Use the final month of winter to kick some home maintenance goals and zhoosh up your tired spaces.
WINTER’S dragging on, and you may feel like you’ve been holed up inside for far too long. But August is the perfect month to get some indoor jobs done before the warmer weather comes, so use your time indoors during one of the coldest months of the year to get creative. Here are 10 tasks you can undertake to freshen up your home and get it sorted!
1. Grow herbs indoors
Winter is not the best time to run out to the garden with a torch to search for a favourite herb you’ve just realised you need to complete dinner, so why not grow them inside?
For indoor herbs, it’s best to start with mature plants. Pots should be about 10 centimetres across the top and have drainage holes. Use a quality organic potting mix and water only twice a week.
Find a spot with good light, but not direct sun. All indoor herbs benefit from some time outdoors, particularly in the rain. Make sure the leaves are dry before you bring the plants back inside.
2. Clean your pots and pans
Bright and shiny, new-looking cookware is a pleasure to use, so take a few hours to thoroughly clean your pots and pans.
Use salt to clean built-up grease and grime from inside and out, but especially on the bottoms of the cookware. Salt is absorbent, naturally abrasive and excellent for removing pesky greasy residue. Rub the salt into the dirty pots and pans with a dry sponge until the residue is gone.
Remove stains from stainless steel with white vinegar and a soft cloth. Dry thoroughly after washing. Never soak stainless steel as the water can damage the surface. Buff your cookware with a soft cloth and some olive oil.
3. Give your bathroom tiles a makeover
If your bathroom’s looking a little tired and dated but your budget doesn’t stretch to a renovation, consider giving it a deep clean. If it still looks drab, use the latest in paint technology to give your bathroom tiles a makeover.
Using a specialised tile cleaner, primer and paint, paint the tiles. The process is the same as any paint job; just sand, prime, and top coat. Once the paint on the second top coat is dry, which is usually in about six hours, use a grout pen to paint in the grout lines. The key to success is to not rush the job, take your time with the preparation and you’ll love the end result.
4. Brighten up your living room
A quick way to add cheeriness to interiors made dark during the wintery month of August is to change cushion covers to brightly patterned ones, drape a textured throw blanket or two or to move in your most colourful accessories.
If you are buying new homewares, start by choosing your colour palette, using the existing wall and furniture schemes as your colour cue. Take a photo of your room and ask for advice from an in-house decorator at a favourite store. Most stores will be happy to help put together the scheme of your dreams. Or post the photo on a Houzz discussion page and ask the community for advice.
Finally, don’t be afraid to layer multiple textures to add some depth to your soft furnishings decor.
5. Repurpose a fireplace
With local councils increasingly discouraging wood-burning fires, a lot of older houses have redundant fireplaces. They needn’t sit idle though. Use the space to great decorative and practical effect as:
• book and magazine storage,
• a place to keep vases filled with beautiful flowers,
• a nook for potted plants spilling foliage onto the hearth,
• a safe place to fill with candles to burn in the evening for cosy ambiance,
• a light source: bundle in LED lighting strips for some subtle backlighting, or
• a display space for shelving to fill with pretty vignettes.
6. Organise some under-bed storage
You can never have enough storage, so utilising the space under the beds is a great way to maximise space without encroaching on the footprint of the bedroom.
This can be achieved by doing something as simple as adding plastic crates on wheels, rolling storage drawers or specialised joinery designed to fit the space. Alternatively, use vintage suitcases for a stylish touch or consider placing the bed on a shelving unit. Remove drawers from a drawer unit and add castors, leaving the handles in place for easy access.
7. Improve the lighting in your wardrobe
Walk-in or not, your robe needs to be lit well enough for you to be able to see what’s in there day and night. A great, economical way to illuminate a wardrobe without calling in the electrician is to use the latest in battery-powered, versatile lighting options. By installing motion-sensing LED lighting for example, your robe will be illuminated every time you pop your head in. These lights are literally as simple as peel and stick – so you’ll never peer blindly into your wardrobe again.
8. Sort and make sense of the linen cupboard
Start by pulling everything out of your cupboard and sort it into three piles: ‘keep’, ‘launder’ and ‘donate’. Hang blankets outside to freshen up and, when they’re done, fold them into one neat pile. Sort the sheets and pillowcases into sets and then place the set into one of the pillowcases. If you want to get really organised, label the sets or at least label the shelves. Fold the towels into neat piles on their own dedicated shelf.
When you’re pulling out fresh linen, take from the bottom of the pile so that your linen gets well rotated. To ward off mildew and to keep the space smelling fresh, place an open container of bicarbonate of soda into the cupboard.
9. Sneak in some shelving
Find creative ways to add more storage and get things up off the floor by utilising unused space. For example, look up for ideas to make the most of unused vertical space. Build shelving around a bed to create a bedhead with storage, or utilise the space above the door or a window to position a shelf for collectibles and trophies. Similarly, a shelf above the bathroom door is a great spot to store towels and bath mats.
10. Create a kids’ zone
Winter’s dragging, the kids are under your feet and you need a place for them to hang out and stay warm and dry. Find an unused area in your home and zone it off for them.
Under the stairs is a perfect spot to create a dedicated play area. Kids love to cosy up in a cubby, so after cordoning it off, be creative with it. Throw down a rug to create the zone, add some comfy cushions or bean bags and plug in a lamp. Use boxes for toy storage and hooks for hanging.