Home improvement in winter? Why not? You’ve chopped up and prepared all the firewood, so you’re probably ready for something new to do.
True, the days are short, it’s cold, and you may not be able (or want) to do anything outside. While the weather may discourage you from replacing the gutters or pouring a new concrete walk, smaller scale indoor improvements are perfect for this time of year.
Energy Savers. Start by making your home more comfortable while you save energy and money. You can find the supplies for these three easy improvements at your local hardware or home DIY store: Insulate your water heater; Install a programmable thermostat; Add, repair or replace the weather stripping on your doors and windows. If you have an attic or other accessible spaces, check to see if you have enough insulation. Your gas or electric utility may offer free or low cost home energy audits to help you identify areas that need attention.
Mudroom. We’re partway through the winter. Does your mudroom need some help? Organization is the key to taming this space. You need to corral the coats, boots/outdoor shoes, gloves and hats. If you have kids, putting their name on a bin and a hook will show them where their stuff should go. With enough practice, it may even save time in the morning when they’re dashing off to school. Chances are that your mudroom is also the laundry room or entryway, so check these cool ideas to make your mudroom a stylish organizational success.
Paint. In many parts of the country winter is the driest time of year, meaning that paint will dry more quickly. The downside is that when it’s cold, you don’t want to open the windows wide to air out the newly painted rooms. Look for paint with low VOC (volatile organic compound) levels to minimize the paint smell, open windows at least a little, and run a fan to circulate the air and help the paint dry. An exhaust fan is a plus if there’s one in the room. A combination paint/primer may cover the old surface more with fewer coats than separate paint and primer. Make the best use of the limited hours of natural light by doing all your prep work in advance and painting during daylight.
Doors. If you don’t want to paint your whole house, or even a room or two, updating your doors can make a strong visual impact. If you want to go big, replace your interior doors. Too big? Replace your door hardware. However, don’t be surprised if you see that nice new hardware and decide you want to paint or refinish your doors, too. You may want to enlist professional help to hang doors or install hardware.
Closet. Winter is the perfect time to clean and organize your closet. First, take everything out (you may need to do this in stages). Be critical and selective about what you keep. Yes, it’s your favorite pair of jeans, but you haven’t worn them in 5 years, they don’t fit, and they have a stain that won’t come out. Next? You no longer need seven suits for work because your company embraced a more casual dress code two years ago. Let. Them. Go. Keep one or two for weddings and funerals. Donate the others to a nonprofit thrift store or sell them at a consignment store. And speaking of weddings, those shoes you bought because they were super cute? The ones that gave you blisters before the reception started? Goodbye. Once you’ve cleared the excess, organize what’s left. A full-on organizational system is great if you can afford it, but there are less-expensive fixes that will yield excellent results. Look here and here for a range of ideas.
Bathroom. If you want to choose one room for a winter makeover, I vote for the bathroom. It’s usually a smaller space, and you don’t have to go over the top to make big changes. For an immediate easy upgrade, replace the shower curtain, towels, and toilet seat. (Don’t spoil the effect by leaving discolored or moldy caulk around the tub or shower. Replace it.) Move to the next level and paint the bathroom. Ready to go even further? If the basic fixtures are in good shape, update them with new hardware and add a combination shower with a fixed head and a hand-held sprayer. Replace the mirror or, if you need more storage, install a new medicine cabinet. If you decide on an all-out remodel, you may be able to save money by doing some of it yourself, but be sure to work this out in advance with any professionals you hire.
Just think: By the time you complete all these projects it will be spring and you can start working outside again!