Tips on choosing a floor stain (click through for more!)  There are a lot of house renovation decisions that are honestly kind of fun to make (like choosing pillows and rugs or decorative objects), but there are also a lot of choices you have to make that are a bit more agonizing. It’s especially difficult if the decision is expensive or a big undertaking and not so easy to go back on if you decide you actually don’t like it when it’s completed. Choosing a floor stain can totally be one of those nail-biting dilemmas that you really don’t want to get wrong due to the time and expense it takes. Elsie and I both had to choose floor stains for our new houses since we were refinishing the floors, and we know how important it is to take your time and answer a couple of different questions first so you can make sure you get what you want out of your flooring.

Tips on choosing a floor stain (click through for more!)      Is room contrast or brightness more important?

I am the type of person that loves a beautiful, dark floor just as much as a light colored floor, but I know that both have pros and cons. Especially if you are planning on doing light colored walls, a dark floor can really add contrast to a space and create a dramatic delineation between the walls and flooring. Dark floors (especially wide board floors) can modernize a space and make light colored area rugs really pop. The negative to dark floors is that they do suck up more light in a room rather than reflect the light the way a light colored stain will. Especially if you photograph your house a lot, it’s so much easier to get a light and airy photo in a room with light floors (like Elsie's above) that naturally bounce the light than darker options that absorb more light.

Tips on choosing a floor stain (click through for more!)       Do you care if it’s “seller friendly”?

Like any home decision, you can choose to go a “safe” route or a “unique/fun” route instead. Do you do a stain color that’s classic and generally loved by a large audience to make your house most appealing if you sell it in the future, or do you do something different and unique that makes your space stand out from all the others? Elsie’s teal floor is a good example of a decision that gave her an amazingly fun and photogenic living room even though it may not be every potential buyer’s taste if they decide to sell their house someday. The good news is, that if you are choosing a fun or colored technique when staining solid hardwood floors, the next buyer can always refinish it again if they really love the house but would have chosen something different than you did. Go for it!

Do you have pets or kids to consider?

Do you have five white cats or several long-haired black dogs? Shedding pet hair is definitely something to consider when picking a floor stain. Choosing a light floor will hide light colored hairs and vice versa for dark floors. Light floors also hide dust and food crumbs better than dark floors, so if you’re a total clean freak, just know that you’ll be sweeping dark floors more often than you probably would with a lighter option. I definitely had to clean more to keep up with the dark floors in our previous house, but I loved the look so much that we chose a dark stain again because I think it’s worth it (although we did go a little lighter for just that reason).

Tips on choosing a floor stain (click through for more!)What color is the wood you are staining?

It’s important to know that the same wood stain can look totally different on different types of floors. If you love the floor stain you saw on a Pinterest photo, it’s good to realize that it may have been applied to a maple floor and it will look different on your red oak floor. Especially with light colored stains, any color that’s in the original wood will come through and mix with the stain. So if you have a really red or orange hue in the wood, your light stain will probably also have a pink or orange hue to it (especially if you are trying to do a whitewash floor). If you really want to minimize a red or orange tint, a cooler, darker stain will help hide those warm hues. You can see the natural color of my wood floors in the before photo above (it didn't have any stain on it, just polyurethane) before we tinted them darker.

Can you do a sample area?

This is probably the best way to gauge how a stain will look in your space. You can either test the stains on the actual floor once any existing stain has been sanded off (you can sand over your test area again before you stain the floor for real), or you can buy a few boards of wood that are the same wood as your flooring and test on those. Since I had to pick our floor stain before we moved into our house in another state, I asked our floor refinisher what kind of wood it was, bought some boards, and did a bunch of testing in my backyard to determine what I liked on that kind of wood. I kept my top three favorite stain mixes in little jars and then had them tested on the actual floor when we drove down there to close on the house. It made the process so much faster to choose a final color since I had done so much prep work on the similar boards beforehand.

Tips on choosing a floor stain (click through for more!)     What if you can’t find a stain that you really love?

