What better way to wile away the cold, dark fall and winter days than immersing yourself in a home improvement project that will brighten your living space and take your mind off the nasty weather outdoors?
Here are 10 interior DIY projects that require little more than rudimentary skills, basic tools and access to YouTube, where you can find how-to videos on nearly anything.
Put down new laminate flooring
Laminate flooring is a DIYers dream as it doesn’t involve grout, mortar or glue. All you really need is a T-square, tape measure and utility knife because the pieces of laminate snap together in a tongue and groove format. Laminate flooring is available in a wide variety of colors and styles, including wood-look, which looks great in almost any room in your house. Laminate is warmer than tile, durable and water- and scratch-resistant. Buy a few extra planks to allow for mistakes.
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Change out your light fixtures
You don’t have to be an electrician to swap your old light fixtures for new ones, and you’d be surprised how new fixtures can change the entire look of a room. Be sure to turn off the electricity to the circuit that contains the light you want to change before you begin. Unscrew the old plate for the old fixture to expose the wiring. Take note of how it was connected (take a picture on your cellphone), then replicate with the new fixture. You can find detailed how-to videos online.
Tile the walls
Add a tile backsplash in your kitchen or give your bathroom shower or tub a high-end look by removing the plastic surround and tiling it. Yes, it involves grout and you need to borrow or invest in a tile cutter, but it is more durable and attractive than surround. Note: In the bathroom, if there is not cement board behind the surround, you’ll need to put that on the walls first. You can find detailed videos online and lots of ideas for creative tile designs on Pinterest.
Build a better closet
You don’t have to live with the traditional rod-and-shelf closet. You can remove the shelf and rod and maximize that space with a closet system customized to your personal needs (i.e. more space to stack sweaters or store shoes). The best part is you don’t even have to do the mental math. You can have it professionally designed for $5. Go to closetmaid.com, click on “design” and follow the prompts to enter your closet measurements and storage preferences. A few days later, you’ll get two designs based on your feedback, complete with a list of components to buy (from Closetmaid, of course). Then, just put the pieces together using basic tools and a little sweat equity.
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Repurpose a room
What is the one room in your house that makes you cringe or has become virtually useless? How might you repurpose it? In my house, it was a playroom that had become obsolete once the kids grew up. The pandemic and need for remote-school space spurred us to turn the playroom into a classroom/craftroom space. It took less than $1,000 to put in a new laminate floor, paint, and build a desk/workspace with some IKEA filing cabinets and extra pieces of wood lacquered for a desktop. We painted the old playroom furniture to match and added some colorful rugs to pull it all together. When it’s no longer needed as a classroom, it can easily become scrapbooking/crafting space.
Make over your fireplace
If you have a fireplace, whether it’s operational or decorative, it’s likely the focal point of the room, so giving it a makeover can be transformational for that space. Start with a fresh coat of paint. And, yes, you can paint brick and it looks great. Replace decorative elements around it for a fresh look. Check out the thrift stores for interesting mirrors and/or vintage picture frames that can also be painted to match your room.
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Build storage shelves
There is likely a place in your home where items are stacked haphazardly or space that is wasted above things stored on the ground. Winter is the time to build storage shelving that will maximize use of your available space. Building shelves yourself is nice because then you can customize your storage unit to your needs, perhaps making them just wide enough to hold plastic storage bins. This is, of course, a job that requires an electric saw, but shelves are a basic carpentry project for anyone with rudimentary DIY skills. Note: Do be sure the shelves are level and sturdy and/or anchored to a wall.
Update your interior doors
When my husband and I put an addition on our home, he went to a builder’s auction and came home with eight oak interior doors that I thought were a ridiculous and extravagant purchase. I was wrong. Once stained and coated with polyurethane, they were gorgeous and made our entire home look high-end. I’m amazed at how transformative something as simple as interior doors can be. If you can’t afford to replace your doors, fancy your standard interior doors up with a DIY paneled door. You can make them look expensive by adding some trim to give them a paneled look and brushing on a fresh coat of paint. Check out Pinterest or YouTube for how-to videos.
Change your hardware or fixtures
Cosmetic changes like new knobs and pulls and/or new plumbing fixtures can give a room a whole new look. Swap out boring kitchen or bathroom cabinet hardware with something modern or funky. They are easily replaced when you tire of it. Likewise, shiny new plumbing fixtures can have a big effect. Plumbing is a little trickier, but provided you stick to the same style of faucet that requires a simple swap, it’s doable for the average homeowner.
Add a board-and-batten wall
Board and batten is a modern type of wainscoting with thin strips of wood molding (battens) placed over the seams of panel boards, which results in a look that is both rustic and chic. The strong vertical lines provide shadows, texture and interest to a room. These walls look great in a mudroom, a kitchen, a bathroom and even a bedroom. You can find detailed instructions and lots of great design ideas on Pinterest. Just search “board and batten.”
Bonus: Paint, paint, paint
There is a paint available for nearly any surface in your home – including countertops, cupboards, appliances, fabric cushions and concrete floors. Be sure to do your research before you begin and prepare the surface as directed. Buy the best brushes, rollers and paint your budget will allow. When it comes to paint, you get what you pay for. Higher quality paint will cover better and last longer.
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