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Quarantine DIY Home Projects – 10 Part Series

As many of us find ourselves quarantined during the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re all spending way more time staring at the same four walls we call our home. Whether you’re working from home, furloughed or laid off, this situation probably has you thinking “What cheap DIY home projects can I do while I’m quarantined?”

Man doing DIY during quarantine
Photo by Bidvine on Pexels.com

If money isn’t tight yet, you’re probably worried about it becoming tight in the future with record numbers of unemployment in many countries. Now probably isn’t the time to splurge $30,000 on that brand new kitchen you’ve been dreaming of.

There’s also the aspect of safety. Having multiple contractors in to your home means potentially more germs exposed to you and your family. So now is a good time to start learning some DIY skills yourself.

With all these challenges, you’re probably wondering what you can do for just a few $100 and basic DIY skills to make your house feel more like ‘home’. Luckily there are plenty of projects that you can tackle yourself with just basic DIY skills and some small change.

If this sounds like you, subscribe to my blog to receive 10 weeks of easy and affordable home projects, with a different theme each week. There should be plenty of ideas to keep you busy during quarantine, and as a bonus you’ll come out of it with better DIY skills and a refreshed home!

Here’s what you’ll get:

Happy DIY-ing!

Jo @britflipper

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How to get the Restoration Hardware look for less

If you read my last blog about ‘5 tips to get the Restoration Hardware look’ and you’re now reading this blog, you’re probably like me, and don’t have a large budget. You can definitely get this look by following the 5 tips and shopping around for similar pieces.

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Our lounge before – English country style

Although our lounge wasn’t bad before (note this was before we put the TV on the wall!) it just didn’t feel like those beautiful images of the Restoration Hardware showrooms that I loved so much. In my last blog ‘5 tips to get the Restoration Hardware look’ I deconstructed the look into 5 elements to make it easy to reconstruct the same look in our lounge.

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The 3D plan of the redesigned lounge.

Walls:

Firstly the wall color needed to be darker. All the Restoration Hardware images have a warm grey / brown color on the walls to add drama and coziness. So I chose Caffeine by Behr to recreate a similar look.

Furniture:

Next, the obligatory balustrade coffee table was a must, and a French casement cabinet. I found a much cheaper version of the balustrade coffee table at Joss & Main. It’s usually $834 which almost half the price of the Restoration Hardware version, but I got it for around $400 on sale.

I really wanted a French casement cabinet also, and did find similar options for less. But being that my budget was virtually $0 for this make-over, I decided to repurpose an existing bookcase by painting it white with Annie Sloan chalk paint. Read how to do that here in my other blog post.

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Greenery:

I needed to remove all color from the previous design, and only add it back in through greenery in plants. So I added a couple of topiaries either side of the fireplace, which also added symmetry, and moss balls in a striking dish that I bought from Z Gallerie.

I also removed all color from the room from pictures and accessories, and only accessorized with neutral colored items.

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Mantel:

I wanted to get a more classic look on the fireplace, and less Mid-Century Modern, so I repurposed the fireplace mantel by trimming the length down and painting it with some more of the Annie Sloan chalk paint. I added corbels to it to give it that classic feel, which were a whopping $6 from a Goodwill store that I again chalk painted.

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Symmetry:

I really wanted to add these arched mirrors either side of fireplace from Joss & Main, however on the $0 budget I had, that’s something that will have to come later. For now I created my own version with mirrors I found on sale at Hobby Lobby for $16 each. They looked a little bit lost on the brick wall, so I made some white shutters to make them appear larger and less lost. In total they cost about $50 for the pair.

Nerissa+Arched+Accent+Mirror

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Old prints:

A signature look of Restoration Hardware is the use of old prints or maps. Loving this look, but not the $1000 or so it costs to buy their version, I created my own. And actually, I’m glad I did as these prints have meaning to this house, as they’re the original architectural drawings for the extension they had in 1987.

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It’s not a total replica of the Restoration Hardware look, but on the shoestring budget I had to play with, I think the room is completely transformed and feels much more like the look I was aiming for. Whilst you can certainly get a similar look for less, you really can’t beat the real thing.

Thanks for reading!

