Home Improvement

Are You Into It?

Bedroom Home Improvement exampleHave fun learning how to design your space while being kind to the environment. If you are interested in creating a new color scheme, selecting new accessories for a room, or choosing new floor and window covers, this is the project for you.

  • Master the elements and principles of design to make your house a home
  • Plan home living spaces in keeping with the needs of family members
  • Develop your skill in caring for home furnishings and accessories
  • Explore opportunities for environmentally friendly choices in your home

Here’s what you can do all year!

Starting Out Basic / Level 1

  • Learn the language of home improvement: design elements and principles
  • Plan and design your own space with new techniques
  • Uncover and compare costs to design and accessorize your space
  • Practice choosing wall treatments, window coverings, and floors
  • Discover how paint, wall treatments, flooring, and window coverings create different effects in a room

Learning More Intermediate / Level 2

  • Get the 411 on furniture styles
  • Plan your space using needs, wants, and timelines to make choices
  • Create design boards to visualize living spaces
  • Learn helpful strategies for developing shopping lists
  • Coordinate fabrics and patterns
  • Effectively reduce clutter and stash your stuff
  • Take care of your furniture possessions
  • Experiment with the arrangement of photos on a wall for different effects

Expanding Horizons Advanced / Level 3

  • Select fun accessories for the finishing touch
  • Showcase favorite room accessories
  • Install bright lighting ideas
  • Create personality in a shared space
  • Use natural resources effectively
  • Be in the know with energy efficient products
  • Examine environmentally friendly practices: reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink
  • Investigate energy wasters in the home


Take It Further

Home Improvement Hot Sheet  (color pdf)
Home Improvement Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Design Elements & Art Principles Tip Sheet (color)
Poster Exhibits Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Exhibitor Fair Information Form (Word or editable PDF)
Exhibit Evaluation Form (pdf)
Here are other opportunities to explore Home Improvement:

  • Contact your County Extension Office to participate in local home improvement camps and workshops
  • Consider taking an exhibit, a piece of your project learning, to the county fair for judging and show friends and family what you learned throughout the year - your might get selected to attend the Iowa State Fair
  • Explore online design career fields such as interior design, landscape architecture, professional organization, home staging, community and regional planning, marketing, publishing, and advertising
  • Job shadow professionals concerned with home environmental issues: energy, lighting, landscape, recycling, and eco-friendly cleaning products
  • Design, create, and market soft furnishing accessories to sell at local craft shows
  • Gather a group of friends interested in interior design and volunteer to redesign and rearrange a room at your school to make the area more functional
  • Work with local partners to establish a community day for the free disposal of paint materials and solvents
  • Start a wood salvage shop where old wood furnishings and wood scraps are available to the public for reusing and repurposing
  • Interested in a college education in the area of design? Schedule a visit with Iowa State University’s College of Design to explore potential majors

Step It Up

Pass it on! Now that you know how, share it with others. Here are ideas to get you started.


  • Share with friends how to select a color scheme for their bedroom
  • Develop a step-by-step checklist showing how to cover a headboard using padding and fabric
  • Create a video showing how to be energy efficient in homes


  • Complete a Service-Learning project
  • Assist an elderly person with painting their living room
  • Share with family and friends how to keep living spaces safe
  • Show local museum staff how to properly arrange, protect, and display historical items


  • Show siblings how a shared space can be divided using furniture placement
  • Teach adults proper disposal methods of refinishing materials
  • Work with a non-profit in creating a functional meeting space floor plan

Exhibit Ideas

  • Take photos of home decoration that demonstrates the use of design elements and principles
  • Compare the pros and cons of sponging, rag-rolling, stenciling, and stamping walls
  • Refinish a family antique chair, table, stand, or dresser
  • Illustrate how various wall coverings and flooring have different effects in livings spaces
  • Create a poster that provides examples of elements of different furniture styles
  • Develop a design board showing how an existing floor plan can be transformed to a more functional floor plan
  • Compare the effectiveness of different products in removing stains from hard and soft home furnishings
  • Illustrate the different effects of light quality based on bulb type, shade size, lamp height, and wall color
  • Identify the pros and cons of starting an organizational business to help clients develop spaces for items they use and need
  • Use a model kit to build a solar home showing how the sun’s energy can be used to heat a home
  • Showcase a home improvement item you created in your first, second, and third year in the project describing new skills learned and used
  • Make a pillow to fit with a room's color scheme
  • Make a cleaning tote to carry from room to room
  • Make a poster or display educating people about common energy wasters in the home
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