Put Your DIY Skills to Test to Spruce Up Your Apartment

Wherever you live, for as long as you plan to stay there, you want to make your home your refuge, your space. Apartment living has its limitations when it comes to home do-it-yourself projects, of course, because you can’t permanently alter your apartment. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a plethora of projects that you can accomplish to customize your apartment and make it all your own.

Websites abound with simple DIY projects that are perfectly suited for apartments as well as DIY skill levels from novice to experienced.

Whether you are a devoted IKEA fan or swap-meet bargain hunter, keep an eye out for a chest that you can transform with a little hardware, paint and wallpaper. And now that you live in Arizona, you don’t need to hold on to those wool sweaters—how about transforming them into coasters to put under your margarita glass?

Are you a fan of the craft cocktail movement? If you are, you don’t have to wait until you find your dream home to bring a little of the speakeasy ambiance to your home and you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for a dry bar, either! You can make your own industrial bar cart to stow away when it’s not needed and wheel out when it’s happy hour, although it’s so stylish it can dress up a room all the time!

Display and declutter

Leaning a ladder against a wall to hang blankets or hats is so 1998. Step up your game with free-standing ladders that can display your china, knickknacks, books, whatever! With minimal carpentry skills, you can create a minimalist display unit suited to your needs, whether you need two ladder shelves or 10, depending on what you want to display and where you intend to put it. And you can take it with you when you move!

So many home projects are intended to help us declutter, right? Well, we’re not going to tell you that you need to get rid of all your books, but we can direct you to where you can go to display them other than plain old bookshelves. This is especially important when it comes to children’s books because you want them to read, but you don’t want them to leave the books scattered around the apartment. How about a hanging book holder, which keeps the books handy for the little ones and makes it a bit of fun to slide them back when they’re done (and you can make a fancier one for your own magazines or books). It hangs from just one hook on the wall, perfect for apartments.

Or why not create a book bin? While it’s also great to contain children’s books, again, you can make it more stylish to hold the books you still want to brag about or keep handy in the living room. It’s made from MDF, which is very affordable, and has three large compartments to organize books of different subjects or sizes. You can paint it or use shelf paper or wallpaper for a different look.

Families especially can make use of a command center, where everyone can keep track of everything that’s going on. If you plan it right, you can make it creative and stylish, so you don’t have to hide it away. Make use of that awkward corner or small wall and give it purpose. Putting it in an open, high-traffic place may help you keep it organized, but remember to make it appealing to not only yourselves, but your guests. If you do want to hide it or don’t have the wallspace, consider mounting it with removable strips to the back of a cabinet or pantry door.

Apply some technology

Hey, we could watch HGTV all day long and swear that we could lay tile like the experts, but most of us need a lot more help than that. As the saying goes, there’s an app (many!) for that.

Apps have taken the headache out of measuring spaces and furniture. Here are a few good ones:

  • Photo Measures: Just take a photo of a space and this app will allow you to measure everything from a construction site to sofa.
  • MagicPlan: Want a floor plan for your apartment? Take a photo and this app converts it into a floor plan that can be exported in PDF, JPG and DXF formats so you can show a contractor, designer or real-estate agent.
  • Measured: Thank Lowe’s for this app, which lets you measure a space or object by taking a photo so you only have to cart your iPhone to the furniture or home improvement store.

While apartment life means you don’t have to worry about fixing that leaky faucet or sealing the windows, there are still many things that do-it-yourselfers can keep track of to not only improve the apartment, but keep it in order. These apps help:

  • BrightNest: You can use this app to keep track of reminders, from changing the batteries in your smoke detector or other household chores such as cleaning, organizing, design and maintenance.
  • Housepad: This app allows you to store notes and visual instructions needed for maintenance, which you can easily share with family members, guests, babysitters and such.
  •  iHandy Carpenter: For those of us who aren’t master carpenters, this app comes in handy by giving us some of the most useful carpentry tools such as a surface level, plumb bob and steel ruler. Take that, Ty Pennington!

And apps are also useful with decorating projects:

  • Mark on Call: Famed interior designer Mark Lewison helps us amateurs create floor plans on a grid to arrange furniture and décor to scale. Take photos of patterns and finishes and it adds them to your plan.
  • iHandy Level: Hanging picture frames can be such a pain. Here’s a free app that makes your smartphone a level. If you slip up, by the smallest degree, it will tell you faster than your OCD friend Vernda. 
  • Sun Seeker: OK, this app is just so cool we had to include it. Track the sun’s path within a room and it will tell you, hour by hour, where the light lands. It’s used to tell where not to place fabrics that get bleached by the sun and such, but if you have a pet that loves to sunbathe, you can also use it to make them a nice place to catch the rays.