There is no reason to ever be bored, an adult once told me when I was young. Were you ever a kid? I remember thinking. Still, I actually took this grown-up’s (blasphemous!) advice and put it into play. I built forts, organized neighborhood soccer games, and cooked “gourmet” meals out of Doritos for my friends—all as fixes to the quandary of what to do when you’re bored. Now decades later, I’ve kept many of those tactics alive and put a mature spin on them. My boredom-busting ideas are grouped into buckets: things to do with friends, dishes to cook, and, as the following reveals, design projects to do when you’re bored at home.
The last bucket has grown exponentially. Rearranging the living room furniture is always so darn satisfying. The same goes for a pantry clean-out, a bedroom redesign, and a home library overhaul. But it doesn’t stop there. The home is a mecca for creativity, and there is always something to fix, update, or redo. Enter these 23 home projects to do when you’re bored.
Feature image of Diana Ryu’s Los Angeles home by Teal Thompson
23 Things to Do at Home When Boredom Gets the Better of You—Design Edition
1. Rehang art
That framed scarf in your office may be better suited for your living room. Or the print in your bedroom could be the décor ticket for your bath. Simply swapping out your art makes for an instant design lift. You don’t need to commit to nailing a new hole right away: Use the hangers in place as best as you can and let the inspiration flow.
2. Spotlight functional décor items
The most useful items in our homes, like a hardworking mixing bowl or a ladle, get little attention beyond their utilitarian means. Scour your home for the items you use most, preferably ones made of pure metal, glass, or wood, and consider hanging or putting them on a counter to shine. Doing so can make for an unexpected art statement.
3. Rearrange your library
Is your bookshelf color-coded? Or grouped by genre? Mix it up and section your reads by author or according to how they make you feel. This is a great way to rediscover titles beloved and forgotten.
4. Mix up your open shelving
Every shelf begs for a refresh from time to time. This can be regrouping items of three, or switching out what you currently have with a new lot of accessories. Aim for a mix of sentimental, striking, and poetic.
5. Create a circular vibe
A well-designed home includes areas that encourage conversation and intimacy. This is as possible to obtain in a giant mansion as it is a micro loft. You need to employ a circular aesthetic, i.e. placing items so they gently face one another. (Think two chairs around a small table.) I love Remodelista editor Justine Hand’s advice: “When arranging your furniture, you can create a […] circular dynamic, not by literally placing pieces in a real orb, but by imagining that each is held in place by a kind a centrifugal force.”
6. Infuse your rooms with scent
Break out the essential oils and diffuser. Gather fresh flowers in a vase. Open the windows. Spritz rosewater on your pillows. Sage every room. Scent is powerful and transformative.
7. Capitalize on natural light
Outside rays make for the most flatting and uplifting light in a home. Check every window to see if you’re accessing all the brightness you can: Lift blinds, pare back curtains to sheer ones, position a mirror to reflect light further into the room, and make sure you’re not obstructing a window’s real estate.
8. Paint an accent wall
As (nearly) every interior designer will say, paint is the ultimate magician. Grab a small can and a brush and commit only to a side wall for depth and punch. For rooms lacking natural light, go for a glossier hue to bounce rays.
9. Breathe air into your coat closet
On a recent Sunday, I was looking for my old favorite sweater—everywhere. After much searching, I found it in my small coat closet. That’s when I realized how cluttered this space was. I took out every coat, created dry cleaning and donation piles, and re-designed this area so it’s efficient and pleasant to go into.
10. Shift your cooking gear
Step into your kitchen and pretend you’re about to make one of your go-to weekday meals. Consider everything you need, from the pot to the spices to the utensils. Are they all within easy reach? Go through the motions and meals you make and rearrange your kitchen so it has flow. You want a place for everything that makes removing and storing breezy.
