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A Beautiful Mess

Women that Inspire Me: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman

Bohemian Home Decor Ideas, Bohemian Style Ideas, Women That Inspire Me, Upcycling, Vintage home decor, macrame home decor, Home Design Ideas, Women in BusinessPamela DeweyComment

Hi friends!

I have the second installment of my blog series Women that Inspire Me, and this week I am featuring two women, Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson.

Emma and Elsie are sisters that created the blog, A Beautiful Mess. Their blog features DIY recipes, crafts, furniture projects, home décor, as well as advice about blogging and photography.

Elsie started A Beautiful Mess as a personal blog in 2007, and then Emma started a food blog a few years later. They combined their blogs into one in 2010, and this version of A Beautiful Mess was born.

Their styles are ever evolving, but always inspiring. I can personally thank them for my love of all things pink, brass and marble. But their style is also fun and quirky.

I mean, check out Elsie’s before and after of her den. What a beautiful, zen space.

I also really enjoy that though their homes are beautiful, the spaces also are comfortable and lived in. The site states, “If you haven’t guessed by now A Beautiful Mess is all about living a creative, and sometimes messy, life.”


They understand paint gets spilled, dogs shed and sometimes, well sometimes you just make home décor mistakes.

But A Beautiful Mess is not just a blog. It is also “a women’s lifestyle company focused on creating happiness every day through a homemade lifestyle.”

Elsie and Emma also have an online shop, Oui Fresh. Their store sells t-shirts, sunglasses, organizational items and their own line of essential oils and natural lipsticks and lip glosses. Their makeup is non-toxic, cruelty free, gluten free and GMO free.

The pair has also written multiple books. They've written a photography book: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book: 95 Inspiring Idea for Photographing Your Friends, Your World, and Yourself. They've written a home décor and DIY book: A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space. And they've written a cookbook: A Beautiful Mess Weekday Weekend: How to live a healthy veggie life...and still eat treats.

And if that all wasn't enough, these talented ladies have two apps. A Color Story and the newly launched, A Design Kit. A Color Story is a photo filter and effect app. A Design Kit allows you to add text, stickers, backgrounds, shapes and use different brushes to draw on your photos. I've just started playing around with A Design Kit, but I use A Color Story to filter most of my photos for the shop.

Plus Elsie and Emma try to keep their blog "focused on positivity and love" and they use the "business to try to give back" when they can.

So these insanely talented, creative stylish ladies also try to give back to their communities and are serious about clean living.

In honor of Elsie and Emma from A Beautiful Mess, I am sharing all things blush and brass that I have listed in the shop.  Shop the links below.

The Vintage Modern shop's Top 5 Sources for Creative Inspiration

Pamela DeweyComment

Hi friends.

Inspiration is probably the most important element of creating. Without inspiration, you are just a writer sitting at a desk, a musician staring at the keys or an artist with a blank canvas.

Like most creators, I find inspiration in a variety of ways. This week I thought I would share my top 5 sources to get my creative juices flowing.

1.    Design Blogs

My favorite design blog is Design*Sponge. It was started by Grace Bonney in 2004, and it features home interiors, recipes, DIYs, before and after projects, art, business tips, and just about any other type of design you can think of.

I check out Design*Sponge not quite every day, but close. It keeps me up-to-date on the latest trends in interior design, inspires how I decorate my home and also inspires the pieces I create for the shop.

More than just the content she shares, I find Bonney herself a source of inspiration. Her blog has turned into a wildly successful company and brand. She has published two books, and the most recent book, In the Company of Women, is a New York Times Best Seller.

But Bonney does more than market her own brand, she also encourages other women to succeed. She regularly features other creative women on her blog and shares their secrets of success.

When I was creating the Vintage Modern shop, I often looked to Design*Sponge, and Bonney particularly, to figure out the best practices for launching a new business.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I also really enjoy the design, DIY, food and fashion blog, A Beautiful Mess. Sisters Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman have fabulous taste, and their homes are impeccable.

I can also credit this blog for cementing my love for all things blush pink.

2.    Books

I have always loved reading. Reading helps me recharge my batteries. Reading helps me disappear into another world. Reading teaches me to be a better writer. Reading teaches me more about the world I live in.

I try to read every night. And when I start a really great novel, I can wile away a whole Saturday curled up on the couch reading. It feels like the ultimate luxury.

I am currently reading Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. Gay is one of my favorite writers, as well as a feminist icon. With her book Bad Feminist, she not only coined a much beloved term, but also created a legion of devotees. Difficult Women is a collection of her short stories, and it does not disappoint. I aspire to be half the writer she is.

I am also reading In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney, as mentioned above. In the Company of Women, as the cover states, contains “inspiration and advice from over 100 makers, artists, and entrepreneurs.” Also as the name suggests, all these creatives are women.

My favorite profile so far is Genevieve Gorder’s. Gorder is an interior designer and a host on HGTV. She is also from Minnesota. (Twin Cities!) Gorder is beautiful, talented and she seems like just a genuinely lovely person.

When asked what success means to her,” Gorder replies,

“The simplest answer I can think of is to able to live my imagination and give it away to as many people as possible in one lifetime. I’m never worried about having enough inspiration. I’m worried that one lifetime will never be enough to execute it all.”

As a woman who has multiple creative passions, this answer really resonates with me. I worry that I am pulling myself in too many directions, and I will never have enough time to get it all done.