Jo @britflipper

De-clutter and Restyle Your Home

Firstly I owe you an apology for my lateness. If there’s one thing you can be guaranteed of with me it’s that I take too much on, and I’m always late. I owed you Week 9 – De-clutter and Restyle of my Quarantine DIY Home Projects two weeks ago. I hope it’s worth the wait.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have seen that my husband and I bought our first investment property at the end of July – The Hygge Suite. We couldn’t be happier! It’s a one bedroom condo on a beautiful lake in northern Minnesota, and more importantly, it’s the first step on a path to becoming real estate investors and not just homeowners. However it also came at the same time as my return to full time work, and the tail-end of finishing our bathroom renovation. So things have been a little hectic these past few weeks, as we realize every day how much STUFF you need to set up a vacation rental!

So I will apologize for the lateness of the final two installments of the Quarantine DIY Home Projects, but I’ll hopefully make up for it by bringing you more content on how we set up our vacation rental business and how we completed a full renovation of a tired northern cabin into a modern Scandinavian retreat. Deal!?

Great! Now we’ve got the grovelling out of the way, let’s take a look at this week’s Quarantine DIY Home Projects – De-clutter and Restyle. A pretty broad topic, but another low / zero cost way to instantly make your room feel and look better.

House Doctoring

If you’re reading this and you’re British, like me, you may remember a TV show back in the late 90’s early 00’s called House Doctor with Anne Maurice a Californian Real Estate Stylist. If you don’t, then you’ve definitely missed out on a huge piece of TV gold! The popularity of the show led to the terms “house doctoring”, “curb appeal” and “de-clutter” to be common household terms in British homes. Her mantra was to de-clutter, de-personalize, then add back in some tasteful personality that we know today as home staging. This show had a profound impact on me personally and ever since I’ve styled my homes in this way to make them more sale-able.

scandinavian room interior with mockup photo frame and vase
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Now I’m not going to make this article all about painting your walls off-white and removing all personal belongings. That might be great for selling your home, but what if you actually want to live there? Having personal belongings and trinkets out is a must to make a home feel like a home, but you can and should be careful about how many and what you place on display. But where to start? Here are some tips to get you going.

1. Tidy Up

A great many of us have now been working from home, or at least in our homes more than we’ve ever been before, and that means one thing – messiness! Even if you’re the tidiest person ever, I’m probably betting that you’ve created at least some more mess than usual. So a great place to start would be tidying up.

If you’re like me and find yourself walking around from room to room in a daze getting distracted and overwhelmed when trying to tidy, read this from Apartment Therapy on 3 Tidying-Up Tricks Everyone Needs to Know Right Now for some solid tidying up tips. (She says while grabbing her laundry basket for all the crap…)

2. Sort

While tidying, you may find things that you no longer need or want, so instead of putting them back on the shelf, toss them to one side to sell or donate. For this task, you’ll probably need to dig a little deeper than surface level mess. What about the dreaded junk drawer? Or (shudder) the closet? You could go all Marie Kondo and throw all your clothes onto the bed to sort through them, throwing any that don’t ‘spark joy’.

anonymous black girl lying on stack of clothes in bedroom
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

However if that prospect scares you (yes!!) then at least skim the closet and donate anything you haven’t worn for at least a year. The same rings true with home furnishings. Trends change, and don’t tend to come back into fashion for a number of years. So instead of hoarding old decor in the cupboard ‘just in case’, donate it or sell it. With all the money you make from selling them, you could invest in some new updated decor!

3. Re-purpose

Not everything that you don’t want anymore needs to be sold or donated. What about re-using? Or re-purposing? Maybe that antique mahogany table would look great painted white? Or the floral armchair re-covered in a clean crisp white linen? Get creative! There are literally thousands of DIY hacks out there to inspire you, just try searching Pinterest!

Image Courtesy of Kendra Dare Home

A great DIY hack, and also a great de-cluttering hack is this one from Kendra Dare Home about Nooks and Crannies. Here she re-purposed an old media cabinet to become a tasteful and practical storage cupboard for all her mud room needs, and added tonnes of personality in a seemingly unsuspecting corner of her home.

