Getting stuck into a home project can be a great way to learn some new skills, unwind and produce something you’re proud of by the end of it. Home projects can also be a great way to add value to your home, or put a smile on the face of your loved ones. From improving your home’s interior, to growing a garden and making personal gifts, and even boosting the value of your home with some canny DIY – there are all kinds of projects you can take on from home. Here are 12 ideas for practical projects to get you inspired.
1. Build a window seat
A window seat is one of those small touches that can make any home more cosy. Window seats are the perfect place to get stuck into a good book, chat with friends and family, enjoy a glass of wine, or simply relax. They’re just as appealing in winter, when they’re decorated with cushions and blankets, as they are in summer, when the sun is streaming in through the window. Plus, many window seats come with lots of built-in storage too, so it’s ideal if you’re running out of space.
Once you’ve got all the right materials in, building a window seat is something that can be achieved in a day – although it can be an enjoyable weekend project too, if you want to take it slowly. There are lots of different ways to build a window seat, but if you don’t have much carpentry experience, we’d suggest making your window seat from pre-built wall cabinets. This means you’ll be able to spend more time decorating your seat rather than building it from scratch. Howdens sell a good range of pre-built cabinets, as do The Cabinet Shop and Amazon. Or, if you want more of a challenge and fancy building a window seat from scratch, have a watch of the video below to see how it’s done.
2. Make jams and chutneys
If you’re happiest in the kitchen and want to take on a food-based project, then what about making your own jams, marmalades, chutneys and preserves – either to enjoy yourself or to give away as presents? Just like candles, giving friends and family members a jar of preserves you’ve made yourself is always a special gift – and gifting a loved one with a little hamper you’ve made has got to be one of the loveliest Christmas gifts anyone can receive. You don’t have to be a particularly good cook to make delicious preserves – and you certainly don’t need any fancy equipment or ingredients.
Homemade jams and preserves can sit happily in the cupboard for months – so if you want to get a headstart on your Christmas shopping, why not make use of summer’s seasonal berries and get stuck into this super-sweet project? Jamie Oliver has a good guide to making all kinds of different jams – although if you prefer savoury treats, check out Delia’s article on different chutneys and pickles, and how to make them. Spreading your own homemade preserves over a slice of toast is one of life’s simple pleasures, and if it’s something you enjoy, you can potentially make some extra money by selling your creations at fêtes and food markets.
3. Declutter your home
Most of us plan on doing a bit of decluttering at some point – but it’s easy to keep putting it off. Clutter adds stress, mess and frustration to our lives, and our homes should be our sanctuary – somewhere we can relax and feel comfortable… not somewhere we feel stressed. Keeping our homes organised and clutter-free is a great way to feel more in control and on top of things. To find out more about the best ways to declutter and reorganise, have a read of our guide.
Unless you already live in a very minimalistic way already, most rooms in our homes could usually do with a bit of decluttering. Desk drawers are stuffed with old papers and letters we won’t read again. Bedrooms, wardrobes and dressers tend to be packed with clothes we no longer wear, and bookcases crammed with novels and old DVDs that we no longer reach for.
You could start with the easiest room to declutter, or go straight into the most disorderly room in your home, to get it out of the way. However you do it, decluttering feels like a serious achievement and can have a surprisingly powerful effect on the overall ambiance of your home.
Plus, there are plenty of ways you can actually make money from your clutter – have a read of our guide to find out more.
4. Make your own candles
Everyone loves a candle…particularly scented ones that fill your home with lovely seasonal smells throughout the year – fresh flowers and citrus scents in summer, and pine, berries and cinnamon scents in winter. Candles also add a cosy ambiance to your home and make it feel that bit more welcoming. But good quality candles can be expensive, which is why learning to make them is a fun and surprisingly useful project. Not only will making your own candles save you money, but because candles are endlessly customisable, they make the most wonderfully thoughtful gifts, too.
You might be surprised at how easy it is to make candles from scratch. For basic, non-scented candles, all you need to buy is wax, wicks and a container; if you want to add scent and colour, you can pick up a fragranced oil and some dye.
The process is simple: place your wick in an appropriate container (old jars are handy for this, but you can also use old candle containers). Melt your wax in a pot on a hot stove (be careful here – spilling hot wax can be messy and painful). Once it’s melted, add your oils and dye. Then, simply pour into your container and let it cool. Once you know how to do this, your home will always be sweet smelling – and you’ll always have lovely, personalised gifts available to surprise loved ones with. For more detailed instructions, click here, or watch the video below.
