transformation month

30 Days of Tiny Transformations You Can Make at Home This Month

published Sep 1, 2020
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No matter where you live, we all have one thing in common: Most of us have spent a lot of time in our homes this year. And that means we’ve all had plenty of opportunity to scrutinize those four walls that surround us on a daily basis. 

Maybe your new work situation has inspired a brand-new home office—or maybe you’re simply itching to breathe new life into a tired space before you head into another winter that promises to bring even more time at home. 

Either way, you don’t need a big budget (or a ton of time) to spruce up your space. September is Transformation Month at Apartment Therapy, and we’ve come up with a list of projects that, if you have just a few spare minutes each day, can help you turn your home into a haven in just 30 days. Follow along each day, or pick and choose projects based on what your space needs. The vast majority of projects are low-effort and high-impact, requiring just a few basic DIY supplies and less than 30 minutes of your time. But if you’re feeling ambitious, there’s a few weekend warrior-type tasks that are well worth the effort. 

Day 1: Replace the knobs on your closet doors

You probably already know what a difference the right hardware can make on your kitchen or bathroom cabinets, but there’s another place that can benefit from the same thought. Replacing all of the run-of-the-mill door knobs in your home can be an expensive endeavor, but your closet door is a great place to start, since it’ll add a little cheer to your everyday routine—and these knobs don’t need to match anything else. Look for decorative glass knobs, like the one pictured, or go bright and bold with painted ceramic.

Bonus tiny transformation: Make a tassel, like this one from Sugar & Cloth, to decorate your door. Instant boho vibes!

Day 2: Prune your plants and pick some flowers

Give your houseplants a haircut and you’ll get two transformations for the price of one. Not only will your houseplants look a little less untamed, but you’ll be able to use the cuttings to propagate new little baby plants to pot later.

Part two of today’s tiny transformation: Cut some flowers from your yard or pick up some from the grocery store or florist. Place a few in a vase to light up your dining table or desk space, then tie the rest together and hang upside down in a closet to dry for later. (Hint: You’ll find the best success with flowers that have woodier stems, like roses, lavender, and chamomile.)

Credit: Studio DIY

Day 3: Embellish a plain lampshade

An attractive, affordable lamp is one of those things that is surprisingly hard to come by. But with a little creativity, you can transform a plain old shade into something truly unique and show-stopping. This one from Studio DIY got the fringe treatment, but the options for lamp shade customization are endless: Add a coat of metallic spray paint, cover the shade in cool fabric, add textured trim to the edges, or even give it some decoupage.

Day 4: Mount a door knocker

Infuse a little personality into the first thing guests see when they approach your home: your front door. A knocker not only adds a sophisticated element, but is also a great place to have some fun. The options abound—from traditional brass knockers to cute little critters— so go with whatever speaks to you.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Day 5: Switch up your gallery wall

Getting your gallery wall just right is a big project that requires plenty of framed artwork and photos ready to go, plus precise planning to get the spacing just right. So rather than redo the whole thing, why not just freshen it up? Swap in some seasonal prints, update family photos, move some frames around, or keep all the art the same but update your frames with paint.

Day 6: Change out a faucet

To up the sophistication factor in your bath, swap out a standard fixture with something cooler, like a matte black or brass faucet. This project might seem intimidating, but it’s one that you can do without the help of a pro—just make sure to find a replacement faucet that matches the settings of your existing one for a seamless swap. If you’re a renter, tuck the original faucet away so you can put it back in before move-out day.

Day 7: Fake the look of wallpaper

All you need for this DIY is a plain wall plus a few rolls of washi tape. You can plan out a pattern beforehand, or build as you go—either way, you’ll be able to create a big-impact installation that’s totally removable.

Credit: Jessica Rapp

Day 8: Replace your lightbulbs

If you’ve ever lived in a space with few windows, you know what a difference the right light can make. And while you can’t (easily) change your window situation, you do have full control of what types of bulbs are in your light fixtures. Go room by room and turn on the lights. Take note of which fixtures could use an upgrade. Choose warmer lights in places that need to be relaxing (your bedroom, for example) and cooler bulbs in ones that need to wake you up (such as your home office).

