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19 Feb 2021

15 home DIY projects to keep you entertained during lockdown

From painting a wall mural to creating a pub shed, these home DIY projects will improve your home environment, without costing too much time or money

It can be difficult to stay occupied amid the current lockdown restrictions, not to mention the knock-on effects being cooped up and unable to make plans can have on our overall wellbeing. Taking on a project by tackling one of these home DIY ideas will not only keep you busy but can also spruce up your domestic environment (and spirit), which is welcome when we're at home day in day out.

From giving a room a new lease of life by simply fitting new light bulbs or adding interest to a space by creating a simple macrame hanger, these are small to medium-sized DIY projects. Most projects can be completed in an afternoon or over a weekend. And the best bit is they won't break the bank either.

Lockdown conditions are continuing, so keep this in mind while shopping for the DIY supplies required to complete a project. Be aware of in-store safety measures and altered opening times, and the online purchasing and home delivery problems shoppers have faced.

1. Paint a wall mural

After staring at the same four walls for months on end, you might have noticed how plain they are. Add some excitement and colour to your surroundings by painting a wall mural.

This can be a difficult task if art is not your strong point, but it is possible to paint vivid images using stencils or simple designs.

A favourite cartoon character hero or villain brought to life in bright colours will bring delight to a child's bedroom. A sleek, elegant work inspired by nature or your interests can be a tasteful addition to a living room or dining room.

If you are not sure where to buy paint and other supplies, read Which?'s guide to the best DIY shops.

2. Replace light bulbs for better light and efficiency

Spending more time in your house can highlight how dark some rooms can be, even during daylight hours. Spend an afternoon going around your house switching old bulbs to newer versions.

Upgrading to brighter, more efficient bulbs can have a transformative effect, helping to create a better environment for both your home and the planet. New bulbs will make reading easier, reduce strain on your eyes and save money by using less electricity.

3. Use vinyl wallpaper to give new life to old appliances

Kitchen appliances such as dishwashers or fridges that have been in service for many years can begin to look tired and worn. Quickly and simply bring new life and colour to these invaluable but often overlooked household items by using peel and stick vinyl wallpaper.

A huge range of options for colours and patterns are available, whether you think your dishwasher suits a flowery, stripy or polka dot look.

If you decide that what you actually need is a new and better appliance, check out our reviews of the best dishwashers or fridge freezers.

4. Improve your wi-fi signal and speed

Lockdown has demonstrated the importance of a reliable, strong signal from your home wi-fi. As everyone has transitioned to connecting with work, school or university from home, video calls and meetings require a good connection.

Nobody wants to endure mid-speech freezes or disconnection at a vital moment. To ensure you are getting the best performance from your wi-fi, read our guides for tips on improving and extending your wi-fi signal.

It could be as simple as moving your wi-fi router to a more central, unobstructed position in your home.

If you need a bigger boost to performance, consider buying an upgraded router or a wi-fi extender. You can read our Best Buy wi-fi routers and extenders article to make sure you get the best product.

5. Create a simple macrame hanger

Macrame is a form of textile created by knotting rather than weaving or knitting and has seen a surge in popularity over the past year. Create wall hangers and other decorations for the home using online guides and videos that you can follow step by step, or alternatively purchase a hanger from a craft shop or online retailer.

If you are experienced working with textiles you will be able to create more complicated hangers and intricate designs.

After producing or purchasing your macrame hanger, add lights or plants for a subtle burst of colour and life to your home.

6. Start planning a large home DIY project for the summer

Spending more time stuck inside highlights how important having enough space in your house is, especially if your whole family are now working and studying at home all day.

Now is a good time to start researching, budgeting, and planning for a large, long-term project for the summer to add space and value to your property. This could take the form of a loft conversion, extension, garden room or other building work.

Check out our guides for loft conversion ideas or types of extension if you need some inspiration or context for how much these projects might cost.

You can find a reputable trader to discuss your project with by using Which? Trusted Traders.

7. Install some new shelves

With less time taken up by long commuting journeys and social obligations, people have more time for reading books during lockdown.

This great, stimulating form of escapism comes with a logistical problem as the piles of exciting new books mount up. Make a home for your treasured books and fill that empty space on the wall by putting up some new shelves.

These can be decorated with ornaments alongside the books for a striking addition to your room.

A new interest in DIY home projects may require an upgrade to your toolbox. Our guide on buying the best drills can help you make informed purchases if you need new tools.

8. Put up new curtains or blinds

Controlling the level of light in different rooms is important for ensuring comfort for sleeping and using computer screens. Measure carefully to ensure new curtains or blinds will fit correctly.

Decide if you want eyelet curtains on a pole or a curtain track that uses hooks, or alternatively blinds, or a mixture depending on the rooms. New blinds for a bathroom can be moisture proof to ensure they don't suffer from damp.

