching up. Also, be sure to allow about 1/4" from the edges of your bench before you start your measurements to make sure your leather straps aren't slipping over the edges. This part takes a little math, but you can do it! Use a ruler and pencil to mark out your measurements before cutting your leather, and then triple check everything before you start cutting into your leather. Otherwise you'll end up with an expensive mistake! 

Now that you've measured how wide your straps should be, you'll need to measure how long the straps will need to be. To do that, measure the width of the bench and add another 4" to ensure your straps will wrap around the bottom side of your bench top where you will staple them down.

For this IKEA bench, the seven straps that ran lengthwise measured 2" wide x 58" long. The twenty-six straps that covered the width of the bench measured 2" x 19". 

Step Two: Unroll your hide and measure out a rectangle that is equivalent to your seven longer straps. For this IKEA bench, that measured out to be about 14" x 58". I made sure to draw my rectangle with chalk as close to one long side of my hide as possible so I wouldn't waste any space. 

Then place your cutting mat under your hide and carefully cut the rectangle out from your leather hide using your rotary cutter. Once it's cut out, set your leftover hide aside. Then cut your long rectangle into long 2" strips so that you have 7 strips that measure about 2" x 58". The more consistent your cuts, the more beautiful your bench will be, but there's also beauty in the imperfections. So if one of your straps ends up slightly thinner than the others, don't fret. Just be sure they are long enough to wrap around the bench top.

Once you've finished cutting your long straps, cut out the rest of your shorter straps. Use the same method of cutting large rectangles and then cutting them down into strips or just cut one at a time using up the rest of your hide. I ended up with leftover hide that I'll use for another project down the road. It's always better to have extra than to run out and have to try to find another hide that looks the same!

 

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Step Three: Place your long straps on top of your bench and make sure you like the spacing. You want the smooth side facing up. This is just a precaution to make sure everything fits correctly before stapling it down. You may want to make a pencil mark along the short edge in between each strap to mark your spacing, or you can just live on the wild side and eyeball it.

Step Four: Flip your bench top over and place your straps underneath it, one at a time, so that the ends wrap around to the bottom side of the bench (facing you). Use your staple gun to staple them in place. Be sure the suede side is always facing the wood so you don't accidentally staple the wrong side down with all of the flipping. 

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Step Five: Finish stapling all of your leather strips on one of the short ends. Leave the other end of your long strips free for now.

Step Six: Repeat step three and four with your short straps along one of the long edges. Again, be sure that your shorter straps are evenly spaced out before stapling them to the bottom side of the bench. Your corner strips will likely need to overlap just a bit as shown. Leave the other side of your short strips free for now.

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Step Seven: Carefully flip your bench top so the right side is facing up and fold all of your short straps over the top of it. Then start with the long strap on the top edge and weave it under and over and under and over each of the short straps. These don't have to be perfectly straight at this point, as you'll be moving your straps a lot before you're finished. You can make adjustments as you go.

A short cut for this is to lay your long strap down over the top of your short straps and then pull every other short strap up and over your long strap. Just be sure you are doing the opposite from the long strap row before the one you're working on to create a checkerboard type pattern. 

Step Eight: Once you've woven all of your straps together, gently adjust your spacing so that things are relatively straight. Even if they feel like they're a little bunched up where they meet, you'll be pulling them tighter in the next step and this will help things spread out just a bit more. 

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Step Nine: Carefully flip your bench top over again so the bottom is facing you. Starting with your long straps, gently pull one at a time and staple the loose ends in place on the bottom of the bench. Check your tension on the straps as you work until you get a good feel for how much to pull on them. You don't want one strap to be stretched super tight and the rest to be floppy, so shoot for consistency. Once your long straps are stapled down, repeat the process with your short straps. You can work from the center out or from one side to the other, but be sure you're lining your straps up as closely as possible with the end that it stapled on the opposite side of the bench for the most consistently straight lines. 

When you're finished stapling, use your ruler and rotary cutter to trim off any excess leather.

Step Ten: If you're using an IKEA bench such as this one, attach your base to the bench top. It should easily rest on top of your leather strap ends in some or most places as long as your leather isn't super thick. Flip your project back over, adjust any of the straps for more consistent rows, and enjoy!

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Another great option for a similar mid-century style bench would be to use 1" precut hardwood in your preferred width and have it cut down to about 4'. You could then attach a set of sturdy hairpin legs to the bottom of your bench top and have yourself a lovely entryway bench. 

