7 Designer-Approved DIY Projects to Instantly Refresh Your Home

Neutral bedroom with forest green nightstand and black lamp.

Design: Tiffany Leigh Design; Photo: Patrick Biller

It’s amazing how much of a difference a year can make. As much as you love your space, you didn’t think you’d spend this much time at home a mere 12 months ago. Let’s just say a lot has changed. Whether you recently moved into a new pad or have been staring at the same four walls for the better part of the year, it’s likely you want to hit the refresh button on your home.

You could buy a fancy new piece of furniture or undergo a cost and time-consuming renovation, but why not use this as an opportunity to flex your DIY muscle? Not only can a DIY save you a lot of money, but it feels good to do something on your own. Plus, we can all stand to do something beside binge-watching Bridgerton.

To help, a handful of designers share their favorite DIY projects that will give your home a fresh spin for the new year.

01 of 07

Mood Board Marvel

Artful gallery wall filled with inspirational photos.

Design: Christina Kim Design; Photo: Raquel Langworthy.

"A corkwall is such a fun and easy DIY. What you'll need is 12" x 12" cork squares that you can find easily on Amazon, heavy duty liquid nails (nail glue) in a caulk gun, and a nail gun with finishing nails. Apply a generous squiggle of the nail glue across each square, press it firmly against the wall to position, and put a finishing nail in all four corners to secure. Cork walls are great in a home office, playroom, or your new homeschool corner." —Christina Kim, owner of Christina Kim Interior Design

02 of 07

Bookworm Wonder

Open shelving with lots of books and art.

Courtesy of Havenly; Photo: Kylie Fitts

“It is undeniable that a bookshelf provides a sense of organization in every space. A bookcase is a very functional furniture piece that allows you to store books and display other items like picture frames, decorations, or memorabilia. However, the price for a new piece, particularly one larger in size, can add up quickly. A clever hack is to build your own bookcase using cinder blocks and wood planks, simply stacking to create the shelves. The fun part about this idea is that you can play with the height and adjust according to what your space needs. With a little styling love, this thrifty bookshelf moment can create a major statement in your home. Be prepared for compliments.” –Heather Goerzen, interior designer at Havenly

03 of 07

Bright Idea

Soft neutral bedroom with chandelier.

Courtesy of Havenly; Photo: Morgan Levy

“Ask any designer and they will tell you an instant way to elevate your space is by changing out the lighting fixtures. Get rid of that old flush mount or outdated track lighting and install a statement pendant or chandelier for an eye-catching effect that really pulls the space together. Oftentimes, you can even do this in rentals with your landlords’ permission. Just make sure to keep safety in mind and turn off any electrical current that's flowing to the fixture before getting started.” —Shelby Girard, VP of creative and design at Havenly

04 of 07

Pattern Play

Wallpapered built-in with decorative objects.

Courtesy of Chasing Paper

“Wallpaper is a fun way to add texture or an element of whimsy in a space. Just having one accent wall with a subtle or bold motif completely refreshes the overall look of your space.” —Casi St. Julian, senior designer at Eclectic Home

“A great way to refresh your space without the need for a contractor is a DIY project using removable wallpaper. Created with modern DIYers and renters in mind, our removable wallpaper is an accessible way to easily transform a space in a matter of hours—whether that be a full wall in a bathroom or adding color to otherwise bland built-ins. The possibilities are truly endless.” —Elizabeth Rees, founder of Chasing Paper

05 of 07

Beautify Your Bedroom

Bedroom with tropical inspired blanket and bold graphic mural.

Courtesy of Maureen Stevens; Photo: Kayla Stark

“To flex your DIY muscles in a bedroom, make your own headboard. You'll use plywood for the base and 2x4s for the legs. Attach them together and then attach them to the bed frame. Fabric, batting, and a staple gun will finish off your headboard. With the attention-grabbing headboard as the focus of the room, accessorize accordingly. Layer rugs, add fresh bedding, a fun light, and you've got yourself a refreshed bedroom.” —Isabel Ladd, interior designer

“Install a mural behind your headboard for that added oomph to your space—it doesn't even have to cover a whole wall, or a room for that matter. We added this mural from Society6 in a guest room in New Orleans and it gave it a cool Caribbean vibe. Not only was it super easy to hang, but people often ask us if it was hand-painted.” —Maureen Stevens, designer

06 of 07

Stylize Storage

Neutral bedroom with forest green nightstand and black lamp.

Design: Tiffany Leigh Design; Photo: Patrick Biller

“DIY nightstands are an easy project to take up. When it came to finding a matching pair of affordable and attractive chests of drawers, we had to take matters into our own hands. I took simple and cost-effective IKEA dressers—I used the Koppang, but the Hemnes would also work—and gave them a whole new look. I started by adding decorative trim to the faces of the drawers for a more custom look. All you need for this step is thin trim (about 1/2"), a handsaw and mitre box, and some finishing nails and wood glue to attach. Next, I sanded the units and primed them using Zinsser Shellac-based primer. Finally, I finished the project off with two coats of gorgeous olive green paint ('Vegetarian' by Beauti-Tone Paints) and some new hex knobs. This project is especially great for a smaller bedroom like this where they do double duty as dressers and nightstands." —Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski, designer

07 of 07

Windows That Wow

Chic window shade with hanging plant.

Courtesy of Wovn Home

“Dressing up a bare window can instantly transform a room, and it could not be easier to make your own custom shade—no sewing required. Start with a basic roller shade. If your window isn't a standard size, there are plenty of affordable custom shade websites out there. Don't settle for a shade that doesn't fit your window. Hot glue is the only tool you'll need to add beautiful decorative fabric to a plain ol' white vinyl roller shade. And don't forget to add trim for a more finished look.” —Tara McCauley, interior designer 

“It really is amazing how new window treatments can enhance the look of your space. They frame windows, add texture and softness, and are hugely important functionally, whether you’re looking for privacy from neighbors or blackout shades for better sleep. If you’re comfortable using a drill, hanging a curtain rod or Roman shade is straightforward and doesn’t take long. Custom window treatments are a commitment, but always worth it.” —Davina Ogilvie, founder of Wovn Home

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