5 easy DIY projects to try this weekend

Transform your home into a haven with these simple and practical ideas

If you are anything like us, you have been tempted to start a few easy DIY projects only to abandon your ideas at the last minute. Why? Because no matter how freely the word ‘easy’ is thrown around, we can never quite convince ourselves the job can be as quick and simple as they say.

We all want the satisfaction that putting up our own shelves or making over a characterless white wall can bring. But we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew and have to call in a professional if we get it wrong.

DIY wallpaperCredit: Shutterstock / nito

That is where this round-up of easy DIY projects comes in. You won’t break the bank and you definitely won’t break a sweat.

Each year, ever-more convenient DIY products enter the market. Got a low, sloping ceiling? This can now be a storage opportunity. If that’s not for you, how about trying your hand at panelling with a simple-to-use kit, or grab some privacy with a pretty window film? Just pick up your paintbrush and screwdriver, and choose one of these jobs to take on this weekend.

1. Apply no-mess peel-and-stick wallpaper for showstopping walls

Create dramatic feature walls in an afternoon

Rebel WallsCredit: Rebel Walls

When it comes to easy DIY takes that combine ease and jaw-dropping results, peel-and-stick wallpaper is in a league of its own.

Once upon a time, wallpaper décor glamour came at a hefty price – and the cost of the paper was the least of it. After you factored in labour, time and mess, it was enough to put anyone off. Not any more.

Before you order your wallpaper, check what the manufacturer says about the type of wall it will adhere to – smooth generally works best. If in doubt, buy 15% more wallpaper than you think you need – you might need to factor in windows, doors, alcoves, and trimming the top and bottom.

Sponge the walls down with a damp cloth – you’ll need to allow 24 hours for the walls to dry completely.

Measure up the wallpaper as per the manufacturer’s instructions, making any necessary line marks. Peel away the wallpaper’s backing and, working from the top down, apply to the walls. You may want to use a smoothing tool from your DIY store to stop any air bubbles from forming.

If your wallpaper is patterned, make sure to line up the patterns by ever-so-slightly overlapping the piece you are applying with the previous join.

Our favourite suppliers of peel-and-stick removable wallpaper include Rebel Walls, Spoonflower and Graham & Brown.

The Rebel Walls website is also a great resource for handy step-by-step videos of how to apply your stick-and-paste wallpaper.

2. Put up a window film for extra privacy

Patterned film looks beautiful and keeps our bird friends alive

PurlfrostCredit: Purlfrost

Have a less than stellar view out of your window? Have an overly zealous neighbour who can’t help nosing into your private space? Sunlight streaming through your window with fabric fading fast?

Decorative glazing films can be the answer to all these problems – and they are easy to apply and look great to boot. Quickly apply them to your windows and doors and ramp up that kerb appeal in minutes.

Start by cleaning your glazing using a few drops of washing-up liquid mixed with water, using a spray bottle to squirt the solution onto your glazing. Use a glass scraper to get rid of any flecks of paint or other debris.

You can order film cut to size. Otherwise, trim to the size you need.

Wet the glass and remove the film backing. Apply to the window and trim any excess film with a credit card or knife blade.

Decorative window films in a range of patterns are available from brands like Purlfrost and Lustalux.

The Purlfrost website again gives you more detailed information on how to apply your film, along with handy illustrations.

Discover the one window film tip that helps to save the billions of birds that die every year due to glazing collisions. Suppliers like Fruugo supply film that is designed to be used externally to prevent bird collisions. Purlfrost decorative films may be used externally, though this may reduce the life of the product. 

3. Take advantage of easy-install panelling

Get a smart effect without calling a carpenter

The Library Ladder CompanyCredit: The Library Ladder Company

Want your walls to go from ‘Plain Jane’ to ‘Lord of the Manor’ in an afternoon? Easy DIY panelling might just be the sophisticated answer you seek.

You’ll need to store your panels and adhesives at room temperature for 24 hours before applying to your wall. Walls will need to be clean and flat – sand down any imperfections, remove any dust, then wipe down the surface with a damp cloth.

