Tag Archives | diy

Image by Breather, unsplash.com

For many of us, going away for college is the first time we moved away from home and the first time we actually have to take care of some “grownup” things on our own. For the first time, you are truly responsible for the condition of your apartment and its regular maintenance. And for the first time, you realize that maintenance includes more chores than vacuuming and folding clothes. However, you are also probably a tenant and not the owner of the apartment, so you have to be extremely careful not to damage anything and consult your landlord about any bigger projects. Here’s a list of maintenance chores you can do, and the ones that require the assistance of a professional.

DIY: Recover and Paint Old Chairs
The simplest way to save money when moving into an apartment is to keep the furniture the landlord has left, instead of buying everything from scratch. However, sometimes, when the place is being rented for years, the furniture is old and worn out. You don’t have to throw it all away; just refresh it a bit. Take the old dining room chairs, apply two coats of paint (let it dry overnight) and refresh the existing cushions by replacing the fabric.

Leave to the Pros: Installing a Gas-Fueled Appliance
So, you bought a new appliance (water heater, oven, clothes dryer) and you’re eager to try it out? Don’t do it. Any mistake with connecting gas lines can lead to gas leaks and build-up which can eventually spark and explode. This is a job that should be left to the professionals. So, either ask for installation to come with delivery or call the pros after the appliance is at your address.

DIY: Paint the Place
There’s nothing like a little paint to introduce life in a gloomy apartment! Of course, before you decide on the color and start your little project, consult your landlord. After you get his seal of approval and find the necessary equipment (paint, paint roller, painter’s tape, rags) you can get down to business. If the painter’s tape is applied firmly (and straight), you should have no problems getting professional results.

Leave to the Pros: Plumbing Issues
You may be able to unplug a clogged toilet or a sink if the problem is not very serious, but any other plumbing issues should be left to the professionals. Working with plumbing involves a lot of leaks that can cause mold, structural problems and other damage. Professional plumbers can solve breaks and leaks without worsening the problem.

DIY: Clean the Fridge
Every so often, the fridge must be cleaned from the inside out. It’s not a very pleasant chore, but you can do it by yourself. Toss out the food that has outlived its shelf life, take out all the food in your refrigerator, and put it aside. Take out shelves and drawers and wash them in the kitchen sink. Wipe the inside of the fridge with an organic cleaner (such as baking soda + hot water). Dry the shelves and drawers, put them back into the fridge, and reintroduce the food.

Leave to the Pros: Electrical Wiring
Any work with electricity, other than replacing a light bulb, should be left to professional electricians. Working with the apartment’s electrical system can be very dangerous and it doesn’t matter if you are fixing a problematic circuit or installing new wiring – you are at risk of electrical shock in both situations. Also, installing new wiring is determined by the local codes, so you need to know all about them, have a permit and be prepared for your work to be inspected.

Maintaining the apartment includes a lot of chores. Some, like dusting, are basic day-to-day actions, while others are monthly or seasonal duties. There are also unexpected repairs and home-improvement projects that may seem overwhelming to you, but in time you get used to them. However, it’s still important to distinguish the ones within your power from the ones that should be left to the professionals.

This article was contributed by guest author Chloe Taylor.

Image by Sophia Baboolal, unsplash.com

Image by Sophia Baboolal, unsplash.com

My freshman dorm room was spartan. It looked like just about every other freshman’s room: a couple of posters, a calendar, a mini fridge. There were some magnets on the mini fridge, but that was the extent of making my room unique.

My girlfriend doodled between classes. She drew colorful creatures like a starfish and a mermaid, with funny sayings written in the blank spaces. No one else in my dorm had “nonconformist pig says moo” or “citrus fruits are tangy” mini-posters. I graduated college almost half a decade ago, and I still have those drawings. What decor knowledge can I pass on? If you want a dorm room unlike your neighbor’s, DIY art is perfect. Plus, this leaves you with art projects that will stay with you through graduation and beyond. Let’s look at some cool projects you can do to quickly make your room stand out. Bear in mind these might not come cheap – but your dorm room will be one-of-a-kind.

Crates and paper
Care to take a guess at what the two major materials needed for this project are?

With just a wooden wine crate and wrapping paper, you can create a display case. The harder part is deciding what you want to display in the crate.

