Home improv: the art of improvising home improvements

Joan Fieldstone

March 18, 2014

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Interior Home ImprovementGeneral Remodeling

"Home improv" is a phrase I use to describe my seat-of-the-pants approach to making small home improvements, often on the fly (and with a little help from my friends).

Repurposing a piece of furniture, doing a small mosaic in the kitchen, creating a wall niche, or even reorganizing a closet -- these spontaneous mini-projects to enhance the living space remind me of those improvisational games actors play to warm up for the real performance. It's the same kind of give and take, each new line or bit of action based on the previous one no matter how off-the-wall it is -- and the game could go on indefinitely.

Home improv: training or the real thing?

Like improv games, home improv projects can be the creative warm-up, the decorating quick-fix that tests the waters before committing to a larger home improvement project. Sometimes the results are so surprisingly good, I can live with them for years before craving a more professional or commercial solution. Sometimes not. Of course, you definitely don't want to improvise a home remodel that would endanger you, your house, or its occupants. Those are the times you want to consult a professional contractor from the get-go. But sometimes the results, no matter how good the idea seemed at the time, are just "meh."

I wrote a few months ago about repurposing an inexpensive desk to create some garage storage. It served its new purpose beautifully for a while -- getting the clutter off the floor and out of the way -- but it quickly outlived its usefulness. The problem was that as I pulled things out and restacked them -- plus adding items -- the pile soon resembled a giant game of Jenga. I was afraid a slight earth tremor might topple everything onto the hood of my car.

I also needed more shelf storage for painting supplies and several boxes of books that had little by little taken over the floor and most of the vertical space in the bottom of my hall closet.

When a commercial storage solution works best

On a trip to Home Depot to get wall anchors I saw they had a sale on garage storage shelving. Squirrel! I didn't want to wait for the next sale. BFF was with me, and she was driving her pick-up -- so I bought it. (Luckily, we remembered to buy the wall anchors to hang my coat rack.)

Having the shelving has made it possible to remove the paint supplies from the hall closet, which made it possible to consider the flooring in the closet -- which couldn't be installed because the closet was full of painting paraphernalia and books. Thinking about installing the flooring made it more pressing to consider enlarging the closet space first…

Does the puzzle of home improvement ever end?

Like improvisation games, home improv either temporarily runs out of creative juice, or keeps rolling along in its haphazard way until someone yells, "Stop!"

I'm in a holding pattern for the moment, but the creative brain knows little rest. As soon as I have a few dollars burning a hole in my pocket -- or Home Depot offers another no-interest deal on financing -- I'll be at it again.

But see how nice the garage looks with adequate shelving!

wire garage shelving


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