5 Designer Approved DIY Home Projects to Tackle This Weekend

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Looking for ways to refresh your home and make the most of your weekend? Here are five practical (and fun!) home projects that you can tackle over the weekend to zhush up your home.

Install Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting is often an overlooked aspect of design, but it plays a crucial role in enhancing the beauty and functionality of your outdoor space. Trust me, outdoor lighting makes SUCH a big difference and a lasting impression. From a practical standpoint, landscape lighting will instantly improve curb appeal and add value to your home. But landscape lighting can also create a vibe, an ambiance whether you are lighting up a cozy outdoor lounge space or a sprawling garden. Installing landscape lighting is a surprisingly easy DIY project that you can complete over the weekend! We could really write an entire blog post on this topic alone, but we will give you the quick rundown overview here.

First you’ll need to decide the main function of your landscape lighting. Are you highlighting architectural and natural features? In our front yard, our landscape lighting illuminates the exterior of our home. In our backyard, we also installed spotlights on a handful of our mature oak trees. Is your goal to extend usability and enjoyment of your outdoor space? We installed landscape lighting around our pool for night swims. Are you installing landscape lighting to enhance safety and security? We installed lighting along the pathway and entrance to our house to ensure our guests can navigate the entrance to our house safely.

Once you determine how plan to use landscape lighting in your outdoor space, you will need to map out where your lights are going to go. Wire isn’t exactly cheap so you don’t want to have the measurements off!

Next you’ll need to install a transformer. Each transformer will hold a certain amount of voltage. A small transformer is sufficient for most homes.  Here is the transformer we used for $80 on Amazon. Ours has two ports.  One port is for front  and one is for the back. A transformer can be installed in one hour. 

Once the transformer is installed and mounted, you will need to lay the wire based on the map you created in step one. The next and final step is to hook up your lights!

Paint a Room, maybe even try out color drenching

Paint is cheap! But painting jobs are just SO expensive mostly because of the labor involved with the prep work and touch ups. Painting a room is my favorite way to transform a space on a budget. I generally go for eggshell finish on interior walls and semi-gloss or even high gloss on cabinetry and trim.

If you’re feeling adventurous maybe even check out the new trend taking the design world by storm called color drenching?! Wallpaper has been trending for some time now, but if you haven’t been able to pull the trigger (or bare the expense of wallpaper and the installation) this is a fun and totally DIY-friendly project to create a “wow” moment. This technique involves painting an entire room including ceilings, cabinetry and trim, doors, flooring and even outlet covers with a single, bold color to create an immersive experience.

image credit: Little Greene

Notice how the color drenched space has this seamless flow of color that envelops the room to create this visually striking space. Color drenching is not limited to walls and ceilings; you can extend this technique to other surfaces like floors or even kitchen cabinets. Notice here they even pulled in the green to the area rug.

And you don’t *have* to use bold colors! You can just as easily create “a mood” with softer color palettes. By eliminating pops of color and high contrast, you get a sense of continuity for the eye to travel freely. Color drenching also tends to make spaces feel larger and more grand without these “interruptions”.

The designer here used Farrow and Ball’s ‘”Eddy” which reads as a calming, soft green color.

Consider other elements in your space

People are often surprised to hear that paint color is usually one of the very last selections in the design process. We typically make paint selections after all the furniture, textiles and art have been selected so we can evaluate how color will bounce around in a room and between rooms. The possibilities are endless, and the results are sure to be eye-catching. Think about artwork, flooring, furniture in your space as your consider your color choice.

Embrace the power of color and let your imagination run wild!

Shop Your Home

This is a fun one that is also completely free! One of my long-time favorite things to do is to “shop” my home (or room when I was little!) and rearrange furniture to bring new energy to a space. I just moved our rarely-used ping-pong table to backyard to double as a dining table and we are all loving it. It is no longer a collection point for miscellaneous junk in the garage and every evening we have a family ping-pong tournament before transitioning to dining al fresco. I’m all about reconfiguring layouts to cultivate experiences.

Shopping your own home is the most satisfying and inexpensive way to learn more about how you use your space, how you want to use your space to create the most intentional and meaningful home. Swapping out seasonal decor items, like pillows and throw blankets is one thing…now treat yourself and move that cozy chair into your bedroom to create the perfect reading nook while you sip your coffee in the morning. Let this also be a reminder to invest in versatile pieces that you love in your home. If you stay true to your design style and buy pieces you truly love, there will a place for them in any room at any given time!

Here are some ideas on how to “shop your home”:

  • Toss a decorative throw across the back of your sofa long-ways to add another textural element or splash of color. Dare you to try it! It *almost* feels like you’re getting an entirely new couch
  • Use interesting kitchen vessels or mason jars as vases, fill them with greenery from your yard and scatter around your house
  • Hang your cutting board collection on a small wall for a textural display
  • Swap nightstands in one room for nightstands in another room
  • Style your coffee table with a couple of your favorite games instead of coffee table books to prompt more play!
  • Put up that art you’ve been meaning to hang for months. Some of my most prized art pieces were created by my kids and I love to regularly rotate it out to display their latest creations. I *highly* recommend these hooks for easy mounting–no hammer and nail required and minimal damage to your walls!