Your best-case scenario is that you open a jar of stain to test it, wipe it on the wood, wipe off the excess and it looks perfect once it dries. Easy peasy. If you don’t have that experience though (as I did not), then it’s really helpful to know that you can custom mix your own color like you can with paint! I would only mix colors from the same stain line that are all the same base (like all oil or all water based), but you really can have like six jars of stain and just add a little more of this brown, a touch more of that black, until you get the hue you were really looking for. I desperately wanted a dark floor with a grey undertone and couldn’t find a premixed stain to suit the bill. So I  just tried different ratios of different browns, blacks, and greys, until I got the color I wanted. Just make sure to use a measuring device of some kind (like a tablespoon you can throw away) and mark on each stain what the ratio was (mine was Minwax 3 parts classic grey, 1 part Jacobean, and 1 part Ebony).

Tips on choosing a floor stain (click through for more!)   It's amazing how choosing the right wood color can dramatically update the look of a space. Our new home felt so different after the floors were refinished and going through the process helped me feel confident that I would love the end result. While it can seem like an overwhelming decision at first to choose a floor stain, following these steps can really help clarify a direction that will not only help your home look its best, but suit your unique needs as well! xo. Laura

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

DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsSometimes I don't realize my attraction to a style of decor until it shows up a dozen times in my Pinterest boards. Recently I noticed I had saved quite a few nurseries with house-shaped shelves on the walls and cute little knick knacks on display in the cubbies. (This and this were two of my favorites.) I realized how much I loved the simple object with a whimsical shape, and decided I would make one for my home—but this shelf wouldn't be banished to the kids' rooms. I modernized it a bit with a symmetrical grid-style and sleek black paint, and now it fits in perfectly with the rest of my kitchen decor! It was a pretty simple project to complete, as well. The hardest part was waiting for paint to dry. Check out my instructions to make one for yourself or to give to a friend.

DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructions
-4- 1/4" x 1" x 4' boards (I bought mine from Lowes and selected poplar, a nice sturdy wood that won't dent and takes paint nicely.)
-Gorilla Glue (original)
-wire brads (3/4" length)
-120-150 grit sandpaper and 350-400 grit sandpaper
-primer + paint of your choice, or stain and sealer

-clamps (at least 20" long)
-tape measure
-rag or sponge + water

DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsStep One: Cut your 1/4"x4" boards to size. I cut mine at home with a miter saw, but you can have your lumber cut for you at the lumber yard/hardware store. Just watch closely and make sure they're being precise or it will throw everything off. And be extra nice, because that's a lot of cuts for them to do for free! Some lumber stores charge a minimal fee for cutting if you want more than just a couple of cuts.

The pieces you need cut are shown above, and the measurements are listed below. Note which pieces have 45˚ mitered edges.

4 A pieces: 13"
6 B pieces: 4 3/16" —You should cut two extra B pieces to use as spacers throughout assembly process. This makes the total you need 8 pieces.
2 C pieces: 13 5/8" with a 45˚ mitered edge (the length noted is the longest part of the mitered edge)
1 D piece: 12 1/4"
1 E piece: 12 9/16"

DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsStep Two: Glue together the sides of the house shape with the horizontal interior shelves. Since I only have two long clamps, I had to work in segments.

To activate the Gorilla Glue, you will need to wet the areas of the wood that need to be adhered. I used a wet rag to do this. To space the horizontal shelves, I used extra B pieces of wood, as shown below. This works out much better than measuring and marking, and as long as all of your B pieces are the same size (and they need to be), this is as accurate as you can get with spacing.

DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsYou will need to apply pressure to the glued wood with clamping. This causes the glue to penetrate the wood and bond the pieces together. The glue will foam and expand as it is activated, so be sure you wipe away any extra because it dries very hard and is difficult to remove. I've not found anything that works better to glue wood together than Gorilla Glue— and it is much, much stronger than wood glue when you use it properly. After the horizontal shelves and the pitch of the house have been glued and the glue has cured (at least two hours before removing clamps), then glue your vertical shelves (B pieces) into place in the same way, using spacers from the outside edges and clamping once in place.

IMG_7976DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsStep Three: While Gorilla Glue provides a super strong hold, it's always wise to add additional strength to areas that will receive stress during use—such as the horizontal shelves. Hammer your wire brads through the sides of the house into each horizontal shelf. Make sure you drive the brad in straight or it will poke through the inside of the house. I finished hammering mine in with a punch so the brad would be slightly recessed and my wood would not be damaged by the hammer.

