20 Easy Projects to Transform Your Home This Year
Upgrade your space with these fun, fast, and functional projects
This winter, give muddy, salt-stained floors the boot with this clever stand, a perfect resting place for wet Wellies and snowy footwear. Ours gets a stylish upgrade from a mix of turned-wood stair balusters. Hit up your local salvage yard or pick up new ones at the home center, starting at $5 each. Paint the piece an eye-catching color, and now you've got smart storage that's a real kick.
Get the full step-by-step: How to Build a Boot Stand
Ferrying firewood to the hearth just got a lot easier with this durable cart. A sturdy plywood base rests on an open framework of copper pipes that makes loading logs a cinch. The addition of casters allows for smooth transport. It's a good way to keep smaller cuts dry and stacked in an orderly manner, and the copper is elegant enough to store hearthside even when a fire isn't blazing.
Watch how it's done: How to Build a Log Holder
Call it a standout spot for rain-slicked stuff—one that doesn't stand out. Here, white porcelain doorknobs (find vintage ones for as little as $5 each on eBay) serve as hooks to provide a temporary way station for wet gear to dry before going into the coat closet. When not in use, the knobs blend into the woodwork. Install several in a row for a perfect place to hang your hat—and umbrella.
Add the storage idea to other parts of your home: How to Make a Doorknob Coatrack
Even the humblest of kitchen tools—well-worn cheese graters, whisks, rolling pins, and colanders, to name a few—can be elevated to art when curated as a thoughtful grouping and hung together. Take the vintage breadboards shown here. With their subtle variations in shape and decoration, and blond-to-burnished wood tones, they bring unexpected warmth and personality to the wall. Score them at flea markets or on eBay for not a lot of dough ($20 and up). Or scour your own kitchen for pieces to display. You'll have a wall collage that's anything but ordinary.
Put other kitchen favorites on display: How to Make a Plate Holder
Next time you spy an old sewing machine's treadle base at a flea market, think twice before you walk away. These ornate metal supports ($30 and up on craigslist.org) can be repurposed as charming stands for outdoor containers. Made of durable cast iron, they look great rusted and weathered by the elements. Just mount boards to the brackets of this base with deck screws and set terra-cotta pots or a window box on top. Fill with billowy blooms for a display that will never go out of style.
Here, a few suggestions for your new stand: How to Create a Container Garden
Ordering out at the end of a busy day can be a major time-saver. Having to rifle through a messy menu drawer, not so much. A handsome way to tackle the clutter: Craft a wall-mount menu holder like the one here. A coat of milk paint gives it a pop of sunny color, and a rectangle of green chalkboard paint lets you customize a message—or scribble down your order. All that's left? Just kick back and wait for the delivery guy.
See how we did it: How to Build a Takeout Menu Holder
Give your icebox the star treatment by cutting beadboard and chair rail to fit fridge doors. Fasten molding to the panels and add an iron-look handle (use a paddle bit to recess the nut and bolt from the back) and decorative strap hinges. Adhere the panels with polyurethane glue. Trim the edges with half-round molding painted to match.
For more fridge ideas, visit: Face-Lifts for Your Fridge
For a cooler party cooler, look no further than the home center. Here, we set a galvanized-metal tub on folding sawhorse legs to create a beverage server that goes together in a snap and breaks down just as easily come cleanup time. We attached two 2x3s to the tub's underside with heavy-duty mounting tape and washer-head screws; a dab of silicone over the screws protects against leaks. We clipped the corners of a 2x4, stained it, and mounted it to the sawhorse legs so that it fits between the boards on the bottom of the tub. All that's left: Slide the tub onto the base, fill with ice, and crack open a cold one. How's that for chill?
Tip: We used painter's tape to add a stripe of Rust-Oleum's Universal Gloss in Cardinal Red.
There's nothing like candlelight to set a magical mood while dining, indoors or out. Here, a grouping of votive-candle lanterns suspended from a low-hanging tree branch creates the perfect ambient glow. The how-to: Tie clear fishing line (we used 25-pound nylon tippet) around the wire handle of each glass lantern, and stagger their height as you hang them. Insert some candles, or just use LEDs. Either way, you'll have a night-light so pretty, you won't want to go back inside. Place a few drops of water under each candle to ensure easy cleanup later—the melted wax will pop right out when cool.
Get a similar look with charming canning jars: Make an Outdoor Mason-Jar Pendant
Colorful quilts pieced from bits of fabric have long displayed Americans' thriftiness and creativity. To celebrate those qualities, we rendered one using wood scraps. After outlining a classic eight-point star on plywood, we cut wood paneling and lauan to fill in the design. Panel adhesive and brads hold it together; shelf-edge trim frames it. Selectively adding red, white, and blue sections gives the piece some punch. Displayed near a front entry, it's a dramatic way to welcome guests—now we call that real star power. Mixing waxed, stained, and milk-painted boards lends a unique look.
See how we did it: How to Make a Wood Quilt
Feeling nostalgic for the drive-ins of yore? Re-create the magic in your own backyard without spending major bucks on fancy equipment.
Get the project details: DIY Movie Night
Nothing says summer like the slap of a wood screen door. But old-fashioned appeal can come at a price. Get the lovely vintage look for less by dressing up a simple home-center door with stock wood details.
Get the project details: Vintage Screen-Door Charm on a Budget
In summertime, the projects should be just as easy as the livin'. Take this outdoor table: All you need is a few extra tiles, a folding luggage rack, plywood, and a length of molding.
Get the full how-to: Use Leftover Tile to Create a Showpiece Table
You can't get much lower maintenance than this: Fill colorful empty tins with an array of succulents, such as aloe, zebra plant, sedum, and cactus. Because they thrive in direct sun, you can leave them outside all summer, provided they have good drainage.
See an easy way to bring your love of succulents indoors: How to Create Succulent Art
With its clean lines, a simple Federal-style mantel is a serious flea-market score—whether or not you have a firebox to surround. It finds new life here as an elegant headboard and gives curling up in front of the fireplace a whole new meaning.
Follow these steps to create your own: How to Make a Salvaged-Mantel Headboard
Come September, it's time to say good-bye to the less structured days of summer. Here's one way to stay organized when the kids go back to school: a wall-mounted shopping list. Place it by the door so that you can just write, rip, and go. Call it a noteworthy way to keep track of your to-dos. A coat of paint makes the kraft paper stand out. We used Dutch Boy's Pixley Falls.
See how we did it: How to Make a Wall-Mounted Shopping List
Swap out the glass on your kitchen cabinet doors for vintage ceiling tiles from a ReStore, like Shannon Kamm from New Richmond, Wisconsin, did with hers. Cut the tiles so the design is centered and attach them from behind with retainer clips. They not only hide clutter but also provide a rustic vibe to the home.
See other readers' creative ideas: Put a Spin on Tin Tiles
You don't need a thick blanket of the fluffy stuff to make this charming pair—just a couple of snow-white newel posts and some workshop odds and ends. But unlike that beloved snowman, these two won't melt when the mercury rises.
See the project details: 5 Charming Holiday Decoration Building Projects
Here's a truly evergreen centerpiece: This festive fir won't wilt, doesn't need watering, and can be stored flat, then hauled out season after season. Now that's what we call a perfect spruce-up for the table.
Find out how we made it: 5 Charming Holiday Decoration Building Projects
Create a festive village scene with house-shaped candleholders made from 4x4 scraps. The finishing touch: LED candles that ensure the homes stay safely lit.
See how we made them: 5 Charming Holiday Decoration Building Projects