Home Improvements for the Holidays –By Gina Dostler
It’s time again to indulge in a season of parties, of kids coming home on holiday break and gatherings of friends and relatives around your hearth.
So before the action gets into full swing, it’s best to prepare and check over the home for minor details or even bigger projects that can be finished before Aunt Winnie arrives. One of the important things people overlook, Barbara Waldowski mentions, is to update your holiday décor. “You have traditional stuff you love,” she says, “but get rid of the other stuff to really make the house brighten and become more alive.”
Old worn-out ornaments with out-dated patterns or wreaths that have seen better days need to be replaced with new ones. She also suggests several holiday home improvements to consider so your guests, whether they are staying just for the party or for a week, can truly enjoy the warmth and beauty of your home. The little improvements wouldn’t hurt if the home went on the market in the near future either. Waldowski is a pro at fixing up homes and reselling them. She has a long history in real estate purchasing, renovating and managing property. Her expertise has proven invaluable to sellers in preparing their properties for sale to attain the highest value. Her warm personality generously flowed into her suggestions on what to focus on in the home before the holiday fun begins.
Q: What are the places to start?
A: Start with the design foundations by checking out walls and flooring. Improving the wall color or getting the flooring done can create a drastic change and leave a room looking brand new. Upgrade a room by using a low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) options available on the market with plenty of colors to choose from. Try a nice bold color for the guest bathroom. Touch up walls or doors that are peeling. A fresh coat of paint can brighten any surface. Maybe the kitchen cabinets could use a little touch up.
Q: What about the flooring?
A: Maybe the kitchen can use new tile or the carpeting in the guest room needs to be pulled out. When replacing it with new carpeting, look for natural and organic fibers as opposed to the synthetic pile that is most common. Organic cotton and humane wool are two good options and keep the room free of chemical allergens. If wood flooring is the choice, consider reclaimed hardwood, which already has that aged look and requires no new deforestation.
Q: Other projects to consider?
A: Right now is the best time to get the “honey-do” lists done. Caulking the tub, replacing the molding, or getting the light in the hallway to actually work. Get the leaky faucet in the kitchen fixed or the cabinet that is off kilter to actually close. With guests coming over, maybe it’s time to put in that flat screen television in the guest room. All these put-off chores can be completed rather quickly and your home looking and working well for the holidays.
Q: Which leads into the other put-off chore?
A: De-cluttering. That’s right, with many of us grabbing holiday decorations from the storage rooms and hiding gifts from the kids, it’s a great time to evaluate what is being stored and sort out the clutter. Splitting the clutter into categories can keep the process simple and quick – keep, donate and trash. Get it done and be surprised at how new the house actually becomes. Also another de-cluttering project that has a profound effect is clearing out the kitchen counters. Place things in cabinets and out of sight so there is open air to the room. It also gives you more room to cook for the big holidays meals ahead.
Q: How else to quickly give my house a makeover?
A: Of course, deep clean your house. Steam clean the carpets, run the self-clean cycle on your stove. Throw out old items in the refrigerator to make room for the holiday snacks. Get the wood polish and shine up the cabinets, dressers and tables to make the wood grains stand out and look new. Clean the windows and watch how much it brightens up the home. Sweep out the ashes in the fireplace; all the little things right now can make a big difference when your favorite relatives walk into the room and feel at ease and comfortable.
Q: What about outside the home?
A: First before the guests arrive, have the gardener trim up the bushes, add some bark to cover up the dirt and even plant some pretty fall flowers to bring in color. Also simple things like repainting the front door with a different color can change the character of the home and bring in new life to the look. The backyard pool area can sometimes be hard to decorate, but a simple string of lights around the top of the fence can make it more inviting and bring a nice atmosphere. You can even leave the lights year round if you like.
Q: Looks of the home are not always the most important things to be working on in the holidays, correct?
A: Performing basic home maintenance can save you a lot of time and headaches if done before the problem occurs. Be sure to check all of the appliances and systems in the home, which includes the chimney. A dishwasher that quits, or a stove that doesn’t light can create a challenge when getting dinner put together for a dozen people. If there is draft in the house, finds its source. It could be the windows aren’t sealed properly which in the long run could make a big difference in the heating bill when fixed.
Barbara Waldowski, Realtor,