Step Four: Sand down the entire piece, getting rid of any splinters and uneven places where the pieces of wood meet each other. Use 120-150 grit sandpaper for this.

DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsStep Five: Prime and paint the shelf. After a nice coat of primer, sand down the entire shelf with 320-400 grit sandpaper. This will make the surface really sleek and smooth. If there are any areas where raw wood is showing through the primer, spray a little more on in those places. Then apply a few light coats of your final paint.

Step Six: Finish off the piece with hangers on the back, and it's ready to hang!

DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsMy shelf perfectly fits mugs from my collection, but if you are planning on making this shelf with larger mugs, (anything that wouldn't fit into a 4"x4" space), then you might want to add length as needed. Just wanted to make sure you knew that before making this shelf and bumming when your mugs don't fit.

DIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsDIY House-Shaped Shelf with simple step-by-step instructionsIt adds the perfect pop of whimsy to my kitchen, don't you think? This could work in any room of the house as storage or just for display. Who knows—I might make one for the kids' rooms after all! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Spicy cauliflower taco (via don't think cauliflower gets celebrated enough. Could it be because it looks like a lumpy white veggie brain? I can't imagine that would deter anyone, right? Lately I have been falling for cauliflower because despite its brain-like looks, it's a super versatile vegetable and that means it can become SO many different things. Prepared well, cauliflower is absolutely something to get excited about it. And I like this combo because the florets get a spicy jacket just before roasting.

You could say they go from ho-hum to OH-YUM!


Spicy cauliflower taco Also I think tacos should count as one of the universal love languages. You make me tacos and I love you. It's simple. Plus they (finally) got their own emoji this year! Whoa. I'm thinking it's safe to say it's the year of the taco.

Spicy roasted cauliflowerSriracha Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Quick Red Cabbage Slaw, serves 2-3.

1 head cauliflower
3-4 tablespoons Sriracha 
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the slaw:
1/3 to 1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1-2 carrots cut into matchsticks or cubed
1/4 cup mayo
juice from 1/2 lime (use the rest to serve alongside these)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons chopped green onion

Remove any leaves from the head of cauliflower and cut into small, bite-sized florets. Blanch in boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes. In a small bowl or glass stir together the hot sauce, soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar. Once the cauliflower is done blanching, drain well and then toss in the sauce. Oil a baking sheet and spread the cauliflower out in one layer. Roast at 400°F for 20-22 minutes, tossing once in the middle (just to make sure they don't stick and all sides get roasted). 

Quick red cabbage slawWhile that's cooking you can throw together the slaw. Shred the cabbage and cut up the carrot(s). In a bowl or large glass stir together the mayo, lime juice and 2 teaspoons rice vinegar. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Drench the cabbage and carrots in the sauce so that all pieces get coated in the creamy goodness. 

Spicy cauliflower taco  Once the cauliflower is done roasting, assemble your tacos, topping with some green onions or salsa or sour cream (or all three if you live dangerously). I ate mine in crunchy corn tortillas this day, but you could totally wrap these in flour tortillas if you prefer. xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)     OK, you guys are going to love this one! I've been wanting to do a light fixture DIY for a while now, but it looked a little too intimidating to jump into, so I kept putting it off. Thankfully our new house forced me into it as we were looking at buying some wall mounted lights for our den and I balked at the price tag of some of the globe sconces I loved. So, what's a girl to do? Make her own, of course! This is probably the most time I've ever spent on a project as far as the preparation stage goes (i.e. figuring out what parts I needed), but thankfully, it's one of my favorites that I've ever done and it is way easier for you to do now that I've already made two and figured out my mistakes—you're welcome! This light will plug right into your wall so you don't have to worry about hardwiring a permanent fixture either. You can move it wherever you like!

Our den is a bit of an odd shape and there aren't really any good spots for floor lamps. So we've been installing new lighting in the ceiling or walls that we can dim as needed to create a softer glow. I mean, we all know there's nothing worse than a harsh overhead light to kill the cozy mood, am I right? Dimmers are my jam.

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)With dimming being such a key element to the lighting I needed for this room, it was the perfect project to team up with Philips and use the Philips LEDs with dimmable warm glow effect. We wanted a warmer glow, and we really wanted it to last so I don't have constantly take the globe on and off and on and off. So these bulbs were perfect! Perfect warm light, and they last over 22 years! Love them. 

