Planning a big renovation is a tantalizing prospect, especially when you line up a roster of pros to (magically) do it all for you.

But when those budget numbers come back, you may be in for a big surprise. Before you table the plans that had you all excited in the first place, consider the DIY route. While we certainly don’t recommend replacing your roof or plumbing system on your own, there are plenty of projects you can take on—even if you’re a novice. 

The first step: “Get rid of any fears you have about messing up,” says Anita Yokota, an interior designer and DIY pro. “Be realistic, and take baby projects first. Then, fake it until you make it.” In her words, “practice makes progress,” and these five projects offer a great value-friendly place to start:


DIY Board and Batten

DIY Board and Batten in Bedroom

Add dimension to what Yokota calls “flat” walls with DIY board and batten. The project costs less than $200 and requires just three supplies (wood, nails, and paint), but yields what looks like custom woodworking—something that would cost thousands to hire a pro to do for you.


DIY Beadboard Wall

DIY beadboard in bathroom

“I turned my mom’s 80s mauve powder room into a modern, rustic bathroom with $20 beadboard paneling,” says Yokota. Like board and batten, this treatment adds architectural details to an otherwise boring space. Try it in a bathroom, mudroom, or entryway for an eye-catching finish that’s also scratch-proof.

DIY Cane Cabinets

DIY laundry storage doors

Spruce up basic IKEA cabinets with custom-looking doors. For a bespoke look in the laundry room (or on a dresser!), try installing cane webbing on simple shaker doors and swapping out the hardware. If you already own the cabinets, this project will run you less than $50—a far cry from the hundreds you’d pay for custom storage. 


DIY Bathroom Refresh

Anita Yokota Bathroom

As long as you have a functioning layout, a dreary and dated bathroom is easy to refresh for just a few hundred dollars by replacing outdated light fixtures, painting old vanities, adding peel-and-stick backsplash and flooring, and adding decor like a vintage runner, says Yokota.


DIY Kitchen Makeover

DIY Marble Countertops

Would you believe us if we told you there’s a $40 hack that can completely transform the look of your kitchen? To upgrade her countertops—an endeavor that typically costs a few thousand dollars—Yokota covered them with marble contact paper, then painted the walls white. The result? A brand new kitchen at a fraction of the cost.

Anita Yokota and her husband

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