4. If in doubt… baskets

If you’re not a naturally tidy person (like me), then the answer every time is baskets! Baskets come in all shapes and sizes and are super stylish for an array of different interior styles from bohemian to farmhouse. Toss children’s toys and games in there, dog toys, newspapers, magazines, whatever you have lying around that constitutes clutter. With a basket you can least hide the clutter and make it look somewhat disguised.

For my pick of the best baskets on Amazon here are a few to choose from. Please Pin It!

  1. BlueMake Woven Seagrass Belly Basket
  2. Goodpick 2pack Jute Hanging Basket
  3. Storage Basket Felt Storage Bin Collapsible & Convenient Box Organizer
  4. Sweetzer & Orange Large Woven Cotton Rope Storage Basket
  5. Extra Large Woven Storage Basket
  6. Spectrum Diversified Vintage Extra Large Cabinet & Wall-Mounted Basket
  7. Large Woven Rope Basket
  8. LUFOFOX Cotton Woven Storage Baskets

Thanks for reading!

Jo

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10 Fundamental Rules for Good Furniture Layouts

This week’s project theme in the Quarantine DIY Home Projects comes at zero cost! So what are you waiting for? Rearranging your furniture can make a room look and feel brand new, even though you haven’t spend a penny. And let’s face it, freshening up a room right now will give us a welcome break from staring at the same four walls. So check out these 10 rules for creating good furniture layouts, whether you have an expansive room or a small apartment.

Assess How You’ll Use The Space

The first most important rule is to assess how you’ll use the space. At the end of the day it’s your home, and you have to live in it. So if you use your living room to watch TV, there’s no point in arranging two sofas opposite each other and perpendicular to the TV! So sit down with your family and discuss how you do, or want to use the space before you start moving any furniture.

Good furniture layout and traffic flow in a large open plan room

Traffic Flow

The next most important thing to consider is traffic flow. Traffic flow through a room can drastically dictate the furniture layout. You may have a walkway that flows right through where you’d ideally like to place that large bulky sofa, so you either have to work around it, or move the door!

Assuming you don’t want the expense and hassle of moving the doors in your room, there are ways to navigate an awkward flow. The basic rule is, always try to allow at least 3 feet around furniture, and try not to place objects in the way of a traffic flow.

Always allow at least 3 feet around furniture

Focal Point

Next you should decide what the focal point of the room will be, and try to arrange furniture around it. It might be something obvious like a fireplace, or a view through a large picture window. If you don’t have an obvious focal point though, you can add one with a large mirror or piece of artwork.

Good furniture layouts in an open plan room with defined areas

Furniture Layouts for Open-Plan Living

If you have an open-plan living area, think of it as separate rooms still. For example, you could position a sectional sofa in the middle of the room, where the back of the sofa creates a distinct visual “living room”. Rugs are another good option for clearly defining individual spaces within an open-plan room. Try to make them large enough, so that all the furniture sits on them though.

Don’t Squeeze Furniture Up Against Walls

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I’ve seen so many times, people squeezing furniture up against walls on the perimeter of the room. This might be the easiest layout, but it’s definitely not the best. Try leaving even a 12″ gap between furniture and the walls to create the illusion of more space.

Scale and Balance

When rearranging furniture layouts, think about scale and balance. If you have a massive bed or sofa, don’t place tiny end tables next to them. Try swapping them for larger tables you might have elsewhere in the house.

When it comes to balance, think about size but also color and patterns. A good tip is to repeat the colors throughout the room to tie it together better and make the design more cohesive. So if you have a blue armchair on one side of the room, and a cream sofa on the other, try adding a blue cushion to the sofa to balance it out.

Conversation area - good furniture layouts

Create a Conversation Area

Arranging furniture layouts to promote conversation is a good thing, especially in these days of being ‘always on’ with technology. But back to my first point, don’t arrange your sofas opposite each other if you know you love a good Netflix binge each night! You can create smaller conversation spaces with armchairs positioned next to each other with a small table in between. Make sure they’re not more than 8ft apart though, otherwise you’ll be shouting to your partner!

