The longer I sit at home, the longer my to-do and project list for our house becomes. Before the quarantine started, we were in the middle of updating all of the light fixtures in our house and installing recessed lighting in our family room. We are working with local designer and Newtown resident, Alex Radachowsky, owner of Designs by Alex. Last week, I asked her for some advice on things that we (even complete novices like my husband & I) can tackle during this time. Here’s what she shared with me…..
This list is not promoting multiple trips to your local big-box retail store to gather items. Rather most of these projects can be done using things already in your home. If you do need to take a trip to gather supplies, use your best judgment. Small hardware stores and plumbing showrooms are offering online purchasing and curbside pickups if you need any items. My favorite local stores are listed at the end.
Refresh the Paint in Your Home
Life gets messy and our walls get nicked by furniture plus dirt and marks from everyday activities. This is the perfect time to touch up the trim around the home and bring it back to life. Also, you can add a fresh coat of wall paint if you have the mixed paint lingering around your garage or basement. Don’t forget to shake and mix it well. Test a small area to make sure the paint is still vibrant.
Replace Your Doorknobs and Door Hinges
I can’t speak for everyone but when we moved into our home, we remodeled the areas that were a priority. We updated the hardware and doorknobs in these rooms and some of the old brass hardware was left in the rooms we have not touched yet. We made a list of which doors we need to replace and counted the number of hinges we would need. Remember to note the specific type of doorknob like bathroom, bedroom, closet or entry. This will help when you get to the hardware store and need to find the coordinating knob for each door. For example, the bathroom and bedroom would be “privacy” knobs and the closet/pantry can be a “dummy” knob. (These do not turn or move.) The entry knob is also known as a “passage” doorknob.
Organize your Garage
Garages become the catch-all for outdoor items and everything else in the home. Wait for a nice day and pull out the cars (Maybe hubby can wash them while they are out 😉) Empty all the items that you no longer use like old outdoor toys, broken flowerpots, and organize items by use. Use a durable shelving system, storing items in plastic bins and label the side of each bin. Store seasonal items up higher and most used items below. You can also use old cabinets for storage in the garage. I used an old cabinet from a home we flipped and hung that in the garage to keep pet shampoos, hairbrushes, floor grout, caulking, spray and paint in it. Untangle any electrical cords and use hooks to hang them on the walls or side of cabinets. You can also utilize the ceiling of your garage and store longer items with an overhead system. I also drilled hooks to the studs in my garage and I hang my decorative wreaths for each season.
Replace Home Filters & Check your Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Check your water filters & HVAC filters. This is a good time to replace them and make a list of which ones you need to purchase. Make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working and that batteries are fresh.
Clean Out the Playroom
This will be a challenging one to do with the kids at home. Letting go of toys can be tough but now’s a good time to educate them on donating. Empty toy boxes and closets and start a donation and garbage pile. Donate toys that they have outgrown or no longer play with. Any broken or toys missing parts can be disposed of. Use bins to place crayons or organize items by activity like Play-Doh and crafts in one bin then small action figures in another. Label them and place them in a closet or shelf. Place all board games and books in a designated area. Same can be applied to all dolls, stuffed animals, cars etc.
Prep your Outdoor Space for Summer Entertainment
Again, this is another option where you may want to wait on some nicer weather or bundle up if the weather is chilly. Uncover your patio furniture, clean and dust off your cushions and wash your deck or patio. If you have some spray paint handy that matches your furniture, spray some of your furniture where you may find rusty spots. Clean out plant beds and the yard from any trash, leaves and prep for plantings or mulch.
Start by emptying each cabinet one at a time. Make a donation pile and a garbage pile. Pick items that you have not used in a while like old novelty cups, chipped plates, old linens, unused appliances and put back the items you still use and need. Put the items you use every day in an easy to reach spot and items you don’t need all the time further back or above your refrigerator. Go through your spices and dispose of the old ones. Make a list of what you are throwing away and grab a new one the next time you are at the grocery store. The same goes for the pantry space. Go through canned goods and boxes and dispose of expired items. My husband gets so aggravated with my Tupperware pile and hates that we have lids to Tupperware we no longer have the container for. Grab all Tupperware and find the coordinating lid and container to each and dispose of any stragglers. Organize them back in the cabinet to be stacked by size and the lids standing up next to them. You can also give your kitchen a new look and swap out your cabinet knobs and handles with a new finish like the ever-popular matte black or brass.
Clean your Baseboard, Windows, & Window Treatments
I always forget to get to my baseboard and windows, so why clean them now. Take some old linen towels or microfiber cloth and wipe down your baseboard trim. You can grab a bucket with soap and water and scrub them down. Some of the end caps to your heat can come off easily and you can also wash these off in your sink and place them back on.
For window cleaning, use newspaper instead of paper towels and Windex. Clean your windows with window treatments and curtains off. Bring your window treatments outside or to your tub. Do not soak and only bring them here to avoid dripping. For faux wood or vinyl blinds, you can use a vinegar solution to clean and wipe them down. You can dust or vacuum your cloth or pleated blinds. Be sure to spot treat only and follow manufactures specifications for specific materials. I also wash my curtains on a delicate or “hand wash” cycle and if they do not require ironing, I hang them back up to dry. This also gives the house a clean, linen smell.
Hang a Gallery Wall
You know those pictures you have from your wedding, your kids’ first birthday, favorite vacation and so on that have never made it up onto your walls? Start organizing them, frame them, and get them up on the wall. Pictures of happy memories or favorite places ground us and add positivity to our homes.
Start Virtually Planning your “After Quarantine” Projects
Our days are so full now with homeschooling, working from home, and dinner activities. Why not take the time at the end of the day to sit back, relax, and take the time to start planning your “bigger” home projects. Thinking of fully remodeling your kitchen? Does your bathroom have old, leaky faucets and an old vanity that was a #DIYfail? Utilize this time to start noting ideas, make Pinterest folders, and make an inspiration board for your upcoming projects.
Several showrooms are offering virtual planning tools to help you select materials for your projects. Also, do your research on finding the right contractors and tradesmen. One of the most important tips I can offer when it comes to remodeling is to take your time and shop around. You do not want to settle on items because of lead times and availability. These items are not a “change of nail polish color” and are more permanent to your home. It can be costly to re-install and have someone in that specific trade come in to replace a light or faucet because you may not like it in a few months or year. Utilize a designer and planner to guide you and help in decision making. You may have not thought about certain aspects of the project that they deal with day in and day out.
Alex Radachowsky is a Newtown resident and owner of Designs by Alex. She specializes in Kitchen & Bath design & planning. Her past experience includes project management within the home improvement sector. She loves taking something from an old concept and turning it in to something brand new. Visit her Instagram & Facebook pages to learn more.
Alex recommends the following local businesses for any of the projects listed above:
- Ring’s End – The Danbury & Bethel locations will deliver to your car. This is a great options for paint.
- Torrco Design Center – FaceTime shopping and curb side pickups for any plumbing needs.
- Tile America – Virtual shopping and planning now available.
- Newtown Hardware – Please call for details
- True Value in Southbury & Litchfield – Please call for details