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10 DIY projects you can do in a day

Some of these do-it-yourself activities will brighten your home with only a few hours of work.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 29, 2012 12:04PM

This post comes from Camilla Cheung at partner blog Wise Bread.


Wise Bread on MSN MoneyMy husband and I are in the midst of a major home remodeling, and we're faced with big tasks such as tiling new bathrooms, installing flooring, putting up new walls and rerouting plumbing.


Such challenging tasks can seem overwhelming, and I've found that doing a few easy, one-day DIY projects during this process gives me a sense of accomplishment. When I'm able to significantly improve my home in one day or less, I feel as if we're making progress, and that encourages me to stick it out for the long haul.


Even if you're not overhauling your entire home, these easy DIY fixes can freshen up or update your home with minimal effort. Or pick one for a fun family activity for a Saturday, so everyone gets to enjoy the results. (See also: "Upgrade your home decor for less.")


1. Make no-sew curtains. Getting rid of old plastic blinds and installing fresh new curtains is a quick fix that makes your home so much cozier and up to date. You can easily make your own custom, no-sew curtains using fabric snapped up at a discount from a fabric store, iron-on hem tape and clip-on curtain rings. Throw them up on your windows with a curtain rod from Target and you're good to go within an hour or two. YoungHouseLove has an excellent tutorial for homemade no-sew curtains


2. Paint a sign. Use an old piece of plywood or MDF board and cut it to your desired size. Prime it and then use craft paint to make a simple sign to hang on your wall with the message of your choice, whether it's "Don't forget to flush" or something more poetic. Finish it off with a coat of polyacrylic to seal and protect your new work of art. (Post continues below.)

3. Paint trim. Freshening up the trim around your house is a pretty simple project but will have a dramatic impact in making your home seem more up to date, clean and fresh. Cover up that yellowing paint with a bright white, semigloss paint. Just be sure to tape off the edges (or make sure you have a steady hand).


4. Spray-paint a light fixture. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is brimming with old light fixtures just begging for a new finish. Buy an old chandelier or other light fixture for a few bucks, as well as a few cans of spray paint (try a dark brown oil-rubbed bronze finish for a transitional look, or a bright color for a punch of cheer). Wear a mask and apply the spray paint evenly in a well-ventilated area. Voila! You've got a brand-new light fixture that no one else will have. CentsationalGirl has an excellent FAQ for spray painting almost anything.


5. Reupholster a stool. Some upholstery jobs can take days, and many require the attention of a professional. But recovering that old padded footstool you found at the thrift store? You can do that yourself pretty easily. Buy a piece of foam, some batting and a piece of fabric at your local craft store. Cut the foam to fit, then use a nail gun to attach the batting and fabric. No nail gun? Try using cheap upholstery tacks instead, as in this quick upholstering project.


6. Back bookshelves with wallpaper. Spruce up a blah bookcase with some pretty patterned wallpaper. You can apply it with glue or even with double-sided tape so you can take it down when you are ready for a new pattern. A vibrant color or pattern can make your books and curios pop and look like new again.


7. Sew (or no-sew) pillow covers made from napkins. While my husband desperately tries to curb my accent pillow addiction, I just can't stop. A few brightly colored, well-placed pillows cheer up any space instantly. These innovative pillow covers are made from colorful cloth napkins, a super-frugal and easy way to freshen up your living room couch. You can whip out the sewing machine to put them together, or use trusty, old iron-on hem tape for a no-sew version.


8. Make a compost bin. A compost bin is a handy thing to have outside within easy access. Instead of buying a fancy version that can run into the hundreds of dollars, make your own with just a few hours of work. Compost bins have many designs, from open bins made from scrap wood and chicken wire to "tumbling" bins made from old garbage cans. Both are easy to make, with plenty of tutorials on the Web, such as this frugal garbage-can tumbling compost bin.


9. Paint your front door. Paint your front door a fun color to welcome guests to your home. Take the opportunity to fill any cracks or dents. If the previous paint is in bad condition, you may want to prime the door first. Then paint it with an exterior paint in red, yellow, turquoise, navy or another high-impact color. Since the front door is one of the first things to greet guests, a fresh coat of paint makes a big difference. Even better, swap out the old, cheap-looking builder-grade brass door handle for something more updated in oil-rubbed bronze or satin nickel.


10. Plant a flowerbed. Although we were deep into several other home improvement projects at the time, my husband and I took an afternoon off to plant a flowerbed in front of our home. We dug up the old weedy flowerbed, added some topsoil and compost, and planted a few inexpensive flowers and shrubs. The project took a couple of hours, but we've been rewarded with colorful blooms that put a smile on my face every day.


What DIY project will you be tackling this weekend?


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