The Best Home Improvement Projects to Tackle in Winter

You’ve closed down your pool, packed away your lawnmower and put your gardening tools away. Now there’s nothing left to do around your home — no big landscaping projects or home improvement projects — to be done until spring sprouts again next year, right?

Not so fast. Though you may not want to start a major renovation on your home during the winter, there are still plenty of indoor projects that will keep you busy all winter long. Many of these indoor projects would take just one afternoon to complete, and in some cases, they don’t need many tools. 

Keeping up with indoor projects over the winter months will make spring cleaning easier for you, and it will ensure that your home stays in good condition. You’ll want to get outside when the weather turns nice again, and the last thing you’ll want to do is stay indoors working on organizing your closets. Winter lets you focus on the indoor months so when spring hits, you can spend all your time outdoors if that’s what you prefer.

So which projects should you focus on during the winter? Here are our favorite indoor projects that are easy to do and greatly improve your living space.

Add insulation and weather stripping

When the temperature drops, you’ll know immediately if the weather stripping on your windows and doors is in poor condition. You’ll feel a draft coming from your windows, and your heating bill will be shockingly high. In your basement and attic, you’ll feel the temperature drop significantly, even when it should be rising in the attic. These are all classic signs of homes in desperate need of better insulation and weather stripping.

Adding or replacing weather stripping around your doors is simple enough. For doors, you can use any of the three different types of weather stripping: wrapped foam wood or metal flange or vinyl bulb metal flange. While the vinyl bulb metal flange has a more discreet look, the other two are more durable, and they can cover a wider gap. If the gaps around your door are wide, then a wrapped foam flange will work best.

You can usually find weather stripping at any hardware store, and you should be able to find one that will match the color of your door. You can also find weather stripping kits with all the toold you’ll need and the instructions to go along with it. Ask an associate at your local hardware store for advice if you need it.

For windows, you can use a number of different types of weather stripping to keep the cold out. Foam tape with an adhesive back is easy to apply and affordable for any budget. It stops air from seeping in through the cracks around the windows, and it lasts for about five years. You’ll know if the weather stripping worked when you can no longer feel that awful draft.

Update your kitchen

If you’re prone to browsing Pinterest for home design tips late at night, then you’ve probably fawned over some of the beautiful updated kitchens that are pinned everywhere. Those gorgeous countertops, the colorful backsplashes — they all make your own kitchen look so average.

Now your kitchen may not be on the cover of Elle Decor, but your kitchen is far from average. If anything, it just needs a little updating. Major kitchen renovations can be expensive and time consuming, but in reality, all your kitchen really needs is a little TLC. Now that you’re stuck indoors all winter long, you can take the time yourself to make a few kitchen updates. 

Try out a few of these indoor projects around your kitchen:

  • Replace the handles and doorknobs on cabinets and drawers. You’d be surprised what a simple change of hardware can do for your kitchen. You can find cabinet handles as your local hardware store, or if you want something a little more trendy, try Anthropology’s hardware collection.
  • Install your own backsplash: While you can hire a professional to do this job, you can do it on your own without needing too many tools. Backsplash can instantly change the look of a kitchen, so go bold with a little color or add a pattern to make your kitchen decor pop.
  • Add some decor: You’d be surprised how much a small area rug can brighten a kitchen. Take the time during the winter to add new decor and accessories to your kitchen that will improve its functionality and make it feel more inviting.

Organize drawers and desks

Some days, we look around our homes and think “I have no closet space.” It’s easy to blame your home for not having enough space for you, but the real problem might not lie in how much space you have, but how much stuff you have and how you’re organizing it. When you take the time to organize your closets, drawers and desks, giving everything a place, you’ll discover two things: You’ll have extra space you didn’t use and you can get rid of a lot of stuff to make more room for the things you do want to keep.

So take the winter season as a time to get organized. If you find you can never find the top of your desk because of everything on top of it, start first by going through the drawers and getting rid of old papers, pens that no longer work and other trinkets you’ve stashed away. Once your desk drawers have been cleaned out, use pencil boxes, folders and files to put everything away in a spot where you’ll be able to find it again.

For closets where you cannot see the floor, head to your local home goods store and pick up plastic bins and containers. You can get long and narrow ones that fit under beds as well as plastic tubs that can be stacked on top of each other. You may also want to invest in plastic drawers for bedroom closets where extra toys, socks or makeup can be stored. 

