17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing (and 3 You Shouldn't Try)


When my husband and I bought our first home, I was glued to all those television DIY shows. There were so many things we wanted to do to our starter space, and the Internet hadn't yet exploded with tutorials and inspiration boards. Now? Any and every project you could ever want to do can be found with a quick search. (Related: 25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Great)

Here are some of the best home and decor improvements even novices can tackle.

1. Leather Refinishing

Have an old, worn leather couch smelling up the place? You can totally revitalize it on the cheap with these easy instructions. You'll need leather cleaner, a good quality dye, and some type of finish coat — but all the supplies should come in less than $100, depending on the size of your sofa.

2. Blinds Revival

I dream of gorgeous plantation shutters in my home. Thing is, I'm on a plastic blinds sort of budget, so I love this idea to dress them up using spray paint. The possibilities are endless! (Related: 40 Ways to Use Spray Paint for Cheap and Easy Decorating)

3. Fireplace Makeover

Neutralize the dated aspects of your home with — again — our friend, spray paint. Those brassy accents disappear with a nice coat of black or, in for a more refined color, "oil-rubbed bronze." With the fireplace, you'll want to choose a formula specifically designed for high heat.

4. Like-New Appliances

Our new home has a great, spacious kitchen, but the appliances don't match. Since they're all in good working order, we're considering painting the refrigerator versus buying a new one. You can use special appliance paint or kits, but the tutorial makes use of standard semi-gloss paint.

5. Light Fixture

Though I don't recommend doing your own electrical work, you can replace ceiling light fixtures without much trouble. Just be sure to turn out the power to the room you're working in and connect the wires according to your new light's instruction pamphlet.

6. Board and Batten

Adding architectural detail to a room is simple with this detailed board and batten tutorial. You need boards, construction adhesive, nails, and a few other supplies. If you aren't handy with a saw, you might even consider asking the folks at your local lumber supply to do the cuts for you at an extra charge to speed up the process.

7. Television Hide-and-Seek

I drool over media cabinets from those expensive home decor stores. Then I found this smart solution online — and I can't wait to get my hands on some 2x4s. This project isn't well detailed, but if you have a somewhat experienced woodworker in the family, the concept is easy to follow. For my "doors" I might use (or create) a piece of artwork that comes in two pieces.

8. Tile Re-Grouting

If you have a section — or entire room — of tile that looks dingy and old, consider whether the tile itself really needs fixing, or if you can just fix the grout. You can pick up the supplies to add some new life to those dirty grout lines for very little money — here's how you do it!

9. Rustic Accent Wall

When I came across this cozy pallet wall, my jaw literally dropped. It takes some skill, but once you hang the underlayment, it's mostly a puzzle of what pieces look good and where. The author installed it in her son's nursery, but I'd love to put one in my basement recreation room!

10. Custom Built-Ins

When I first came across these dining room built-ins, I knew they'd be perfect for almost any room in the house. The author gives step-by-step instructions for how to select the right cabinets, cut the wood, paint for more artistic flair, etc. — just note that this project isn't done in a day. However, the time involved is worth it!

11. Smart Shelving

If you're looking to add some unique flair to a room, look outside the home decor department. This ladder turned shelf could hold anything from plants to books, and it's a great way to turn something old into something treasured. All you need are some planks of wood and wood glue! Leave your ladder unpainted for a most rustic look or use a bright color for some cheer. (Related: 18 Cheap and Attractive Ideas for Bookshelves)

12. Shaker Cabinets

I'm hoping to complete this next project by the end of the summer. Trim out your plain kitchen cabinets using yard sticks (or standard trim) for that Shaker look. A little grain filler and paint, and your kitchen will look entirely different for pennies on the dollar.

13. Revived Tub

You can shine up your bathtub without replacing or covering it. Just follow these simple instructions that explain how everyday products and a tub refinishing kit can take your soaking place from freaky to fab in no time at all.

14. Plywood Planks

Looking for an inexpensive wood flooring solution? These plywood plank floors can be painted or stained and seem pretty darned easy to install. Just be sure to start with a solid, level subfloor and measure twice, cut once. This is another project where you can take advantage of low-cost cuts made at your hardware store.

15. Distressed Look

I'd file this one under Proceed With Caution, but if you like that distressed leather look, this tutorial is for you. Even a shiny, brand new piece can turn into that "old favorite" with some sandpaper, rubbing alcohol, a blow dryer, and a few rags.

16. Console Table

Sometimes the furniture you need can't be found at the store. Or maybe what you see in catalogs and online is outrageously expensive. Either way, this behind-the-sofa table appears to be beginner-friendly. Just assemble a few 2x4s and 1x4s, and you're set to paint or stain it anyway you prefer.

17. Shutter Install

Plantation shutters are one of my favorite design elements because they are both beautiful and functional. They are also quite costly, so if you can order online at a discount and then install them yourself, it's worth your while.

And Three Things You Should Hire the Pros to Do

It's true that you can do a lot to improve your home and decor (and have a lot of fun doing it). However, it's also important to know and obey your limits, and we all have our limits. Here are a few projects you shouldn't tackle on your own.

Asbestos Removal

A lot of us have those 9x9 titles in our basements and kitchens, but if you suspect your flooring might contain asbestos, it's best to have it tested before doing any DIY demolition. When in good condition, asbestos tiles doesn't pose much threat. When damaged, the fibers become airborne and crumble easily, so it's best to leave the work to experts or leave it alone entirely.

Amateur Handyman

If your local municipality requires a permit for something — like electrical work, plumbing, or knocking down walls, etc. — you might not have the skills to tackle it on your own. Rather than search around for a quick fix, you'll probably save more money (and your health and safety) in the long run by calling in a professional.

Roofing Repairs

My neighbor recently tore off and re-installed roofing on his garage. A project lower to the ground might be okay, but if you're going to go on a super tall ladder, you should leave it to the professionals. That goes for anything up high, as falls from ladders sent 246,733 Americans to hospital ERs back in 2009. Don't become a statistic!

Have you tackled any DIY home projects lately? How'd it come out? Please share in comments!

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