52 home decorating projects

Dig into our DIY projects library for fun new ways to personalize your home

Terrarium garden

Terrarium garden

Decorative terrariums are hotter––and easier––than ever. Create your own tabletop garden in 30 minutes or less with these easy design ideas and instructions.

More: 8 cool DIY terrariums

How to make a wall vase

Photo: Rob D. Brodman

Shadowbox wall vase

Turn a shadow-box frame into a vessel for your favorite things from the garden or flower shop.

Flowers or cuttings ― such as these leucadendron blooms ― extend through the opening of a picture mat to create an organic work of 3-dimensional art.

Group two or three frames on the wall or use one for a tabletop display. Change the background and cuttings for a new look any time you like.

More:  How to make a shadowbox vase 

Twigs tablescape

Christina Schmidhofer

Tabletop twigscape

Create a mini forest for your table from elegant branches and twigs.

Here, tree-like twigs edge a stream bed of green pebbles running down the center of a sealed 30-inch piece of redwood.

More:  Make tabletop forests


Rob Brodman

Easy eco table

A ready-made base makes this side-table project especially simple: Just add your own top.

For our base, we selected a small side table with a 22-inch-square top from Ikea's Lack series (from $7.99, available in 13 colors; 800/434-4532).

For the surface, we chose Kirei Board - an environmentally friendly, plywoodlike product from Japan (kireiusa.com or 619/236-9924 for dealers). 

More: How to make this side table 

Curated children's artwork

Thomas J. Story

Curated children's artwork

Unite kids’ drawings as a collection by using a common color scheme and a grid of frames. Scan sketches and drawings, and then use a digital graphics program (like Adobe Illustrator  or Photoshop) to add color backgrounds and swap some of the dark lines for white. (You can create a  similar effect with colored construction paper and pens in white and dark ink.) White Ribba frames from Ikea ($6.99 per 7- by 91/2-inch frame; ikea.com).

Paint a geometric pattern

Jeffery Cross

Paint a geometric pattern

Repainting a room? Be inventive with a geometric paint pattern that's bolder than wallpaper. With one template, you can create four dramatically different looks.

More: 4 stylish geometric paint patterns

Colander kitchen light

Jeffery Cross

Colander kitchen light

Give the humble cooking tool a new identity with these six easy ideas for DIY hanging lamps.

More: 6 DIY kitchen lighting ideas

Wallpaper the stairs (or ceiling)

Thomas J. Story

Wallpaper the stairs (or ceiling)

Today's stylish designs look great in unexpected places. Get four off-the-wall ideas, including the stairs--and the ceiling!

More: Creative spots for wallpaper

Carved candles

Tucker & Hossler

Carved candles

The glow of pillar candles adds warmth and romance to any setting. Give pillars your own style with this simple decorating technique, using a single tool and some paint. The flickering candle flames on the painted, carved pillars create a beautiful play of light and color, accentuating your design. Arrange the candles in groups on a mantelpiece or table, or give them as gifts.

More: How to create carved candles

Decorate with travel photos

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Decorate with travel photos

We all love revisiting vacations past by displaying fabulous travel snapshots in our homes. While it’s easy to get high-quality prints of digital photos to frame, you can be even more creative with how you flaunt your travel pics. Get those shots of your favorite vacation moments off the hard drive and onto your walls, pillows, shower curtain, and more.

More: How to decorate with your favorite travel photos



Driftwood coatrack

Rob D. Brodman

Driftwood coatrack

Turn a scavenged piece of driftwood into an organic-chic entryway rack in 30 minutes or less. (For regulations on collecting driftwood, check with your local state beach authority.)

1. Our piece of driftwood happened to lie flat against the wall; if yours doesn’t, use a band saw to cut off one-third of the driftwood lengthwise.

2. With four round hook screws (available at home improvement stores) and a handheld electric drill, drill four holes into the bottom of your driftwood, angling them forward slightly so the hooks won’t lean against the wall. Use a drill bit the width of your screw’s shank.

3. With the help of a wrench, screw the hook ends into the wood, tightening them so they all face forward.

4. Secure your driftwood to a wall using two long screws, spaced so each is secured in a wall stud.

Framed wallpaper

Rob D. Brodman

Framed wallpaper

Recycle wallpaper samples or remnants by turning them into a striking room accent. Patterns with strong, broad designs work best for the quadrant of frames pictured here. We love the bold motifs of Arts and Crafts–inspired lines in hues that evoke the natural fall palette.

