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Five DIY Home Improvement Projects

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As you look around your house, you may notice some areas that could benefit from a DIY home improvement project (especially when many of us may have been spending so much more time at home this last year).

If you’ve been wanting to scratch that home makeover itch, the good news is there are at least a few easy DIY projects you might actually be able to tackle this weekend. Before you dive in, though, It’s important to choose DIY upgrades that are achievable according to your skill level, budget and timeline.

The first step of any DIY home improvement/makeover project involves some planning. Before you actually get into the “doing” part of do-it-yourself, you need to buy supplies and figure out how much time you can devote to your project. 

You can find a lot of home improvement ideas and tips online from bloggers and DIYers, as well as on the websites of some home renovation shows. Your local hardware store may also offer DIY home improvement demos, which could be worth checking out if you’re looking for some extra direction. And always remember, some of these projects could be dangerous to do by yourself. Get a professional’s help if you aren’t comfortable taking on a project.

Here are five DIY projects, each with three levels of difficulty, that you can start this weekend.

1. Organize your closets

If you find yourself searching around towering piles of shoeboxes to find your missing work clothes, this DIY home improvement project could revolutionize your mornings.

Easiest: Purchase a closet organizing kit.

Some retailers will have you upload the dimensions of your closet online when you order a customized kit, which you can save money on by installing yourself. Others sell easy-to-install kits that can be adjusted to fit your closet.

Intermediate: Customize your own closet system.

You can achieve a more customized look and feel if you measure and sketch out your own system design, then purchase the racks, shelves and drawers at a home improvement store.

Advanced: Build wooden shoe racks.

You can build built-in wooden shoe racks, drawers and shelving for a more luxurious closet.

Any of these projects can hopefully help you cut down on the hassle of getting ready, so your mornings don’t have to feel like a rush against the clock!

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2. Give your kitchen a facelift

If your kitchen is totally functional but its dated look is bringing you down, a refresh of this frequently used room can give a lift to the whole house.

Easiest: Replace the hardware.

If you choose drawer pulls and cupboard knobs with hardware that require the same placement and number of holes as those you’re replacing, all you might need is a screwdriver (and it can really update the look of your kitchen cabinets!).

Intermediate: Repaint the doors and cabinets.

If you want a more major kitchen cabinet change, but don’t actually want to replace your cabinets, simply repainting can have a big impact. Paint the front of your cupboards and drawers a fun, on-trend color such as clean white, ocean blue or forest green. (You could also consider adding a backsplash of faux tin ceiling tile or stick-on tiles as another easy DIY project).

Advanced: Add a ceramic-tile backsplash.

If you haven’t laid tile before, attend a class or watch an online tutorial. Laying tile with mortar takes some experience to do well, but you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself. (On the other hand, that money you save may not be worth it if the end result isn’t what you wanted, or if you end up having to hire a professional to come in and fix it, so only undertake DIY projects you feel confident in accomplishing.) 

Considering how expensive a full kitchen remodel can be (we’re talking $50,000 and more), trying out one of these simpler DIY projects first can be a good place to start.

3. Organize your entryway

The area around the front door tends to collect clutter as people go in and out; yet it’s the first area people see when they enter your home! Reining in the chaos where possible can help your home make a better first impression.

Easiest: Hang a mirror and a few hooks for jackets and hats.

Make sure hooks are at the proper height to accommodate the outerwear your family uses most.

Intermediate: Add a charging station and mail organizer.

To attack two pervasive forms of clutter, electronics and papers, install a wall-mounted charging station and mail organizer. You can buy both readymade, or construct custom versions out of wood or metal.

Advanced: Add a bench.

If your entryway has the room, build a bench where people can sit down to remove their shoes, with wooden lockers or cubbies for each family member behind it. The extra storage space can make a big difference in keeping your entryway organized and still usable. 

4. Make your bathroom eco-friendly

If you're looking to reduce your home’s water use, you’ll find two big water wasters can reside in the bathroom: older or leaking toilets and old shower heads.

Easiest: Buy a new showerhead to replace the old one.

This project may not even require tools; you can screw off most shower heads, then screw on a new energy-efficient one. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average family could save a whopping 2,700 gallons of water a year by replacing their existing shower heads with ones that earn their WaterSense label, which guarantees that it uses no more than two gallons of water per minute.

Intermediate: Buy and install a new toilet.

You don’t have to be a plumber to carry out this project, but you should look up some step-by-step instructions online if it’s your first time. The EPA estimates that, by replacing toilets with WaterSense labeled models, a household can cut toilet water use by 20% to 60%.

Advanced: Replace floor or wall surfaces.

Once the old toilet is removed, it might be a convenient time to replace the floor or wall surfaces. This is another oppurtunity where you can improve the efficiency of your home. If you feel chilly after getting out of the shower but don’t want to raise the thermostat for the whole house, you might want to install an in-floor heating system, which involves securing heat mats to the subfloor and connecting them to your home’s power system before laying a tile floor.  While it may seem like more of a hassle, these energy-efficient changes could make a big difference in your bills and your comfort!

We spend a lot of time in our bathrooms – while exact figures differ, looking at various studies on how much of our lives we spend in the bathroom, we’re talking 373 days on the low end and 855 days on the high end! So regardless of where you fall, that’s over a year of our lives, so may as well make it a nice space.

5. Age up a kid’s bedroom

If your elementary schooler just started middle school, or your tween is entering high school, it may be time for a bedroom upgrade. In an ideal world, when kids have a room that matches their personality, it’ll encourage them to keep the space neat (of course, we know that’s not always the reality, but hey, doesn’t hurt to dream!)

Easiest: Put up peel-and-stick wallpaper.

Many varieties of wallpaper come in sheets or tiles and are reusable, so if your child tires of the design, it could be passed on to another child. Or, if they love it, they could take it off to college.

Intermediate: Turn a ceiling light into a ceiling fan with a light.

Replace a childish light fixture with a ceiling fan and light with a remote, and install blackout shades for late-sleeping teens.

Advanced: Reveal those hardwood floors.

Remove carpeting if there is hardwood floor beneath. You could also construct a window seat with built-in storage for a cozy and space-efficient reading space.

Make a plan for your project

Once you’ve chosen a project and worked out a budget, ask yourself how you will purchase the supplies and tools you need. If you plan to pay for the home improvement project gradually over the next few months, putting it on a credit card may not be ideal because of high interest rates.

Consider a personal loan

With an easy application process and, typically, lower interest rates than those on credit cards, a personal loan such as a Marcus Home Improvement Loan may be a wise choice for funding small DIY home improvement projects.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.