5. Build a dog house (or bird house)
If you’re lucky enough to have a dog, why not give your furry friend a treat and build a dog house for him or her? While dogs have no problem curling up on a sofa or floor, they also love to be outside – and having their own little home where they can stay warm and cosy, but still enjoy some fresh air, can make them really happy.
If you have a cat, you might want to consider making a home for them, too – but do bear in mind that most cats always prefer a box! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have much DIY experience, as this is a basic carpentry project that can be made using inexpensive materials and tools. Have a watch of this video below to get some inspiration.
If you don’t have a dog but like the thought of building a home for an animal, why not build a birdhouse? According to the RSPB, there aren’t enough natural hideaways in the UK where birds can shelter, and building your own birdhouse can help small birds thrive. If you have grandchildren, they’ll enjoy feeding the birds and watching them come and go, too.
A birdhouse shouldn’t take too long to complete (unless you decide to make a super fancy one…) and when the sun’s out, it’s a great way to spend the day. Plus, knowing you’re doing something nice for an animal always feels good. If you want to build your own birdhouse, have a look at this guide by The Spruce, which features 29 different free DIY birdhouse plans – some simple, some more ornate.
6. Make your own rug
If you’re more comfortable working with textiles than wood, why not have a go at making your own rug? Most people like a good rug – they add cosiness, colour and texture to a room, not to mention they help keep your feet warm in the cold winter months – but like many beautiful things, they can cost a lot when you buy them from the shops. Making your own rug is enjoyable, relaxing and surprisingly therapeutic, and you don’t have to be an arts and crafts whizz to do it, as there are projects for all abilities.
If you’re a beginner, why not try making a rag rug, where all you need to get cracking is a non-slip rug mat and plenty of old fabric (if you have lots of unwanted clothes after decluttering, this is a great way to put them to good use). The rug-making process can be time-consuming but is very simple, and can be done in front of the TV or listening to the radio. Plus, these rugs make great gifts for kids.
Alternatively, you could make this unusual wine cork bath mat – which might make a fun gift for a wine-loving friend. You’ll need plenty of corks, of course, but collecting them is all part of the fun! If you have some arts and crafts skills already, why not take a look at these more complex DIY rugs and see which one takes your fancy? Have a watch of the video below to get inspired.
7. Grow your own herb garden
When it comes to cooking, herbs can make or break a dish. Growing your own herbs is satisfying, can save you money, is better for the environment (no more plastic-wrapped herbs from the shops), and means you’ll always have delicious, fresh flavours to add to your meals.
The great thing about growing herbs is that they’re one of the easiest things to grow – and you don’t need a garden for your herbs to flourish, either. All you need is a window sill and a few pots. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and lavender are all pretty hardy and will keep growing all winter, so these might be a good place to start – although basil, marjoram and mint are easy to grow, too.
If you want more of a challenge (and have a garden) you could go one step further and grow your own vegetable patch to go alongside your herb garden. You probably don’t need as much space to do this as you might think, but how much light your garden gets is crucial. Have a read of this guide to growing your own veg, or check out this video on 10 things I wish I’d known before starting a vegetable garden.
If you like the idea of growing your own produce but don’t have a garden, no worries: have a look at Vertical Veg, a site that encourages people to grow fruit and vegetables in containers in small spaces.
Upcycling simply means repurposing old clothes or possessions and breathing new life into them. Since it is a great way to both pinch pennies and live more sustainably, upcycling has never been more popular.
Upcycling is the perfect project to get stuck into after you’ve decluttered your home – because chances are, you’ll end up with dozens of bits and bobs you no longer want or use. You could take them to a second hand shop (one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, after all!), but alternatively, you could get creative and give your items a new lease of life.
There are literally thousands of ways you can repurpose old items and upcycle them: you can turn old jeans into a handy work apron, turn tin cans and jam jars into pretty plant pots, use an old mirror as a stylish drinks tray… the options are endless. Plus, unlike more complex, time-consuming modes of repurposing old items, like reupholstering furniture (see point 10!), upcycling can be incredibly quick, simple and easy – and is often completed in mere minutes. Have a look at our 16 creative upcycling ideas for more inspiration.
9. Knit some early christmas presents
Knitting is hugely rewarding and very enjoyable, and once you’re able to do it, you can save yourself serious money each year – not just by making your own clothes, but by giving friends and family lovely personalised gifts. After all, few people will complain when they open up a warm jumper or a cosy hat on any occasion.
