We Asked DIY Pros: What’s Your Easiest Home Upgrade?
Little changes that go a long way.
Published Sep 23, 2020 6:00 AM
The verdict is in. Sheltering in place has had a major impact on renovation rates in the United States. But judging from Instagram and Pinterest, we pretty much knew that. According to a new survey from Porch, more than 76 percent of homeowners in the country have carried out at least one home improvement project since the start of the pandemic—refreshing walls, transforming overlooked nooks, replacing floors—and we’ve made the space most important to us look better, and work harder, for us.
As we transition into fall and think about little (and budget-friendly) upgrades that can make a big, lasting impact, we asked five interior designers and DIY experts for the easiest and most approachable projects to take on, all using Walmart products. With the right pieces—a Venetian bronze handle, a brass chandelier—even the most renovation-shy can turn their home into exactly what they want it to be.
The Looks-Like-a-Million-Bucks Ceramic Lamp
For Danielle Guerrero, DIY is a fun way to get her hands dirty and make something from nothing. This fall she’s carving out time to create textured lamps. “I had been dying to have a super-expensive ceramic lamp but could not justify the price,” she says. “I found a vase with the look I was going for and thought, I can make one myself.” First, gather your supplies: a ceramic vase, a lamp kit, a lampshade, a terracotta saucer, and a power drill. Then use a masonry drill bit to slowly drill a hole into the bottom of the vase. Next, thread the lamp kit through the hole and out of the top, and again through the saucer. Finally, assemble the lamp kit according to the instructions, attach the lampshade, and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind focal point for a den or bedroom.
The Statement Lighting Moment
“If you detest the standard boob lights in your living space, it’s time to replace them,” says Gbeke Omosebi, a DIY home blogger, who removed the one in her hallway and replaced it with a flush mounted clover. “From semi-flush to flush, there are tons of stylish and affordable light mount fixtures to choose from.” Modern two-tone designs and woven drum-shaped shades are Omosebi’s top picks.
The New-Boho Plant Hangers
“Macramé plant hangers are a cool and easy DIY that add unexpected texture to your plant family,” says Los Angeles–based interior designer Katie Mack, who notes she has several hanging in her kitchen. The process is so simple and the required materials are so minimal, it’s tough not to be inspired to create more than one. “Grab some rope, a brass or wood ring, and beads (once you’ve mastered the knots),” advises Mack. Then get to tying and knotting. Style alongside other braided accents, like a rope mirror or fringed wall hanging, for a modern bohemian touch.
The Coziest WFH Nook
“Make good use of that underused nook or closet by adding an easy DIY desk,” suggests design blogger Ursula Carmona. The handy mom of three turned a useless closet into a cozy office in just one day at her Reidsville, North Carolina, home. To build the desk, “place a piece of plywood on top of reclaimed kitchen cabinets, drawers, or cubbies,” she says. Then take the space to the next level with inventive but functional styling. “It’s the seemingly small details that are often overlooked, like a new lighting fixture or easy-to-install glass doorknobs, but they make all the difference,” notes Carmona.
The Custom Entryway You Deserve
When Riya Jose and her family moved into their Houston home, she had the urge to make the space feel more custom and less builder-grade. “Our entryway was underwhelming, so I wanted to add a simple board and batten wall,” she says. To start, measure the wall and determine how many panels you’ll need. (Pro tip: Use an inch calculator; it’s a “game changer,” says Jose.) Next, cover the space with 1/8-inch hardboard, which makes the end result look more polished, and install the horizontal boards just above the baseboards. Then cut the vertical board, nail it over the hardboard, and paint and prime it. The wall acts as a focal point for an impactful entryway, and serves as a complementary backdrop for accessories like a piece of art, a coat hook, and a bench.