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Excuse me while I go lounge on this beauty and pretend I'm in Palm Springs for the afternoon. Anyone want to join me? -Rachel

Credits//Author: Rachel Denbow. Photography: Janae Hardy and Rachel Denbow. Edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.  

Triple Tiki Rum Punch (click through for recipe)I have realized recently that the light and fruity cocktails are actually my favorite type of drink to order. Put me at the bar at a tropical vacation resort and I will probably like every drink they put in front of me – it's all delicious! Elsie bought me these adorable cat tiki glasses this year, and so I thought it would be fun to make the perfect tiki drink to go along with them for a summer party. I call it a "triple" tiki punch because of the three juices that make up most of the punch, but you could swap out almost any other tropical juice flavor if one of them is not your favorite. Mix and match!

Triple Tiki Rum Punch (click through for recipe)
Triple Tiki Rum Punch, serves one

1 oz white rum
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz grapefruit juice
0.5 oz grenadine
1-2 oz of club soda or seltzer water
squeeze of lime wedge
pineapple, cherries, oranges, or limes for garnish

Triple Tiki Rum Punch (click through for recipe)     Add the rum, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, orange juice, grenadine, lime juice, and seltzer into a glass. If you like your drinks a little stronger, add another ounce of rum to the drink. Mix to combine, and pour into a tiki glass filled with ice.

Triple Tiki Rum Punch (click through for recipe)     Add some lime, orange, or grapefruit wedges to a wooden skewer with pineapple and cherries to create some festive garnishes for your punch!

Triple Tiki Rum Punch (click through for recipe)     Add to your drink, and you're ready to start sipping!

Triple Tiki Rum Punch (click through for recipe)
Triple Tiki Rum Punch (click through for recipe)     So, where's the cabana, am I right?? I feel like the best part of tiki drinks is actually eating all the yummy fruit off the skewers, so don't skimp on the good stuff! You can either make these to order or multiply the recipe to keep in a pitcher nearby for self-serve drinks or refills. As if I needed an excuse to drink anything out of a cat glass, this refreshing and fruity tropical drink is perfect for your next summer party (tiki theme or not). xo. Laura

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

DIY Room FreshenerWhen I try or learn something I love, I can become extremely loyal to it. Hardcore, if you will. ;) And that's my opening line for this blog post about air fresheners. 

Last year I made this pillow mist recipe with natural ingredients, and I've been using it all year. In fact, that bottle is still sitting in my guest bedroom right now. I spritz all the sheets in the house on laundry day and always give it an extra spritz before we have guests. 

I've even used it for general room freshening a couple times. I don't typically buy many air freshener products from the cleaning aisle at the grocery store because they tend to be full of chemicals, which is the opposite of what I want in my home. 

Today I experimented further with my original recipe and came up with some fun (and pretty!) options for natural room sprays using essential oils! You can still use them on sheets, but also so much more! 

Here's how it's done– 

DIY Room Freshener Supplies:
-essential oils (a variety of scents) 
-water 
-witch hazel 
-mini funnel 
-pretty perfume bottles (I found mine on Amazon – this size and this size

DIY Room Freshener  Using a tiny funnel, pour 15-20 drops each of two different essential oils into your bottle. (I'll share my combinations below!) 

DIY Room Freshener   Next, fill the bottle halfway with witch hazel. 

DIY Room Freshener    Then, fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. 

So the recipe is basically – 1 part witch hazel, 1 part water, and 30-40 drops essential oils in any scents you like. 

Last, I used a white paint pen to write a fun (made up) name on each bottle! You can name them anything you want. So fun, since one of my not-so-secret dream jobs is to be someone who gets to name nail polishes and paint colors. :)) 

You can create endless scents using various essential oils, choosing them was my favorite part! Here are three recipes that I really like! 

Cozy VibesCozy Vibes is a combination of white fir and bergamot. My absolute fave! 

Fresh VibesFresh Vibes is a combination of combination of grapefruit and Purify. Very fresh and citrusy! 

Campfire VibesCampfire Vibes is a combination of wild orange and clove. You can really smell both, and it reminds me of the perfect mixture of summer and autumn! 

DIY Room Freshener      The perfume bottles give it a nice touch! You can use any glass bottle, but I went ahead and chose these since they're so beautiful, and you can use them over and over again. 

Two words – GIFT IDEAS! 

DIY Room Freshener         These smell SO good! I am obsessed with how they came out and know I will get plenty of use out of these. It's really too bad you can't reach through the screen and smell each one because if you could, I know you'd be making some right away! They're really nice.

