The Best, Easy Winter Home Improvement Projects

When you think of home improvement projects, you probably think of the hum of power tools and the thud of hammers falling. You also probably think of spring and summer and working outdoors in the warm weather. It’s a fair assumption – winter isn’t usually considered a prime time for home improvement projects. But with so much extra time holed up inside—especially this winter as social distancing measures continue—why not use it to spruce up your space?

Home improvement projects have been on the rise throughout the pandemic. A survey done by Porch.com found that 76% of Americans had tackled a home improvement project since the start of the pandemic. The number one motivator? Finally having the time to do it. 

While winter may not be the ideal season to undertake a huge renovation, it is a good time to focus on smaller indoor projects. After all, it’s the little details that make a big difference! We compiled a list of easy, inexpensive ideas to help you get inspired. 

1. Repaint

A fresh coat of paint is the easiest way to freshen up your space and transform a room. But why stop at the walls? Painting kitchen cabinets, built-ins, and even doors can totally change the look of a room and make an older space feel new again. Floor tiles, backsplash tiles, and exposed brick – like that of a fireplace – are also common things to paint to jazz up your space. You can even take your paint brush to your furniture to make over a desk, coffee table, wooden dresser, TV stand, shelves—the list goes on!

When painting indoors in the winter, be sure to use a low VOC paint or crack a window to protect yourself from toxic fumes.

2. Give Your Bathroom a Facelift

Bathrooms are typically one of the smallest rooms in the house—and the most used—so they’re some of the easiest to update on a budget. Simple updates like regrouting or replacing tile, swapping out your faucet, and painting a vanity can go a long way. Replacing the knobs and handles on your vanity can also help take your bathroom to the next level!

3. Spruce Up Your Laundry Room 

Another space in the house that’s often ripe for redoing is the laundry room. Laundry rooms are thought of as more functional than fashionable, but who says they can’t be both? Most laundry rooms aren’t massive, so make the most of a small space by using the walls. Installing some open shelving above the washer and dryer is a great way to add some extra storage – and style – without taking up too much room.

4. Rethink Your Mudroom or Entryway Storage

While we’re on the topic of storage, we couldn’t leave out mudrooms! These convenient storage spaces used to be a bonus feature but are now the standard in many new construction homes. For the more advanced do-it-yourselfers, building your own mudroom bench, lockers, or cubbies may be within reach. For those of us who aren’t so savvy from scratch, adding handy hooks, a fun wallpaper, or repainting the existing entryway builtins are great ways to switch it up. Of course, your laundry room and mudroom may be one and the same, so you could knock out two projects in one here!

5. Update Cabinet and Door Hardware

We’ve already talked about how new knobs and handles can help give your bathroom vanity a facelift. It’s time to take that same idea to the kitchen—and wherever else you have cabinets, drawers, or doors in your home. This project is quick and easy and can have a big visual impact, especially when paired with a repaint of those drawers and cabinets. It’s also a fairly inexpensive update, particularly if you buy in bulk.

6. Home Edit Your Home

If you’ve already seen The Home Edit on Netflix, chances are your house is obsessively organized in rainbow color. If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth the binge watch. 

While technically more of a home organization project than a home improvement project, this undertaking will make your home—and your mind—feel less cluttered. The Home Edit founders Clea and Joanna have already broken it down into an easy step-by-step process to help the daunting task of organizing your whole home feel manageable. This “mini edit” takes place over two weeks, focusing on a new area of the home each day. It will also help you sort through items that you want to keep, donate, and toss—sort of like Marie Kondo’s “does it spark joy?” method. 

7. Add Crown Moulding 

Crown moulding is the perfect example of the saying “small changes can make a big difference.” When done right, crown moulding instantly elevates any room, adding a stylish, custom touch. 

When choosing a crown moulding, keep in mind your decorative style to make sure your moulding will fit your desired aesthetic. It’s also important to consider the height of your ceilings, so your crown moulding can be a proportionally appropriate width. If you need help with the “how to” part of the project, The Home Depot, HGTV, and other online sources offer tutorials to walk you through the process step by step. 

8. Seal Your House Up Tight

Fixing air leaks and sealing openings may not be as exciting as repainting your kitchen cupboards or organizing your closet in a ROYGBIV color scheme, but it is equally—if not more—important. The money you invest in materials to seal potential cracks and air leaks will repay itself (likely many times over) in the savings on your utility costs. 

Pay the most attention to leaks near windows, doors, your foundation, and your attic. According to Energy Star, sealing leaks in these areas can save you an extra 16–18% on your heating and cooling bills alone. 

Need help figuring out how to determine where your home may be leaking air? You can hire a professional to conduct an home energy audit, or you can do it yourself using these tips for detecting air leaks. You can also check out this article for common problem spots, as well as some pointers on how to fix any leaks you may find.

While you’re at it with the heating and cooling cost savings, consider installing a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to schedule changes in the temperature of your home depending on the time of day. According to the Department of Energy, lowering your thermostat 7–10° F for eight hours a day can save you up to 10% a year. Of course, in the era of working from home, lowering the temperature of your home from 8 am to 5 pm may not be the best idea, but you can still set it to lower a few degrees as you sleep. 

9. Brighten Up Your Space With a New Light Fixture

Whether it’s a few pendant lights over your kitchen island, an interesting chandelier over your dining room table, or a sconce light beside your headboard or bathroom mirror, small light fixtures can have a big stylistic impact. Modern, traditional, or farmhouse—whatever look you’re going for, there’s a light fixture out there to shed light on your design style (literally!).

10. Show Some Love to Your Hardwood Floors

Real hardwood floors are beautiful and can last for decades—even centuries. However, they won’t stay beautiful or durable on their own. Foot traffic, scratches from furniture, fading from the sun, and water damage from moisture can take a toll on wooden floors.

While completely refinishing hardwood floors can be expensive (with an average cost of more than $1,600), small repairs and a good polish can work wonders on less serious cases. Aside from restoring your floor’s shine, a regular polish is an important part of maintenance for hardwood floors, helping to protect your floor’s finish and extend longevity.

A Few Tips

Before you make a trip to your local hardware store and fill your cart with DIY supplies, here are a few helpful tips to get you started: 

  • Consult an Urban Acres REALTOR® to ensure you’re investing in projects that will increase your home’s value. Chat with your favorite Urban Acres agent. We can help you determine which updates will increase your home’s value down the line so you know whether the renovations will be worth your time and money. This is especially important if you know your current home won’t be your forever home or if you’re considering selling in the near future!
  • Order supplies early. The pandemic has affected supply chains everywhere, causing shortages of even the simplest things (hello, massive TP shortage of 2020!). This is also true in the home building and home goods industry. Building materials were in short supply early in the pandemic, especially lumber. If you’re hoping for a quick turn-around on your project, be sure to order your supplies sooner rather than later.
  • Turn to the Internet for inspiration. Stuck on how to bring these project ideas to life? There’s no shortage of inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram to get your creative juices flowing. Browsing through home listings is also a great way to see what looks are trending in other homes in your area. Check out our featured listings to peruse homes in Iowa City-Cedar Rapids Corridor. 

 

Now that you’re all set, it’s time to fire up those power tools and break out your paint rollers!

Thinking about selling your home soon? Check out this list of 7 things you can do before selling to help increase your home’s value. Looking for other sources of entertainment this winter that don’t involve a DIY project? Check out our list of 15+ fun and safe activities you can do in the area.

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