5 DIYers Share the One Project That Made Them Love Their Homes

published Feb 12, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
living room with blue built-in bookcases

When it comes down to it, home is just the place with four walls and a roof where it’s possible to only wear sweatpants and eat the same thing for dinner three nights in a row. But what’s inside those four walls can tell a unique story about the people living there. Maybe they’re painted a beloved shade or accented by a gallery wall of memories. Perhaps they surround heirloom furniture where family recipes have been served for generations, or they could be the backdrop of a storied collection discovered over years of travel. And if you’re a DIYer, it could be that a room has a one-of-a-kind project that could only be found behind one front door. 

In any home, there are certain details that highlight individuality — and that’s especially true of DIY projects. DIYers Stacie Abdallah, Suzy Hamilton, Lindsay Campbell, Alexandra Gater, and Brittany Goodman all considered their homes to be a canvas, knowing that however they envisioned the final result would help them appreciate their surroundings. “I would encourage people to first live in a space for a while to really feel what it needs,” Abdallah says. “The colors and textures they think are appropriate will bring that feeling of coziness to their home.”

These five DIYers share the wide range of projects that made them love their homes below, and what they did to make them happen. From large installations that define a room to small accommodations that maximize a corner, these projects have given these DIYers the chance to be more at ease in their homes. Let their projects serve as inspiration for falling in love with your space, too, because there’s nothing better than a home that speaks to your distinct sense of style. 

Stacie Abdallah’s Built-In Bookcases

Abdallah has been personalizing inside and out the home she shares with her husband and three kids in Atlanta, Georgia on her blog Stacie’s Spaces, but the project closest to her heart is the built-in bookcase she made for her reading room. It was the first major build in her house — using an IKEA hack, no less — and gave the room a much-needed focal point. 

“I think that project increased our confidence in our abilities and really taught me to trust my gut when it comes to making decisions for our home,” Abdallah says. “Painting them blue was the icing on top! I really feel like it warmed the space up and introduced me to what has now become the color palette for most of our home.”

Since their house was built in the 1970s, it had character but wasn’t exactly a reflection of their family. Abdallah wanted a piece that spoke to the warmth and coziness she envisioned for the home, and took her time to arrive at these built-ins — a process she calls “the slow-cooker route, rather than the microwave route.” Once she realized that this project would provide the hominess she was looking for, she went for it. “I always want things to be beautiful, functional, and budget-friendly—that typically means paint will be involved,” she says. “It felt like the room was missing something, and now it looks like it was always here.”

1 / 2

Suzy Hamilton’s Bathroom Upgrade

After Hamilton completed the gut job of her master bathroom — an undertaking that she describes as taking a lot of  “time, effort, and money,” — she wanted to update her guest bathroom, too. Only this time, she gave herself the goal of doing it all for under $1,000 and documenting it on her blog The Sweet Bungalow

The builder-grade home she shares with her husband in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has two bathrooms, and the guest bathroom was straight out of the 1990s. It had vinyl flooring, a bulky oak vanity, and unflattering beige walls. Hamilton pictured something brighter and more functional for future guests. “It was a challenge I was excited to take on,” she says.

It started with stenciling a pattern on the floor and protecting it with a poly seal. “Stenciling is a great way to update floors because you don’t have to tear anything out and it’s much more affordable than new flooring,” she says. Once the floors were complete, she adhered a vintage wallpaper with a sky motif behind an updated vanity, sconce, and mirror, ensuring that the room still had a bright view even without a window. “Then, I took advantage of the awkward blank wall behind the door and added a peg wall and shelf to make space for our guests’ personal items and some cute decor,” she says. “I was able to install it using a heavy-duty glue.” In the end, Hamilton hit her goal, and also avoided using power tools. “It’s a space I’m so proud of, I’m always excited when people go to the bathroom,” she jokes.

1 / 2

Lindsay Campbell’s Kitchen Reno

When Campbell bought the Tennessee property she shares with her husband, they were ready to transform outdated design details like popcorn ceilings and parquet floors into modern features. They agreed to start the process with an overhaul of the kitchen — and it definitely put up a fight. 

“At one point, we had to rebuild an exterior wall when we discovered an improperly installed window that had rotted out the entire wall below it,” she says. “It was stressful at the time, but now we’re realizing how valuable those skills are as we continue updating our house. Things that once seemed really scary just aren’t scary anymore. We really jumped into the deep end by starting with the kitchen!”

Once they finished the behind-the-scenes work, including plumbing and electrical, Campbell chose hunter green cabinets with gold hardware to offset a white backsplash and countertop. Not only is there ample storage, particularly in see-through cabinets for glassware, but there’s also lots of room to gather. “Like a lot of families, we spend so much time in the kitchen,” she says. “Our kitchen was the first puzzle piece in a whole-house renovation, but it sets the tone for the rest of our home and reflects who we are as a family. Now this house feels like ours.”

1 / 2

Alexandra Gater’s Hidden Cat Litter Box

Gater, who documents her projects on her YouTube channel, ran into a design dilemma that’s common among those with cats: There was nowhere to put the litter box. Sure, it could be out in the open of her Toronto home, but that solution would diminish its overall stylishness. “When you live in a small space and have a cat, I feel like the litter box always gets in the way and doesn’t add any ambiance — in fact, it completely takes away from it,” she says. Gater had an idea to turn a locker into a discreet kitty bathroom, complete with a feline-friendly door on one side. It would be an area for her everyday necessities, too. 

“This cabinet helps keep the litter from going everywhere. I rarely have to clean litter off the floor, an anomaly for cat parents,” she says. “I also use it as a decorative and functional piece to create a mini entryway.” Cutting into the metal to create a cat door wasn’t easy, but Gater did her research to find the right tools and complete the process safely. Now she’s happy to have a stylish home and a cat, which she describes as a win-win. 

“I think the most important thing is to ask yourself, ‘What do I need to solve in my home to make it more comfortable?’ And then from there, find a project that solves that problem,” Gater says. “The great thing about DIYs is that they’re completely customizable, so they can really solve individual problems.”

Brittany Goodman’s Entryway Bench

Goodman was looking to warm up a blank wall in her entryway with a space to sit amid hung photographs and full pillows, which would fit right in at her cozy Virginia home. But there was a slight problem. “My husband and I couldn’t find a bench that was the right size and also fit in our budget, so we decided to make one,” she says. “I found a picture of a bench I liked and we brainstormed how to make it.”

Using lumber, screws, and a wood stain alongside tools they already owned — a Kreg jig, jigsaw, and miter saw — Goodman and her husband set out to replicate the picture she found on their own. They didn’t have any plans or instructions, but they used painter’s tape to visualize the dimensions and worked together to bring the bench to life. It’s simple yet beautiful, functional yet cool, and Goodman thinks it fits the space perfectly. 

“One of my favorite things about the bench we made is that it’s always where my husband sets his briefcase when he gets home from work,” she says. “It’s just one of those little things that makes home feel like home because you know you’re with the people you love.”