10 Home DIY Projects You Can Do in One Day

by Camilla Cheung on 13 February 2012 4 comments
Photo: mark hunter

My husband and I are in the midst of a major home remodel, and we're faced with big tasks such as tiling new bathrooms, installing flooring, putting up new walls, and rerouting plumbing. Such challenging tasks can seem overwhelming, and I've found that doing a few easy one-day DIY projects gives me a sense of accomplishment. When I'm able to significantly improve my home in one day or less, I feel as if we're making progress, and that encourages me to stick it out for the long haul.

Even if you're not overhauling your entire home, some of these easy DIY fixes can freshen up and update your home with minimal effort. One of these projects can be a fun family activity for a Saturday, and everyone gets to enjoy the results. (See also: Upgrade Your Home Decor for Less)

1. Make No-Sew Curtains

Getting rid of old plastic blinds and installing fresh new curtains is a quick fix that makes your home so much cozier and up-to-date. You can easily make your own custom, no-sew curtains using fabric snapped up at a discount from a fabric store (check online for those 40-50% off ), iron-on hem tape, and clip-on curtain rings. Throw them up on your windows with a curtain rod from Target and you're good to go within an hour or two. YoungHouseLove has an excellent tutorial for homemade no-sew curtains.

2. Paint a Sign

Use an old piece of plywood or MDF board and cut it to your desired size. Prime it, and then use craft paint to DIY a simple sign to hang on your wall with the message of your choice, whether it's "Don't Forget to Flush" or something more poetic. Finish it off with a coat of polyacrylic to seal and protect your new work of art.

3. Paint Trim

Freshening up the trim around your house is a pretty simple project but will have a dramatic impact in making your home seem more up-to-date, clean, and fresh. Cover up that yellowing paint with a bright white, semi-gloss paint — just be sure to tape off the edges (or make sure you have a steady hand).

4. Spray Paint a Light Fixture

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is brimming with old light fixtures just begging for a new finish. Buy an old chandelier or other light fixture for a few bucks, as well as a few cans of spray paint (try a dark brown oil-rubbed bronze finish for a transitional look, or a bright color for a punch of cheer). Wear a mask and apply the spray paint evenly in a well-ventilated area. Voila! You've got a brand-new light fixture that no one else will have. CentsationalGirl has an excellent FAQ for spray painting almost anything.

5. Re-Upholster a Stool

Some upholstery jobs can take days, and many require the attention of a professional. But recovering that old padded footstool you found at the thrift store? You can do that yourself pretty easily. Buy a piece of foam, some batting, and a piece of fabric at your local craft store. Cut the foam to fit, then use a nail gun to attach the batting and fabric. No nail gun? Try using cheap upholstery tacks instead, like in this quick upholstering project.

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6. Back Bookshelves With Wallpaper

Spruce up a "blah" bookcase with some pretty patterned wallpaper. You can apply it with glue, or even with double-sided tape so you can take it down when you are ready for a new pattern. A vibrant color or pattern can make your books and curios "pop" and look like new again.

7. Sew (or No-Sew) Pillow Covers Made from Napkins

While my husband desperately tries to curb my accent pillow addiction, I just can't stop. A few brightly-colored, well-placed pillows cheer up any space instantly! These innovative pillow covers are made from colorful cloth napkins, a super-frugal and easy way to freshen up your living room couch. You can whip out the sewing machine to put them together, or use trusty old iron-on hem tape for a no-sew version.

8. Make a Compost Bin

A compost bin is a handy thing to have outside within easy access. Instead of buying a fancy version that can run into the hundreds of dollars, make your own with just a few hours of work. Compost bins have many designs, from open bins made from scrap wood and chicken wire to "tumbling" bins made from old garbage cans. Both are easy to DIY with plenty of tutorials on the web, such as this frugal garbage can tumbling compost bin.

9. Paint Your Front Door

Paint your front door a fun color to welcome guests to your home. Take the opportunity to fill any cracks or dents. If the previous paint is in bad condition, you may want to prime the door first. Then paint it with an exterior paint in red, yellow, turquoise, navy, or another high-impact color. Since the front door is one of the first things to greet guests, a fresh coat of paint makes a big difference. Even better, swap out the old cheap-looking builder-grade brass door handle for something more updated in oil-rubbed bronze or satin-nickel.

10. Plant a Flowerbed

Although we were deep into several other home improvement projects at the time, my husband and I took an afternoon off to plant a flowerbed in front of our home. We dug up the old weedy flowerbed, added some topsoil and compost, and planted a few inexpensive flowers and shrubs. The project took a couple of hours but we've been rewarded with colorful blooms that put a smile on my face every day.

What DIY project will you be tackling this weekend?

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Guest's picture

Along the same lines as the sign painting: cut up some old magazines and make yourself an interesting collage that you can frame and hang on the wall. Or buy some prints of artwork you like or print out some photographs from your digital library to frame and hang on the wall. This is a simple DIY project that can really make a big difference in your living space. I feel so much more at home when I surround myself with things I like to look at.

Guest's picture

I've never done anything in one day. Pulled a broken faucet out, took mrs a month to buy new one, then 2 visit to Home Depot and two days to install it.
I applaud those who move fast.

Andrea Karim's picture

I bought a 14-light brass chandelier that I spray painted bright yellow. It's one of my favorite things in the house.

Guest's picture
Guest

#4 O.R.B. ... does someone read Y.H.L.??