Small DIY projects to re-imagine, rework and rejuvenate parts of your home

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Just days into the lockdown that has kept so many of us at home this spring, Justina Blakeney, a nationally known interior designer and author, said what many of us were thinking.

"If I'm kept at home for a month straight, I’m gonna redecorate every inch of this place," said Blakeney in a post on her Instagram account with a picture of her living room.

It's funny how being in your home -- and really living in your space for weeks on end -- makes you realize what works and what doesn't. Good design isn't just a look; it's a feeling.

But what can you do at home during Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order? It doesn't mean you should run out to Home Depot and do a big reno in one part of your home. 

Justina Blakeney, a famed interior designer and author, said if she has to be at home right now, she's going to redecorate every inch of her space.

According to local designers and bloggers, there are certainly some small DIY projects that you can do at home during this quarantine that will make your space feel both more welcoming and functional using what you. Sometimes just doing a little change-up in a room can infuse new energy into a space.

Interior designers Krista Nye Nicholas and Tami Ramsay, owners and principal interior  designers of Cloth & Kind in Ann Arbor, suggest "shopping" your home. That means looking at the furniture and home decor you have and maybe using it in a new way. Maybe that club chair you thought looked great in your living room would actually work even better in your bedroom. Try it out.

"Open up your mind to think about how different pieces, large and small alike, could work in a totally new space within your home," suggests Nichols. "You'll be surprised what this fresh perspective may yield."

Below are some DIY tips from several of the people who know best -- home decor store owners, interior designers and design bloggers. If we're going to be stuck at home for a bit more, we may as well love the space we're in, right? So try changing things up.

Rearrange your book shelves

Sarah Macklem, a home stylist based in Grand Blanc who has a design blog, The Yellow Cape Cod, has a variety of DIY projects listed on her website, from painting old pieces of furniture to creating your own family command center. 

One DIY project that can be tackled right now is rearranging your decor to create a great bookcase display.

"A well styled bookcase is as functional as it is beautiful," said Macklem. "If it looks great, but you can't touch it, it's no fun."

Macklem has broken down the process into four steps that includes layering in decor such as pictures and storage baskets. She suggests evenly spacing out books and baskets to anchor an arrangement, then placing family photos and sentimental items at eye level, "giving them center stage." She then adds attractive "filler" accessories in a common color to unify a display.

Storage baskets make these bookcases by home stylist and blogger Sarah Macklem both pretty and functional.

"If I get stuck, I step away for a few minutes and usually return with fresh eyes," writes Macklem on her blog. "If something still seems amiss but I can't put my finger on it,  I'll snap a quick digital photo.  A photo can sometimes offer a new perspective making the problem obvious."

Change up your art 

Art doesn't have to be permanent. Try moving a picture to another wall or changing up that gallery wall.

Canton Township blogger Haneen Matt of Haneen's Haven says keeping her hands busy has helped her cope during this period of self-isolation. And one new project was creating a gallery wall of vintage mirrors she's collected. She tried them first in her living room and then eventually moved the mirrors upstairs. She put a console table under the mirrors, but she decided it needed a makeover.

A DIY project by Haneen Matt of Haneen's Haven: a gallery wall of vintage mirrors under a newly repainted console table.

"I no longer loved distressed and shabby chic, so I ordered new hardware off of Amazon, and found leftover black paint and gave it a whole new look," Matt. "The silhouette is still traditional, but the finish is much sleeker."

Paint that trim

Brigid Beaubien, the owner of Urbanum, a super fun home decor store on Woodward in Detroit's New Center area (Urbanum is now selling gift cards), says she and her husband have used this time to tackle projects at home that they'd let go. One of those was painting the downstairs trim in their home and stair rails.

First they used leftover paint they had at home, but then picked up more from their local ACE Hardware, which had it ready to go curb-side.

 "It's made a huge difference and what's nice is we have taken it in small sections every couple of days so it hasn't disrupted the entire house or felt too overwhelming," said Beaubien.

Another DIY project you can do right now: Touch up the trim in your home. Urbanum owner Brigid Beaubien said she and her husband gave all of the downstairs trim and stair rails in their home a touch-up.

Add some feng shui

Dennis Fairchild is a local expert on feng shui, the ancient Asian art that suggests every object in our homes, and where it’s placed, has a subliminal effect on occupants. residents. Fairchild says taking note of some feng shui suggestions during these stressful, socially isolated times is all about creating harmony and could bring "positive energy to your home."

De-cluttering and downsizing is one way to infuse new energy into your space, says Fairchild. From going through your clothes to tossing old medicines, all can help you feel less overwhelmed.

"Rooms that are cloaked in clutter support feelings of defeat, denial, and exhaustion," said Fairchild. "Free up this trapped energy by sorting, removing, giving away forgotten articles of clothing, and organizing."

If you're feeling unfocused, Fairchild suggests moving 29 items in your house over the next 29 days just a little — side tables, lamps, rugs, chairs. "Classic feng shui adds that moving several things at least 18 inches from their existing place instantly shifts and re-energizes the room, as well as your brain cells," said Fairchild.

Want to re-energize your space? Local feng shui expert Dennis Fairchild says moving several things at least 18 inches from their existing place, like the chair in this living room, “instantly shifts and re-energizes the room, as well as your brain cells.”

Hit the office

With so many of us working from home these days, the home office has taken on even more importance.

Another DIY project is boosting the functionality of your home office. Nicholas and Ramsay of Cloth & Kind say start but sitting down and doing some "super thinking" about your office space. 

"Challenge yourself to sit down and think about what works and what doesn't in your current setup," says Nicholas. "Write down 5 things that would make the space feel and function better for you."

Re-think your home office. Write down what works and what doesn't.

If you need more lighting, consider taking one from the living room, suggest Nicholas and Ramsay. Or if you need better seating, try substituting in a dining room chair or backpillow for your chair. 

"You don't need to shop online to make these things happen," said Nicholas. "Just get a clear focus and spend a little time shopping your own home. Voila!"