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Home Sweet Home

Home Upgrade Guide: DIY Project or Call a Pro?

One of the biggest perks of being a homeowner is customizing and upgrading your space whenever and however you want. Even small projects like a new paint job can transform a room’s look in just one day. However, it can be easy to start a project you think will only take a few days, and it ends up being something way more complicated than you anticipated! Sometimes, it’s just better to start with a professional. 

Below, we’ll break down easy home improvement ideas that you can do in each room of your home and cover the projects requiring professional expertise. While you might think you can pull off more challenging work, many systems in your home can be dangerous without proper training. Use this guide to stay out of harm’s way while upgrading your space. 

Kitchen

DIY

Anyone can transform the look of their kitchen without the need for contracted help. With plenty of painter’s tape and patience, painting your cabinets can dramatically change the aesthetic. Cabinet knobs and drawer pulls typically only require a screwdriver to change and can make a subtle, personal upgrade to your cooking area. There are even kits to restore or completely change the look of your countertops in just a few hours. 

Call a Professional 

Any kitchen appliance repair is best left to the experts. Working on your home’s water lines without plumbing experience can lead to larger issues and expensive repairs. This means any dishwasher, garbage disposal, and sink repairs shouldn’t be performed by most homeowners. Whether gas or electric, ovens can be hazardous for amateur repair. Make sure your new appliances include installation with delivery and call a professional when repairs are needed. 

Photo: tulcarion via gettyimages.com

Bathroom

DIY

There are also endless bathroom upgrades just about anyone can do themselves. A new vanity might be in order, but with some paint, new knobs, and maybe even a new mirror, you can turn any old vanity into something out of a magazine. Wall-attached mirrors are also easy to replace, and with a few standard tools and an extra set of hands, you can upgrade that old mirror with something more your style. Consider a peel-and-stick backsplash option to add a little flair to your bathrooms and match the theme of your home throughout.

Call a Professional

Bathroom repairs that seem straightforward can often be tricky and require a plumber. Consult a professional if you have leaky pipes or want to rearrange fixtures within your bathroom. Other than trying to stop a leak to prevent water damage, any plumbing repairs need to be left to the pros. Most people can regrout a tile shower, but removing and replacing existing tile can be very challenging for beginners. Hire a contractor for any significant bathroom renovations to guarantee quality work. 

Everywhere Else

DIY

From living rooms and bedrooms to home offices and entertainment spaces, there are numerous ways to upgrade where you spend the vast majority of your time. Instead of replacing your old carpets, try renting a carpet cleaner to restore what’s already in place. After just one cleaning, dingy carpets will start to look like new. Like backsplashes, peel and stick wallpaper is trendy and an easy way to provide a custom look anywhere in your home. Curtains and blinds are easily replaced and can significantly change the look of a room. If you’d like to try your hand with woodworking, pallet wood accent walls look fantastic and are an easy project for beginners to try. 

Call a Professional

Like kitchens and bathrooms, steering clear of your home’s internal systems is the easiest way to stay safe. An expert should repair any other home appliances like washers and dryers or air conditioners. Changing light fixtures or adding ceiling fans is a job for skilled electricians only. When pressurized water and gas or electricity is involved, it’s best to defer to the pros.

With a little work, you can make dramatic upgrades to your home in a short time. Stick with cosmetic changes, and leave any electric or plumbing issues for professional repair. One project can make all the difference, so start upgrading today!

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Home Sweet Home

DIY Home Lighting Ideas to Brighten Your Day

Indoor lighting doesn’t just keep you from stubbing your toes in the dark – it also sets the tone and creates the atmosphere for each room in your home. Good lighting can influence your productivity and enhance your mood – that’s why it’s so important to get it right! 

If the lighting in your home has been the same since you moved in, or there are dark corners here and harsh, bare bulbs there, take a look at some of these quick DIY home lighting upgrades to make the most of your space and brighten your day. 

  1. Smart Lights

Smart lights allow you to control the lighting in your home from your phone or smart home device. Some options can be voice-controlled through Alexa or Google Home and can have wake-up and sleep modes that will gradually brighten or dim at a specified time to help you wake up or get to sleep – perfect for those nightstand lamps. Smart lights are also one of the most versatile options as far as setting the mood. Change between dozens of colours and adjust the warmth and brightness for the activity or atmosphere.

