Lockdowns have unfortunately been something Canadians have had to deal a lot with lately. Even when not in an official lockdown, most of us are doing our best to stay at home as much as possible in an effort to stay safe, healthy, and fight the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the novelty of being able to stay home has long-since worn off, meaning many of us are looking at things to do around the house.
Now, before you decide to redo your kitchen, bathroom, or basement, you should do a reality check. These are big projects, and while YouTube can teach you pretty much anything these days, sometimes home renovations are best left to professionals. That said, there are still a number of easy home upgrades you can do in lockdown yourself. Here are several ideas to get you started.
Apply a fresh coat of paint
Painting is an easy enough home improvement that most people can handle themselves, plus it has the added bonus of not just transforming your home but also adding value to it. So if you are in the mood for change, maybe it’s time to change the colour of your walls, cabinets, or door. If you have never painted before, you’ll want to do a bit of research ahead of time (there is a proper technique) but once you get the hang of it, things will go pretty smoothly.
Revive your deck
If you have a backyard deck or patio that has seen better days, then it’s time to revive it. Wooden decks can suffer from both weather and sun damage, but with a little bit of muscle and patience you can bring it back to life. Use a power washer to peel away the grime buildup (you may have to scrub a bit on your hands and knees too) then apply a protective stain overtop. It’s pretty foolproof when it comes to a DIY home upgrade.
Change out your cabinet handles
Another easy and affordable home upgrade that you can tackle while in lockdown is to update your cabinet handles in your kitchen and bathroom. It seems like a simple task, but swapping out handles can completely change the look of the room, and it may add value to your home as well. These days there are hundreds of types of handles to choose from, including basic and decorative options which allow you to personalize your space.
Switch your outlets and light switch plates
Outlet covers and light switch plates get dirty really quickly, and while you can scrub them, the fact is that over time even the toughest elbow grease isn’t going to get them shiny and new like they used to be. If yours are looking a little worse for wear, take this time to swap them out. If you want to get really into it, you can also paint over the switches so they match your walls and don’t stick out as much.
The exterior of your home is just as important as the interior, especially during the warmer months when we tend to spend more of our time outside. Consider building a porch or deck if you don’t have one, and maybe add a garden or plant a tree. You could also create an outdoor seating area with some patio furniture, lights, and other outdoor accessories. It’s clearly going to be a while before most of us can go on vacation anyway, so may as well turn your yard into a little retreat to enjoy!
Remove popcorn ceilings
Popcorn ceilings used to be on trend, but now they are just good for collecting dust and spider webs. The good news is that you can get rid of them on your own with a bit of grit and muscle work. There is a proper way to do this involving a drywall knife and a wet/dry vac, so make sure to read up on the how-to before you get started. Keep in mind, if your home was built before 1979 you will want to make sure to get some testing done for lead and/or asbestos before you get started.
Swap out your showerhead
A good showerhead can make all the difference in the world. So if your shower experience is less than impressive, then it might be time to make a change. Plus, according to some professionals, your showerhead should be replaced way more often than you probably think. The added bonus of replacing your showerhead is that newer models actually use less water and therefore can save you more money long term. Amazing water pressure and a lower bill? Yes, please!
We often get caught up in the idea that home upgrades have to be big expensive jobs but that’s clearly not the case. As you can see from this list, there are plenty of easier home upgrades you can do yourself while in lockdown.
Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. As a completely self-taught, do-it-yourself investor with no formal training, he makes money easy to understand for all Canadians. His specialties include personal finance, budget travel, millennial money, credit cards, and trending destinations.
Barry Choi is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.