14 easy ways to make home improvements

If you are staying indoors, why not take the opportunity to spruce the place up?

Many of us are staying at home more than ever at the moment, so ensuring it’s a space you enjoy being in – and feel calm in – makes sense.

Here we have rounded up 14 practical and easy home improvement tips for you to try...

1. Start with a good clean

Take time to completely spring-clean your home, from top to bottom, not forgetting all those corners and edges, so everything says sanitary and fresh. This is not only good for health but for peace of mind, says Nikki Bisiker, owner and head designer of Nikki Bisiker Interior Design. Also take time to declutter, even if it means, for now, putting unwanted items in a box, into storage, under the bed, in a wardrobe or anywhere else there is space. Sort through your closet, saving key pieces, and keep all the things you plan to wear daily close at hand.

2. Create a cosy space

Shop online for soft-glow light bulbs, Bisiker suggests, and replace any bright white lights in your side lamps, for a soothing ambience in the evenings. String fairy lights up in small apartments. Pull out or go online to buy cheap and cheerful throws that are soft and comforting.

3. Go green

“My big tip is biophilia,” says Pallavi Dean, founder and creative director of Roar. “Add plants as they purify the air and add nature to your space.”

4. Accessories are king

Go all out with your accessories, Dean adds. “I’ve currently arranged all my books by colour and genre – that took two days! I’ve also pulled out vintage bowls and plates and am using them as accessories on my shelves and side tables. It saves storage space in the kitchen and adds character to your home.”

5. Sort through your photos

Maybe now's the time to sort through all those photographs on your laptop, a usually endless task, Bisiker suggests. Create albums, email or WeTransfer personal albums to friends and family who are living in other countries. They are memories of good times and the promise of more to come, frame some of them or create collages.

6. Create a gallery wall 

This design feature involves hanging various framed images and other seemingly random design elements on an empty wall. Though they’re visually appealing, it’s a fine line between creating a charming piece of controlled chaos and a complete omnishambles. It’s best to stick with easy-to-match, neutral colours and textures. You’ll also need to think about spacing and proportions. Double-check you have an equal mix of small, medium and large items to balance out the look. Finally, choose images and items that have sentimental value. This can be anything from your favourite quote typed in a beautiful font to a wall hanging picked up on your travels.

7. Shake things up

Move your furniture around. “You always feel a sense of achievement afterwards, and it can feel like a new home. Maybe now that you are spending more time at home, you need to create different spaces for different activities – whether reading, writing, doing crafts, playing boardgames or a small desk area for talking with friends and family,” says Bisiker, whose firm is offering online design consultations and advice on improving your space. “You can send images of the areas in which you want to enhance and we can forward the advice and ideas to achieve this.”

8. Clean out your handbags

It's estimated that about 10,000 bacteria can be found on a few square centimetres of your handbag, so take this time to clean them out. Empty your bag, turn it upside down and shake it out, then use a brush or lint roller to grab those more resistant crumbs. Store your clean bag in the dust bag it came in, or a pillow­case, to protect it and avoid cross-contamination. Finally, to keep your bag extra-tidy, create sachets of baking soda and keep them in your bag to get rid of any unpleasant odours.

9. Give your jewellery some sparkle

Do you have any silver jewellery that is slightly lacking in lustre? Here are some tips for bringing it back to its original sparkly state. First up, lemon. Add a few drops of lemon juice to half a cup of water. Take a toothbrush, dip it into the juice and gently scrub away any oxidised parts of your jewellery. Baking soda is another winning ingredient. Mix a quarter of a cup of baking soda with two tablespoons of water. Dip a soft piece of cloth into the solution and rub gently over your silver. Run your jewellery under cold water to gently rinse off the solution, then pat dry.

10. Reorganise your fridge

Organising your refrigerator and freezer the right way will boost food safety and eliminate waste, especially if you have been stocking up. Wrap leafy vegetables in newspaper to maintain crispness. Separate onions from potatoes; onions make potatoes sprout. Keep cucumbers and tomatoes on your kitchen counter, because they fare better without refrigeration, and keep berries fresh by washing them with one part vinegar to 10 parts water. Use a cloth to rub white vinegar on to cold cuts (and other salt-cured meat) to prevent dryness and unpleasant smells. Wrap cheese in absorbent material such as parchment paper to maintain freshness. Store milk and other perishable items in the middle section of the fridge. An opened bottle of maple syrup should be kept in the freezer – its high sugar content will prevent the syrup from solidifying. Also store ginger in the freezer to make it easier to grate.

Refrigerator. Getty Images

11. Upcycle old sweatshirts

Many of us have old and worn sweatshirts that have been banished to the back of our wardrobes. Why not transform them into pillow covers? You’ll need a sweatshirt, scissors, needle, thread and a measuring tape. First, draw out the dimensions of your pillow on the sweatshirt, plus one inch. Cut matching front and back pieces along these measurements and discard the remaining scraps. Place one piece of fabric on top of the other, with the inside facing out on both sides. Sew up three of the sides, making sure the stitching is tight and straight. Once finished, pull the cover over the pillow – the outside of the cover should now be showing. Finally, attach a zip to the fourth side for easier access.

12. Sort out those cables

How many wires, plugs and other miscellaneous items do you have lurking about in the back of some drawer? Why not organise them properly, once and for all? All you need is some toilet-paper roll tubes and a box.

Wind up your cables/chargers (think about how they were presented when you first bought them). Then slide each of your chargers into a single tube. If it’s attached to a plug, this can be left hanging out of one end – or it may be small enough to slide into the tube. Use a pen to mark which charger goes into which roll and then place your new cable storage tubes into your box. Simple as that.

13. Make candles last longer

Make sure that your scented candles last for as long as possible. Before you use your new candle, cover it in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer for a few hours. Freezing the wax should make your candle burn for longer. The first time you light it, leave it to burn for at least three or four hours, so that the wax burns evenly across the top surface. If this isn’t allowed to happen, the wax will create a memory ring and will continue to tunnel and burn that way for the remainder of its lifespan. Thereafter, try not to burn your candle for more than four hours at a time. Give it at least a couple of hours to cool down before relighting. If your candle comes with a lid, make sure to use it when the candle isn’t in use. This will help it retain its smell.

It’s recommended that you keep the candle’s wick trimmed down to about half a centimetre. This will prevent it from smoking and leaving your container sullied with black soot.

14. Support local designers

Finally, help the local design economy, Dean says. “Most stores deliver, so it’s the perfect time to do some online home shopping.”