Choose four simple frames of the same size and cut your remnant or sample to fit. Frame each piece as you would a photograph and mount on the wall, using a ruler to ensure even spacing between each. You can also frame four different patterns in complementary colors; experiment to find thebest arrangement. Birchwood Frieze in Thatch from Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers ($3 for 12- by 15-in. sample, or $42 per yard; www.bradbury.com or 707/746-1900).

Handmade travel candle

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Handmade travel candle

Repurpose candy or mint tins as candles: Simply melt wax and add a wick (available at craft stores).

More:  How to make a handmade travel candle

Indoor dish garden

Thomas J. Story

Indoor dish garden

Bring the outdoors in with this cute and crafty succulent garden planted in a dish.

More: How to make a succulent garden in a dish

Hand-printed invitations, gift wrap, and placecards

Thomas J. Story

Hand-printed invitations, gift wrap, and placecards

Get the look of exquisite hand-printed invitations, wrapping paper, and placecards—without a spendy custom design. You can fancy up a dinner party with a few easy techniques.

More: Hand-printing designs

Make a stylish headboard

Sarah Gaffney

Make a stylish headboard

Ready to give your bed a fresh new look? Try your hand at one of these stylish headboard designs with fabric, paper, wood, and more.

More: 24 ideas for headboards

Map art

Thomas J. Story

Map art

1. Photocopy. Choose a map of your area (or download one from the Internet). At a copy shop, photocopy and enlarge a segment that includes your town. (Option: Play with the color on the copy machine—try a blue hue, a green hue, etc.)

2. Spray-mount. Adhere your enlarged map segment on foam-core board (corkboard works too).

3. Personalize. Label meaningful landmarks with strips of paper and pushpins.

Mason jar bathroom display

Rob D. Brodman

Mason jar bathroom display

Turn everyday bathroom items into a pristine vignette with a simple, soothing feel. Our inspiration comes from a project created by four interior-design students at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. Fill clear glass jars with pretty monochromatic bath supplies, like cotton balls, swabs, sponges, and soaps. Leave space in between for small scented glass votives, then light candles and breathe deeply.

Souvenir jar

Rob D. Brodman

Souvenir jar

Looking for a good way to display keepsakes collected on your vacation? Here's an easy and attractive method. Remember the dioramas you made in  grade school? This is the updated version—we call it a 3-D scrapbook. Keep it simple by sticking to a single theme or palette. Spray-mount photos to cardboard before attaching them to sticks (we used barbecue skewers broken into different lengths).

Stenciled shade

Thomas J. Story

Stenciled shade

Add a springtime accent to your window with this crafty weekend project.

More: How to stencil a shade

Craft paper candle holders

Rob D. Brodman

Craft paper candle holders

Turn eye-catching craft papers into festive bases for pillar candles in six easy steps:

1. Have a piece of lumber cut down to your desired candleholder size. We started with a 4-foot 4-by-4 (more than enough to make 8 to 10 candle- holders from 3 to 6 inches tall).

2. Sand edges of cut sides.

3. Measure and cut a piece of craft paper to wrap around all four sides of the pillar lengthwise. Trace around the bottom of the pillar for a square piece of paper to cover the top.

4. Standing the pillar upright, use a brush to cover the four sides with a thin coat of matte-finish Mod Podge or decoupage glue (available at most art and craft stores) and carefully adhere the paper. Smooth surfaces and let dry 15 to 20 minutes. Trim any excess paper with a razor blade.

5. Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the top of the wood and lay your square paper to fit. Let dry.

6. Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to seal the pillar, covering all surfaces. Dry completely, then set a candle on top.

Transform a chair

Rob D. Brodman

Transform a chair

Turn a drab thrift-store chair into a stylish accent for any room in your home. All it takes is some paint, fabric, basic supplies, and a free weekend.

More:  How to transform a chair

Tropical tabletop

Thomas J. Story

Tropical tabletop

Bring vibrant Hawaiian florals to your landlocked backyard. Inspired by the outdoor tables at Buzz’s Original Steak House in Kailua, Oahu, we created the hibiscus pattern shown here. For our enameled metal table, we used Liquitex Glossies high-gloss acrylic enamel paint (www.liquitex.com).