At the same time, being able to create and share my art with the world is the most amazing feeling.

Last Friday, I sold my Shoe Collector Curio Cabinet. After I delivered the piece, I followed up with some care instructions for the customer. She texted me back, “I love it so much!! Thanks for dropping it off…Even my 2 year old said PRETTY when he saw it.”

Receiving that text was so rewarding. She loved the cabinet as much as I did, and I was so happy that I could share my creation with her.

3.    Music

Music is such an important part of my life. I listen to a little bit of everything, and I often listen to music while I write. It helps set the mood for the creation process. (I am listening to the new Bon Iver album, 22, A Million a lot.)

Music can also inspire what I create. Sometimes a lyric from a song will inspire me to write a story or a poem.

But more than just inspiration, music helps soothe my soul, provides me focus and helps me unwind. I mean, is there anything more cathartic than a five-minute dance break?

4.    Pinterest and Instagram

I find so much inspiration scrolling through my feeds on Pinterest and Instagram. Pinterest has a lot of good DIY ideas, and there are so many insightful pins about refinishing furniture on the site.

And personally, Pinterest is my go-to source for recipe ideas. As someone who loves to cook and try new things, Pinterest is a great resource.

Instagram is more than just a photography site. It is an online community where people can share their art and interact with other artists.

And believe me, they are so many people making great art. The beauty shared on Instagram continually blows me away.

5.    Thrift stores and flea markets

I love the thrill of the thrift store hunt. Scouring through racks and racks of used clothing, and then stumbling across that perfect vintage coat is quite a high.

Finding thrift store treasure takes patience, perseverance and a good eye. Through my twenty odd years of combing through racks and shelves, I have developed a very good eye. I am always on the lookout for that diamond in the rough!

Hope you enjoyed my top 5 sources of inspiration, and maybe found some ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

How to Fail and Win Anyway

Pamela Dewey

Hi friends.

I make mistakes. Ok. I make a lot of mistakes.

It is human to make mistakes. And I am human certainly. (No robots are employed at the Vintage Modern shop.)

Like I said last week, I like a little imperfection, a little character. But when I am working on projects like writing or refinishing furniture, I like complete those maybe not perfectly, but somewhere close to perfect.

Perfect with character. Perfect with personality. Handmade perfect.

But the only way you to get close to perfect is practice. And as you practice, you make mistakes.

You hit the wrong note. You cut the board too short. You realize no matter what the paint label said, use primer.

And from these mistakes, you learn.

You play different notes. You measure twice. You always use primer. (Seriously, just use primer.)

And slowly, your songs sound better. You cut your boards the right length. Your paint covers perfectly.

You get better.

But before that happens, you make those mistakes.

Over the last two weeks, I got better at some things. I saw this cool banner DIY on A Beautiful Mess.

I thought, I could make that, and I could sell that at the shop.

But I had a tweak in mind. I wanted my banner to be not quite so Christmas-themed. So instead of NOEL, I decided my banner would say ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.

So I went to the fabric store to buy my supplies. I agonized over the type of sheet moss to buy. Cost, how much I need, etc. Sheet moss cost more than I anticipated.

I went home and unrolled my moss. It was completely see-through.

I went back to the store and bought something that actually resembled a sheet. Mistake made. Lesson learned.

Since I was adding more words to my banner, I also decided to scale down my letters. Instead of doing the word LOVE 8 inches tall like the blog post suggests, I made the word LOVE 6 inches tall and the rest of the words 2 inches tall.

I cut my banner out of felt and cut and glued my ribbon down to the felt. I printed out the letters, taped the letters to the cardboard and then cut these letters out. Then I cut the letters out of moss and glued these letters to the cardboard letters. I arranged ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE on my banner, and I glued the words down. Then I hung my banner over the edge of a door and glued two wreath hangers to the back of the banner.

I stood back and looked at the banner. Something was off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I took a couple pictures, and I sent one to my mom.

“Kinda on the fence about it.”

“Doesn’t seem to have the same pop as the other one. Are all the letters moss covered?” she wrote back.

I had, of course, covered all the letters in moss. But with this text, my mom essentially identified the problem.

She couldn’t tell for sure if all the letters were moss-covered, so the green was not nearly as bold as it should have been. By making the letters smaller, I had thrown the scale off. So the banner didn’t have as much “pop" because the size of the banner wasn’t proportional to the letters.

This letter re-sizing amounted to a mistake, and one that was not as easily fixed as returning the moss to the store. The banner was maybe not entirely ruined, but certainly not usable in its current state.

So I failed. But I also learned.

Some tweaks are good. I still like the idea of using “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.” I also like the rose gold ribbon I bought. But the letters must be bigger, or the banner must be smaller to correct the scale.

I haven’t decided how I want to try to salvage the banner I made. Or if I want to try to make more banners for the shop.

As I get older, I have accepted there are plenty of things I won’t ever be great at. But it doesn’t mean I want to stop pushing myself to try new things.

Some of these things I will be good at. And some of these things I will fail at.

Making mistakes and failing is what makes us human. Failure helps us grow. And no matter how old I am, I don’t ever want to stop learning and growing.

These are my work-in-progress moss letters. If nothing else, I had a fun time playing with the moss.

These are my work-in-progress moss letters. If nothing else, I had a fun time playing with the moss.