Getting bored is not an option while sheltering-in-place during this pandemic.
Think about the situation – positively! You’re not alone; virtually the whole world has been quarantining and observing social distancing. Why not put the extra time to good use and take on some home projects you have been putting off?
Yes, you've been binge-watching all the Hulu, Netflix, and HGTV programs you’ve missed and been catching up on your reading. But haven’t you always planned to reorganize your clothes closet and the kitchen cabinets, declutter the basement, sort out the pile of junk mail – and have been putting it off? Now is the perfect time for these activities.
So dust off the boredom blues – go into action mode and be productive.
Here are some simple and inexpensive home projects to which you can give some of your attention while you have time on your hands. We've organized projects into categories – from rearranging and organizing to decorating and improving.
Rearranging/Updating Spaces and Furniture
There are some changes/updates you can make in your home – and with your furniture – without the expense of a full renovation.
1. Change up your living room
Years ago, when I shared an apartment in New York City, I had a roommate who had the practice of rearranging the living room every few months or so. I could come home to some surprises – one sofa against a bedroom wall and another one facing the window. Throws, side tables, and lamps switched around. Needless to say, the living room always looked interesting.
Pandemic or not, it’s quite exciting when the living room gets a new setup. An easy enough project to do while sheltering at home – and not too much of a sweat. And you can be quite creative with the rearrangement of your furniture, fixtures, and decor accents.
Everything may be the same old furnishings – but you can move the couch, bookcase, computer table, TV stands and position them in different ways to give your living a room a new layout.
Top: The beautifully furnished living room in a two-story, four-bedroom Contemporary style home is remarkable in its simplicity. In this open floor layout, the loveseat separates the living room from the kitchen. How can you rearrange the layout without losing the dividing line? Bottom: From this angle, a full view of the home’s outdoor space is obstructed by the two chairs in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Try positioning the chairs to flank the fireplace, move the plastic tub to the laundry room and put the side table with the lamp in its place. The loveseat divider stays – and you get a spacious but different layout – without compromising the kitchen-living-room dividing line (Plan #204-1018.)
Punch up your decor: Get attractive and colorful sofa slip covers or protective throws, pillows, or cushions. Take out that salt lamp from its original box and put it on a side table. Change your curtains. You may want to check your linen closet and find curtains you bought a while back – just waiting to get out of their packages.
Upgrade old furniture: You may have dressers and cabinets sitting in the basement or garage that need a little attention. Perhaps you planned a new paint color for that old dresser – or a varnish job for a table. If the reminder note for this project has been lying on the “to do next” or “neglected” pile for a while, now is the time to bring out the paint and paint brushes – and make the pieces presentable again. And that’s exactly what my niece is doing with three old dressers. She is currently repainting them and giving them some needed TLC
Think twice before trading “old reliables” with the new. These old dressers and end tables are sturdy and well-made, and they've withstood three cross country moves in 10 years. All they need is some refinishing and TLC to make them look and feel new again (photo credit: Marti Pascual).
In 2020, more than any other year, cleaning has been top of mind for virtually everyone. We make it a point to scrub and disinfect kitchen countertops, desks, tables, computer monitors, etc. Now, we can pay attention to the real cleaning and organizing that we have shelved for so long. We’re talking about clothes closets, kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers, mudrooms, and pantries.
2. Tackle the clothes closet
How many times have we told ourselves to clean and organize our clothes closets – especially when seasons change? This is the time to go through that closet, sort clothes, and get ready to purge items you haven't used in a while.
In early spring, one of the churches in my area sponsored a Lenten Project – instead of giving up something for Lent, why not donate a piece of clothing that has been sitting in the drawer or hanging in the closet – unused for a few years? So people were encouraged to purge their closets and armoires and donate an item during Lent.
It was a great incentive to start cleaning my closet and giving up items I had been holding on to – unnecessarily – for years.
Not all of us have the luxury of having a walk-in closet like this one in a 1.5-story French style home with three bedrooms and two full baths. But we can all be inspired to clean out and keep our closets organized especially during quarantine (Plan #142-1209).
3. Clean up the entryway
You may have a back door entry with hooks on the wall for jackets and coats – or perhaps even a spacious mudroom. Either way, these areas can become disorganized and dusty with all the comings-and-goings of family members and guests. Make sure the shoe rack you’re using instead of shelves for footwear is cleaned and washed. Shake out the welcome rugs and mats – even give them a good hosing down in the yard.