  1. Nightlight Outlets 

Make your outlets do double duty by converting them into nightlights (and you won’t take up one of the outlets with a plug!). Nightlight outlets are great for bathrooms or dark hallways with a gentle light that illuminates from the bottom of the outlet cover. They’re designed to work with all standard outlets. 

They are also a great option for kids’ bedrooms as the light strip runs between the two outlets, and it turns on automatically at night. Choose between five different light levels for exactly as much as you need to scare away those monsters under the bed.

  1. Solar Lights 

You don’t have to have solar panels to use solar lights. There are a number of available options for portable or fixed solar lighting. You can use them as a lamp or as a task light in dark corners, closets, and crawl spaces. With a short charging time in the sun, you’ll have 6-7 hours of light that gradually dims as it loses charge. These solar lights can be a great option for your deck, walkway, garage, or any other place that either receives sunlight during the day or that you access sporadically. An added benefit of portable solar lights is the ability to take them with you when you go camping!

Photo: sturti via gettyimages.com

  1. Under-Cabinet Light Strips

Use under-cabinet lighting to enhance your cooking experience or illuminate your workspace in a laundry room or workshop. The installation is as easy as a peel-and-stick adhesive or two small screws, and you’ll have twenty inches of motion-activated lighting right where you need it. Some brands have a full dimming range that you can adjust by simply holding your hand under the light and even has a memory for your last brightness setting. 

  1. Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches are one of the easiest ways to upgrade your current home lighting situation. These switches are easy to install and allow you to adjust your lighting to the time of day and mood. Baby’s naptime? Dim the lights in the nursery. Need to see the smallest detail of that DIY repair? Use the toggle switch to get maximum brightness in the den.

Your home’s lighting can transform dark or uninviting areas into warm, cozy nooks and clear, bright work and living spaces. These quick DIY upgrades will help you create the perfect mood and functionality in every room!

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Home Sweet Home

DIY Weekend Home Projects with a WOW Factor

If you had it in your head that a home improvement project meant a considerable time commitment and financial investment, think again. All you need is a weekend! 

That’s right: just two days to complete these DIY projects that lead to significant improvements in your home. 

Update Your Door Hardware

Updating your door hardware can be expensive if you decide to replace everything. So, have you considered painting the hardware instead? Perhaps the most difficult (and the most fun!) task may be selecting your paint colour. Oil rubbed bronze is a trending popular choice available from various paint manufacturers. Maybe black or stainless steel goes better with your decor? You only need a few tools and supplies to pull off this project:

  •  A mask to keep from breathing paint fumes
  •  Screwdriver to take the hardware off and on the doors
  • Steel wool and sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • A box or styrofoam to hold the screws in place while you paint
  • A cloth or cardboard to protect the area where you are painting
  • Primer and spray paint

Be sure to keep the parts for each door separate or labelled by room so you don’t have to struggle to rematch the parts when the paint has dried. And while it may test your patience, wait a full 24 hours before replacing the hardware to ensure you don’t make smudges. This budget-friendly fix costs less than $20 and takes two days to complete. 

Shiplap Your Entryway

Want to add character and detail to just about any room in your home? Beadboard, also called wainscoting or shiplap, are great modern choices that complement various home styles, including traditional, beach, and cottage homes. Adding beadboard or shiplap to a wall or entryway isn’t that complicated. Here are the tools and supplies you will need:

  • Miter, table, and jigsaws
  • 1/4-inch plywood underlayment and 1×3 hobby boards
  • Stud finder, level, and measuring tape
  • Brad nailer
  •  2-inch finish nails
  • Palm sander
  • Paint in your color of choice. 
  • Spacers, like quarters or popsicle sticks as spacers
  • Caulk
  • 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch quarter trim (inside corners),  1 1/8-inch outside corner molding (for outside corners)

Shiplap continues to be a popular decorating craze. Shiplap the easy way for a timeless look for any wall or room in your home. Then, sit back and wait for the compliments! Your family and friends will be amazed that you did this in a weekend for about $150.

