Parenting | Crafts + DIY | Home + Garden

Home Improvement: 14 To-Dos to Make the Most of Summer

DIY doesn't have to be difficult. Try these ideas in-between picnics, vacations and general relaxation

Photo credit: Going Home to Roost, original photo on Houzz

Making a summer want-to-do list is a great way to be sure you make time for everything you want to do before the season slips by. You can probably think of plenty of items to add to your list that involve outings, like spending the day at the beach, going to a baseball game, jumping in a lake or eating a lobster roll at your favorite clam shack — but what about fun things you can do without leaving home? Consider adding these 14 ideas to your list.

1. Photograph your house.

Years from now, whether you still live in your home or have moved on to another place, it can be rewarding to have a few mementos of your home life as it is today. Take a few shots of the exterior from across the street and each room inside, plus any special details, like your children's height marks on a door frame or the view from your favorite window.

2. Set the stage for a staycation.

A few days off at home in summer can be even sweeter if you've taken the time to stock your home and patio with summer essentials. Clean up those deck chairs and treat yourself to a few fluffy new towels or pillows, a stack of books and your favorite icy drinks.

3. String up a hammock.

Just looking at a hammock swaying gently in the breeze is relaxing — actually lounging in one is even better! If you don't have trees or a pergola to hang yours from, look for a hammock that comes with its own freestanding frame.

4. Try a fresh take on the guest book.

Take a snapshot of every person who visits your home this summer, and tack all of the photos up on your fridge or on a special bulletin board. The growing jumble of photos will be like an ever-changing art display — and by the end of the summer, you'll have enough to fill an album.

5. Add a summery outdoor feature.

An outdoor shower, pizza oven, fire pit, movie screen — any or all of these can transform your outdoor space. And the beauty is, most of these projects can be completed on a variety of budgets.

6. Transform your garage or shed into usable space.

Why let that garage or shed just sit there, when it could be reimagined as an art studio, a workshop or a Ping-Pong room? Let your plans for the space motivate you to get it cleared out and refreshed, so you can begin enjoying it before the summer is over.

Photo credit: Dara Rosenfeld Design, original photo on Houzz

7. Try a nonlawn game.

No lawn? Set up a game of bocce or pétanque on a gravel court or driveway.

8. Decorate with flea market finds.

Freshen up your home on a budget by hunting at summer flea markets and yard sales for bargain finds. Spruce up your finds with a lick of paint or new knobs.

9. Try an upcycling project.

Look at your cast-offs with an eye to repurposing, and you may be able to create something entirely new without spending a dime. In the space shown here, an old boogie board tops a table, and camp blankets cover pillows and chairs. Start with materials you already have and search for project ideas that appeal to you.

10. Preserve the harvest.

The next time you come into a bounty of peak-of-season perfect produce — whether it's from your own garden or a farm stand — get enough to put some by for later. Canning is a popular choice for preserving fruits, but if boiling jars isn't your idea of fun on a hot summer day, consider freezing your haul instead. Just spread out berries or sliced peaches on a baking sheet and freeze them so they don't stick together, then dump them into labeled freezer bags.

Photo credit: Annette Tatum, original photo on Houzz

11. Camp out in the backyard.

Setting up the tent, roasting s'mores over the fire pit and telling stories in the dark is just as fun for little ones whether you are deep in the mountains or in your own backyard. In fact, even if you don't want to sleep outside, tents and tepees make great temporary summer playhouses for kids.

12. Finally print all of those pictures and put up a gallery wall.

Ah, the digital age. If you are anything like me, most of your photos exist only on your computer's hard drive. Commit to making a change this summer by selecting your favorites to print. Fill an entire wall with frames for a fun, eclectic look.

13. Take on a major remodeling project.

If you have been planning a kitchen remodeling project, summer can be a great time to dive in. After all, when else would setting up a temporary outdoor kitchen actually seem fun?

14. Simplify, and then simply relax.

Streamline your belongings and cut clutter out of your life to make more room for what you really want to do.

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