If you’ve never knitted before, it does take a bit of time to master, but it’s cheap and easy to get started – all you need is some yarn and a pair of needles. For new knitters, we’d recommend starting with a hat – it’s quicker and easier than knitting a scarf. If you have experience, there are all kinds of beautiful items you can knit that are perfect for giving as gifts. You can get inspired here – and if you want more information on knitting, have a read of our in-depth guide to learning to knit.
10. Reupholster tired-looking fabric furniture
Do you have a favourite old chair that’s wonderfully cosy – but ripped, stained or shabby? Or perhaps you have an old sofa that’s well-made and comfortable – but the pattern is an eyesore? If that’s the case, you don’t have to think about buying new furniture… you can just transform it by doing some reupholstering. As long as the piece of furniture itself is in good condition, all you need to transform it is some fabric, a sewing machine and some basic tools (e.g. hammer, pliers and staples).
Reupholstering can be time-consuming, but it can save you hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds and can completely change the look of your soft furniture and home. Being able to reupholster furniture also means you can start browsing antique shops knowing that if there’s a lovely vintage sofa or chair that’s a bargain, but it’s in an awful pattern, you can still snap it up and make it look the way you like. If you want to learn how to reupholster a sofa, have a look at this guide from Lovely Etc., here – and to see how to reupholster a chair, check out this guide from Better Homes & Gardens here. To find out more and see exactly how upholstering is done, have a watch of the video below.
11. Paint your walls or floors
Giving your walls a lick of paint is one of the simplest and easiest ways to change up the look of your home – and painting doesn’t require any specialist skills. Anyone can do it – and when you have the radio on, the windows open and get stuck into it, it can be an enjoyable and relaxing project too. Painting drab walls an attractive colour, or creating a bold feature wall or alcove, can even increase the value of your home – not bad for a project that can be completed in just a few hours! To get inspired with different paint colours, check out Dulux’s colour inspiration guide here, or head over to your nearest B&Q or Homebase and have a browse at the different paints.
If you’re happy with the colour of the walls, why not consider painting your floors? If you have wooden floorboards, you can totally transform the look of your room: white floorboards lend a nice rustic look, while black floorboards are slick and stylish. It’s advisable to prepare your floorboards before painting them, but this shouldn’t take long. Just give your boards a good sand with medium-grade sandpaper to help the paint cling to them, then vacuum your floor, give it a quick wash with water, and once it’s dry, you can start painting.
12. Improve your old wooden furniture
If you like the idea of restoring old furniture but don’t fancy reupholstering, there are many ways you can improve your old wooden items – whether it’s a family heirloom that looks shabby and drab, or brightening up a decent dresser that’s too dark and oppressive. In many cases, all you need is some paint and a paintbrush – so this can be a good way to use up any leftover colour after painting your walls or floor. What’s especially enjoyable about this project is that whatever your style preferences are, there’ll be a way to upgrade old wooden furniture that’s in keeping with your personal taste.
If you like the French country look, you could have a go at shabby chic – where you build up layers of paint and then rub and sand away in certain areas to create an artfully distressed look. This is perfect if you have new furniture that needs a bit of character. You can find out how to shabby chic furniture here.
Alternatively, if you have old wooden cabinets or cupboards that look dull, you could give them a new lease of life by painting them or you could try changing the handles. Or, why not give them a sleek new look by oiling or staining them – or by totally stripping them down and starting from scratch? Have a read of this guide to learn about the different ways you can give your wooden furniture a smart (or intentionally shabby!) new look – or have a watch of the video below to find out more about some of the best ways to restore wooden furniture.
Whether you’re already a bit of a DIY pro and are looking for a new challenge, or you’re new to practical projects and want to start with something small, there’s something out there for everyone. Building something yourself or creating something from scratch can provide an enormous sense of satisfaction – and if you enjoy the process, you might find yourself with a brand new hobby, too.
As an added bonus, many of the projects above are things you can share with loved ones – whether it’s building a birdhouse for your grandchildren or giving your friends unique, handmade gifts. If you have a natural talent for it, you could even consider selling some of the items you create to earn some extra money on the side – for more ideas on side hustles like this you can read our guide here.
Have you got stuck into any practical projects at home recently? We’d love to see pictures of your creations! You can share photos of your creations on the Rest Less community forum, or leave us a comment below.