Day 9: Paint a door

You probably already know that painting your front door can instantly up your home’s curb appeal, but a coat of paint on an interior door can look just as impressive. Plus, it’s a look you’ll get to enjoy more often. Use a cheery hue, like yellow or pale pink, to brighten things up—or opt for a moody shade to add drama and elegance to your space. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Day 10: Organize and label your pantry goods

Whether you have a grand walk-in or a faux pantry fashioned out of hanging baskets, it’s the heart of the kitchen, so it deserves a little attention—if not simply to make your life easier. Do a quick edit of the space, tossing anything past its prime, donating anything you won’t eat, and categorizing the rest. For uniformity, consider decanting the staples—flour, rice, pasta, etc.—into air-tight containers. And always label everything. Here are some other tricks to make your pantry more functional.

Day 11: Add in a(nother) rug

Whether you think your space could use a little more texture or you’re trying to solve a design dilemma like outfitting an awkward-shaped room, layering a couple of rugs is an easy answer. For best results, start with a larger, neutral base—sisal or jute, for example—then choose something a little smaller and more graphic for the top piece.

Credit: Lula Poggi

Day 12: Change up your house numbers

House numbers serve a very important function—they make your address visible to emergency services, which means, at worst, a missing number can be quite dangerous. At best, unattractive numbers can bring down the vibe of your otherwise stately home. Thankfully, making the swap is easy, whether you choose modern store-bought numbers or a DIY project like stenciling or stitching.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Day 13: Rearrange your books

If they’re organized by color, try arranging them by size; if they’re categorized by author, move them around so they’re by genre instead. Going through your books will give you an opportunity to rediscover lost favorites, and root out any that have lost your interest. Win-win!

Day 14: Swap out an old light fixture

You don’t have to live with a boob light if you don’t want to. Swapping in a new light fixture is pretty simple (and renter-friendly, to boot). The biggest thing to remember: always, always, always turn off power from the breaker box before getting started. Once you find new light fixture you love, follow these directions for how to replace a light fixture.

If a full replacement isn’t in the cards due to budget constraints or rental restrictions, consider these smart hacks for sprucing up an existing fixture.

Day 15: Hang a wreath

Another great way to enhance your front door: a wreath. To make quick work of the project, buy a pre-made wreath; if you have more time to spare, a DIY version is a fun afternoon activity with big payoff. Opt for something seasonal, like pampas grass for fall or cranberries for winter—it’s an easy way to decorate for the time of year.

Day 16: Swap out switch plates and dimmer knobs

Does your home have yellowed plastic switch plates or, worse, mismatched plates and switches? All you need to remedy the situation is a new set and a screwdriver. For the most budget-friendly fix, opt for the standard white plastic ones you can find at any home improvement store; if you’re willing to spend a little more, look for decorative metal options.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Day 17: Decant your essentials

Is your kitchen counter or bathroom vanity starting to look cluttered? An array of mismatched containers—think salt, pepper, and olive oil in the kitchen or soaps and lotions in the bathroom—can quickly take over, especially in a small space. Here’s a quick fix: Decant those items into attractive, matching bottles. Try amber glass, which comes in a variety of sizes with both pump and spritz caps and suits a range of styles.

Day 18: Update your coffee table vignette

A coffee table is the perfect place for a small, yet eye-catching vignette. Think: books, candles, and a plant. But after staring at the same scene for months on end, any change is a welcome one—especially if you need your space to be a little more functional. Do a quick edit on your current setup, then follow these tips to style a coffee table so it’s still fully functional.

Day 19: Paint an accent wall

An accent wall is an easy and affordable way to add color, texture, and personality to a room—without the expense of a full room makeover. Whether you lean on peel-and-stick wallpaper, a bold paint color, or even wood shims for the job, the choice is up to you. Check out these sub-$100 accent walls for inspiration.

