When we say 'DIY projects' at H&G, we are really not entertaining the idea of ripping out an old bathroom, stripping paint or unblocking drains (shudder). No, we are talking about giving your spaces a spruce up with smart updates that any one of us could turn our hands to.
Below, we've highlighted the top 10 DIY projects we've tackled in the past. Each on is easy but really impactful – and above all, beautiful. So, if you have time on your hands and are in need of inspiration, keep scrolling...
See: Home makeover ideas – more stunning, simple ways to transform your home
DIY projects – the H&G way
From simple tricks with paint to DIY projects that require a needle and length of thread, these are our top ways to lift a room – or two.
1. Fashion a display
If your best china is too good to eat off, or perhaps you have decorative antique plates hidden away in a cupboard, make a gallery wall display with them.
Select a few of varying sizes and patterns and measure up the placement of each piece on the wall before you go in with a hammer and nails, to make sure you get the spacing right.
Once you’re happy, attach the plates to hanging wires – you can get ones especially designed for plates that will hold them firmly without damage – and hook onto the walls.
See interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch's 7 expert tips for hanging plates on a wall – perfectly.
2. Use paint colors to show off a display
Think about a fresh lick of paint, but in small doses.
‘Most of us have an old chest, chair or table that has seen better days,’ says Helen Shaw, director of Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab). ‘Painting the inside or the legs in an eye-catching color can make it feel like you have a brand-new piece at a fraction of the cost of buying new furniture.’
Of course, if the outside of a glazed piece like this one is in good shape, simply painting the inside in a contrasting shade can be – and it's the perfect way to show off its contents.
Remember to clean down the surface before you begin, followed by a smooth sanding and repair any cracks before going in with your paintbrush. ‘We recommend two coats for a flawless finish,’ adds Helen.
See: 5 tips for displaying china – for more inspiring ideas for showing yours off
3. Add trimmings for beautiful detail
Swapping out your soft furnishings is a quick and easy way to keep rooms feeling refreshed season to season. But how about going one step further and adding a little extra detail to your cushions with new trimmings?
If you have a sewing machine, then it’s a relatively simple look to achieve. Pick up your beading, braids, piping and tassels – we love Samuel & Sons (opens in new tab) – and then pick out a color that matches the fabric for a sophisticated finish or opt for a contrasting tone for a contemporary twist.
4. Highlight an alcove
Painting an alcove in a very slightly darker or lighter shade than the one on the main walls will go some way to highlighting a delightful architectural feature, but edging it with a trim will make it into a fabulous focal feature.
You can create the look above by simply creating a design to trace around and then painting the contrasting shade by hand; or, have the design cut from MDF and paint that before fixing it to the wall; or, edge the alcove with a wallpaper frieze or border.
See: Wallpaper ideas – gorgeous decor for every room
5. Give staircases a decorative edge
Stencilling or even tiling the side of each step on a staircase will bring an unsuspecting splash of pattern.
Look to use similar colors or shapes found elsewhere on your landing or hallway to create cohesion. You may even want to introduce wallpaper for extra impact.
‘Wallpaper is seeing another renaissance, as people seek out colour and pattern that injects joy and energy into an interior,’ explains Ruth Mottershead, creative director at Little Greene (opens in new tab) and Paint & Paper Library (opens in new tab). ‘Green and blue tones as well as warm neutrals becoming increasingly popular,’ she adds.
See: Hallway ideas – stylish ways to create a welcoming first impression
6. Bring in the green
‘Spring is a great time to get into house plants,’ says Dr Katie Cooper, founder of online indoor plant store Bloombox Club (opens in new tab). ‘As the weather gets warmer and daylight hours increase, houseplants enter their active growing phase and come out in full force.’
Previously a practising therapist and psychology lecturer, Katie explains it is important to research your plants to ensure they sit in the best light. ‘It’s nice to bring together plants of varying shapes and sizes, but maintain a theme throughout, whether that’s jungly and rugged or neat and ornamental,’ she adds.
7. Give your bedroom a boutique look
An upholstered headboard idea with a matching footboard may sound like a luxurious hotel-chic look, but is actually quite easy to achieve.
You’ll need plywood for the board, wadding to pad the piece outs, fabric of your choice, as well as trim or edging – plus a staple gun to bring it all together. Small panels with patterned fabric add a subtle amount of detail, such as in this framed bed, but it can be fun to play around with dimensions too.
Consider creating an extra wide or tall headboard for dramatic effect, as it’ll bring the focus on the room straight to the bed.
8. Hang a decorative mural
You don’t have to put your artistic nature to the test when it comes to picture walls. There are plenty of wallpapers that are designed to do just that with trompe l'oeil illustrations that can quickly add an extra dimension even in small spaces.
For a relaxing bedroom scheme, turn to images of escapism, like this tropical pictorial Tana Grisaille wallpaper (opens in new tab) that evokes the memory of faraway shores. Complete the look by choosing furniture, bedding and cushions in earthy ochre and a pinch of ginger for a fully immersive design.
See: Bedroom ideas – designs and inspiration for beautiful bedrooms
9. Design a desk
Whether we are working from home or the kids need to do their schoolwork, these days there’s always a need for a dedicated workspace. It needn’t be imposing, so it’s a good idea to make the most of an unused corner.
We love how this floating desk doubles as a dressing table with a sleek round mirror, and the design doesn’t take up any unnecessary floorspace while still providing plenty of room to work. Soften up the space with a lamp, flowers and a suitable chair or stool that fits in with the rest of your room’s existing décor.
See: Ingenious hidden desks – small home office ideas meet clever, creative thinking
10. Revitalise a wooden floor
See: Bathroom ideas – stylish decor ideas for all bathrooms
If revamping your wooden floors is on your to-do list this year, this transformation is one to consider. The floor has been stripped back, then painted with a chequerboard pattern before being given two to three coats of a tough clear varnish. The result is a warm, characterful look that appeals to those who love a vintage feel.
Emma Thomas is the Style Editor at Homes & Gardens and Livingetc magazines, looking after the decorating features. Before joining Homes & Gardens in 2014, Emma worked for over 25 years mainly as a freelance interior stylist and art director producing photo shoots for many editorial titles and commercial clients, including Elle Decoration, Livingetc (she worked on the launch issue back in 1998!), Habitat and The White Company, to name but a few. As well as overseeing and art directing the original photography we produce, Emma also leads on many of the decorating and design ideas and features you see in print and online.
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