Getting the components should be hassle-free. A local winery or tasting room should have a wooden wine crate that you can buy cheap, or they might let you have one for free. You probably have wrapping paper already. Or, take a quick trip to the store. Some glue and your preferred method of hanging from a wall (that won’t damage the dorm and void your security deposit), and you’re done.

Container magnets
I would have failed college if not for caffeine. I had a lot of fancy tea tins left over after all-nighters. Glue and a magnet can turn the tins into container magnets for your fridge. If the tin is metal, you may not even need glue. Throw some pencils and a sticky note pad in, and you’ll never lack for something to write on or with. Quick, simple, and useful.

Locker and magnets
Not ready to leave the high school aesthetic behind? You can find cheap lockers for sale online, often used, to give the room an already lived-in feel. Use them as-is, or slap on a new coat of paint. A solid color or design, taping art to the sides, or just plastered with the tea container magnets, gives you plenty of options.

Chalkboard anything
Nearly every college student has a chalkboard or whiteboard on their door or wall. How do you stand out? Chalkboard paint. A few coats and now your table is a chalkboard. Or your mini fridge. Or your desk (that you brought from home. Repainting any college-provided desks is not recommended). Any flat, solid surface becomes a chalkboard with this paint, making leaving messages for your roommate a breeze. Or just watch as your new dorm friends doodle obscene images – but that’s what the eraser is for.

Pallet headboard
If you can’t find a place to give you a couple pallets for free, you aren’t looking hard enough. Just be sure to clean and sanitize the wood first, to prevent the entire dorm from getting sick off the germs that could be hitching a ride. After ripping apart the pallet and cleaning it, sawing pieces to length, and screwing it all together, voila – pallet headboard.

Custom wallpaper
Cover an entire wall with custom removable wallpaper. It’ll put those tired pop-culture reference posters to shame. This could be a giant photo of your face, a beautiful landscape completely different from what you see out the window, or a giant geometric design – whatever you can think of to send off in a digital file. Vinyl or cloth, all you need is a high-resolution photo, and you are set for a custom wall without having to actually change the wall – which could cost you a pretty penny when you move out due to lost security deposit.

Paint-dipped picture frames
You’ll need to spend some time in thrift stores for this project, looking for old picture frames that preferably still have photos or paintings in them. Use some painter’s tape to make a solid line across the photo or painting, and paint everything on one side of the tape – including the frame. Or go crazy with patterns, like diagonal stripes. Now you have a repurposed, modern paint-dipped picture frame.

Frameless photos
Don’t like frames? Use these display hacks and even the photos around your room will be different. Large paper clips can prop the photos up, or use Washi tape to affix photos to the wall. Or, hang a clipboard with a photo clipped in.

String art
A wooden board, paint, a hammer, nails, and string are all you need. It seems simple, but it can be time-consuming. Paint the board, hammer in the nails, and wind the string around the nails to create amazing string art. Hard mode: use the negative space to create the art instead. Subjects are near-limitless, so despite string art being somewhat common, your subject can stand alone. The more complex, the less likely it has been done, at least in your dorm.

Though quilling paper is definitely easier with the proper tools, it can be done with scissors, a few toothpicks, and glue. Instead of making cards, mount your quilled art in a shadow box. Hang it from the wall. You can find inspiration from Pinterest for anything from simple designs to complex.

Washi door
Washi tape is a fixture of dorm rooms. Your roommate probably used it to frame a poster. What won’t the average student think of? Washi tape on your dorm door. You can make lines and patterns on your door, or block out your initials, all without harming the door.

Paint a chair
Not only are you going to repaint a folding chair, you are going to reupholster it, too. It’s easier than it sounds. All you need to do is cut fabric, and staple it over a cushion. Easy, right? Use the same technique from the paint-dipped frame to spray-paint the chair. It’s an extra step, but color blocking can make the chair look like part of it has been dipped in one color, with the rest of the chair another color. Coordinate the fabric with the color(s) of paint – use a color wheel and color theory. If you are using a patterned fabric, make sure to staple it facing the right direction. It’s a bit of work, but you will have a chair that is all your design.

This article was contributed by guest author Cole Mayer.