Day 20: Put out a fresh welcome mat

A doormat is one of those utilitarian items that also serves as a fun decor piece, if you choose the right one. Rather than settle for a plain rattan version, opt for something graphic. There are plenty of store-bought options, but it’s an easy thing to DIY, too.

Credit: Ivan Hunter | Getty Images

Day 21: Pull weeds

It’s not a glamorous task, but one of the easiest ways to boost your curb appeal is to get rid of any extra foliage. Too much greenery—especially the unwanted kind—can shroud your home, making it look dark or worse, unkempt. Spend a few hours plucking weeds and trimming back any overgrown bushes and trees, then if you want to go the extra mile, try this chemical-free way to prevent future weeds from growing.

Credit: Minette Hand

Day 22: Rearrange your furniture

Moving heavy furniture around may seem like a monumental task, but there are payoffs to doing so seasonally. It not only makes your space look new and interesting, but it also has practical benefits, like saving certain areas of your floor from wear and tear, allowing you to more easily clean different areas, and taking advantage of changing light conditions.

Credit: Minette Hand

Day 23: Touch up trim

You don’t need to go all out on freshly painted walls to make a room look polished. In fact, sometimes simply painting trim can make it seem like the whole room got a rehab. That’s because trim typically takes more of a beating than your walls, thanks to bumps from both furniture and vacuums. Wipe away any scuffs and dirt with soap and water, let dry, and then use paint to touch up any areas that could still use some TLC.

Day 24: Re-style your shelves

Whether you use your shelves to house books, a special collection, photos, or any combination of the three, there are countless ways to style them. If you’ve been staring at the same vignette for months (or maybe years?) on end, draw inspiration from these inspiring ways to spruce up shelves, and switch things up.

Psst: Now’s a great time to put those dried flowers in a vase for an instant display.

Day 25: Re-cover your throw pillows

You can never have enough throw pillows. And changing out your throw pillows is perhaps the easiest seasonal swap you can make. No, there’s no sewing required—unless, of course, you want to get real fancy. There are plenty of places to buy gorgeous throw pillows and, in many cases, it’s just a matter of swapping the cover. Alternatively, there are endless no-sew DIY options, like marbled and stamped covers. 

Day 26: Add peel-and-stick wallpaper to your closet

Like a fresh coat of paint, temporary wallpaper is a highly effective way to infuse a space with color and personality—without making a huge design commitment. Today, there are plenty of removable wallpaper companies that make products suitable for every room from your kitchen to your bedroom. If you only have a single afternoon or want to pull off the project for less, consider installing a peel-and-stick on just an accent wall or in a small space like your closet.

Day 27: Create an organizational system for your entryway

Your drop zone for jackets, shoes, keys, and mail can easily become a nightmare to navigate—especially if you don’t have a dedicated mudroom. But you don’t have to live with the clutter, and you don’t need a roomy coat closet to stay organized. A few simple systems—like having a dedicated spot for mail and a cabinet for shoes—can make all the difference.

Day 28: Add in a new plant

There are plenty of good reasons to add greenery to your home. Plants not only look great, but have scientifically-proven benefits, including air purification and mood-enhancing capabilities (both of which are a must these days!). And if you weren’t blessed with a green thumb, no worries: There are tons of houseplants that are so easy to care for that they can withstand (almost) any neglect.

Now’s a great time to check in on the plants you’ve been propagating—they’re likely ready for a new soil-filled home.

Credit: Minette Hand

Day 29: Re-caulk the tub

A relatively easy way to make an old bathroom feel like new again? Re-caulk the tub. Scrape out that dingy caulk around the edges and replace it with new, bright white caulk. All you need is a handful of basic tools, a little elbow grease, and a couple hours.

Day 30: Hang some new curtains

Whether they’re in your bedroom, living room, bathroom, or even your shower, a pair of new curtains can totally transform the look of your space. There are plenty of DIY curtain options to give the ones you have a refresh, too.