Optimal TV Position

And although we probably all love the idea of going technology-free, we probably all have a large screen TV somewhere in the house. So what is the best position for it? There are a few basic rules when it comes to positioning the TV. Your seating should be roughly 8-12 feet away, and the angle of the TV should be no more than 30 degrees. Also, try not to position it opposite or next to a bright light source, unless you have suitable shades.

Good bedroom furniture layout

The Bedroom

Rearranging your bedroom furniture can definitely make your room feel new again. There are a few different layout options for your bed position, and it really comes down to personal preference. I always like to position a bed away from a window wall, ideally looking out onto a view. So when you wake up in the morning, and pull back the curtains, you can can take in the beautiful view. However I’ve seen a lot of people positioning the bed over a window, even in a large room. This layout option definitely isn’t for me, as I feel it would darken the room, and make it difficult to close the curtains, but if you’ve found it different I’d love to hear about it! The general rules for bedroom layouts though are – 2 feet around either side of the bed, and not within 3 feet of the door ideally.

You should leave 2 feet either side of the bed

The Dining Room

And finally a great tip to maximize the space in your dining room, is to reflect the shape of the room in your dining table. I.e. if you have a rectangular room, opt for a rectangular dining table. If you have a square room, or small room, a circular table is a good option. Make sure that you leave about 3 feet around the table, and 6″ between each chair. Each place setting should have around 20-24″ of space.

So what are you waiting for? Start rearranging your rooms! But first, a good tip that will save you any unnecessary heavy lifting, is to use a floor planner tool like Planner 5D. By measuring your room dimensions and translating that to a floor plan on screen first, you can drop in your furniture and size it to the exact dimensions to see if it will fit. You can then see it in 3D to see if you’ll like it first. I use this tool for every room I design now, and it has been a great way to create great furniture layouts before ever moving a chair.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post. If you liked this, consider subscribing to emails to stay up to date with the latest blog posts. I promise I won’t spam you – I don’t have the time to! 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Jo

Weekend Bedroom Makeover Checklist

Just in time for the weekend is this bedroom makeover checklist that you can achieve in less than a couple of days. Bedrooms are often the overlooked room in our houses, and yet they’re probably where we spend the most time. According to a research article pulled together by Dreams (a British bed retailer) we spend an average of 33 years in bed! So maybe we need to start paying more attention to how our bedroom looks.

The average person spends about 26 years sleeping in their life which equates to 9,490 days or 227,760 hours. Surprisingly, we also spend 7 years trying to get to sleep. That’s 33 years or 12,045 days spent in bed!

Restful bedroom

1. Declutter!

The first and easiest step to creating a restful bedroom space is to tidy up! Get those wet towels off the bed, the day old clothes off the floor, and unpack that suitcase that’s been sat there for weeks – I know we all do it! Clearing away the clutter is free and can make a big impact not only to the overall look of the space, but to your mental health as well. According to Psychology Today “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.” And being that bedrooms are a space for rest and relaxation, having a clutter-free space will aid a restful night’s sleep.

Messy bedroom

2. Make Sure You Have Storage

If you really can’t part with your clutter, then at least hide it away. A basket like this from Amazon is a stylish way to hide unused pillows and blankets, or those day old clothes that you really can’t be bothered to hang up. Wall shelves are another great option for moving the clutter off the floor. But be careful not to simply move the clutter, if it looks unsightly hide it in storage boxes on the shelves. Lidded storage boxes are great for hiding clutter and come in a variety of sizes and materials.

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3. Fresh Paint

The next thing you should do is to think about changing the paint color, or at least painting a fresh coat of paint. Paint can get worn and scuffed over time, so a fresh coat of paint will quickly and dramatically freshen up your bedroom. You can easily achieve this in a weekend, or if this is too daunting then just paint one feature wall behind the bed in a contrasting color. You’ll be amazed at how quickly and cheaply you can transform your room. Check out this blog post on how to Paint an Easy Feature Wall.

Painted feature wall in bedroom

4. Add Blackout Curtains or Blinds

Adding blackout curtains or blinds can aid a restful night’s sleep, and are commonly used in hotels to block out unwanted traffic noise and light. There are different degrees of light filtering, Blindster does a great job of explaining the difference “Blackout shades use a fabric that blocks 100% of all incoming light, while “room darkening” usually refers to almost any shade that uses a fabric that blocks between 95% and 99% of the light that enters your room. Anything that blocks less than 95% of the light is usually referred to as light filtering.” If you find 100% light blocking blinds disorientating (speaking from experience!) then try room darkening or light filtering options instead.

