Looking to improve your home? With today's economy, it makes sense to do careful planning in advance or to do some of the work yourself. Many of the improvements are tied to a particular season, but others can be scheduled to your budget, your timeline, your weather, and your life. Whenever you invest time and money in your home you're also building equity.
January: Organize the Pantry
Kill two New Year's resolutions with one stone when you organize your kitchen pantry—and restock it with healthier foods. Designate an area for each of your most commonly used food groups, with the healthiest in easy reach. Label each area.
February: Update Your Bathroom
You spend time every morning and evening in the bathroom. Why not make it look as stylish as the rest of your house? As long as the layout works, upgrading the surfaces and replacing fixtures can take the room to a whole new level. Low-cost, but high-impact.
March: Install a Laminate Floor
Tired of looking at a scuffed-up floor? Cover that dull vinyl surface with glueless laminate planks. They're durable, budget-friendly, and easy to install by clicking them together. Plus, a new floor can be walked on the same day it's installed.
April: Wash Your Windows
Your windows should be washed twice a year: spring (to remove grime left by winter weather) and fall (to wash away summer's pollen, insects, and more). Pick a cool, overcast day for best results.
May: Prep Your Deck for Entertaining
Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of the grilling season, which means you'll be spending lots of quality time outside. Start now to get your deck ready for a summer filled with fun outdoor meals and entertaining. Make it a party-worthy space!
June: Refresh a Room with Paint
Late spring is a great time to paint inside because you can leave windows and doors open for ventilation. If you're planning to put your house on the market, use neutrals. If not, think about experimenting with color (remembering that paint often dries darker or brighter than the swatches). And remember: Prep is everything.
July: Organize Your Garage
Whether you need to clear out a corner or revamp the entire garage, it's time to organize the space your car calls home. Here's how to get started. Set your priorities. Are you creating room to park a second car, store your outdoor gear, or add a workshop? Your end goal determines what you need to do.
August: Paint Your Home Exterior
Take advantage of August's warm, dry days to paint the outside of your house. The average exterior paint job lasts 10 years, but you have to do it right. The key to a quality exterior paint job is in the prep.
September: Get Your Home Ready for Winter
Home maintenance is a year-round job. But getting ready for cold weather needs to happen at exactly the right time: after you've turned off the air conditioner but before you're living with freezing temperatures. Here are some items for your to-do list:
• Inspect your furnace. Replace dirty filters, and clean registers and grilles.
• Use caulk, spray foam, and weather stripping to plug leaks around windows and doors.
• Plug up holes where pipes, vents, or electrical conduits run through walls, ceilings, and floors.
• Add fiberglass insulation to the attic floor and house walls.
• Wrap your water heater with an insulation blanket (check with your owner's manual or the store first) and cover any exposed pipes with ready-made pipe jackets.
• Clean gutters and downspouts to avoid ice dams that can push water under the shingles.
• Make sure chimney and venting systems are working properly.
October: Install a New Backsplash
November: Add Character
Whether you live in a suburban split level or a Queen Anne Victorian, architectural trim helps define a room's style. Adding new trim (also known as molding) or painting what you've already got is relatively fast and inexpensive.
December: Clean Out Your Closets
Late winter is the perfect time to clean out your closets and other storage spaces. That way you can donate clothing and other items to get year-end tax deductions. Here are some tips for successful decluttering:
• Work on one closet at a time or the task will get overwhelming.
• Divide all items into four categories: keep, donate, recycle, and toss.