Photo: blackCAT via gettyimages.com

Repaint a Piece of Furniture

There are just five steps to this weekend DIY project to make an old dresser, chair, or piece of furniture new again! Sand it. Remove the residue. Prime it. Paint it. Protect it! That’s it! The list of tools includes:

  • Sander and sandpaper 
  • Tack cloth 
  • Primer-Sealer
  • Mini roller 
  • Semi-gloss latex paint or chalked paint
  • Polycrylic protective finish 

For best results, sand your piece first, even if the paint you select indicates it’s not required. Tack cloth is the only way to remove residue from your hardware to ensure no lint. For under $200, your old piece of furniture will become like new again. You will have a beautiful showpiece for your home at a budget price and a WOW look in just one weekend.

Install a New Kitchen Island

This intermediate-level project can take 4-40 hours depending on your decisions before you start. It’s a good idea to draw your basic design on a piece of paper or use a computer to layout the kitchen with the new island. Many home stores will also offer free advice. Think about how big you want the new island to be and how you will use the island before you even step into a store. 

There are basically four main steps to this DIY project, starting with planning and ending with installing the new island and reconnecting plumbing. Because of the many options and variations in island styles, countertop materials, and hardware, the cost can range from $300 up to thousands of dollars. The tools you need are:

  • Basic hand tools
  • Tape measure
  • New kitchen island
  • Flooring

What are you waiting for? You are only a weekend away from home improvements that will make major long-term improvements in your home for fractions of the cost of having someone else do it for you. And you can’t beat the satisfaction of DIY!

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Home Sweet Home

DIY Home Improvement Projects for Winter Weather

Take advantage of stay-at-home winter days to make improvements around your house. Even if you have never been a Do-It-Yourself-er, these projects are excellent for beginners and offer snazzy new looks for nearly every room in your home. Make something old new again, spruce up your walls, or get crafty to keep the heat inside. 

Spruce up Your Walls

Install floating shelves for your bathroom—or just about any room in your home—for an unexpectedly low cost. These shelves are both functional and decorative. In addition to the wood, you need a nail gun and nails, wood glue, screws, a drill, and stain in the colour of your choice. And even though they are fun to make, the real excitement comes when accessorizing the shelves. Clocks, candles, hand towels, fancy soaps on a dish, and a green plant will add organization and a pop of colour to your bathroom. Your head will spin thinking of all the places these shelves could go!

Removable wallpaper may be just the upgrade your room needs! And with so many colour and pattern options and the ease of installation, you can change the ambiance of any room without the fear of long-term commitment. From bold or understated florals to big buffalo plaid to popular Shiplap, your room can become the oasis of your dreams. Some wallpapers have helpful guidelines on the back for quick, easy alignment, and other brands come in various sizes to fit any wall without lots of cutting. They’re easy to reposition with no messy paste or glue and no residue left behind. You can truly have beauty and fun without commitment and a custom look in a jiffy.

First impressions count. Make your guests feel warm and welcome with this inviting entryway organizer. This beginner-level project requires common board, ceiling hooks, wall hooks, wood stain in your choice of colour, screws and nails, and a sanding block. It’s very straightforward and takes less than an hour to assemble. Plus, it is an excellent catch-all storage for your keys, wallet, purse, and other important items you want to be able to find quickly as you head out the door. 

Photo: PhotoAttractive via gettyimages.com

Get Crafty

Get ready to bring the outside inside. This step-by-step guide to painting terra cotta pots will make your live green or flowering plants look beautiful in any room, both now and in the springtime. Required supplies are minimal. All you need is a paintbrush or foam brush, craft paints, and pots. Using painter’s tape or rubber bands as guidelines ensures your stripes are perfectly aligned. These DIY pots can be more affordable than a store purchase. Make several in a pallet of seasonal colours.

There are endless opportunities for a spruced-up dinner table. From holidays and birthdays to a quiet dinner at home to snowfall, there are plenty of chances to show off your creativity. These reversible placemats are embellished with fun tassels and are easy for even the novice to make. Tassels are made out of yarn and hand-stitched to the finished placemat. Choose a seasonal fabric or your favourite two colours, or make a set now for your springtime parties. 

Make the Old New Again

If you have an old, solid piece of furniture like a dresser or chair, now is the perfect time to refurbish it with a coat of paint. Chalk paint gives a soft vintage look and adheres to most finishes. A wax finish completes the look. Consider updating the hardware for a completely new look to your dresser. Go from drab to fab!