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial) Supplies for one light (listed with the part number in parentheses so you can find each component at this store):

A. neckless frosted globe (GLGB08NLSO)
B. brass canopy (CAS05)
C. dimmer (DI6250I)
D. brass socket cup (CU578)
E. porcelain socket (SO10045C)
F. brass neckless holder set (HONL04BR)
G. 90 degree brass arm (AR90B)
H. silver socket top (comes with part E)
I. snap in lamp plug (PL123PW)

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)J. slip star lock washer (WASTAR1/8)
K. 2 acorn caps (FI855-8/32)
L. 2 threaded studs (SCS600)
M. threaded hollow steel nipple  (NI1-0X1/8)
N. hex nut (NU233WZ)
O. threaded straight coupling brass (NE438)
P. slip ring with side screw (SRS0-3/8)
Q. washer (WABP1)
R. crossbar and wood or drywall screws for mounting to the wall (not pictured) (CBSV2-3/4)
S. nylon braid lamp wire (not pictured) (WI18SPT1POULW)

-drill with metal drill bit
-allen wrench
-wire strippers

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)          If you aren't happy with the finish of your brass pieces, polish all the brass before you start. (Wear gloves when you assemble the light or you'll have a few finger smudges to buff out when you're finished.) Take your nylon braid wire and thread it through your brass arm. One side of the arm is a little shorter than the other, and the end of that side is what your socket and globe will attach to.

On that shorter side, slide the slip ring onto the arm (you don't need to tighten it yet), then the gold and silver dome of the neckless holder kit, the brass socket cup, and the silver top of the porcelain socket. Screw in the silver socket top to the end of the brass arm so they are attached and tighten the silver screw on the side.

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)           Pull back the nylon braid about 1 1/2" from the end of the wire that is through the silver top of the porcelain socket. To keep the braided nylon you cut from fraying, you can hold a lighter under the nylon for a second until it melts the nylon together. Pull the wires underneath apart to separate the wires (you can make a small cut between them to get the separation started), and use a wire stripper to expose about 1" of both the silver and copper wires (you want to leave some plastic covering on the wires near where they meet up).

You'll see on the top of the porcelain socket that there are two screws. One is silver and one is gold. Wrap the silver wire clockwise around the base of the silver screw and tighten in place. Repeat with the copper wire and gold screw.

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)            To attach the wired porcelain socket to the silver socket top, match up the two screws that are inside of the porcelain socket with the two holes in the silver socket top, and screw the two together through the inside of the porcelain socket.

Make sure when you are wiring light fixtures yourself to follow some common sense guidelines and only use bulbs that have a wattage your socket can handle (the ones I chose can do up to a 660 watt bulb).

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)             Push the silver and brass domes of the neckless holder back in place and use an allen wrench to tighten the screw on the slip ring. This will keep all those pieces from sliding around while you work on the other side. 

At the other end of the brass arm (the side that will attach to the wall), thread the nylon wire through the threaded straight coupling, and screw the coupling halfway onto the brass arm. Thread the wire through the threaded hollow steel nipple and screw that into the other half of the coupling.

Put the brass canopy onto the steep nipple, then thread through the large washer, the lock washer, then hex nut. Tighten the hex nut in place.

I couldn't find a brass canopy that also had a wire way at the bottom (a hole for the wire to hang down through since we aren't hardwiring it into the wall). So I just used a metal drill bit to make a hole big enough for the wire to come down through.

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)              Once your wire is threaded down through your makeshift wire way, splice in the dimmer so you can adjust your brightness as needed. Choose where you want your dimmer to go in your cord and peel away about 2" of nylon from the wire. Separate the wires in the area you exposed and cut only the copper wire in the middle of that 2" section (look at the bottom of the wire to see which is on the left and right in case you lost track of which color is where). Use wire cutters to strip each 1" of the copper wire.

Open the dimmer switch, and wrap each end clockwise around the top and bottom screws. Tighten the screws to secure and replace the top on the dimmer.