Once you start giving everything a home, you’ll find you really do have a lot more space in your home than you previously knew. That’s not a reason to fill up all that space with more stuff, but it will make moving around your home easy, and you won’t feel boxed in by so much clutter.

Fix leaks

When you notice a leaky faucet in your bathroom, you might not be too concerned about it. After all, one little leak isn’t going to drive up your water bill to some unimaginable amount, and so long as that leak is going into a sink, does it really matter all that much?

While one leak won’t necessarily cause another, it’s better to fix leaks right away rather than wait for them to potentially get worse. Even small leaks can impact your water bill so now that you have the time while you’re stuck indoors, better to get those leaks taken care of right away.

This is especially true for leaks under sinks or in the walls. Over time — even as little as 24 hours — mold can start growing in damp and dark areas, and it thrives under sinks and in basements. Mold can cause thousands of dollars in damage depending on where it is and how difficult it is to get rid of. It can also make people in your home sick if they’re exposed to it for too long or are allergic to mold itself. 

Fix the leaks yourself or call in a plumber to get the job done. This may seem like something that can wait, but it’s better to tackle this problem before it gets out of hand.

Indoor painting

When you’re stuck inside all winter long, you might as well use that time to do something you certainly won’t want to do in the summertime: paint your home.

Painting can add value to your home in both the short and long term. In the short term, painting gives your home a fresh update. It’s easy enough to do, usually taking about a day or even a weekend to do, and it can make a dramatic impact on your home’s design. You may not be ready to commit to spending thousands of dollars on new couches and artwork, but for about $30 per gallon, you can make your room feel fresh.

In the long run, keeping your home’s paint in good condition will help retain its value and attract interested buyers. Paint won’t increase the value of the home, but if the homeowners have been good about keeping up with repainting ceilings when needed, buyers will take notice. There may be other factors that will lead them to making an offer, but knowing that they don’t have to paint ceilings or fix bad paint jobs can be a big load off their shoulders. 

So head to your local paint store and pick out colors and supplies. You can test several colors on your walls to see which one you like best and stock up on tape, rollers and step ladders if you can’t easily reach the highest parts of your walls. 

If you do plan to sell your home within the next few years, opt for a more neutral color. Your buyers may have a hard time imagining themselves in a home with a purple living room. While most buyers know to disregard paint colors since they’re usually an easy fix, it’s just one more thing to do, and buyers may decide to pass.

Wash your lighting

Why does it look so dark in some of your rooms? The light bulbs are still working, but it still looks like it could be twilight in some of these rooms. That’s because your lighting needs a good cleaning.

The glass that encases your light bulbs should be washed about once a year depending on its location and type of lighting fixture. Some outdoor porch lights need to be cleaned more often because of the dirt and debris from outside, as well as the bugs that may have gotten into a lighting fixture and died.

Flush mounts can especially use a good cleaning because they’re in primarily untouched areas — perfect placed for cobwebs and small spiders. Cleaning them will keep your hallways, bathrooms and laundry rooms looking bright.

Decorative chandeliers and pendants could always use a good washing, or even a dusting. For those fixtures too high to reach, use a duster with a long handle to get rid of cobwebs and capture the dust. If you can reach the chandelier, carefully take apart the glass pieces and wash it with warm water and soap. Try not to let streaks form if the fixture uses clear glass. Replace the glass and see how much brighter and bolder your rooms feel.

Sort holiday decor

With the holiday season coming up, now’s your chance to do a little organizing as you deck your own halls. We can sometimes go a little over the top with holiday decor, and in the end, not all of it ends up being used. As one holiday is coming down and another is going up, it can also be easy to start mixing holiday decor by accident, which can make your work difficult for next year. After all, why would you look for a Thanksgiving centerpiece in the box with the snowman throw pillows?

Rather than shoving your decor onto a shelf in your hall closet, invest in some plastic bins and sort your holiday decor. You’ll never have to worry about misplacing items for next year, and it will make putting up and taking down decor much easier. You can also use this time to get rid of any decor you just don’t use, which will also free up some space. Donate it to a secon-dhand store or see if you have friends who might use it.

Tell us: Which home improvement projects do you plan on tackling this winter? Share with us in the comments!

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