21 easy home projects to tackle while you’re hunkered down

An illustration of orange, white, and red dishes stacked up. There is a blue background.

Level up your spaces without buying anything new

As the U.S. confronts the spread of the novel coronavirus,





stay-at-home orders
. And while we grapple with how
to pay rent
, what the the
future of transit
will look like, and how the virus is
impacting the housing market
, we’re also left with a more
basic question: What should we do while we’re stuck at home?

There’s only so much TV to binge-watch before restlessness
kicks in, so this extended time indoors is a good opportunity to
tackle those long-avoided home projects. Of course, now is also

not the time to flock to the stores for nonessential items
, so
we’ve gathered a list of ways you can upgrade your space with
things you probably already have at home.

From restyling your bookshelves to prepping your planters for
spring, here are 21 easy projects you can do while social
distancing at home.

Rearrange things for a fresh perspective

Renovating your living room or splurging on a new bedroom set
likely isn’t in the cards at the moment, but that doesn’t mean
you can’t make some changes.

Three tall white bookshelves full of colorful books stand next to a white wall. A black carpet with gold stars is on the foreground.Winnie

Try a new furniture layout: It’s easy to get
in a rut with the same ol’ furniture setup, but what if you tried
something new? Move the couch to a different wall, adjust where
your armchair sits, or mix things up by swapping rugs from one room
to another. Even switching a lamp from a side table to another spot
in your house could brighten up a space in new ways.

Restyle your bookshelves: Even avid readers
don’t change up their bookshelves all that often, so now is the
time to rethink them. If you’re focused on the literature,
arrange your books by alphabetical order or by theme. If aesthetics
are the priority, remember these three tips
from designer Emily Henderson: Declutter, use neutral colors, and
focus on a few standout pieces.

Bring out the “special occasion”
There’s no better time to add a bit of drama
to your table, so bust out the china, special silverware, or fancy
wine glasses. Now that we’re all eating at home, it’s the
perfect chance to sip and savor at the dinner table using our
favorite pieces.

Cleaning projects

There’s a lot of talk about cleaning these days, and rightly
so. But beyond disinfecting all of your high-touch surfaces, it’s
also past time to buckle down on the tasks you avoid doing.

Clean your vents and baseboards: Heating and
vent covers accumulate dust over time, and cleaning them can help
reduce allergens in your home and increase the efficiency of your
air conditioning or heating unit. Vacuum the vents with a dusting
brush attachment or wipe with a dry microfiber cloth—avoid using
water or other cleaning products, because they can smear the

You can also unscrew the vent covers and place them in a sink
filled with hot, soapy water. But don’t rub them too hard or
paint may come off. And while you’re at it, turn your HVAC unit
off and change the air filter on your furnace.

Go under your bed: Vacuuming and cleaning the
toilets are usually on the weekly to-do list, but when was the last
time you cleaned underneath your bed? Don’t wait until the next
time you move to clear out the dirt—move the bed, empty out any
storage boxes you might have underneath, and vacuum the dust. Plus:
You might be surprised at the things you’ll find (hello, missing
phone charger).

Clean out your bathroom drawers: This is
another task we put off when we don’t have the time. Our bathroom
drawers take a lot of daily abuse; after emptying the drawers
you’ll likely find hair, spilled makeup, toothpaste, and so on.
Once the insides are free of gunk, toss the junk and reorganize
what’s left.


Where to begin? There’s no shortage of home organization
projects that can yield big results, but the options below won’t
require a trip to the store.

A wooden triangular clothes rack hangs by a window. A large plant sits on a blue stool nearby. Heidi’s

Tackle the closets: Face it: Even the most
organized among us can have a messy closet, and now is the time to
make it right. Start by taking everything out of the closet,
purging what’s no longer used, and cleaning the interior. If
it’s a clothes closet, sort your clothes by category and be sure
to hang delicate items and stack thicker things like denim. Put
your most-used items at the front, while seasonal or rarely used
pieces can go up higher or in the back.

Tidy up the entryway: Whether you have a
spacious mudroom or a tiny coat stand, things accumulate in our
daily life. Reevaluate your hooks: Are they helpful? Hanging at the
right height? Do you need more or fewer of them? Vacuum or shake
out any door mats you have, then purge any knick knacks or unused
items hanging around.

Label your supplies: A few labels can go a long
way in creating a more organized household. Have storage bins or
containers in your kitchen pantry, under the bed, or in a linen
closet? A label maker works great if you have it, but you can also
write on regular paper and tape the labels on.

Pay attention to your walls

Walls may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to
home projects, but a few updates can make a big difference.

