February 19, 2017
10 Home and Garden Projects to Start Now
If, like me, you’re just emerging from your winter cocoon, you may be throwing off your blankets and starting to think about tackling some new projects around the home. Spring is only a few weeks away, and winter’s worst is (hopefully) over.Here, then, are 10 projects, ranging from the reasonably ambitious (knocking out a wall) to the pleasingly achievable (mixing up your artworks), that you can start to tackle as we make the transition from the chilly, short days to warmth and renewal.
1. Dispose of big items. With the raft of decluttering bibles published in recent times, it’s tempting to focus on clearing out the small stuff. But, while you definitely should let go of some of those 27 candleholders you’re hoarding, don’t forget to look at the big picture too. If your home is looking crowded, pare back and give away or recycle larger items.
Be honest: Has your sofa had its day? Is that old kitchen table still working for your family, or is it ready for someone else to give it some love? Was the sideboard a bad idea after all?
Take photos of your rooms and furniture on your phone, and look at them outside the house to help provide some distance. Then ask yourself: Do I love it or just live with it, and can I afford to replace it? If something new isn’t in your budget, consider upcycling your possessions by painting, personalizing or customizing them.
2. Paint inside. In many places, it’s still too cold and damp to consider painting your exterior, but now could be a good time to spruce up your interior walls. The days are getting longer, which gives you a larger window of time to finish your job before the light fades. And a coat of new paint feels just right for spring.
If you’re ready for something different on your walls, current popular shades include fresh forest greens and soft gray-blues, while inky blues and grays are still going strong.
3. Research a garden upgrade. It may feel too early to start thinking about your outdoor space, but the months have a habit of going by quickly, and now is actually a great time to seriously contemplate your garden plans. Is this the year you want to put down decking or rethink your hardscaping? What about new planting schemes?
Start researching and making decisions now so that you’re ready to take action once spring arrives. That way, your garden upgrades will be done in time for you to actually get some use out of them when late spring and summer are here. If you’re thinking of enlisting the help of professional landscape architects and designers, they also can get going on plans for you now.
4. Polish your windows (and skylights). With the last frost hopefully soon gone, it could be time to book an appointment with your window cleaner. It’s amazing how simply having smear- and grime-free panes can make interiors seem lighter, fresher and more “done.”
Inside, grab a microfiber cloth and window-cleaning spray or, if you prefer the old-school method, newspaper and diluted white vinegar. Invest in a squeegee with a long handle for hard-to-reach skylights.
5. Clean your kitchen properly. Have you barely left the snug warmth of your kitchen this winter? You’re not alone. However, following December’s season of entertaining and cooking, and January’s cold-weather retreat, now’s the time to assess the damage. And I don’t just mean wiping down your counters a little more scrupulously than usual.
Clean your oven or get it professionally cleaned if you really can’t face it. Pull out appliances and look at the unsightly crimes that are hiding underneath the fridge or dishwasher. Wipe down the inside of cabinets by using a solution of baking soda and water to tackle greasy corners. Then, when spring arrives, you can feel smug about being ahead of the game.
6. Rearrange your artworks. Been gazing unseeingly at the same arrangement of prints for the past five years? Then mix them up. Even a simple rehang of the same artworks in different rooms can have a huge effect. It can change the color scheme of a space and even influence the room’s ambience.
Better still, swap them for one of the many (if you’re anything like me) posters and prints you’ve stashed away but never actually framed. It takes just moments to type in your artwork’s dimensions on one of the online made-to-measure framing sites.
7. Consider knocking through. Major additions and renovations ideally require warmer, drier weather, especially if your builders are going to be spending long hours outside. But getting rid of an interior wall can have a huge effect on your home without the need for venturing outdoors just yet.
The classic solution is knocking through the dining and living rooms or creating an open-plan kitchen-dining area. Also consider the modern trend for “broken-plan” living. In this room, glass doors add a sense of space and are flexible, retaining the feel of two smaller, more private rooms when required.
8. Make over your stairs. Is your stair carpet looking tired or is the surrounding millwork chipped? Consider giving your staircase a lift this early spring by transforming its coverings. It can help to turn your hallway into an “event,” rather than a functional corridor.
A striped runner is a classic or, if you really want to express yourself, go for a DIY painted finish, as seen here.
9. Put up shelves. It may feel too early in the year to get going on a bigger project, such as a new kitchen or an addition, but there’s never a bad time to put up shelving.
One simple shelf can provide a place to display objects and can subtly change the feel of a room. Or think inside the box, and look at the trend for hanging cube-style wall shelves, as in this living space. They make a real statement. You can also be creative and use items such as vintage crates.
10. Buy a plant. If you’re looking for a big payback with minimal effort, rather than a big project involving disruption or money, then treat yourself to a new houseplant. They’re having something of a hipster moment, and they’ll cheer you up and reconnect you with nature after being cooped up all winter.