Lamps are another item in your home that may need an upgrade! Or find one at a local thrift store that has the shape you are looking for but needs a little love. This DIY Ceramic Lamp Makeover walks you through the steps of prepping and painting your lamp, so it matches your home’s style and looks fabulous! 

Keep the Heat In

You may be surprised to learn how much heat escapes your home through windows, doors, and cracks. Get out the caulk and fill the spaces. Or, make some easy draft dodgers using fabric and fiberfill. Cut lengths of material to match the door bottom or window ledge, then sew all around and fill. 

Installing a programmable thermostat may save you hundreds of dollars. An experienced DIYer can install most programmable thermostats and some smart thermostats. Customize your home’s indoor temperature to meet your heating and cooling needs. 

Whether your winter DIY projects are just for show or practical solutions to your winter issues, we are fully confident you will have success and fun while doing it!

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Home Sweet Home

DIY Decorations: Making Your Own Christmas Ornaments

As you start to envision that magical time of year when you gather with family and friends to decorate the tree, think about adding a few unique ornaments to this year’s collection. 

Whether your style is rustic or elegant, neutral or bold, homemade ornaments add a memorable touch to the tree. Even if you aren’t a skilled crafter, there are many ways to make ornaments this year—just combine materials that are easy to find with a bit of fun and creativity, and you have something amazing! 

Here are just a few of the many possibilities for a special touch on the tree, whether you’re keeping them for yourself or giving them as a treasured gift. 

Book Page Ornaments

If you’d like to impress guests, friends, and family with skillful and elegant ornaments, try these book page creations. You can scour your local thrift and used bookstores for volumes that have gilded edges or particularly interesting page colours. Some of the folds are intricate and will take practice, but the results are worth the effort. There are several tutorials available, including lovely flowers, stars, and wreaths. Starting with this seasonal snowflake is a lovely way to show off your new skills!

Clear Glass Balls

One of the most straightforward DIY ornament styles is using clear glass balls. These are widely available at all craft stores, inexpensive, and offer a platform for endless variety! You can fill them with a range of materials, including glitter, confetti, and even shredded paper for a simple yet elegant look. If you’d like something more involved, you can paint the interior and even add modelling clay decorations to make fanciful creations like unicorns! Using coloured markers to personalize names or events on the outside can also make these memorable.

Photo: Lorado via gettyimages.com

Mason Jar Lids

Mason jars are abundant in decorations these days, and you can use them for your holiday ornaments, too! The best part is that ornaments use the lids and rings that you’ve probably discarded from other projects. You can use the rings alone to make mini wreaths in various styles. Faux moss from a craft store can easily mimic a full evergreen wreath feeling, or some twine wrapped around can give a rustic and cozy vibe. Consider making groups of these mini wreaths to cluster together on your tree or use to decorate gifts. Plus, adding small berries or embellishments at the top of the wreaths can also give them a realistic feeling. If you have extra seasonal fabric to use, try making mini “embroidery hoop” ornaments with the lids and rings; these can easily change each year to match your décor theme or coordinate with presents.

Hardware Store Finds

Beautiful and innovative ornaments don’t have to come from fancy materials—there are many you can make from items at your local hardware store! Light switch covers can turn into sparkling photo frames with a little bit of glitter and embellishment. Clear lightbulbs can be filled with everything from confetti to fake snow and small faux trees. Coating small glass bulbs with glue and glitter is a great way to string together a glamorous light strand to drape across your tree. And for those who want to be even more crafty, try gluing nuts together to form a snowflake shape, then spray with silver or white paint.

Wood Slices

For a truly homemade and rustic aesthetic, these wood slice ornaments are hard to beat. While some skilled crafters can make these using wood-burning tools, there are options available to complete this project without special materials or skills. You can cut your own wood slices from logs or buy precut pieces at craft stores—something with a smoother surface works best. Use stencils or freehand designs with permanent markers and paint if you don’t have a wood-burning kit. You can even lightly transfer an image from a printout or sticker to the wood, and then paint over it for a richer look.

Adding decorations to your tree this year doesn’t have to be expensive. A trip to the craft store is all you need!