1. Visit www.sunset.com/hawaiiantable to download our floral template. Depending on your table size, use a copy machine to enlarge or reduce template onto heavy paper or cardstock.

2. Cut out pattern pieces with scissors or a utility knife.

3. Arrange petal pieces on tabletop as desired.

4. Dip a small paintbrush in paint and lightly trace around the outside edge of each pattern. Remove pieces.

5. Apply a thick coat of paint (for petals, start near flower’s center and fill in one at a time). Let dry, then apply one or two more coats.

6. Once petals’ final coat is dry, arrange flower centers, then repeat steps 4 and 5.

7. Once centers are dry, arrange stamen pieces and repeat steps 4 and 5; freehand the stamen dots.

Vibrant placecards

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Vibrant placecards

These natural table settings go against the grain with  hues inspired by winter citrus and the blues of the Pacific.

More: How to create colorful, natural placecards

Vintage family calendar

Rob D. Brodman

Vintage family calendar

Use old family photos to create a calendar with a vintage look.

1. Choose 12 seasonally appropriate images.

2. Take your images to a copy or photo shop and have them enlarged to 8 by 10 inches and reproduced in sepia tone.

3. Align 14 sheets of 11- by 17-inch card stock; drill a hole through the center of the stack, about half an inch down from an 11-inch edge. Have the stack spiral-bound at the copy shop (ask for binding that allows you to lay the pages flat).

4. Create your calendar grid using Microsoft Word or a similar program and print out the 12 months on stationery. Trim just inside the outer borders so each sheet measures about 5 3⁄4 by 10 inches.  

5. Using acid-free scrapbook tape, attach the appropriate photo and calendar month to the bound 11- by 17-inch pages, leaving one page for the cover and one for the back.

How to decorate glassware with paint

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Painted party glassware

Perk up your table by turning ordinary wine goblets into stylish geometric art glass. It just takes a little glass paint and a stencil or template.

Designer Sarah Caska used a fine-tip black permanent marker and enamel paint formulated for glass to create these Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired designs. The cost was about $36 for 8 decorated glasses, including stemware.

More: How to paint glassware

how to make a faux roman shade

Photo by Andrea Gómez

Fake a Roman shade

In rooms where privacy isn't important, you can give windows all the dressing they need with shorter faux Roman shades.

They aren't full-length, so these tricksters require far less fabric than the real McCoy and can often be made from inexpensive remnants. 

More: How to fake a Roman shade

Galvanized metal table

Thomas J. Story

Galvanized metal table

This sleek indoor-outdoor dining table is a particularly simple woodworking project because key steps like crafting the legs and the metal top are done for you.

To make the tabletop, start by edging a rectangular piece of plywood with 2-by-2s.

Take it to a sheet metal fabricator and ask the shop to make a covering that fits over it like a shoe-box lid. Then glue the metal top to the plywood, sand and wax it, and add a set of ready-made legs.

More:  Get the complete how-to

Personalized river rock paperweights

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Make a personalized paperweight

Turn smooth river rocks into a stylish paperweight with white rub-on transfers. Or turn it into refrigerator art by adding a small magnet to the back.

More:  DIY monogrammed paperweight

Flower lampshade design

Photo by Rob D. Brodman

Artful lampshade

A plain lampshade becomes instant art when you add a paper design to the inside lining.

The design remains invisible until you turn on the light. Click here for our template.

More:  Make an artful lampshade

Votive chandelier

Thomas J. Story

Votive chandelier

Create your own romantic lighting for an outdoor dinner party by suspending votives (we used mini recycled-glass tea light lanterns) at varying heights from low-hanging branches. Use clear fishing line and be sure to keep candles a safe distance from the leaves.

For a stained-glass version, cover chandelier lanterns with tissue paper and get a soft glow. Don’t be afraid to try different patterns, abstract shapes, and colors. We designed ours as a nod to artist Mark Rothko.

Supplies: Ruler, pencil, scissors, tissue paper, small foam brush, Yasutomo Nori* or similar paste, and glass lanterns or jars

1. Measure and cut tissue paper into desired shapes and sizes (we used long strips for easy application).

2. Dip foam brush into paste. Holding a piece of tissue paper against the outside

of the lantern, paint an even coat of paste onto tissue paper and adhere to glass.

