Here Is Every Single Project I Tackled at Home Over the Pandemic

updated Mar 30, 2021
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Before: dining room with white walls, bare wood floors, white ceiling fan, and too-big table

Like much of the rest of the country, I’ve spent almost the entire year since March 2020 at home. I feel grateful to have this space for myself and my family, and I’m privileged to be able to do my work from here, too. But like many people who suddenly started spending time inside their homes nearly 24/7, I am also so, so tired of it. The plus side? When you find yourself looking at the same walls all day, every day, it gives you a new perspective.

All the extra time I spent at home also gave me plenty of spare hours to spruce it up. I started by rearranging the living room into every configuration possible. Once I ran out of layouts to explore, I decided to tackle the house upgrades we keep putting off. After all, I finally had the time to do it, and keeping busy helped both pass the time and ease anxieties. Now, I can mark the year by all the projects we’ve completed since last March when we first started quarantining. Here’s everything we did.

I re-organized my kitchen and installed a trash can I love.

Our kitchen is the ugliest room in our house, there’s really no other way to put it. Its one redeeming quality is the walk-in pantry, so I decided to start thereby giving it a complete organizational makeover. I then tried talking my husband into new floors, but instead, he suggested we tackle our trash can problem. The original can was big and bulky and the only place that made sense for it was along the wall that leads in and out of the kitchen, which wasn’t all that ideal. We searched for a solution and finally came across this pull-out kitchen cabinet trash can from SimpleHuman, and it has changed our lives. It was so easy to do and is completely worth the cabinet space we gave up.


I made small fixes to my bathroom.

The bathroom got a lot of action. We installed a new cute (but cheap) shower curtain and then added a Tushy bidet to our toilet. The bidet was almost as life-changing as our roll-out trash can. It’s one of those things that I feel weird talking about, but also want to shout about it from the rooftops. I knew my husband and I would love it but didn’t anticipate how much our 4-year-old would —and anything that gets a four-year-old excited about the toilet is a good thing!

Even with the bidet, though, we still use toilet paper. Our old toilet paper holder was a small inconvenience that we’d dealt with for far too long when it should have just been replaced with one that was easier to load and didn’t fall off the wall all the time. Replacing it with a new toilet paper holder with a built-in shelf was satisfying and made us feel like we had control over something.

I gave my dining room a cheerful makeover full of DIYs.

I’d started planning a dining room makeover at the end of 2019, but it didn’t start coming together until right around the time the stay-at-home order was issued in Chicago. It gave us something to do and has been a really cheery place for us to dine this past year since we haven’t been to any restaurants.

I cozied up my family’s living room.

We started our living room refresh in October by ordering our very first new sofa. I’ve had over 16 sofas in 18 years of living on my own, and they’ve all been super low quality or vintage. Some have been comfortable but ugly; others were pretty but uncomfortable or not well made. Looking ahead and considering a Chicago winter with a 4-year-old and no place to go, my husband and I decided to finally buy a comfy sectional we could all snuggle up on together.

Our living room features a non-working fireplace with a big empty white firebox. I’ve tried filling it with a few different things, but nothing ever looked right. I finally realized I didn’t just want it to be styled, I wanted whatever was going inside of it to make sense. What made sense to me as I stared at it on a cold November day was an electric potbelly stove. I also added sconces on either side of the mantel for a soft glow — and used a hack that didn’t involve any wiring.

I installed an indoor kid-friendly swing and upgraded my daughter’s bed.

We spent a few days at an AirBnB last summer that had a swing in the attic, and my daughter thought it was the best thing she’d ever seen. Swings bring so much joy, and one of my main goals with our home is to have it be a happy and fun place. Any time I see something that would delight my daughter or husband I try to figure out how to fold it into our home. I found this older model IKEA swing on Facebook Marketplace and it has brought countless hours of fun. 

On another late-night scroll through Facebook Marketplace, I found a playhouse bed and immediately made plans to pick it up. When you can’t take your kid to the playground and you have no backyard of your own, you bring the playground to them.

Our list of to-dos is still pretty lengthy, but I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished. I’ve enjoyed having projects to do at our home, and can honestly say that it’s one thing that has helped me and my husband stay grounded. It’s good to be busy, and it’s great to have a home you love.