Now we’re all spending more time at home, are you thinking a couple of rooms in your house could do with some TLC? In this article, we’ll arm you with a few simple and relatively cheap home hacks that could make all the difference.
1. DIY home decor ideas
With just a can of paint and a roller you can reinvent your reality. Here are some DIY home decor ideas:
Adding a pop of colour by painting an accent wall
But which wall to choose? Here are some decorators’ best tips:
- Pick a room that feels like it needs more happening, décor-wise
- Choose the wall that first grabs your attention when you enter the room
- For simplicity’s sake, you should also consider the difficulty rating of the wall – for example, you may prefer to paint the bare wall over the one with a mounted TV and cluster of picture frames hung on it
- Make sure you pick a shade that sits pretty among the existing colour palette of the room – like matching a cushion colour, for example
- Need to paint behind the radiator for a flawless finish? Check out How to remove a radiator for decorating for the best tips and tricks.
Upcycling your kitchen cupboards or a tired old cabinet with chalk paint
If you have kitchen cupboards or an old piece of furniture that you’re thinking of getting rid of because they’re looking a little dated or worse for wear, chalk paint is an easy and fun way to transform them.
- Its texture is very forgiving (great if you’re not a master painter)
- You can choose from a beautiful range of colours
- You rarely need to sand or prime beforehand
- One or two coats of paint are usually enough.
Pinterest is a great place to start for some chalk paint eye candy to help inspire you.
Transforming a room with wall stickers and stencils
If you want to go bold and decorative, try our DIY hacks for wall stickers or stencils…
- Stencilling and stickers require a smooth, flat, clean wall, so make sure you repair any cracks, sand down any raised areas and wipe it clean first
- If you’re stencilling, the experts advise that you practice first so you know the amount of paint and pressure to use before you apply it to your wall
- Stencils come in a variety of pattern designs to suit your tastes – how about Mexican Day of the Dead Calaveras (skulls) or Moroccan tile?
- Wall stickers are particularly ideal for children’s bedrooms – no matter whether they’re into space, animals or unicorns, there’s something for everyone
- For bubble-free sticking, use masking tape to keep your sticker steady on the wall while you’re peeling off the clear application layers, and try using a credit card to move all bubbles from the centre to the edges.
2. Kitchen cupboard organisation ideas
Organising your kitchen makes a world of difference in a busy household – and you can do it relatively cheaply too. Here are some DIY ideas for the home:
- Declutter first! If there are appliances or pans you never use, give or sell them to someone else, or take them to the charity shop. Tinned food past its best before date? Bin it
- Try in-cupboard lazy susans/turntables for jars, bottles and tins – it means no more rummaging for that last tin of kidney beans.
- If you’re struggling for space, take things like pots and pans out of cabinets and display them by adding rails, hooks or even small shelves to your walls
- Do you need more space under the sink for cleaning products? Fit a tension rod across the space and hang the spraying products you use most often for quick access. A neat alternative is a cabinet door towel rack – flip it around and put it on the inside.
- Try decanting your staple foods to dedicated transparent containers to make your life easier. Cereals, rice, pasta, sugar – you name it. Again, it’s all in the style of your labels – you could use blackboard paint and chalk again.
Check out our 10 easy and cheap ways to update your kitchen for more ideas.
3. Make a gallery wall
We talked about accent walls earlier, and another great way to bring some of your personality and character to your home is to turn a plain wall into a gallery wall. Gallery walls have become very popular over the last few years, and they are fantastic ways to celebrate your family and friends, hobbies and passions. If you have a bland wall or staircase in your home you’d love to adorn with a lovingly curated collection of small framed photographs or artwork, here’s a step-by-step guide:
Start collecting things you love – from family photographs to original art or prints – with a basic idea of how you’re going to display them. How large is your gallery wall going to be?
- Get inspired
Look for gallery wall inspiration out and about in cafes, galleries and home shows, or on Instagram and Pinterest.
- Create a theme
Your whole gallery wall can be a theme – the music you love, for example. Or a colour scheme, artistic style or period of art that you love. Or you could have mini themes within your overall gallery wall. Family in one corner, friends in another, for example.
- Uniform or mixed?
Are your framed gallery pieces going to be a uniform size, and a clean and classic shape, or more of a scattered, mixed arrangement? Will you use the same style frames throughout or will it be more of a cornucopia of materials and styles? The aesthetics are striking either way.
- Measure up
It’s a great idea to layout your shortlist of chosen pieces on the floor over a similar-sized area to get an idea of how it will look. Then cull the pieces that don’t quite fit in with your theme.
- Decide on the layout
Again, it’s all about your personal preference – you can keep the gaps all the same, or something a bit more off-kilter can work too.
This needs patience, some precision hammering with nails and picture hooks, and a lot of light pencilling on the wall to make sure your frames are level. Use a spirit level if you need to.
- The final look
Stand back and admire – swap out pictures if it’s not quite right. And now you’re a gallery owner, always keep your eyes peeled for new pieces to add to your collection.