3. Repeat until lantern is covered. Let dry overnight, then hang.

Tip: Keep lanterns away from moisture.

*About $7 for 10 oz. at dickblick.com

I found it on Craigslist!c

Rob D. Brodman

Reinvent thrift store candlesticks

Turn mismatched candlesticks into a fresh new set by painting them an unexpected color (in this case, high-gloss indigo).

1. Remove any wax residue with paint thinner and a clean cloth.

2. Mist one coat of spray paint primer for metal onto the candlesticks, holding the can 10 to 12 inches away. Cover evenly with paint.

3. Once dry, spray two light coats of spray paint for metal. Hold the can at a distance to avoid drips. Cover the detail grooves evenly.

We used: Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch sandable spray primer in white and Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch gloss spray paint in navy blue.

Truffle box

Make a truffle box

A gift of chocolate takes on new significance when it comes from your own kitchen.

These intense, cocoa-dusted truffles are actually simple to make ― so simple, in fact, that their flavor depends entirely on the ingredients you start with. A good-quality chocolate is worth the expense; choose one you would enjoy eating on its own.

Then wrap it in a truffle box you can make in 3 easy steps.

More:  How to make a truffle box

Etched jar

Etch glass

There is something magical about etching glass ― the process turns plain glass pieces into decorative objects in minutes.

The secret is etching cream. You simply apply it to the glass, and the surface turns into a translucent white. The results are beautiful, subtle, and lasting.

More: How to etch glass

Paint a floor canvas

E. Spencer Toy; James Carrier

Paint a floor canvas

A cool floor covering made from painted canvas is simple to make and surprisingly durable―and it adds instant graphic punch to your room.

You can paint one freehand or work with a favorite printed design.

More:  See how to make this floor canvas project

Easy fall candle project

 Photo by Rob D. Brodman, design by Sheila Schmitz

Nature's stained glass

Chinese pistache leaves are translucent enough to glow like stained glass when lit from behind. To celebrate their vivid fall beauty indoors, display them on simple glass hurricane candle holders.

Gather leaf cuttings from your garden (ginkgo and Japanese maple are other good choices).

Press them in a book overnight to keep them from crinkling, then use one or two Glue Dots on the back of each stem, affixing each leaflet to the outside surface of the glass.

I found it on Craigslist!

Rob D. Brodman

Make over a dresser

Remake a dresser with paint, a little wood putty, new drawer pulls, and fresh detailing.

We found this one on Craigslist, painted it black with grey accents, and added Mission-style square oak knobs.

More:  See how to remake a dresser

Make a message family message center

Rob D. Brodman

Make a message board

Communicating with a busy household is much easier when your message center is tailor-made to fit your space and your needs.

This customizable message board project combines three different surfaces ― chalkboard paint, magnetic paint, and cork ― with a frame that you paint to blend in with your kitchen.

More: How to make this message board

How to make a spa gift basket

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Make a spa gift basket

A water hyacinth basket ($12;  pier1.com) is the natural choice to contain homemade DIY stress relievers like a lavender sachet and bath scrub, and purchased items you can choose with your friend in mind.

More:  How to make a spa gift basket

CD jewel cases become grid of frames

Rob D. Brodman

Turn CD cases into frames

Castoff CD cases are the perfect size for creating a quilt-like grid collection of landscape photos.

From the book Photocraft: Cool Things to Do with the Pictures You Love: Scan or crop your images to the size of a CD case (5 3/8 in. wide by 4 5/8 in. high) then print on good photopaper and trim. We recommend using standard (not slim) cases. Discard plastic inserts.

Back each photo with cardboard or foam board and snap the cases shut. Attach them to the wall with 3-inch strips of sticky-back hood-and-loop fasteners (such as Velcro). 

Picture frame becomes memory box

Rob D. Brodman

Make a memory box table

Turn a deep photo frame and similar-sized side table into a venue for celebrating treasured keepsakes.

More: How to make this memory box table

Flower shop easy style

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Make your own designer bouquet

Treat yourself to colorful bouquets and arrangements from a mini flower studio you can create at home.

All you need is a sink, a little counter space, and a few essential tools. See what you can do with a single bloom, and how to turn just about any vintage vessel into a vase. (Tip #1: Start with the freshest flowers you can find.)