While getting a bit crowded with all the coats and jackets, this mudroom in a one-story Modern style home with three bedrooms and 3.5 baths remains tidy and organized. Whether you have a mudroom or a small entryway, You can achieve the same look by organizing and cleaning up regularly (Plan #202-1027).
4. De-clutter kitchen and bath
Are the recyclable plastic food containers, foil baking trays, and grocery bags piling up in the kitchen? How about the party supplies that you’re storing for the next event? Much like clothes that have been sitting in your closet “forever,” make a concerted effort to organize those kichen drawers and – if you must – keep only a few those plastic containers and bags to prevent your space from being an eyesore.
While bathroom floors, showers, tubs, and toilets get at least a weekly or twice-a-week cleaning and scrubbing, cabinets and drawers are mostly overlooked and neglected. This is another item to add to the clean-up list while sheltering-at-home.
Open those drawers and empty out the contents before you start wiping off the inner surface. Wash those combs and hairbrushes and remove all the tangled hair. Wipe off spilled toothpaste, mouthwash, hair gel, creams, and makeup. Remove and throw out all the trash, and reorganize the clean drawers.
What a sight for sore eyes! One of the four beautifully designed bathrooms in a 1.5-story, four-bedroom Farmhouse style home displays a classic and simple space with tidy and well-organized cabinets and shelves. Spend some time in quarantine organizing the bathroom drawers and get a look like this (Plan #161-1124).
Creating/Adding Decor Accents
Home projects don’t have to be boring – or a drudgery. In fact, you can be imaginative and jazz up your home a bit with some simple touch ups.
5. Face-lft a photo gallery and wall hangings
Tired of looking at the same framed artwork in the living room, kitchen, or bedroom? You can switch out these hangings for a little variety and “change of scenery.”
You can do the same with the family photos on the wall – if you don’t have a gallery of family photos, you can start one; or if your favorite family pictures are already on your wall, you can reposition them for a different viewing perspective.
Creating a photo gallery of treasured family moments is an easy and fun home project that can be undertaken by family members (photo credits: top, Alex Otto on Unsplash; bottom, Vinicus "amnx" Amano on Unsplash).
6. Wow with wallpaper
Wallpaper is a big trend in 2020 and is back in lots of spaces in the home. Designers are using and recommending wallpaper in bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.
This should be an exciting home project that can be simplified by using wallpaper in focal points of a room – like above the headboard in the master suite, above to to side of a kitchen backsplash, a small bathroom wall, or a hallway.
You can choose patterns and designs in the trending shades of 2020 – browns, mustards, golds, corals, terra cottas, sage greens, and even certain red hues.
If you’re more ambitious, adventurous, and not daunted by getting on a ladder, you can make your bedroom ceiling more exciting with different themed wallpaper. Perhaps you want to look up and see the planets and stars, a Japanese zen garden, snow-covered cobblestone streets, or any nature-themed image. You can purchase removable themed wallpaper – and start your project.
Jazz up a bedroom with wallpaper! A patterned wallpaper above the headboard is a creative decor accent that perks up the color palette of this very simply designed and decorated bedroom (photo credit: Febrian Zakaria on Unsplash).
7. How about a cozy reading nook?
We talk about getaway spaces in the home where you can have private time all to yourself and far from the noise and chatter of daily family activities. Even if you live alone, you need that space where television or the kitchen cannot intrude.
Find a space that’s all your own. It can be in your room – but also a special place elsewhere in the hosue where you can hole up with all the good books that have been on your “to-read list.” All you need is a comfortable sofa – a rocking chair may work – an ottoman on which to rest your legs, some throw pillows, a blanket, and a pile of books.
Top: A girl’s bedroom in a one-story four-bedroom Craftsman style home features a very attractive and comfortable sitting area that can double as a reading nook (Plan #101-1874).Bottom: Nothing fancy – but a comfortable space to curl up in and enjoy a good book (photo credit: Rexy Legaspi).
8. Get a room with an accent
If you’re handier with a paint brush than measuring, peeling, and sticking wallpaper on the walls or ceiling, then you should consider painting an accent wall, especially in smaller rooms. A freshly-painted and cheery wall will not only make the space seem bigger and airier but help lift up your spirits during quarantine days.