I love knowing that there are no weird chemicals hiding in there, but additionally, they smell so much more REAL than anything you'll find in that grocery store aisle. 

One more note! I like to shake the bottle between each use. Although I have tested it and you don't have to shake it to get the scent. Since it's oil, it never completely combines with the water, but don't worry – it still does the job! 

Thanks so much for reading! xx- Elsie 

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

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)          Though I love my plants in all sizes big and small, the smaller ones are definitely less expensive to "outfit". You can buy several small, cute planters for the cost of one big one. There are lots of large planters that I love, but the bigger they are the pricier they get too. I wanted to do something a little special for my fiddle leaf fig that I've kept alive for over two years now (doesn't sound like a lot, but that's my record!), and I thought making a midcentury inspired wooden stand for the simple square planter would make it more interesting than if it was simply sitting on the floor.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)          Supplies:
-1.5" x 1.5" boards
-jigsaw 
-wood glue
-wood screws
-paint
-ruler and pen
-drill

First decide which planter or pot you want to use with your plant stand. The stand does feel really sturdy once it's built, but I know that some of the oversized thick porcelain pots can be pretty heavy just by themselves and almost impossible to lift by yourself once filled with dirt and a plant. So I would suggest more of a lightweight planter (like this one) to keep the weight limit down. Measure the width and height of the planter so you can decide how big of an opening you need for your planter to sit snugly in the plant stand and how high you want the sides of the plant stand to stand against the planter.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)          Use a jigsaw to cut the boards into two lengths. One length will make an "X" across the bottom of the planter for the planter to sit on. You need two boards that length (mine were 12.5" long). The other length will be the side legs for your plant stand. Add how high you want the planter to sit up off the ground with how high you want the legs to come up the sides of the planter (mine were 13" high total). You need four identical pieces for the side legs.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)          Next, use a ruler and a pen to mark the middle of your two underneath pieces. Mark off an area in the middle that is exactly the width of the board and continue that mark halfway down the sides of the board. So, since my board was 1.5", I marked .75" on either side of the middle mark across the top and then drew the line .75" down each side. You are trying to carve out the same size notch in both boards so they will make a flush surface when you put the notches together.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)   Use the jigsaw to cut down the two side lines.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)
Since you can't make a 45 degree angle turn with a jigsaw to get across the bottom line, drill a hole as wide as the jigsaw blade right next to the line. This will give you a place to insert the saw blade and begin cutting from there to the corner. Once you get to the corner, you can turn around and cut back the opposite way across the bottom line.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)   See? It works! Repeat process so that both of your underneath boards have the same notch.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)   Put the two notches together with some wood glue between them and add a wood screw in the middle to secure.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)   Once you have your middle "X", you can measure how long you want the legs to be (I made mine about 5" long), and attach the X to the outer legs at that measurement with some wood glue and a wood screw from the outside edge.

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)         Do a light sanding to remove any rough edges, and paint your plant stand. I find that if I am painting wood with a metallic paint, it looks a lot better if I do a base of a white primer before adding the gold finish. Once your paint is dry, you can add your plant and you're done!

Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)         Mid century wooden plant stand DIY (click through for tutorial)         I really like how simple and clean the plant stand looks in the space. Just getting it up off the floor a few inches highlights the planter more (and it makes the tree look taller as well!). The gold legs also compliment the touches of gold on the TV stand and the brass globe sconce next to the plant as well. That makes the "design balance" part of my brain so happy. This would also be a great idea to hold outdoor planters if you used outdoor treated wood and an exterior paint or stain and made a few of different heights... Uh oh, looks like it's back to the lumber store for me!! xo. Laura

Credits//Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

Oui FreshWe're so excited to share that Oui Fresh has officially launched today! For months and months we've been putting together a small, curated shop of clothing and accessories that we're excited to offer to you. All items are things we love or designed ourselves. Our plan is to keep the shop stocked with small amounts of things we are super excited about and grow it over time with things you love as well! 

Here are a few of our favorite pieces... 

Oui Fresh Good Vibes tank

Oui Fresh   Team Palm Springs tank

Oui Fresh        Brunch Club t-shirt (so you can be an official member :))

Oui Fresh         The Babe With The Power t-shirt

Oui Fresh            Lulu Bag in Blossom (comes in white as well!)

Oui Fresh         Lots of fun and colorful sunnies!! 

IMG_0642IMG_0748Thank you so much for getting excited with us! If you have any questions at all, we can answer them for you here.

SO so so excited!!! XOXO! Elsie + Emma 

Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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