Once you’ve planned where you want your panels, mark up the walls using a spirit level to make sure the lines are straight. If your panelling includes skirting boards, start there. Panels are installed from the bottom up.

You’ll need a fresh-bladed saw for cutting the panels after you’ve finished measuring.

Apply adhesive to the back of the panel, running a bead of adhesive along the length. Line the panel against the wall and press down firmly. Use a cloth to remove any excess glue.

A wide array of panel designs and patterns are available from suppliers like The Library Ladder Company and DIY Wall Panelling.

Your panel supplier is always on hand to supply more details on how to apply the specific product you have chosen.

4. Install a clever clothes rail to deal with clutter

Make better use of awkward spaces

Zebedee Any Angle RailsCredit: Zebedee Any Angle Rails Ltd

A bank holiday offers the perfect opportunity for a good declutter. Once you’ve sorted through your belongings, it makes sense to reorganise what remains.

Thankfully, there are plenty of innovative products that make the most of even the most awkward areas of your home. Take this ‘Any Angles’ rail, which is, according to designer Diane Challender, “no harder than fitting a curtain rail” when attaching to wood.

If fitting into plasterboard, then ideally you need to surface mount a strip of wood first and then fit to that. Start by choosing the size rail you need – there are currently five lengths, between 500mm and 900mm. Fix the brackets to a wooden lath – this is especially important if the bracket is going into a void ceiling as it helps to support the weight.

Leave at least half a coat hanger’s width between the rail and the back wall.

Fit the bottom bracket to the lath or directly into a wooden rafter support. Rest the end nut of the hanging rail into the round section the bottom bracket and, holding the rail in place, position and mark the top bracket.

Remove the rail and loosely fit the top bracket.

For a more complete overview of hanging the rails, along with illustrations, view the Zebedee guide to measuring and installing the rail.

5. Paint a striped feature wall

Add a sweet detail inspired by candy-shop stripes

StripesCredit: Annie Sloan

Vertical lines are just dandy for making walls seem taller, so if you have a low bedroom ceiling, this easy DIY project could be just the visual remedy.

Note the width of your wall and do a quick calculation for how many stripes you want to fit in and how wide they will need to be if you want all the stripes to be the same width.

Use a wall level to mark straight vertical lines with a pencil. Apply painter’s tape along the lines – we recommend FrogTape, £6.99, Amazon. A good tip is to tape very close to the pencil line but not over it, so that when you paint, the line is then covered over.

Use a putty knife to press down the tape so no paint will seep underneath.

Use a brush or roller to apply the paint – go over the area lightly to avoid paint seepage.

Before the paint fully dries you will need to remove the tape carefully, to avoid chipping.

Joy Archer

Written by Joy Archer


Joy Archer is an Editor for Home Passions at Saga Exceptional. Always the intrepid adventurer, Joy arrived in London with little more than a backpack and a dream to live a gorgeous life. This plan first took her to the City of London where she applied her professional journalism qualification to creating digital and print publications for Thomson Reuters.

Yet her passion for interior design could not be ignored. After a two-year bohemian adventure in New York to feed her creative senses, Joy returned to London and enrolled at top interior design school, KLC. She went on to work on a dizzying array of design projects for high-profile clientele served by top studios, including Godrich Design Collective, Louise Jones, Tala Fustok and Dragons of Walton Street.

Joy has also completed a wide array of solo residential and commercial projects in the UK and internationally – House and Garden named her as one of their favourite traditional interior designers and her recent work has featured in 25 Beautiful Homes and on NBC’s Open House TV show.

Never straying far from her pen, Joy’s recent journalism includes pieces highlighting the ins and outs of the evolution of Forbes Monaco; interviews with the creme of social media superstars; intimate insights from Ukrainian political activists and developments in sustainability within built spaces.

Having a geeky obsession with earning expert status on every aspect of construction, Joy’s idea of a good time is pottering about in builder’s yards – she has been known to go to unheard-of lengths to get her hands on particularly fetching samples of marble.

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