The stay-at-home orders during the pandemic have inspired many people to break out their tools. All the projects, big or small, that had been hovering in the background are suddenly a possibility now that many of us have unlimited time at home. Whether it’s switching your heating and cooling system to a ductless one or building a backyard playset for the kids, here are six pandemic-inspired remodeling projects to consider if you want to make your home a more comfortable and enjoyable place to spend your quarantine down-time.

1. Upgrade Your Patio

Even if you have a spacious patio, consider an upgrade. With innovations like heat lamps and outdoor gas fireplaces, you can make your patio the newest family room year-round.

To put in or revamp a patio, work from the ground up. A level floor surface is the essential component of a successful outdoor area. You don’t want guests tripping on slightly raised flagstones or glasses to fall off the table because of poor leveling. Re-tile or sand and stain your patio deck, and then install accessories like ambient lighting, heating units, and comfortable outdoor furniture to create an inviting space you can enjoy any time of the year.

2. Install an Outdoor Kitchen

Your kitchen is the heart of your home, and you can bring that cozy communal feeling outside by building your own outdoor kitchen. An outdoor kitchen provides an additional space for you to entertain once the pandemic is over and can increase the resale value of your home. It also enables you to experiment with new recipes that you may not be able to cook indoors so you can expand your culinary repertoire.

Building your outdoor kitchen is relatively straightforward. You can use anything from paving stones to standard 2x4s to create a simple frame, leaving a space on top for a grill or smoker and an area underneath to install a fridge. If your proposed outdoor kitchen location doesn’t have access to electricity or plumbing, you may need to hire professionals to run pipes and cables under your lawn or patio. An outdoor kitchen can be as simple or complex as you like. Install beer taps to create an authentic home bar and add an ice maker and sink to make outdoor mealtime more convenient.

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3. Add a Splash of Color

Repainting parts of your house is an easy way to keep up with maintenance and refresh your décor. By tackling a repainting project, you clean your walls, protect them with paint, and add new hues to your home.

To avoid lap marks—those unsightly overlapping lines you may see on home-paint jobs—work consistently yet quickly. These lines are made when wet paint comes into contact with partly dry paint. Latex paint, the modern choice for most interiors, dries quickly, so the key is to work steadily across the wall, keeping a wet edge and going from the top of the wall down to pick up any drips. If you live in a rental and repainting is not an option, try removable wallpaper to give your interior a lift. This wallpaper comes with a self-adhesive backing that won’t damage the wall paint underneath, and it is easy to cut to size and install yourself.

4. Create a Home Office

The pandemic created a dire need for an organized home office for employees working from home and students taking virtual classes. Many homes do not have a designated space for a home office, but some simple home remodeling ideas can create a productive workspace. You don’t need much to create a secluded corner that is conducive to working and studying. Natural light, some organizational furniture like a desk or file cabinets, a comfortable chair, and some outlets are all you need to create an efficient home office.

If you can, pick a spot next to a window. Many people find they are more productive when they can focus their eyes on something other than a computer screen to give their eye muscles a break and reduce digital-related eye strain. Another ideal location to place a home office is inside a closet. Simply install a workbench using a pre-cut piece of wood and brackets, add wall-mounted shelving, and you have a home office that you can conveniently close at the end of the business day.

5. Switch to a Ductless System

During quarantine, switch over your antiquated heating and cooling system to a ductless one. Professionals can advise you on how much effort and time it will take to switch over to a modern ductless HVAC system. A ductless system consists of an outside condenser connected to indoor handler units placed in any room you choose. Without bulky ductwork, this system takes up less space and heats and cools your home in zones so you are not spending money to regulate the temperature in areas that are seldom used. Changing from a traditional heating system to a ductless one can also raise the value of your home when it’s time to sell.

Although some opt to hire a professional to install their ductless system, it is possible to do it alone. If you choose DIY installation, it is important to pick a ductless system that is pre-filled with refrigerant so that it is ready to work as soon as you hook it up. If you’re able to work with a pre-filled line set, then you need to mount the indoor units and hook them up to the outside condenser. You’ll only need a few tools that you likely already have in your garage, such as an adjustable wrench, level, driver or drill, and a hole saw.

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6. Treat Your Kids to a Playground or Pool

A backyard remodeling project can give your family outdoor thrills and create wonderful memories. If you have young children, consider putting in a playground that grows with them. It is crucial, especially if the play structure has swings or other climbable features, that you can dig the posts to a safe depth. If there are underlying metal elements like pipes at the site where you’re putting up your playset, you may not be able to stabilize it as easily.

You should also aim to face any reflective or exposed metal pieces, like slides, away from the sun as much as possible. Nobody enjoys going down a hot metal slide. A north-facing slide stays cooler for longer. A pool is also a huge undertaking, but one that can add value to your property. It doesn’t matter if you’re only on half an acre; there are smaller pool sizes like a lap pool that will fit just about any outdoor space. Above ground pools or lap pools, there’s a swimming option that can fit any budget, space, or ability.

The Takeaway

If you have some extra time due to quarantine orders, and you’re considering some home improvements, now is an ideal time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. You can make your home more comfortable, beautiful, and efficient with the right resources, a bit of elbow grease, and a little know-how.