9 Home Design Projects You Can Complete in an Afternoon

Interiors & Decor

Home office with blue trim and bookshelf cabinetry, floral wallpaper, a cream rug, swivel chair, desk, and blue ruffled desk chair.

Editor’s Note: Craving a fresh interior design update, without having to invest too much of your precious time into it? The below article, originally published in June of 2020, includes nine home design projects that fit the bill.


As many of us continue to spend a large majority of our time at home, it’s possible that we’re starting to get the itch to make updates to our spaces. Anyone else?

Making a tangible shift in your home doesn’t mean you need to embark on a lofty remodel or a weeks-long project. You can make a noticeable, positive impact in just an afternoon. Below you’ll find nine ideas for how you can update your space, all of which only take a few hours.

Have you tackled any afternoon home design projects lately? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Hang a gallery wall.

As decor trends have shifted and evolved over the years, one thing has stayed the same: my love for gallery walls. I’ve continued to implement a gallery wall wherever I want to create a focal point in a space. I most recently spent one weekend afternoon hanging a gallery wall in our home (pictured below). The pieces I included are a mix of thrift store finds, paintings and drawings, and three-dimensional items.

These days, rather than planning and measuring out an arrangement, I prefer to grab a hammer and some nails and methodically figure it out as I go. If you’re looking for inspiration on different galley wall styles and arrangements, you can view a variety of options in this post.

Home Design Projects: Gallery Wall

Style your shelves.

When I need to clear my head or am seeking a breather in between work projects, I love to spend some time tinkering creatively. One of my favorite creative outlets is styling shelves. I’ll pull everything off the shelves and start fresh, adding pockets of books, frames, decor objects, trays, and vases (and more) and moving things around until the arrangement feels “right” to me.

If you’re not sure exactly how to style your own shelves, remember that there is no perfect way to do it. I like to stick with a somewhat cohesive color palette and mix sizes, textures, and different kinds of objects next to each other throughout.

Home Design Projects: Style Your Shelves
Photo by Chelsey Werth

Hang removable wallpaper.

Hanging removable wallpaper is a fantastic option for renters and homeowners alike! It takes away the pressure of selecting a timeless wallpaper you’ll feel the need to leave up for years (or decades) to come and allows you the freedom to experiment with fun prints and colors you’ve been wanting to try.

If you feel like going the DIY wallpaper route, you can find a tutorial from contributor Maggie LaMaack here—this option isn’t removable but it makes quite an impact (and can easily be painted over when you’re ready for a change).

Bring greenery indoors.

It’s no secret that keeping plants in your home is a good idea. They can help remove toxins from the air, release oxygen, and add a beautiful element to any space. If your home is in need of some greenery, set aside a few hours one afternoon to stop by your local greenhouse, pick up some options that catch your eye, and plant them in beautiful pots.

Or, if you already have plants at home, set aside an afternoon to prune, repot, and water them. Taking care of plants does require time and energy, but the payoff is well worth it.

Create your own art.

Whether or not you view yourself as an artist, you can still create art (I promise). When you dive into the creative process, try to remember that you don’t have to be too precious about what you create. Allow yourself the time and space to come up with new ideas and to make new pieces, testing out different tools and mediums along the way, rather than rushing yourself in pursuit of a specific outcome.

Every piece of art I’ve created has been the result of tinkering around, testing out new methods and patterns as I went. If you’re looking for a place to start, my favorite tool for creating art is oil pastels (as shown below), and my favorite brand is Sennelier.

Home Design Projects: Create Your Own Art
Photo by Nicole Feest at NYLONSADDLE Photography

Update window treatments.

Window treatments can create quite the impact in a home, framing each room and offering functional benefits in the process. If you’re looking to make a noticeable update in your home, switching out your curtains could be the way to do it.

Not up to the challenge of making your own? Steaming and hanging store-bought curtains would suffice as an afternoon project on its own. But if you are, there are online tutorials aplenty. This one from Micheala Diane Designs walks readers through the process for making no-sew drop cloth curtains.

Install floating shelves.

I’m a big proponent of floating shelves, both for their aesthetic appeal and functionality. I love being able to display beautiful kitchen tools, plants, and storage items, while also having easy access to the plates and bowls we use on a daily basis. We made a point to include them in both designs of our previous kitchen (as seen here and here).

If you have the wall space in your kitchen or bathroom (or any room really!) and are in need of extra storage, this could be the afternoon project for you.

Home Design Projects: Install Floating Shelves
Photo by Wing Ta of Canary Grey

Install new cabinet hardware.

One of the easiest, most impactful upgrades you can make in a kitchen (or bathroom) is switching out the hardware. New hardware can make a somewhat dated space feel fresher. And the good news is, this is a home project that can be both budget-friendly and not too time intensive.

One of our favorite places to shop for hardware, Rejuvenation, has a helpful guide on how to place and install cabinet hardware.

Give your furniture new life.

Do you have a coffee table, nightstand, or kitchen table that could use a new lease on life? Spend an afternoon sanding and staining the piece to bring it back to its original luster. Young House Love has a fantastic post on the impact you can make by sanding and refinishing a table, complete with tips and tricks learned along the way.

BY Kate Arends - March 31, 2022

8 Comments
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Anna
June 17, 2020 8:19 pm

Where are those beautiful shelves from? Seems like the perfect weekend project…

Karen
April 1, 2022 5:58 am
Reply to  Anna

Check out Etsy, there are many amazing woodworkers who make floating wall shelves. Last spring I bought these in walnut, they’re amazing: https://www.etsy.com/listing/787874535/deep-floating-shelves-kitchen-dishes?ref=yr_purchases

Rachel Perry
July 8, 2020 3:44 pm

I have a feeling this removable wallpaper (which I didn’t even know existed) is going to change my house completely! In your experience, does it mark up the walls at all when removed?

July 22, 2020 12:05 pm

We are trying to update our home and after spending time and money on larger projects, I’m happy to welcome those small projects that can be completed in a day or weekend. They usually have a larger impact than expected too. Thanks for sharing!!

July 23, 2020 9:36 am

This is such an interesting post, lovely website

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