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)               Cut the end of the wire to the final length you want for your fixture and pull back the nylon about 2". Pull out the middle section of the snap in lamp plug and you'll see that each side of the plug has either a gold or silver prong that will clamp down into the wire once you insert it. Thread your wire through the back of the lamp plug housing and into the back of the lamp plug middle making sure the copper is on the gold prong side and the silver is on the silver side. Push it through until it won't go any further. Then push the prongs into the wire and snap the middle back into the lamp plug housing.

Once you're all wired up, it's time to attach the light to the wall!

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)                Mount the flat part of the crossbar to the wall at desired location, and thread in your 2 stud screws all the way until they hit the wall.

Place your brass canopy over the two screws and secure in place with your acorn cap nuts.

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)                 Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)                 Loosen the slip ring above the brass neckless holder so you can push back the slip ring and brass dome and screw in your lightbulb. Gently angle the silver portion of the neckless holder so that it slides into the inside of your glass globe and center the silver plate in the globe opening.

Pull down the brass dome and slip ring and tighten back in place.* That's all! You're done! Now plug in your light and watch it glow!

*Note: If you need to replace a lightbulb that has burned out, you'll loosen the slip ring and slide the gold dome up again so you can remove the globe and change the bulb. It's not that hard to do, but using a long lasting bulb (like an LED) will ensure you don't have to change it for years!

Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)      Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)        Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)    Make this beautiful brass globe sconce! (click through for tutorial)      The first night we plugged these in we were giddy with excitement. They look so good and I love how we can dim them to whatever brightness we want according to our mood. And the other best part is that I made both of these lights for less than one of the ones I wanted online (each one was less than $100!). BOO-YA! These would be great as bathroom lights as well or on either side of a bed. If you've been looking for a beautiful brass sconce and feel that urge to tackle a new skill, then this is totally the project for you. I can't wait to make more lights, so I guess my future is looking bright! xo. Laura

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

Homemade pretzel pizza bites (via Homemade pretzel pizza bites (via  The red and green color palette and dusty Parmesan cheese that totally looks like snow was an absolute accident, but I'm taking it as a sign that it's time to put up our Christmas tree. Really I'm only barely early at this point. I keep seeing everyone on IG with their trees already up and decorated, so maybe I'm behind! Ah well. Whatever. 

Aside from my inexplicable holiday looking scene here, I've got to point out the important thing: those pretzels have cheese in them, guys! Oh yes, soft chewy pretzels with gooey melted cheese get dusted in fresh herbs and then dunked in hot marinara sauce. It's all just as good as it sounds. Turn your oven on with me and let's make a treat!

Pizza pretzel bites recipe Homemade Pretzel Pizza Bites, makes two dozen.

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
24-30 mozzarella pearls

For the pretzel bath:
3 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda

For the tops and sides:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon coarse grain sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I had parsley and rosemary on hand)
1-2 tablespoons dusty Parmesan cheese
2-3 cups of your favorite tomato or marinara sauce

In a large bowl combine the 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with 1 cup hot water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir to combine as the butter melts. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and allow to foam and activate for 5-6 minutes. Then stir in the flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Use your clean hands to press into a dough ball and knead for 4-5 minutes until the dough begins to feel somewhat elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm spot for about an hour or until it has nearly doubled in size.

Pizza pretzel bites recipePunch the dough down and divide into 24 pieces. These do not have to be precise. If you get a few that are slightly larger or smaller that's OK. Press into a sphere and then roll up one or two mozzarella pearls inside, pinching into a little ball. 

In a large pot bring the 3 cups water and 1/3 cup baking soda to an almost boil. Cook the dough balls in the water for about 45 seconds. They will shrivel up a little at this stage. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Slice a small X in the top of each ball. Brush with butter and sprinkle some coarse salt on top. Then bake at 400°F for 15-16 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and brush with a little more butter. Then sprinkle on the fresh herbs and Parmesan. 

Homemade pretzel pizza bites (via    While those were baking, did you go ahead and warm up your marinara sauce? You're so smart. 

Homemade pretzel pizza bites (via not only taste amazing, but added bonus: your house will smell of yeasty, cheesy goodness. Serve these along side a big delicious salad and a good red wine. Bread, cheese, salad, wine—maybe not a balanced meal but certainly a very comforting one. Make these this week, guys. They are just too good. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions


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