With few risk-free options for getting out of the house this winter, some time-filling home
improvement projects might be just the ticket for keeping boredom and seasonal
depression at bay. Here are eight ideas that can boost your mood and improve your
home at the same time!
Declutter. If you’ve been sheltering in place during the pandemic, you might have
already purged and organized closets, dressers, and other small home-storage spaces.
Use the coming winter months to tackle any unfinished decluttering jobs, perhaps
addressing larger home storage spaces such as basements, attics, garages. Be aware,
however, that everyone is pretty much doing the same thing, so wait times for donation
pickups could be longer than usual and capacity at donation drop-off sites might be
maxed out. Definitely call ahead before loading up your car with donations!
Toss expired foodstuffs and meds. Just prior to winter holidays is a great time to purge
kitchen cabinets, fridge, and freezer of expired and stale foods. Got herbs and spices
that are more than 1–2 years old? Chances are they’ve lost full flavor potency. For
refrigerated and frozen foods, check this handy food safety chart to see how long they
are safe to keep. While you’re at it, go through your medicine cabinet to safely dispose
of expired OTC and prescription meds.
Audit your home’s energy efficiency. All homes lose heat in winter through doors, walls,
ceilings, windows, basement, attic, and so forth. The cost of that heat loss can really
add up, so consider making a plan to improve energy efficiency overall. Identify and
patch up sources of drafts, such as deteriorated caulking around doors and windows.
Consider adding new or replacing old insulation. Better yet, sign up for a professional
energy audit. Many gas and electric utilities offer in-depth energy audits for FREE. And
those audits often come with perks such as free energy-efficient lightbulbs, discounts on
new efficiency-rated appliances, free removal of older, high energy-consuming
appliances, and access to government-backed low or no-interest loans for HVAC
Re-grout tile. How’s your grout looking on tiled surfaces? Even with regular cleaning,
mildew and other stains will eventually penetrate to depths that demand a full facelift.
The good news is that you can often add new grout over old and most re-grouting jobs
can be managed in the course of a single winter weekend. Be sure to ventilate well
when applying grout sealers, however, as the fumes can be toxic to both people and
Deep clean appliances. When was the last time you cleared those burnt crumbs from
the bottom of your toaster? De-calcified your coffee maker? Deep cleaned your
standing mixer? Check out this post for a handy checklist of oft-neglected small-
appliance cleaning jobs. Large appliances — oven, stovetop, dishwasher, washing
machine, dryer — need TLC, sanitization, and disinfection too!
Tighten up loose things. Stuck inside on a stormy winter day? Grab a selection of screw
drivers and other light tools to address all those jiggly doorknobs, loose drawer and
closet pulls, creaky chairs, bed frames, headboards, and so forth in one tour.
Freshen décor. For example, change up your wall game! Patch cracks and old holes.
Hang new pictures, mirrors, clocks, or simply move old ones around for a fresh look.
Consider updating fixtures — lighting, cabinet and drawer pulls, faucets, door handles,
and so forth. Winter is also a great time for freshening up interior walls with new paint or
colors. If painting inside during winter, though, be sure to pick warmish days when
adequate ventilation is possible and to ensure proper drying and curing of new paint.
When selecting paint finishes, consider future cleaning implications ahead of time.
Repurpose poorly utilized spaces. Got a whole extra room where you tend to stow junk?
This might be just the winter to repurpose that space for something useful or
pleasurable, such as a home office, gym, craft studio, game room, meditation space,
and so forth. Get creative!