For the accent wall, think of colors that make you happy – bright tones like orange, brick red, and classic blue, or calming tones like soft browns, pumpkin spice, and sage green.
Check out the brightly painted accent wall in this bedroom done in black and white. The splash of color is attractive and appealing and makes the room seem bigger (photo credit: Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash).
9. Change it up with hardware
Tired of looking at the same drawer pulls and knobs in your bathroom and kitchen? Or if it’s like my kitchen with no drawer pulls and knobs – adding them is the option. New hardware can give both the bathroom and kitchen a new look.
Who says that you have to stick with the tried and true standards? There are several trendy knobs and pulls in funky designs and colors that are sure to jazz up the kitchen or the bathroom. Be brave and adventurous – and try the new fanciful ones. Remember, you can always switch back to the old ones. Just be sure that the knobs and pulls “match the same hole configuration” that are on your current furniture.
Top: A classic white kitchen in a one-story Country style home with two bedrooms and 2.5 baths is a timeless beauty. It has simple and clean lines – but can use a little bit of sprucing up to give it a little pop of color. More colorful and current knobs and drawer pulls can jazz up the space (Plan #161-1072).Bottom: These fanciful ceramic knobs/drawer pulls would add real zing to the kitchen and/or bathroom cabinet (photo source: Amazon.com).
10. Bring greenery inside
Now that the cold weather is upon us, outdoor gardening is unlikely. So why not bring some potted plants and other greenery inside the home? Experts recommend air-purifying plants – and the kind that can thrive in an environment that does not get a lot of sun – for homeowners who keep their blinds shut most of the time. But part of the reason for having plants in the home in the first place is to brighten things up, so keep those blinds open and get as much light as possible during the winter to prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or winter depression.
Some recommended easy-to-care-for houseplants include
• Spider plant
• Snake plant, or mother's tongue
• Aloe vera
• Pothos vine, or devil's ivy
Top: Get on the trendy side and create an indoor garden in your home as in this one in the Great Room of a two-story, 3,587-square-foot Contemporary home with three bedrooms, a majestic covered front porch, grand entryway, covered rear porch, sundeck, and other amenities. (Plan #161-1106) See how this small space brings the greenery in. Bottom: There is a hanging plant as well as an abundance of potted plants in this room (photo credit:Patrick Perkins on Unsplash).
Perking Up Your Home’s Exterior
Now, that you’ve spent time organizing and jazzing up your interior space, don’t forget outdoor projects that can make your home more attractive.
11. Make a focal front door
Let’s start with the front door. I’ve always wanted to do this project. One of my big plans one summer was to paint the front door of my sister’s house a very bright red – to give a bold contrast to the square-shaped white house. While that project was never accomplished, I have my eyes set on my front door.
This is an easy enough project – get a can of your favorite paint color, paint rollers and brushes for the trim. And, you’ll have a brand new and amazing front door.
Stop and look! The bright red front door makes this charming one-story, 1,870-square-foot country Cottage style home more appealing and attractive. In addition to the door, the home includes covered front and rear porches, built-ins, split master suite, fireplace, eat-in kitchen, and other amenities (Plan #141-1266).
12. (Window) Box your flowers
If you want to add more curb appeal to the front of your home, think of a window box. While you can purchase these items, it may be an exciting home project to build your own. A little research on the Internet will yield websites with tutorials on building simple window boxes – and the kinds of plants and flowers with which to fill them.
For example, you can choose healing plants, fresh herbs, and for the ultimate in curb appeal, colorful blooms like petunias, daisies, begonias, geraniums, and even roses. So don those garden gloves and embrace this home project!
Top: This delightful one-story Country style home with a lovely, welcoming front porch and red door also includes a window box with colorful flowers – just to the left of the porch. The home features four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a split bedroom layout, a family room. and a covered back porch. (Plan #141-1107) Bottom: A great DIY project – with tutorials and the appropriate materials, a window box like this one can be built to add splashes of color to a home’s exterior facade (photo source: Flower Window Boxes).
Certainly, there are more home projects waiting to be tackled. But be sure to start with those that bring you joy, excitement, and a sense of adventure.