You’ve been there, done that, with new year, new you. Why not try something different and make 2018 the year for your home? Follow these six simple home maintenance ideas to keep your space looking and functioning better for decades to come.
Home Maintenance Resolution No. 1: Reboot Your Garage
Has this part of your house become a dysfunctional eyesore where stuff gets parked (pun intended) when there’s nowhere else for it to go? The solution is to have a spot for everything up off the floor.
- A pegboard, where you can hang everything from power tools to your garden hose. (Be sure to ask about the proper way to affix the board to the type of wall you have.)
- A set of variable-sized hooks that can be repositioned as your needs change.
- A set of weather-tight bins to help organize items (nails, fertilizer, spray paint) that would be difficult to hang. They can live on shelves below.
If you don’t have a garage, these same ideas work well in a storage closet.
Home Maintenance Resolution No. 2: Refresh Your Kitchen
. . . without breaking a sweat (or the bank). Few New Year’s resolutions can strike fear in the hearts of homeowners like a kitchen reno: the mess, the cost, the downtime. But a couple of relatively painless spruce-ups can be game-changers — and for far less money and aggravation than a full-on do-over.
- Start by sanding and painting your cabinets. For maximum impact, use a bright white or saturated-hue, high-gloss finish. It’s easier to wipe down than something more matte, and the available colors really up the wow-factor. A low-VOC version like Benjamin Moore Advance will get the job done without heavy fumes.
- Replace the hardware while you’re at it. You can spend next to nothing at a place like Home Depot, or splurge at designer-favorite Nanz. Take into consideration how many hinges, handles, knobs, and pulls you need as you calculate your budget.
- Reconsider your existing countertop. Yes, the 20-year-old one that came with the house. It needs to be replaced with something modern and efficient. High-quality engineered surfaces such as Santamargherita quartz and marble are not only attractive and easy to maintain, but also scratch-, stain-, acid-, and heat-resistant. And because you’re much more than vanilla, they come in a wide variety of colors and patterns to match your exacting design needs. Bonus: Either can be quickly installed so you don’t have to eat take-out Thai in the living room for a week.
Home Maintenance Resolution No. 3: Streamline Your Entertainment
If you’re tired of your TV taking up too much real estate, resolve to make it disappear. Swap out your clunky set with a hi-def projector that can show all your content — cable programs, your iTunes library, and even paid services like Hulu and Netflix — on the wall. The projector can live hidden on a shelf when not in use.
You’ll need a router (a device that beams content from one device to another), like AppleTV or an Amazon Fire TV stick, to make it all work. And although any clean white wall will do nicely, you can go a step further and use special paint designed to optimize the look of projector images.
Home Maintenance Resolution No. 4: Go Green(er)
Cutting down on toxic chemicals and energy wasters in your home are noble resolutions, but the choices can be overwhelming. These three changes are easy to implement and can still have a big impact.
- Clean consciously. Swap out noxious cleaning products for eco versions, getting rid of bleach and ammonia in the process. Breathe easier by choosing an effective all-purpose cleaner and a glass cleaner with natural scents.
- Change your light bulbs. Even CFLs, which release poisonous chemicals if broken, are better off replaced with LED bulbs. They use less than half the energy of CFLs (and 70 percent less than incandescents) and produce far less heat, making them a better choice for enclosed areas.
- Install a programmable thermostat, like Nest. It will monitor your use and get to know how you live, then optimize your settings for maximum energy-saving. It can also be adjusted remotely with your smartphone. Down the line, you can even make it an integrated part of a complete home automation system.
Home Maintenance Resolution No. 5: Create a Cleaning Schedule
“Clean the house” is intimidating on any to-do list. Instead, break your cleaning schedule into smaller tasks and have what you need at the ready.
A few pro-tips:
- Start by identifying specific tasks and how often each needs to be done. Depending on how many people there are in your home, you might want to, for instance, tidy the living room weekly and clean the kitchen floor every two weeks.
- Even better, rather than focusing on one room at a time, combine similar chores like mopping, vacuuming, and dusting into a single task performed in several rooms.
- Reserve gross jobs — like going at the grout with a toothbrush and cleaning the kitchen hood vents — to twice a year.
- Use an app like Tody to help keep you on track and remind you when to do each task.
Lastly, make sure to have all the cleaning products and tools organized and in the same spot. Use an attractive caddy to help corral everything and make it easier (and more pleasant) to carry between rooms.
Home Maintenance Resolution No. 6: De-clutter Year-round
Not waiting until you have so much junk you can’t bear to address it is one of the smartest home maintenance ideas out there.
To stay on top of the clutter, take advice from the queen of tidiness herself, Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Even more convenient — Kondo now has an app that walks you through the process.
Make sure to have plenty of cardboard boxes, packing tape, and heavy-duty contractor bags on hand. Once it’s time to trash all that junk, call a carting service like 1-800-Got-Junk or Junk King to haul it all away. You can specify an arrival time and even get an estimate before they arrive.
The key to keeping any resolution is to set benchmarks, give yourself some grace, and keep moving forward — every step is one closer to your dream home.
Stephen Treffinger is a freelance journalist covering interiors, design, tech, and more. He has written for such publications as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Domino, House Beautiful, and many others. When not typing away at his laptop, he is also a potter.