If “meh” is the feeling you get when you look around your space, if your house or apartment or yard or front porch are bland and uninspiring, don’t resign yourself to a life of lackluster surroundings — it doesn’t take much to rejuvenate, refresh and restore.
Even if you have only a small window of time and an even smaller budget to work with, a few bucks and a few hours can go a long way if you put them to good use.
Most people can pull off the following DIY projects in less than a weekend on a budget that’s within reach of the common household.
Build a Raised Garden Bed Without Really Building
If you have a sunny patch of yard sitting idle, you can add ambiance and agriculture with a raised flower or garden bed.
There are a whole bunch of hard ways to make a raised bed, but the easiest way is cheap, just about anyone can do it in an afternoon and it’s fully scalable for any size yard or garden.
You’ll need four planter wall blocks, which you can get for about $3.50 each at Lowe’s or Home Depot. They’re squarish stone blocks that are grooved to receive different-sized boards, like 2-by-6s or 2-by-4s. You’ll need four of those, too, but you can buy them and have them cut to size right there in the same store.
Assembly requires no tools or hardware. Just position the blocks in the corners of the space where your bed will go, drop the boards in the slots and fill it up with garden soil. Since each side of each block can receive a board, it’s easy to expand, remove or reconfigure in the future.
Paint a Chalkboard
You can turn any wall in your house into a statement piece with basic painting supplies and some specialty chalkboard paint. Whether you use your in-home blackboard to express your artistic side or to create a dedicated space for jotting things down, you’re sure to find that writing on walls is fun.
It’s a fast and inexpensive DIY project that yields dramatic and functional results. Just about anyone can do it in a few hours and your guests are sure to take notice.
You can score 29 fluid ounces of highly rated black Krylon chalkboard paint for less than $25, but many other brands sell a huge range of colors. If dry erase is more your speed, you can opt for specialty whiteboard paint instead.
Go Vertical With Stair Riser Art
If you have an upstairs and a downstairs, the chances are good that you haven’t put much thought into the series of right angles that connects the two — what, after all, can you do with stairs?
A lot, actually.
Peel-and-stick riser decals can transform staircases into works of art. It’s easy to find a pack of 13 for $36 or so on Amazon — around $2.75 each.
Some blend together into one picture like a sunset on the beach. Other sets give each stair its own standalone design or pattern. They’re durable but not permanent — you can unpeel and restick them — and the result will be a striking difference from the boring stairs you have now.
If You Think Paint Is the Easiest Way To Revive a Room, Try a Wall Decal
If you ask around about the fastest and cheapest way to breathe new life into a drab room, someone is bound to suggest a fresh coat of paint — and that’s certainly not a bad suggestion. But in reality, painting projects can drag out in terms of both time and cost.
Applying peel-and-stick wall decals does not.
Just as with stair decals, the bigger ones for walls are made of heavy-duty vinyl that doesn’t peel, warp or bubble. Here, too, they can be removed or repositioned.
The good ones have a professional, well-made appearance that doesn’t make them look like they belong in a dorm room. In terms of variety, if you can imagine it, you can probably find it. Maybe you want a single orchid winding its way from the floor to the ceiling, maybe you want an entire rainforest. No matter your preference, you can turn a boring wall into a beautiful mural for less than $30.
Replace Dated Cabinet Hardware
New cabinets are expensive. New cabinet hardware is not.
Removing the dull knobs and handles you have now and replacing them with fresh new ones is a DIY project that most people in most kitchens can conquer inside of one hour. Whether your taste is for sleek stainless steel, formal brass or funky bohemian, you can find a full set that matches your style for between $15-$50. The result will be a kitchen that you’re much happier to enter.
Mosaic a Drab Surface
If you have an uninspiring piece of furniture with a flat top — an end table, a nightstand, a coffee table, whatever — an inexpensive mosaic kit could give it a new lease on life. Mosaic is an art form, but you don’t have to be an artist to do it. Just arrange small, colored pieces of glass, stone or tile into patterns on mortar and then seal it with a special coating.
You can get a kit with everything you need to get started at retailers like Michael’s, Walmart or Amazon with a price tag in the low double-digits. It will take a few hours to complete, but not much more. It’s a lot like doing a jigsaw puzzle — the end result is beautiful but the fun part is putting it together.
Paint Your Front Door
Painting your front door requires some planning and prep work, but there’s no faster, cheaper, surer way to change the entire look and feel of your home’s exterior. HGTV has a good tutorial on how to do it right, but since painting a front door is so effective, it’s among the most popular DIY jobs, so there’s no shortage of online primers.
Most experts suggest picking a bold color that contrasts with your siding, but make sure it’s something you can live with. Modern Masters Never Fades Front Door Paint has earned killer reviews. You can get a quart for less than $50.
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