More: Flower shop secrets

Drawer organizer becomes bento-box guest tray

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Turn a drawer organizer into a bento-box guest tray  

Tuck a drawer organizer into a storage tote with some thoughtful amenities to make your houseguests feel like royalty. (Be forewarned: They’ll be eager for a return invite.)

How-to: Slip a drawer organizer into a fabric-covered box or other storage tote and stock it with a few travel-size essentials in coordinating materials and hues. Tie a washcloth with colorful string; wrap a bar of soap with wide ribbon; use letter stamps and a label sticker to personalize a scented candle.

Easy craft table

Thomas J. Story

DIY workspace

To create your own instant workspace anywhere, put a flat birch hollow-core door atop two adjustable sawhorses.

Cover the door with self-healing vinyl board cover (available from art and drafting supply stores). The closer you can get the board cover to the exact size of your door, the better.

Stencil a basic measuring system onto the board cover, and you'll never need to hunt down a measuring stick.

Time: Four hours plus drying time

Cost: About $175 

How to make goblet votives

Thomas J. Story

Make glowing goblets

Turn old goblets and trophies into sparkling candle holders. First, clean them well with with metal polish and a clean cloth. Fill with Microwaveable Soy Wax for Containers (by Yaley; $6.99 for 1 lb.; from joann.com).

Add a Pre-Waxed Medium Bleached Wick with Wick Clip (by Yaley; $2.99 for six; from joann.com) to make elegant, long-burning votives.

More:  Get our step-by-step instructions


James Carrier

Star-spangled pinwheels

These patriotic pinwheels are easy to make and fun to see spinning in the breeze on the Fourth of July. All you need are a few basic materials.

More:  How to make party pinwheels

Patterned gift wrap

James Carrier

Hand-printed gift wrap

With simple cookie cutters and paint, you can make your own distinctive wrapping paper.

Just dip the cutting edge of a cookie cutter (we used snowflakes and scalloped circles) into white heavy body acrylic paint (sold at art stores in 4-oz. tubs).

Stamp the cookie cutter onto a sheet of colorful paper, starting at a top corner. Create your own patterns by either joining or overlapping the shapes. 

If the paint is too thick or lumpy, add a few drops of water and stir gently until thinned and smooth.

Leaf prints project

Photo by Rob D. Brodman; design by Sheila Schmitz

Easy fall decorating: DIY art from autumn leaves

Instant leaf prints

Bring nature's magic indoors with this simple project: Just gather a few of your favorite leaves or flowers, flatten them under a book, then copy them with a color photocopier.

Glue prints to canvas-covered boards (about $2 in art supply stores). Glue a small inexpensive wood frame to the back to act as hanger; it also sets off your print from the wall.

More:  How to make a leaf print

How to transform a chair

Rob D. Brodman

Transform a chair

Turn a drab thrift-store chair into a stylish accent for any room in your home. All it takes is some paint, fabric, basic supplies, and a free weekend.

To start, choose a chair with no missing screws or loose legs; it should have interesting features or frame detail.

Or turn 2 or more chairs into an eclectic set. Look for designs that have a wooden frame and an upholstered seat and unify them with the same color and fabric.

More:  How to transform a chair

How to make a console table

Photo: Thomas J. Story

Create a console table

Turn castoff bedside tables into a stylish console. 

To make this one, we removed the drawer handles, lightly sanded all surfaces, and applied one coat of primer and three coats of Benjamin Moore’s high-gloss Bunny Gray paint (2124-50).

We painted the tabletops with a chevron pattern using a stencil fashioned from 1- and 2-in.-wide painter’s tape.

More:  Instructions and painting pattern

Star lanterns

Make star luminarias

White bags and vellum stars make festive outdoor lanterns.

Use a star stencil and colored vellum to make red and blue stars. Glue them to white paper bags. For beautiful (and safe) illumination, use a small tap light instead of a candle.

More memory books

Thomas J. Story

Make a memory book

Create a journal, scrapbook, sketch pad, or guest book with illustration board covered in your favorite paper or fabric.

Let the future contents guide your design, using a kitchen motif for a cookbook, or a pocket with pencil for a travel journal. Add as many blank pages as you like.

You'll end up with a personal gift or keepsake for about $20.

More:  How to make a memory book

Printed from: