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New Homeowner Hacks: Easy DIYs for Your First Home

Your first home is a huge adventure. Financially, it’s a major investment in your long-term financial health. For many new homeowners, it marks an entry into housing stability that may have been missing from rental homes in the past. For many new homeowners, who, like me, dreamed of DIY projects and home improvements that were not allowed in rental housing, buying a first home is an opportunity to creatively tackle exciting projects to make your new house your home.

As you begin the process of making your house into a home that’s really yours– that reflects your personal style, aesthetic, and creativity, it’s best to start with extra simple DIY’s. You can build confidence and grow skills to take on bigger projects by starting with small home improvement projects that are low risk and big rewards. Using only a basic toolbox and some craft supplies, you can create the following tutorials with no previous experience in home improvement or general “handiness”

A woman in a striped shirt poses in front of a house with a thumbs up while holding keys in her opposite hand.
A woman in a striped shirt poses in front of a house with a thumbs up while holding keys in her opposite hand.

Although home-improvement was once the domain of men, an increasingly large portion of new homeowners are unpartnered women (what percent of new homeowners are women? NBC news says women made up 18% of all homebuyers in 2017) and if you’re a single female homeowner– like me– you can practice and grow confident in your repair and DIY skills using the following basic tutorials to begin making your first home reflect your own personal style, creativity, and handiness (all while styling an epic single female master bedroom).

In this article, I have collected some of my most popular new-homeowner-friendly tutorials. I have split these up by level of difficulty: If you are a new homeowner without a lot of experience with tools and home improvement, you can gain experience with these first entry-level DIY projects to spruce up your new home. Skip on down if you are an advanced DIY’er, where you’ll find home improvement projects and tutorials that require a little bit of previous experience, tools, and know-how. In the middle section, you’ll find some nice bridging projects – perfect for a bit more challenging projects without taking on significant risk.

Easy Upgrade #1: Lighting

Swapping out light fixtures is the first thing I do in a new home. Older homes often have outdated lighting and new construction homes usually have ugly builder’s grade fixtures. Because lighting swaps are one of my favorite projects, you’ll find here multiple options for switching out ugly or dated lights with modern (or stylishly vintage!) counterparts. Most of my tutorials are written in regards to chandeliers – my favorite form of lighting – but the instructions for changing a chandelier to a swag style light (which you can hang in any room without an electrical box using my instructions) can be used with almost any hanging or pendant light fixtures.

Upgrade your Mailbox

quick tutorial on turning standard mailbox numbers into curb appeal

Upgrading my mailbox was literally the first improvement project I did when I purchased Hawk Hill in 2010. I knew from my first time touring the property that the peeling Walmart house number stickers belonged in the trash. Although I was tempted to replace the entire mailbox with something with a little more curb appeal, I decided to first try upgrading my plastic Rubbermaid–type mailbox with custom stickers that I purchased off Etsy. 

Click through to learn more about this basic mailbox upgrade tutorial, taking skills you probably already have– like sticking up vinyl wall decals– and turning them into an easy home-improvement project with no risk– perfect for entry-level home improvement experimentation for brand new first time homeowners.

 

Install Retractable Phone Chargers

Retractable phone cord charger promotional feature image.

This handy and low-risk home-improvement project works on furniture – rather than fixtures in your home- making it a good confidence-building DIY. It’s also super handy– everybody wants a phone charger close but they aren’t the slickest thing to have sitting out. Using just two parts you probably already have on hand, in this simple tutorial I show you how to install cord holders and weights that help make your phone charging cable hide neatly behind a dresser or nightstand – making it easy to charge while helping to keep spaces clutter-free.

Cheap Coverup for Builders Grade Lighting

If your new home has recently been built– or is an older home someone remodeled and flipped for resale-  you likely have light fixtures that are functional but not appropriate to your particular style or aesthetic. As a new homeowner you may want to blast through and replace all of these fixtures right away, but I have a simple way to add a stylish drum shade facade to cover up basic builders grade ceiling lights. Saving both time and money, for only the cost of a lampshade and parchment paper, with no need to handle electric electrical wires or hire an electrician. Over time, you can replace the lights as your motivation budget allows.

Drawer Dividers

How to make Dresser drawer dividers and DIY kitchen drawer dividers are two enduring popular articles on my site. When your budget doesn’t allow for custom build cabinets or luxury closets, you can still be super organized by building your organizers. While there are thousands of (mostly, terrible quality) kits to add dividers to drawers, I created a cheap DIY for creating stylish, custom fit, super durable, and sturdy drawer dividers for both kitchen drawers and dresser drawers.

Hide a Window Behind a Bed

Every single home has unique design challenges. In the case of Hawk Hill, the master bedroom had windows on two walls, a closet on the third wall, and an entry door on the fourth wall. Where to put the bed?! As I navigated this unique design challenge, I created this tutorial for hiding a window behind a bed.

While natural light is always appreciated in a home, sometimes the best use of space requires putting a big piece of furniture in front of a window. Sometimes, the window placement can still work, but other times the juxtaposition of a window behind furniture like a bed just doesn’t work. For those cases, I created this tutorial that ensures a stylish look from outside the home looking in, but a complete (temporary & reversible) “removal” of the window from the interior- like it was never even there.

Create an Easy Accent Wall to DIY Your First Home’s Style

When I moved to my apartment in downtown Seattle I needed a way to create an accent wall that was easy, cheap, and stylish. While this tutorial was created with renters in mind, my page on easy cheap accent walls can be a big help to new homeowners trying to personalize their space on a budget. While wall-decals have been a popular solution for creating an interesting wall for far too long (in my opinion), this article shares unique and creative ways to create an accent wall with high style and drama- all without requiring tools, saws, or construction skills.

Deep Cleaning and Descaling

If you’ve purchased an older home, part of the process of making it yours may be doing a deep, deep clean. Sometimes, homes come with a layer of grime, rust, or corrosion that new homeowners are tasked with either ignoring or removing. My tutorial for removing rust without scrubbing works great for removing build-up from hard water stains as well.

If part of your journey as a new homeowner is descaling tubs, sinks, showerheads, check out the specific article on how to use citric acid (a natural, organic, safe acid) to make cleaning a breeze. If the tubs, sinks, or bathroom fixtures you are deep cleaning have chips or scratches, you can even patch chips in porcelain and cast iron sinks and tubs with my easy-tutorial. If your light figures have paper or fabric shades, a quick lamp shade cleaning may be in order to remove dust and grim from open windows or indoor pollutants.

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