By Marty Basher
We’re all finding ourselves with a lot of extra time on our hands while “sheltered in” at home during the Cornonavirus pandemic. While Netflix and puzzles are a great way to pass the days, why not dig into a few DIY home projects that are both quick, easy and inexpensive to pass the time? Here are a few quick and easy DIY ideas:
Paint Bathroom or Kitchen Cabinets. Nothing transforms a room more than freshly updated cabinets. While the project may seem intimidating, it’s actually fairly simple and can be done in one day. Start by sanding cabinets to rough up the paint or stain a bit (this helps the new paint adhere to the wood), clean well with a 7% rubbing alcohol/water mix, apply 1-2 coats of good quality primer, then cover with a couple coats of paint. Use a water based polyurethane to protect. You’ll be so amazed at the results! Handy tip—you can order supplies online and have them ready at the customer service desk or have delivered to your car. Most big box home improvement centers provide color samples on their website.
Make the Switch to a Curved Shower Curtain Rod. You may have seen curved shower curtain rods before but really never knew what the attraction was? A curved shower curtain rod will provide up to 33% more room in the shower. The design of it keeps water inside the shower instead of leaking out onto the bathroom floor. It also keeps the wet, sticky shower curtain further away from your body so it doesn’t attach itself to your body like it does in closer quarters. The hotel-style luxury of curved shower curtain rods. It makes bathrooms look more luxurious and upscale. And despite what some people say, you do not need to buy a special shower curtain for a curved shower rod. You can pick up a curved shower curtain rod in most home stores, home improvement centers and online for approximately $30-40.
Paint Dated Woodwork. Many homes have dated woodwork around windows, doorways and skirting boards that can use a little pick-me-up. Whether your woodwork is showing wear or just a shade of honey oak that you’ve grown tired of, a quality primer and a glossy white paint can fix them up with a few hours of work. You’ll need to sand them a bit to rough up the existing paint or stain so the paint adheres properly, a mix of rubbing alcohol/water for cleaning, masking or blue tape for edging, a good bristle paint brush, primer and paint. This project will take a few hours but the outcome is well worth the time investment.
Frame Bathroom Mirrors. Most homes come with basic contractor grade mirrors. While practical, there’s little personality there and replacing them can be expensive, especially if you have more than one in your home. Instead, you can use some scrap wood (or buy a few basic wood pieces…it’s pretty cheap) and simply frame your existing mirror. All you’ll need is a miter saw, sandpaper, paint or stain, liquid nails or Command Strips. This project can be done for under $20 per mirror and a couple of hours of your time.
Add Peel and Stick Backsplash. If you’ve always wanted a kitchen backsplash but never had the time or money to invest in it, this is what you’ve been waiting for! Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles are affordable, come in sheets with a sticky adhesive backing that peels off and adheres to wall on with little effort. The finished product is so impressive, you’ll never know they’re not pricey backsplash tiles that took days to achieve. Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles can be found at big box home improvement stores and online. Tile sheets run approximately 10 pack of tiles for $30.
Improve Kitchen Functionality: Organize Your Fridge, Freezer and Pantry. Today’s families are storing more food than usual. Although there may not be a budget to do a complete kitchen makeover, you can do some little things that can greatly improve a kitchen’s functionality. A few specifics:
- Containers. Sealed, stackable containers are perfect for cereals, chips, snacks, and any dry foods that normally come in bags. Bags are one of the most clutter-adding parts of a messy pantry. Plus, they are easily crushed, reducing whatever was inside them to a crumby mess. Hard-sided containers are easy to label, stack, and they are air-tight to keep their contents as fresh as possible.
- Pull-out shelves. Drawer-style shelves are extremely useful for pantry organization. They pull out easily, so you can reach everything in the back of your pantry without knocking other things over. These kinds of shelves also have depth to them, so you can fill them without worrying about things falling off the edges. You can also add this type of shelving to some of your smaller cabinets. This can provide a great place to store small kitchen appliances like toasters and coffee pots and providing open space on the counters.
- Shoe Organizer. Hanging a shoe organizer on the inside of your pantry door instantly maximizes your space and helps minimize clutter. You can use it for cans, granola bars, snack packs, seasonings, etc. Shoe organizers can be used for a lot more than just shoes, so be creative!
- Consolidate and separate. Instead of those four half full jars of cinnamon you keep buying because you cannot remember if you have any… Marry those jars into two, and keep one where you can see it, and the other with other “refillers.” Refillers can be brand new containers of things you already have, extra opened containers of dry goods, or things you got a ton of because you found a once-in-a-lifetime sale. Have a special place for these things. It will help you stay much more organized than trying to stuff multiples of the same thing into one spot. This will also help you use your pantry items more efficiently.
Rearrange Furniture in Home. One of the quickest makeovers you can do in your home is to simply rearrange the furniture. Sketch out the layout before you start moving furniture around to make sure it works for the area and with the existing wall hangings (if you don’t want to have to start moving those around). Try something totally new and exciting to give your space a breath of fresh air. The helpful part is you can clean under furniture after you move it so you’ll be getting a newly arranged room that’s clean too!
