The Question: Now that we’re inside these four walls all day, I’m noticing so many things we ought to fix up. Our list is long and we can’t decide where to begin. What kind of small DIY projects are likely to have the biggest payoff?
Most of us who are home more for the time being probably have a long-overlooked list of do-it-yourself projects staring us down. Here’s a way to tackle them. First, choose jobs that can be accomplished with simple hand tools and a few hundred bucks. As far as payoff, choose projects that will really spruce things up and make you feel good. That’s what influenced my suggestions here. The satisfaction in these is big for the effort involved.
To comply with social distancing guidelines, you’ll be tempted to go online for materials. But it’s important to support local businesses, so call ahead and see what your local hardware stores can offer first. Most are ready to deliver or provide curbside pickup. It looks like we have a few more weeks to go, and that’s one more reason to tackle these projects now. When the time comes, none of us will be puttering.
- Put on a fresh coat of paint
There’s nothing like a new coat of paint to turn an outdated room into a bright, inviting space. You don’t need to be an artist to tackle this sort of task yourself. All you need are some basic supplies, including brushes, rollers and trays, some drop cloths, and painter’s tape. Going the DIY route with painting a room will cost as little as $200, and that includes the paint. Your costs might climb if you’re working with a larger space or opt for truly high-end paint, but otherwise, this is a way to make a big change on the cheap.
- Change your window blinds and shades
Dented, dated blinds can make your windows look old and shabby. And new window treatments don’t have to cost a ton. In my experience, curtains and rods are the easiest to work with. If you select carefully and hang them yourself, new curtains update a prime room in your house for only about $100 per window.
- Plant flowers and shrubs for curb appeal
Your home’s exterior sets the tone — and not only for visitors. Get a lift each time you come and go by sinking a little time into your front yard. Talk with a local nursery to put together a planting that will provide an inviting view and be easy to maintain. Plan a manageable area so you can do the work on your own. And remember, curb appeal pays off now and in the long term.
- Upgrade your kitchen and bathroom hardware
Maybe you think they’re too small to matter, but those old rusty knobs on your bathroom and kitchen cabinets aren’t doing those rooms any favors. New hardware is easy to come by and doesn’t cost a lot. I’ll admit, removing and installing a kitchen’s worth of cabinet hardware can be tedious work, but if you’re willing to dedicate part of a weekend, you’ll be amazed how it seems to work wonders for your interior.
- Refinish your kitchen cabinets
For many households, the kitchen is the focal point of the home. If yours is filled with old, chipped cabinets, you may be tempted to rip them out and put new ones in. The problem, of course, is that new cabinetry can run you many thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your kitchen and materials you choose. As long as they work well, consider having your existing cabinets refinished. For a standard kitchen, you might spend $2,000 or less to give your cabinets a face lift that will, in turn, revitalize the entire room.
- Re-caulk your bathrooms
Go in there and take an honest look at the caulk lining your tiles. Nothing screams “ugly” like caulking that has turned brown or chipped away. If you’re willing to invest a couple of hours, re-caulking your bathrooms will freshen things up remarkably. At roughly $2 to $5 a tube, this is quite possibly the biggest bang for your home-improvement buck you’ll ever get.
- Wash and stain your deck
Because your deck is constantly exposed to the elements, its condition can deteriorate over time — especially if we’re talking about natural wood. To start, rent or borrow a pressure washer to remove dirt and grime. Next, apply a coat or two of stain to give a wooden deck a fresh new look. A weekend’s worth of hands-on care can turn a neglected-looking deck into a welcoming outdoor extension of your home — and who doesn’t need that right about now?
This week’s Dovetail Joint question is answered by Tim Klink, founder of Coastal Custom Builders in Eastham. Keep sending your questions and we’ll find more good answers.