This article was originally published Dec. 27, 2017
"This is no time for work
This is no time to go
This is no time for home projects
With all the deep, deep, deep snow
Before we work, all that snow has to go."
Or does it, Dr. Seuss?
If you think home improvement has to wait until spring, think again.
Beat those winter blues with a home project! Doing the work out of season means costs are lower, contractors are easier to find and you can spend summer months doing things you actually enjoy. It’s true that most people don’t think of winter to start a home project, but they should!
Pick up these five winter projects and you’ll greet next spring with a tidied, touched-up home.
January might be the official “Get Organized Month” but we recommend the days after Christmas. Many of us have a few days off, the phone is quiet(er), extended family has (hopefully) gone home, your boss is on vacation, the kids are glued to their new games and you have your own holiday haul to make room for, s: out with the old, in with the new.
Decluttering can even save you money. As you sort through your junk, you’re forced to take stock of what you have, decide what you need, get rid of what you don’t and find things you may have lost. This lets you buy smarter, or not at all since you finally found that missing mustache trimmer you were about to replace.
Beware of burnout! Tackle one task at a time. Professional organizer Susan Fleischman recommends starting with surfaces, then floors, then what’s tucked away in closets and cabinets. Take each room in turn. And make everything accessible. Make horizontal piles vertical piles. Put things where you actually use them.
Decluttering can even save you money. As you sort through your junk, you’re forced to take stock of what you have, decide what you need, get rid of what you don’t and find things you may have lost.
2. Winterize your home
If your nose gets a chillin’ indoors or the heating bill jumps when the outside temperature falls, you may need to winterize your home. If it’s been more than a few months since you changed the air filter, do that right away. Then, if you don’t have one, consider installing a programmable thermostat and set the temperature lower at night and when you go on vacation. Think about getting a whole-house humidifier, repairing the air ducts, calling a professional for an HVAC tuneup. There are also easy fixes you can do yourself, such as cellular shades or pleated blinds, layered window treatments, door snakes and insulating window film. And if your holiday lights have seen their last year, throw them out and consider buying LED replacements.
3. Interior painting
If you’re tired of staring at the same four walls but don’t really want to go out in the snow to escape them, grab some paint and start rolling! It’s easy, cheap and gets immediate results. One bonus of doing it in winter is that crisp winter air dries paint lightning fast.
One special consideration to remember is this: keep the workroom well ventilated. That doesn’t mean you need to freeze the family. Start with low-traffic rooms. Use a door snake to keep cold air from slithering into the rest of the house and open the windows. Treat yourself to hot chocolate when you’re done.
If you don’t want to do it yourself, contractors usually offer great deals during the winter months. Why? Contractors hate winter! The whole winter season! No one quite knows the reason, but it could be that their client list is two sizes too small.
4. Cabinet and countertops
Maybe you paint the walls and all of a sudden the cabinets don’t match and you start fantasizing about the kitchen of your dreams.
If you’re like most homeowners, installing new cabinets and countertops is a project you want professionals to do. A lot of the cost of a kitchen facelift is in the labor. But you’re smart. You’re getting this done in winter. Since contractors’ jobs are like molasses in the colder months — slow — you can often find deals or extra wiggle room when negotiating the price.
Another way to keep costs down is to do your homework. Call around and explore all your options. Standard models are cheaper. Don’t feel tied to name brands when smaller manufacturers often do just as well. And though it might feel tempting to get 100 percent wood, you might be perfectly satisfied with a cheaper option like medium-density fiberboard.
And if you really don’t have money to spend, think about refinishing your existing cabinets. Like the walls, if they’re in good condition they might only need a fresh coat of paint. And even if it turns into a lot of work, you’ve got time. It’s winter!
Since contractors’ jobs are like molasses in the colder months — slow — you can often find deals or extra wiggle room when negotiating the price.
5. Small projects
Leaky faucet. Clogged drains. Drafty fireplace. Cracked tiles. Splintering baseboard.
You probably have 1,001 small home projects you meant to get done in 2017, but never did. December and January are your friends here, too. Handymen, like contractors, see a slow-down in the winter months and often offer lower prices when work is scarce. Write all your jobs down and let a handyman knock out a few in one trip.
And if you want to do the work yourself, well that beats doing that 1,001-piece jigsaw puzzle again.
No matter the weather outside, you can make your home a winter wonderland. If you’re going to settle in for a long winter’s nap, why not do it in a tidy, warm, freshly painted, tuned-up home with a killer kitchen?