What’s In My DIY Decorators Toolbox ?

Every once in a while I get a comment or email from one of you, my wonderful readers asking – What tools do I use when I am doing a decorating project?   Soooo… after showing the exterior of my toolbox to you in my last post, I’ve decided to reveal it all to you – finally. I don’t know what took me so long – Oh, but I do…..

Decorator's Toolbox


…it was a total mess!!

Years and many jobs worth of junk, tidbits, trash, and surprises were lurking in the bottom of my DIY decorator’s toolbox. Let alone doubles of many tools, and other surprises.  I used this tool box when I would travel to other stores when I worked in retail display, on client decorating jobs, and to tote small tools around my house when working on projects.

It is all cleaned up – now I can show you my favorite go-to tools for getting décor and DIY projects done quickly – I dumped it all out on my family room floor.    This photo is the straightened up version. Trax the cat was finding all the dust and small pins, nails and other junk way too interesting, so I had to quickly sweep all the junk up and this is what was left.


I use a 5 gallon paint bucket to carry my tools around. I made a tool bucket apron for it a long time ago. It has been the perfect way for me to take my tools wherever I go. I made the pattern myself after seeing a Simplicity pattern for one.  I don’t think they sell the patterns any longer, but I did find a few resources (at the end of the post) if you are interested in making or buying one similar.  To protect the fabric from getting dirty I covered the fabric with ThermOWeb Iron-On Vinyl. I didn’t think it would last long, but it did – so far 18 years.


It has lots of pockets – inside and out.  The center is for holding bigger items.


A decorators toolbox is a bit different from say what someone in construction or general home improvement would carry.  No heavy-duty tools needed– this toolbox is only for the tools needed for hanging, attaching, cutting, measuring, and moving to get a room decorated fast and easy in traditional as well as not so traditional ways.  My power tools are all kept in a workshop in my basement and I grab them when needed.

I don’t have expensive tools, and most everything is pretty basic in this toolbox, but I learned to use them in creative ways when I worked in retail display.  I also learned that I will never need all of them at one time, but am very happy when I do need that certain something – I can find it quickly and hang a curtain rod or make a cover for a cushion.


1. Sticky tabs and glue dots are perfect for placing on a back corner of a picture frame hanging on the wall to keep it straight.  2.Mat Knife – easily cuts cardboard to make fabric backdrops for shelves.  3. Tape assortment – double stick to hold down area rugs, duct tape works in many ways, but can be used to make tape loops to place behind crooked frames on the wall.  Fusible web to hem curtains and attach trim with no sewing  4. Glue gun and glue sticks – used to do so many things from hemming curtains to filling a hole in the wall so a screw or nail will stay in place.  5. Pencils and markers to jot down ideas or sketches.  6. Razor blade scraper– get those tough HomeGoods price tags off glass and other smooth items.  Cleans gunk and or splattered paint off of glass after painting.  7. Plastic scrapers for scraping price tags or gunk off non-glass items.  8.  Glue – Fabric, instant, and stick.  Make instant no-sew treatments with fabric glue. Instant glue can fix a broken vase or plate.  A simple glue stick can be applied to a wallpaper that has peeled up or the seam.  9. + 10. Paint brushes for touching up furniture that has been scratched or worn or dinged.  11. Paper hole punch   12. Paint can opener  13. Mini pry bar comes in handy to open a drawer on a piece of furniture when it is sticking or doesn’t have a knob.  14. Rubber tipped pointer – I think they sell these in the fine art aisle in craft stores. It is perfect for removing those stubborn little pieces of painter’s tape. Rub the rubber end over the tape and it will provide traction to your movement to remove the tape.  15. Awl – used to make holes in just about anything.  16.  Screw and nail remover. I also have the little knife that I use to pry things open.  17. Screwdriver.  18. Scissors – One for general use and one for fabric


1. 3M Command strips – these are the best  – they hang, corral, and help organize    2. All sorts of nails, screws, picture hangers, and anchor screws   3. Sanding block and sandpaper  – sand furniture before painting.  4. Goo-Gone –cleans off gunk on anything, even your hands.  5. Glue Dots mentioned above to hold frames in place. They can also hold up wallpaper to a wall.  I used them in my pantry. When I want to take the paper down – it is quick and easy.  6. 3-prong electrical connectors – to attach to a lamp that may come with a three prong plug and your outlet box or extension cord only accepts 2 prong plugs  7. Rubber bands – use to puddle drapes  8. DIY Picture hanging tool – to see how it works  – I wrote about it over on Momtastic.  9. Safety pins – for making instant covers for cushions and pillows  10. Zip ties – To attach rods to nails to make rod brackets when you don’t have any.  Lay the rod on top of a nail or screw that is not nailed into the wall all the way.  Wrap the zip tie around tightly to hold rod in place.  11. Ornament hooks – for Christmas decor  12. Straight pins – use in place of a nail or screw when hanging something on the wall. It leaves only a teeny-tiny hole.  13. Fishing line – to tie or hang things invisibly.  14. Push pins and thumb tacks to hold drapes with tieback to the wall.  15. Memo Pad – notes and sketches  16. Wire – very helpful when putting up holiday decorations and to hang framed art on the wall  17. Electrical tape and super double stick tape  18. Tiny scissors  19.  Yankee Push Drill and drill bits – this is an old-fashioned tool, but works great.  In the handle there are different size drill bits that are easy to change. Once the bit is attached, you just push the drill into a wall to make a hole so you can hang curtain rods.  20. Rubber gloves


1. Furniture sliders – place under legs of furniture for easy moving  2. Hammer  3. Stud Finder – makes finding the wall stud easy when the stud is needed to hang heavy objects.  4. Tape Measure  5. Staple gun staples  6. T-Square – goes everywhere with me – use it to mark straight lines on wood, foam core, fabric, and paper.  7. Hex screwdriver – certain types of furniture have hex nuts. This is needed when moving furniture and putting it back together again.  8. Paper stapler  9. Staple gun – to reupholster furniture dining room style chairs quickly  10. Wire and metal cutter  11. Electric screwdriver  12. Bubble level – making sure everything you hang is level.

Lots of stuff – most of it small so it all fits into my tool bucket.



If you would like to make your own tool bucket apron using a favorite fabric here is a link pdf. with a pattern.

If you don’t sew – I did find two you can buy. One in green, the other khaki.


*Head over to my DIY Decorating Gallery to see how I use all these tools to DIY my home.


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  1. Ella Richardson says:

    Wow, It’s great :)
    I am inspired by your work and got some great ideas. Thanks and keep sharing :)

  2. I love this idea!! I have several buckets set up with aprons and tools.

    Now I can found an outrageous print fabric and make my own and for gifts :-)

  3. Margot C. says:

    Love the idea Diane! You can order the green & black bucket liner in pink & black on Amazon. I just did and now I won’t be searching for my tools!

  4. Martha/Marty says:

    Yet another “favorite” post. This would solve some problems for me – another another step in the right direction.

  5. Best post ever! Some of these things I need to get and what a great gift idea for a crafty friend. Thank you.

  6. I have tool bucket envy. And it’s all good because you prove that you don’t need to spend big $$ on special/unique items!

  7. Wow, I’m inspired! Thank you for sharing your “inside” tip. ;)
    I really appreciate your blog. It’s both beautiful and helpful.

  8. Designed Decor says:

    That’s alot of little pieces! Love the feminine bucket tool organizer!