If too much light enters your home at night from streetlights or other sources, curtains with blackout lining will reduce the light, making sleep easier.

Consider buying cushions or other soft furnishings that match with one of the colours you have chosen for curtains or blinds. The combination of new items can transform and freshen a room.

9. Convert your shed into a pub shed

A popular trend on social media during lockdown is converting your shed or spare room into a pub as a substitute for being able to go out for drinks. Some conversions include a full corner bar, stock of drinks, and working taps and optics. If you don't have a shed or spare room to convert, you can still incorporate some of the aesthetic into a room by making a pub sign or trinkets and logos.

With enough time and effort, you could recreate the pub or bar from your favourite TV show. For example, Cheers Beacon Hill from Cheers or Moe's Tavern from The Simpsons, if you feel like expostulating on the actions and quirks of humanity like Frasier Crane, or simply relaxing with drinks like Homer and the regulars.

If you don't have a shed but love the idea of a pub shed, read our guide to buying the best shed to get started on your new project.

10. Create a gallery wall

A gallery wall is a collection of framed pictures, artwork, prints and posters that cover an expanse of wall. Gathering enough suitable pieces and framing them is a small investment of time and money but can revitalise your surroundings.

Film or band posters, favourite pictures from past holidays or events, painting or drawings can be used in a gallery wall. If your handwriting is neat enough, write a memorable or inspiring quote directly onto your wall. Incorporate painted patterns around the framed works to add an extra dimension.

To fill your gallery wall with treasured memories of people or places, consider purchasing a new DSLR camera to capture these moments with the high quality pictures they deserve.

11. Increase your bathroom storage

Bathrooms can overflow with bottles, containers and toothbrushes that form part of your hygiene and health routines. Increasing your bathroom storage will help organisation and remove clutter, resulting in a less chaotic living space.

New cabinets can be freestanding or fixed to a wall or other units, while vanity units fit around the base of the sink. Both can provide extra space for that pesky clutter.

Additional shelves or drawers can hold larger items, while towel racks and holders that hang from the back of the door will neatly provide storage without reducing space.

For more details about the options available and the best places to shop, read our guide to bathroom furniture and storage.

12. Re-arrange furniture

With more time spent at home during lockdown, you may have discovered some poorly positioned furniture - it might not be in the most efficient spot for light or comfort. A sofa or table might be lurking in a corner, unused for years.

Optimise your furniture by experimenting with room layouts, considering comfort, light and open space. If you feel philosophical, incorporate principles of room design based on Feng shui; a traditional Chinese practice focused on harmonising your surroundings.

As your furniture has been used more than ever before during lockdown, it might be time to replace some wonky old chairs or desks. Look for stores such as Ikea that are launching schemes to buy back furniture from customers.

13. Upcycle or repurpose the old

Look for opportunities to upcycle and re-use while carrying out projects or evaluating the items in your home.

When dismantling wooden items such as a wardrobe to make space for its replacement, consider repurposing the wood into new shelving or other furniture.

If you are feeling adventurous and want a lengthier project, use some tools and techniques to turn a pile of old wood into a new chair, which will make a good conversation starter with guests.

With a little effort old milk crates, suitcases or other items that are no longer needed can be transformed into storage by adding some simple decorations.

14. Paint kitchen cupboards and cabinets

The busy modern schedule has driven growth in food delivery and convenience options, and less time in the kitchen. With fewer hectic days while stuck at home during lockdown, you may have spent it in the kitchen learning new recipes and cooking skills.

While whipping up the latest batch of bread, baked goods or an exotic dinner, you may have noticed that your kitchen cupboards and cabinets have lost their sparkle. Reinvigorate them with a new coat of paint, perhaps using a brighter, bolder colour you wouldn't have considered in the past.

If you decide that you need new cupboards and cabinets instead of a new colour, our guide on kitchen cabinets can help you decide on the best replacements.

15. Wall panelling

You've reached the final project in this list and may feel you need more of a challenge to really put your home DIY project skills to the test. Adding wall panelling to one of your rooms provides a feature that will enhance the space and fit in with any existing furniture or style.

As this project is slightly longer and more involved than the others, it requires more tools. You will need: MDF wood, wood glue, a sander, a spirit level, paint, a hammer, panel pins, a tape measure and a pencil.

Numerous 'how to' guides exist for crafting wall panelling, providing varying levels of detail for the design, measuring, cutting, preparing, sticking, finishing and painting stages. Find one that fits with your skills and vision for the panelling, then get started.

Hopefully these home DIY projects will provide some inspiration or encourage you to look around your house for opportunities to make improvements.

If you want to take on a larger project, read our kitchen planning ideas or bathroom designs to make changes to a whole room.