20 Apr 8 easy upgrades for your home you can make during the coronavirus pandemic
We’re facing at least a couple more weeks of a stay-home mandate as we wait for the COVID-19 caseload curve to flatten and head downward. If you’ve already cleaned out every closet and drawer, here are eight other home-project ideas— all of them easily DIY and very affordable.
1. Update trim
Baseboards and trim in high-traffic areas often get dinged up quickly. If you have natural wood trim that you’re tired of, start with a light sanding, dust off and then use primer followed by glossy paint, either in white or the same color as the walls. Don’t forget to do your prep work: use painter’s tape on the wall or ceiling around trim and cover the floor with a tarp. You should easily be able to do a room or two in an afternoon. If you need to buy new paint supplies, some paint and hardware stores are still open, though with limited hours.
2. Update cabinet hardware
Many production homes are built without knobs or drawer pulls on cabinets, which leads to your cabinets getting worn and dirty more quickly than you think. If you already have some that are old and dated, replacing them with sleeker new ones brings a lot of bang for the buck. If you like brass, opt for a softer color or unlacquered brass that will earn a patina over time. Satin or brushed nickel are both fine, and if “shiny” is your thing, choose glossy chrome. There are even plenty of darker oil-rubbed bronze options available. You’ll find plenty on hardware and big box websites. Bering’s in Houston has interesting options, as does Pottery Barn, RH (Restoration Hardware) and Anthropologie.
3. New doorknobs
Except for entry doors — where we all seem to be installing high-tech door systems — most of us overlook the value of a pretty interior door knob. Getting rid of those ubiquitous gold or chrome knobs will give you more satisfaction than you know. Hardware stores and specialty websites are full of options, from antique reproductions to more contemporary styles, some with acrylic or glass mixed with brass or nickel. Some brands to check out include Kwikset, Schlage and Emtek. If you want to shop where contractors and designers shop, find a Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery.
4. Frame bathroom mirror
Adding a frame to your bathroom mirror is a small way to make a big impact on your room or cut expenses in a room getting a bigger facelift. YouTube videos teach you how to make a frame on your own using fiberboard, paint and caulking — providing you’re already pretty handy and you’ve got a mitre saw and other workshop tools — but there are companies that do much of the work for you, sending an assemble-it-yourself kit that adheres to the top of your mirror and looks great. A couple worth mentioning are Mirror Mates Frames and Frame My Mirror.
5. Update wood furniture
If you’ve got an old desk, dresser or other piece of wood furniture that you’re tired of, consider painting it. You’ll need to sand it a little first, then use primer and at least two coats of paint. Further updates come with new legs and hardware. If you’re trying to add more contemporary touches, consider metal or acrylic-metal combinations. A project like this will spread out in small increments of time over several days, but when you’re done you’ll have a new piece of furniture.
6. Curved shower curtain
Showering in a standard-size bathtub/shower combination can feel confining. Solve the problem by simply installing a curved shower curtain rod. The extra inches of space will feel like a luxury, and installation is something anyone with a screwdriver can do. Look for one that’s stainless steel, an aluminum-zinc combination or has some other non-rust finish. One feature to look for is a double-rod option so the outer cloth curtain hangs separately from the inner plastic liner. You can find them online or in a big box store for less than $50.
7. Sanitize appliances
While we all have bacteria, germs and other pathogens on our minds, let’s pay a little attention to the household appliances we use regularly. Many dishwashers and washing machines have sanitize settings that will amp up the water temperature and cycle duration. If yours does, try it. It’s said that their heat level can kill 99.9 percent of bacteria on your dishes. If you don’t have a sanitize option, take time to remove the racks and clean and disinfect the inside liner. Front-load washing machines often get dirt and mold build-up in the rubbery opening. If yours does, take some bleach water or soap and water followed by a disinfectant and swab it out.
If you’ve got spare time, photograph your belongings and put the photos with descriptions on a backup drive and flash drive. If you didn’t do this after Hurricane Harvey, do it now. The information will come in handy after the next natural disaster or weather event.