Most of us are spending a lot more time at home these days—most of our time, in fact. Maybe we’re watching way too many home improvement shows (no judgment here!). But inevitably, we’re looking around our homes and thinking things could use a bit of sprucing up.
“People don’t have to do it; they want to do it,” says Dennis Gehman, owner of Gehman Design Remodeling in Harleysville, PA, and national treasurer of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. “They’ve become tired of their bathroom or kitchen or whatever room. Most of the time, things aren’t broken; they just want a new look.”
And between the need to keep a distance from others and the general economic uncertainty, it makes sense to save some dough by tackling these projects on our own. But beware—everyone needs some professional guidance.
Fortunately, as with work meetings, fitness classes, and even happy hours with friends, the solution can be found online. We scoured the internet and also talked to home improvement professionals about the online resources they recommend for the stuck-at-home DIYer to learn some new skills.
Learn the basics
“If you practice proper safety and have tools, one of the places I go is Home Depot’s DIY section,” says Theresa Dorlini, owner of Circle Design, in Roanoke, VA.
The home improvement retailer offers many videos in categories from appliances to winterization. Plus, “you know that they are going to put out something that is safety-conscious,” says Dorlini, who’s also a member of the American Society of Interior Designers.
And really, safety should be a prime concern of any DIY newbie, the experts say. You can’t cut off a finger by watching a video, but actually handling power tools is something different altogether.
Painting: An easy gateway DIY project
Gehman says painting is one thing people can tackle themselves.
“All the paint manufacturers have do-it-yourself information for these kinds of projects,” he says. “They have some great tools to help people with color selections. You could take a picture of the sofa that’s in the room that you are thinking of changing and upload it, and it’ll give them some color combinations that would look good with the color of the sofa.”
Gehman also recommends painting cabinets as one project that can give a kitchen a whole new look, for far less cost than replacing them.
Lowe’s has a popular video on YouTube taking people through the cabinet painting process.
Projects for newbies: Closet upgrades, toilet repair, and more
The internet is brimming with how-to video content, although a lot of it is not of high quality. How do you make sure you are getting smart, accurate, and safe DIY advice? Head to a trusted source.
Long before there was HGTV, there was “This Old House,” PBS’ venerable home improvement show that first aired more than 40 years ago (really). Its website brims with a range of DIY projects for every room of the house, such as how to line your closet with cedar boards.
There are plenty of good places to head on YouTube, too. The channel Home RenoVision DIY has almost a million subscribers. General contractor Jeff, the host, takes people through all kinds of projects, from completely renovating a kitchen to installing vinyl flooring.
Next level: Build something for your home
If you’re interested in actually making something, and not just fix-it jobs, HomeMade Modern, a YouTube channel with 1.23 million subscribers, showcases DIY furniture projects with Scandinavian modern flair.
Want to make your own wooden desktop organizer or learn the difference between a mortise and tenon joint? Paul Sellers’ YouTube channel might be just what you’re looking for.
The United Kingdom–based woodworker’s channel has more than 400,000 subscribers and hundreds of videos that teach how to sharpen a saw, create a planter made of pallets, and much more.
Go deep with longer-form classes
For those who really want to go deep on a particular skill, several sites have multipart classes and workshops. Some are free while others charge a subscription or per-class fee.
Family Handyman DIY University has all kinds of online classes from professionals. Premium workshops take several weeks to complete, and other videos are quick. Some workshops also include access to instructors if you have questions or face challenges.
And if you really want to master the essentials, Udemy offers a course series called Comprehensive Home Repair and Improvement, which is one of its highest-rated offerings in the home improvement category. The 74 lectures for $199 include step-by-step demonstrations of just about every type of repair, from electrical to flooring to plumbing.
MasterClass is definitely one of the priciest options out there, since its instructors are often true celebrities and masters of their craft. An annual membership costs $180 (it’s currently offering two memberships for the price of one, so you could buddy up and cut the cost), and gets you full access to its library of content. You could learn interior design from Hollywood designer Kelly Wearstler, or how to grow your own food from the “Gangster Gardener,” Ron Finley.