Repurpose a room or unused space. Repurposing a room in your house should not be limited to revamping unused space. The first step you should take when deciding to repurpose a room is to take into consideration your lifestyle and how it relates to everyone who lives there. A few ideas:
- Easy ways to create a fitness space. Almost everyone has enough space for at least a small home gym, and you do not need expensive machinery to set up a great private gym of your own. A mat and a good set of free weights can be just as beneficial! Some spaces that may work include the garage, your outdoor patio, the corner in the family room, an unfinished basement or even splitting your new WAH office into an office and fitness room. Check out Netflix, Youtube and the like for everything from Zumba, Yoga, and Tai Chi to weight and spinning workouts.
- Adding an office or work space. The best office space in the company is always the corner office. Why not claim that spot for yourself at home? A small corner desk or side table placed in an unused corner provides enough room to spread out without taking over the room. Other options include: a small unused closet, simply remove the doors and voila, or clear out a drawer or two in your kitchen island and set up shop there. When you’re done working simply put away your laptop and work related stuff in the drawer and start cooking!
- Create a reading nook or library. A big comfy chair with a cozy throw can be the start of a perfect readying area. Add a few shelves to display your favorite books, place those that you’re currently reading or planning to read nearby your chair in a stylish storage basket. No reading corner, however, is complete without a lamp that offers a lot of light and some down throw pillows. If you have extra wall space, frame a few of your favorite book covers and hang them as artwork.
- Carve out a space to play games or work on puzzles. An ideal game room has plenty of space for occupants to move around. But even if you’re working with limited square footage, you can create a space that’s inviting for family time; kitchen and dining room tables are great. Use a repurposed ladder opened up against a wall or pan wire rack to creatively store board games. If you already have open shelving available, use fabric storage baskets for game storage.
Paint the Front Door. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of changing up the color of your front door. Sure it’s a big steel door but it’s durable, easy to paint and forgiving of imperfections. Make your whole outside look vibrant and fresh with a coat of new paint in a beautiful color such a sunny yellow, glossy black, Kelly green or fire engine red. The steps involved are fairly simple—sand to remove existing dirt and rough up paint, clean well with 7% rubbing alcohol mixed with water, allow to dry, apply 2 coats of good quality primer and 2-3 coats of your color of choice. A small size, fluffy roller does the best job. Let each layer dry for at least an hour before adding on. This is an easy job that can be done in an afternoon with little exertion. Just take a bit of time to wait between coats.
Build your own Closet or Organize an Existing One. Nobody really wants to clean out their closets, but everybody wants a clean, organized closet! There’s no time like the present to build out a new closet or organize an existing one. Before you start, invest in DIY modular shelving to help make the most of the space you have, to create more organized areas or allow for expanding upon what you’ve already installed. Some things to keep in mind:
- Top go to for an organized closet: Double hanging rods. Most closets have more room for long hanging items than you need. Save a portion of that space for gowns, slacks that don’t hang folded, and dresses. Then fill the remaining space with two stacked rows of hanging space for all of your shirts, skirts, and jackets, etc. Beyond that, have a plan for items like boots, hats, and jewelry. Keep accessibility in mind. Closet size is an issue that can be overcome with creative and efficient planning of your space. In most closets you can go up. Even if you need to incorporate a folding stool in your closet to make use of the space with shelving, boxes, and baskets. Going up is another great way to safely store those occasional, but vital closet items.
- Decluttering before rebuilding. After you measure the space and draw a rough plan for it, start a few days before the big job, and just take a few minutes to run through your closet and get rid of anything you don’t love or haven’t worn in the last two years. Box it up for donation that day or send it to the trash. If you hang onto it, it will end up right back in your closet eventually. After the quick purge, go ahead and sort your closet by length, moving all the long hanging items to the side gives a good visual idea of how much space you really need to have for everything else. Lastly, determine which of the items left are suitable to store high or low in containers. These items can be stored neatly but aren’t needed daily. Now you are ready to reorganize the space for function and fashion with a clear idea of what you have, what you need daily, and what can be stored in the harder to reach places in your closet.
Create a Barn Door. Barn doors are all the rage in home decor and surprisingly easy to build at home in a couple of hours and for under $100. You may even have the lumber left over from another project. First, find a design you like online. There are a slew of different designs and free plans for building one online. You will also need the hardware for hanging the barn door that can be purchased at a big box home improvement center or online. What a fun project to update a door in your home!
Rehab Furniture to Look New. Like most of us, you most likely have furniture in your garage that needs spruced up and given some TLC if it’s to be used again. You may also have items in your home, in current rotation, that really need an update to look less “lived in.” Like many projects we’ve discussed, you just need the basic tools to turn old, drab furniture amazing again. You’ll need sandpaper, cleaning solutions like rubbing alcohol, a good quality primer designed for your project and paint. You can add new drawer pulls, knobs, etc. to further upgrade the look. It’s a relatively inexpensive project that packs a big punch. You can do most projects (i.e. a dresser) in one afternoon.
Marty Basher is the design expert with Modular Closets, https://www.