Framed paintings of various sizes hang on a wall composed of wooden slats. Jake

Straighten—or redo—your wall hangings: From
photos to artwork to TVs, the items on our walls become crooked
over time. Take a stroll through your house and straighten
everything—you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
Alternatively, take down all of your photos or artwork and make a
new gallery, perhaps moving items to a new room to keep things

Touch up your paint: Many of us have a few cans
of paint tucked away in our homes, from the last time we did a
project or from when we moved in. Make sure it matches your current
walls and then walk through the house and touch up the high-use
areas, especially door frames, baseboards, and doors.

Put empty frames to use: Photo projects require
a ton of time and energy to complete, which means they sometimes
never make it off of your to-do list. Go through the house and add
photos to any frames you’re not using; alternatively, you could
also swap out older photos for new ones.

Evaluate your lighting

Lighting is one of the most important elements in design, and
our homes can go from stark and unwelcoming to cozy and warm just
by swapping out a few bulbs.

Blue gradient curtains flank a tall window. A patterned armchair and wooden side table sit nearby.Paul

Replace bulbs: Have a few extra lightbulbs
lying around? Go through the house and replace any that have gone

Clean your lamps: Sometimes the culprit to bad
lighting isn’t a dead lightbulb, it’s dirt. Unplug lamps and
clean the lampshades with a dry microfiber cloth or vacuum cleaner
attachment. For other types of lamps, clean the bulbs and use a
cloth to dust off the hardware. Note that you should always do this
when the light bulbs are cool to the touch.

Clean your curtains: Clean curtains can make a
room feel much brighter. Most drapery stores advise cleaning your
curtains a few times each year, but it’s a task many of us
neglect. First, look at your care instructions to determine whether
you can wash your curtains or whether they have to be dry cleaned.
Velvet drapes can be washed with a chamois cloth dipped in hot
water, while silk curtains sometimes call for hand-washing. If you
can machine-wash your curtains, use the gentle cycle, cool water,
and mild detergent, and hang them to dry.

In the kitchen

The kitchen is another area of the home that benefits from
special attention; we spend so much time cooking and eating that it
can become disorganized quick. Beyond the regular duties of washing
dishes or cleaning out the fridge, the tasks below will help your
kitchen look better and function more smoothly.

A bright kitchen with white marble island, white cabinets, and a stainless steel oven. Two bronze pendant lamps hang over the island.Carlos

Moisturize your wooden cutting boards: Remember
that gorgeous wooden cutting board that you use as a cheese and
charcuterie plate? When was the last time you moisturized it? In
order to prevent warping or cracking, both wooden cutting boards
and spoons should be oiled about once per month. Start by cleaning
your boards and letting them dry. Then apply a food-grade oil like
mineral oil or beeswax and let it soak in overnight.

Take stock of the essentials: Clean out your
liquor cabinet or spice shelf and figure out what you have and what
you might be missing. There’s no way to know if you have three
bottles of cumin or a few versions of Cointreau until you take

Finally clean your small appliances: Most of us
probably clean out the refrigerator and wipe down the stove on a
regular basis, but small appliances are often neglected. Hand-wash
all of the removable parts of your coffee maker and run a few
brewing cycles with distilled water. Empty out your toaster oven or
toaster trap door and then shake the appliance over the sink to
remove loose crumbs. Deep-clean your Instant Pot by wiping down the
inner cooking chamber with a damp dishcloth; washing the silicone
sealing ring in hot, soapy water; and running a cycle of water,
distilled white vinegar, and a few lemon peels to remove odors.

In your yard

Spring has sprung in much of the country, and it’s an ideal
time to prep our spaces for summer. Whether you have a small
outdoor balcony or a sprawling yard, here are a few places to

A row of plants sit on a wooden table. Sam

Clean up from winter: If you have a small patio
or balcony, grab a broom and sweep off the dirt and dust of the
past few months. Larger yards will need a bigger cleanup—start by
getting rid of any leaves and pine cones that might have fallen
during winter storms, and then prune away dead or damaged branches.
Now is also the time to clean up around your perennial plants or
shrubs and remove damaged grass areas for spring seeding.

Prep your planters: Gather your empty
planters—big and small—and clean them so they are ready for
planting. Discard any that might have broken at the end of last
season, then check for drainage holes.

Scrub your outdoor furniture: You’d be
surprised how much dirt can accumulate on outdoor furniture, even
if it’s been in storage. For wood and wicker furniture, use a
mild oil-base soap like Murphy Oil mixed with warm water. Other
types of furniture do fine with dishwashing liquid mixed in a large
bucket of warm water, and many patio cushions can either be wiped
down or thrown in the washing machine.

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
21 easy home projects to tackle while you’re hunkered down