Rooms for Improvement: 11 Simply Genius DIY Home Projects
There's hidden potential for greatness in every space. Unlock it with these smart, stylish ideas that transform overlooked areas into the best spots in your home.
Carve Out a Cozy Nook
This custom built-in transforms a walk-through room (or a wider hallway) into a sweet spot for getting lost in a good book. You can also take the idea one step further by adding drawers underneath to store blankets and extra pillows. To achieve a similar DIY look, flank a deep bench or loveseat with two bookshelves securely mounted to the wall.
Triple-jointed light fixtures, like these Signal 2 arm wall sconces, allow for just-right illumination, no matter your angle of repose.
Jieldé, $399 each, shophorne.com.
Create a Pretty Perch
By simply hanging a shelf across a window, you can give purpose to an unexpected area and, best of all, take in a view. We just mounted brackets to the molding and added a few stools to make a new table, which is workstation-perfect with a morning coffee and a laptop, and a great vantage point for relaxing while watching the kids play in the yard. Depending on the window’s location, opt for the table to sit at counter or bar height -- around 34 or 40 inches, respectively. Bonus: It can double as a sun-drenched but toddler-or pet-proof locale for potted herbs.
Make an Entrance
Literally. With front doors that open into a living or dining room, differentiate the space by creating a wall that functions as a stylish divider as well as a storage center. We painted the inside of a birch IKEA unit, then wrapped the exterior with painted fiberboard so it fit snugly over the baseboard molding. Shoes go on the bottom, but a beautiful collection on top draws the eye upward, helping this workhorse feel more decorative than utilitarian.
Simpson Door Company Contemporary thermal exterior door with white laminate glass (#7406), from $1,100, simpsondoor.com.
Stash and Store
Dress up cabinet fronts and drawers with DIY pulls. Drill a hole in each panel, then attach a folded piece of leather with a small screw and nut.
IKEA Kallax shelving unit, in Birch Effect, $149; Kallax inserts with 2 drawers, in White, $20 each, and with door, in White, $15 each; and Dröna boxes, in White, $5 each, ikea.com.
These medium circular hooks can handle bags, scarves, and other goods that beg for a designated home.
Staffan Holm for Hay in Natural Ash, $28 each, momastore.org.
Hang a Hub
Embrace the fact that the kitchen is the bustling heart of your home by turning a wall into a cheery communication center. This panel, sandwiched between a window and a patio door, was previously unused. We covered it with two dozen 12-by-12-inch cork tiles to bring warmth and offer plenty of real estate for tacking up reminders, grocery lists, kids' artwork, and inspiring images to keep everyone smiling throughout the day. (The best part? Each cork tile comes with mounting tape, which makes hanging the grid a breeze.)
Michaels ArtMinds diminutive cork tiles in Natural, $12 for 4, michaels.com.
Add Understair Storage
It's been there all along, yet few homes utilize it. The space under your steps is roomier than most closets, and there are many ways to take advantage of it. You can open the wall and fill it with open shelving, or even hire a contractor to install plumbing for a powder room. We built drawers to find a permanent (and out of sight) solution for mail, stray mittens, dog leashes, and other household ephemera that needs a home.
A durable, easy-to-clean semigloss paint, typically reserved for molding and trim, does the trick here. The neutral shade (Revere Pewter, from Benjamin Moore) lets the rustic pine's character shine through.
Leave the bottom panel exposed for stashing commonly used items, like gardening tools and cleaning supplies.