Blackout blinds

5. Create a Hotel Style Bed

Hotels know a thing or two about creating a restful night sleep, from the luxury mattress to the perfectly laundered white sheets with hospital corners. Now i’m not saying to go out and spend thousands on a brand new mattress this weekend, (although if you want to, don’t let me stop you!), but you can make your bed feel more luxurious with a few simple tweaks. Firstly, go out and buy fresh white bed linen. Have you ever seen a hotel with anything other than white sheets? Hotels tend to use percale bed linen for its easy care, wrinkle free appearance that can withstand frequent cleaning. Swapping out your sheets can really add instant impact to the way your bedroom feels.

Then there’s how you make it. This is an important step in making your bed feel like you’re in a 5 star hotel and only costs a bit of extra time. This video from HGTV shows how easy it is to do.

6. Swap Out Pillows / Cushions

Then there’s the ‘Great Pillow Debate’ – how many is too many? If you’re on my husband’s side, then he’d probably say “none”, if however you’re on my side, then “at least two” is where I’m at. I’m talking about decorative throw pillows, and not the kind you rest your head on. With the one or two white pillows you each need for your head, layer on top of that at least two decorative pillows to add color and interest to your bedroom. The great thing is, you can easily change them out to quickly change the style of your bedroom. Try changing them with the seasons, lighter colors and textures like linen for the summer, and cozier knitted or fur pillows for winter.

7. New Nightstands / Bedside Tables

If your room allows it, it’s always a good option to have two bedside tables around a double bed, with two lamps. You don’t need to go out and spend hundreds on a new set, you can try to pick something up second hand and upcycle it with paint and new knobs. Or try low cost retailers like IKEA, who have some great options from $10-$150 / £9-£129.

When choosing nightstands it’s important to consider a couple of things. Make sure it’s the right height for your bed. You want it to be around the same height as the top of your mattress, slightly above or slightly below is also fine, so you’re not reaching way down or up for things on them.

And then there’s scale. You want the nightstands to be in proportion with your bed. Don’t choose tiny tables if you have a California King sized bed. And if you want to create a more luxurious look, then opt for wider nightstands.

Bed with nightstands

8. Add a Rug

If you don’t already have one, try adding a rug underneath your bed. It’s a good way to bring in a new color, texture or pattern to your bedroom. You could go bold and add a brightly colored or loud pattern to your bedroom with the rug. Or you could make your bedroom feel more cozy by adding a shag rug or sheepskin. In terms of scale, you want the rug to be slightly wider than your bed, and position it so that you can see the end of it too.

Bed with rug

9. New Artwork

Another easy way to quickly update your bedroom is to add or change out the artwork. Again, you can bring in some color to the design, or pattern, or even texture. It doesn’t have to be a painting, it can be a more sculptural piece. One idea that looks great, is to hang an array of different size baskets on the wall like these ones from Pottery Barn. For a cheaper alternative, try finding baskets from your local thrift store or charity shop.

Basket wall art Pottery Barn
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn

10. Add Some Greenery

We’ve all heard that plants are good for us, not only do they look great, but they also reduce the carbon dioxide and dust levels in our homes. An article from Bob Vila goes on to say that certain types of plants can actually help you sleep better, so are perfect for your bedroom. Choose from these 8 plants for a more restful night’s sleep:

  • Lavender – reduces blood pressure and heart rate
  • Jasmine – improves the quality of your sleep and increases your chances of waking up with a better attitude and less anxiety
  • Peace Lily – reduce the microbe count in your home’s air, which can relieve allergy symptoms
  • Aloe Vera – promotes better air quality
  • Valerian – helps you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer
  • English Ivy – can drastically reduce airborne mold
  • Gerbera Daisies – at night they emit oxygen and absorb toxins and carbon dioxide
  • Rosemary – reduces anxiety and stress
Aloe vera plant

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Thanks for reading! Until next time.

Jo