11. Get creative with lighting
It’s the element that makes or breaks a room. Lighting is key, so it’s worth evaluating your lamps and fixture placement. Are your lamps positioned so they add warmth and texture? Do your rooms have focused task lighting and ambient hues? Get creative and move around the lighting features. Simply shifting a lamp from one table to another can visually enlarge your living room.
12. Audit office supplies
I love Whitney Leigh Morris’s prompt in her book, Small Space Style: When was the last time you used a hole punch? And do you need all those pens and pencils? Give your work area a deep look and toss outdated supplies. This will instantly free up space and let in some breathing room.
13. Freshen up your workspace
After the above, allow new vibes to enter this area. Shift your seating around to capitalize on natural light, bring in a side table to host fresh flowers (put them behind you for your Zoom audience), and clear up your books. Think about it: You spend a good amount of time here. Make it feel really good.
14. Create a coffee station
I close my eyes at night already dreaming about my cup of coffee. Anyone with me? If so, a little café nook that holds all your morning goods, including a grinder, fresh beans, French press, or favorite teas. If counter space is limited, Morris has the smart idea of corralling all this in a small tray or caddy, that you can swiftly clear away after making your morning cup.
15. Rethink outdated “necessities”
When lifestyle writer Erin Boyle and her husband moved into a tiny flat in Brooklyn, their drawer space was limited—so much so there wasn’t room for the bulky silverware organizer we’re brainwashed into thinking we need. In its stead, the couple opted for two glass jars to house their utensils, positioned within arm’s reach in a cabinet.
“When you decide that you don’t need to rely on store-bought contraptions, the amount of storage space available to you expands, and the pleasure you get from your things increases,” Boyle writes in her book Simple Matters. So smart and freeing.
16. Clear out unnecessaries from the bathroom
Chances are there are bottles and potions in your bathroom that you haven’t used in six months. As the editors of Remodelista: The Organized Home suggest, purge them! Also, toss toiletries you use less than once a week, expired cosmetics and meds, extra used tubes of toothpaste, unloved perfume, rusty razors, and old nail polish.
17. Update your pet’s nook
Look at Scruffy’s eating area. Is it a bland spot with a bowl? Put down a pretty mat (my pup eats on a Block Shop napkin), replace any old doggie bowls with beautiful human bowls, and consider a little folded throw blanket on the side. Scruffy might not notice, but you will.
18. Shake it all out
Literally. Take throw pillows, rugs, sofa blankets, and any textiles that are used often outside and vigorously shake them. You’ll be amazed (or grossed out) at the dust and dander that collects in them—even for the items you launder regularly. Bonus: This is a killer triceps workout.
19. Up the spa factor in your bathroom
Another brilliant cue from Morris: Make your bathroom a “personal heaven on earth,” she writes. Pick your favorite personal care items and display them, arrange a plant on a window ledge, and set up the space for a mini spa moment.
20. Rearrange living room furniture
It’s an oldie and always a goodie. Start with moving the sofa to the other wall, shifting it to face the opposite window, or merely pushing it a few inches left. A perspective change just may be what you need to thwart off ruts and let in the room for new design ideas.
21. Section-off a meditation area
Building a space for solitude is the definition of self-care. And it need not require an entire room. Section off a small corner of the living room, or dedicate an area in your bedroom or office to taking a moment to contemplate and feel what you’re feeling. Add a comfy pillow and throw for a makeshift seat.
22. Toss toxic cleaning products
A tip from Camille: “You can have products that actually clean well, sans all the junk and toxic chemicals in most cleaners.” So go through all the ones in your home and toss those that aren’t made of pure ingredients. And don’t forget to vet your laundry detergent!
23. Audit every room
Commit to going into each room or section of your home. Upon stepping in, take stock of how the space makes you feel. Is it calming or frenetic? Does it look serene or cluttered? Is there a décor piece that reminds you of a good or bad event? It may sound silly, but trust me. Auditing each room can offer so much information. Take your time and things will speak to you—for better or worse. From there, clear out the bad, add in the great, and move forward.
What are your favorite home projects to tackle? Share in the comments!