4. Freshen up tiles and grout
Tiles are a beautiful, practical finish for a bathroom or kitchen but the common problem with tiles is the build-up of limescale and mould causing discolouration to your tiles and grout that affects the look and feel of your rooms. Here’s how to freshen up:
- Use a grout cleaner
This works really well for minor stains, gunk and mould on grouting. Use a specifically formulated grout cleaner. Read our step-by-step How to get rid of mould guide for all the details.
- Use a grout pen
If there are persistent stains, you can use an anti-mould grout pen. It ‘paints’ the surface to look like new.
- Remove the grout and start afresh
If you’re not 100% happy after carrying out the first two steps, or you’re aiming for a clean slate, remove the current batch of grout and re-grout for a flawless finish.
5. Upgrade to smart home devices
Did you know at least 30% of UK homeowners own at least one smart home device? They allow you to control and adjust things like lighting, temperature, your security and your appliances, all with a smartphone app. Forgotten to switch your central heating timer on and it’s suddenly chilly out? A smart thermostat could have your home toasty warm by the time you arrive home. If you’re looking for home improvement ideas, look for other devices to make your life easier:
- Smart doorbells
- Smart lighting
- Smart security
- Voice-activated heating control
Get all the detail in our ‘What is a smart home?’ article and equip your home for the 21st Century.
6. Add some kerb appeal
Refreshing the look of your home and front garden doesn’t have to require a re-mortgage or a design degree. If you’re doing DIY on a budget, some clean and painted doors/windows, a tidy lawn or perhaps some window boxes with flowers are cheap and easy to do and give your home an instant facelift. They’ll certainly increase the appeal of your home to potential buyers.
How to install a window box
If you’re short on space in the city, window boxes are the perfect low-maintenance gardening solution.
- Measure the width and height of your window to make sure you buy a window box that isn’t too big or small.
- Choose a window box that’s at least 20cm deep – you want lots of drainage room at the bottom
- You’ll need a drill, screws and a spirit level to attach the hanging bracket of your chosen window box to the wall. Make sure it’s straight!
- Check that there are draining holes in the bottom of your box – if not you can drill them in yourself.
- Line the bottom of the box with pebbles or gravel for roots to grow, then compost. Now you’re ready to plant your flowers or veg!
- You can also buy a railing planter to fix onto railings – no DIY required.
7. DIY garden ideas
If your garden needs some love and you’re looking for some DIY garden ideas on a budget, we’ve got plenty of hacks to transform it:
Upcycled flower pots
There are so many household items just begging to be turned into flower pots to add some colour in your garden or on your window sill.
Here are just a few:
- Create your own jam jar herb garden – line jars with pebbles for drainage then fill with soil and seeds. You can label each herb with blackboard paint and chalk for a nice touch.
- Colanders make fun homes for hanging plants – thanks to their ready-made drainage holes, plants and flowers get all the drainage they need. Just line your colander with gravel to stop compost jamming up the holes
- Did you know you can turn your old chest of drawers into a boho mini garden? Paint your furniture with garden paint to protect it, then line the drawers with black plastic bags and gravel before filling with compost (Tub and Basket compost is best), then plant away!
Create a decked area
If you want to carve out an area of your garden for wining, dining or relaxing in the fresh air, investing in a well-covered deck gives you returns all year round. Here are a few tips:
- Think about the space you’ve got and exactly how much you need for decking for it to be a useful space. Try to work in harmony with the lines of your garden
- There are so many ideas for how to build your decking area – think about covering it with a glazed pergola so it’s a true year-round space, what about levels and railings? Do you want a traditional or rustic look or a more contemporary feel? How much greenery do you want? We love the look of a succulent patch and climbers like honeysuckle and magnolia always work well
- Let’s get practical: If you’re a regular DIYer who’s comfortable using power tools, you should be able to install a simple, ground-level deck with no problems. If you plan on decking a large area, a second pair of hands is ideal
- In the UK, don’t forget an anti-slip paint treatment for your decking. Our wet weather requires it!
Brighten up the garden with a lick of paint
One of the quickest ways to smarten up your garden is to repaint your timber. You could spruce up your fence panels, your shed or a wall, or even your bird box. You can use natural tones or give it some colour to make it pop. Here are some DIY hacks:
- Prepping your timber is quick and easy with a power washer, letting you spray down surfaces to remove dirt and algae. Or you can rub it down with sandpaper and then wipe with white spirit. Kill and remove stubborn algae with a bleach and water solution, then leave to dry
- Painting on wet or damp timber isn’t recommended (it will badly affect the quality of the finish and how long it lasts) so timber must be bone-dry to paint. Don’t forget that decking takes much longer to dry out than fence panels!
- Always use a good quality paintbrush for the best coverage. Rollers are great for large surfaces but not gaps or details. Paint sprayers are fast but you waste a lot – and don’t paint on a windy day or you’ll paint everything but your surface.
Protect your home
If you’ve been inspired to spruce up your home with our DIY hacks on a budget, don’t get caught out with potential home damage from common home improvement disasters! Protect yourself with plumbing insurance so you’re covered if you need a quick fix.