Carve Out a New Office Nook

Okay, so we have an unusual “problem” in our house of more storage space than we actually need–and I wish I could move that square footage somewhere else. I realize this is not often the case, so your challenge is to repurpose any space in your house to make it more functional–where that’s creating a cozy reading nook under the stairs, carving out a workspace in large closet or converting a storage closet to a small computer workstation. Here are a couple more ideas including this cozy nook that Light and Dwell created from storage under the stairs.

Of course, this is probably more than a weekend project, just getting the ideas rollin’ 😉 Here is another one from the archives. In our Moon Shadow home, Nick and I actually carved this office nook out of the utility room.

And finally, here is an extra storage closet turned computer nook for our kids.

You can complete this project in just a couple of hours! To complete this project you will need:

  • A track saw, OR a circular saw with a DIY track to keep your cuts straight
  • A countertop like this, our is also from IKEA
  • 4 brackets
  • screws
  • drill
  • level
  • stud-finder

First you will want to remove the door. This is not a necessary step, in fact, you may want to be able to tuck away the work station and close the door at times. However, it’s just a lot easier to make that extra space for yourself when you’re installing the counter.

Next you will want to measure the opening to determine the proper depth and width that you will need to cut your countertop. The best tool to use is a track. If you don’t have a track saw, you can also use a circular saw with a DIY track using a straight more and two clamps. The circular saw has a flat side that will be flush against the flat side of the board so that you can easily guide your saw with straight cuts. Here is our circular saw.

Once your counter is cut to size you will need to install your brackets. You will need four brackets, two at the back wall of the closet, and then one on each side. Use your stud finder to ensure your brackets are mounted on studs. Final step: place that countertop on the brackets and enjoy your new workstation!

Replace or Hang A Window Treatment

Window treatments are the unsung heroes of interior design. They have the ability to completely change the ambiance and the character of a space, while of course performing practical functions, like privacy and control of natural light. As I tour homes with clients in Austin, I am baffled by 1) how many people do not know how to properly hang window treatments and 2) how many people go without window treatments entirely! I do think there are some exceptions, and certain spaces just do not call for window treatments. But for the most part, window treatments are the finishing touch to any space.

One of my favorite ways to use window treatments is to alter the perception of space. Hanging curtains or drapes above and outside the window frame can make the room appear larger–“high and wide” so they say. Floor-length treatments can also add height and grandeur to a room with low ceilings. It’s all about execution. So let’s get into how to hang your curtains like a designer.

There are three main mistakes people tend to make when hanging curtains: 1) rod is hung too low 2) curtains are the incorrect length 3) rod not hung wide enough flanking the window.

If you opt for curtains and you are not going custom, the height that you mount your rod will be based on the length of your curtain. Curtains typically come in a handful of standard lengths: 63″, 84″, 96″, 108″ and 120″. Drapery that just “kisses” the floor (or even 1/2″ above the floor) gives the most clean, modern look. If you are going for a more romantic look in a bedroom or formal living room, you may want your drapery to “puddle” 4-6 inches past the floor level. The biggest mistake people make is choosing the incorrect panel length so that their curtains float more than 1″ (and often significantly more than 1″) above the floor. I can’t help but think of that time you probably also tossed your pants in the dryer on accident and now… they’re floods. Too-short curtains (and pants) cheapen the entire vibe in a jarring way.

In order to determine the proper curtain length, first you will need to measure from the top of the window to the floor. Your curtain rod should not be hung just a hair above the window frame. People tend to hang their rods too low, probably so that their curtains don’t float as high above the ground–a well-intentioned strategy to avoid the flood look, at least. Hanging your rods high draws the eye up which creates the illusion of higher ceilings. There is not necessarily a magic number or height to hang the rods but I would generally recommend mounting the rod about one-half to two-thirds the distance toward the ceiling.

Mounting curtain rods wider than the window also creates the illusion of a larger window opening and allows for as much light as possible to enter. To determine the proper mounting width you will first need to measure the width of the opening to determine how many panels you will need. Curtain panel width can vary but they are often about 50″ so you may need two to four panels depending on the width of the opening. Take into consideration how many panels you will require on each side of the window when mounting the curtain rod. I recommend mounting curtain brackets at least 6″ from the outside edges of the window frame to allow plenty of natural light, but I often opt for 10″ or even 12″ beyond the window frame myself.

In our home, we have these amazing 12-foot ceilings in our dining room (pictured above). When installing window treatments in our dining room, I wanted to draw attention to the grandness of the space so we mounted our rod at about 10 feet, 2 feet below the ceiling. We also mounted the rod brackets about 11″ outside the window opening on either side. Due to the scale of the window, we went with custom french return rods from Maison Lane and my favorite budget-friendly Amazon curtains that look and feel like Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware quality. Don’t sleep on these curtains, I recommend them all the time for clients and they never disappoint.

What project will you tackle this weekend? Let me know how it turned out in the comments!


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