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Home updates to beat the winter blues

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | December 15, 2014

Are you feeling a little cabin fever at the idea of being cooped up all winter? Staying in out of the cold can actually be a good thing when it comes to home improvements. Now you can find the time to do all those interior upgrades that have been nagging at you throughout the warmer months. These great home improvements can cure the stir-crazies and make your home look great by the time spring rolls around.

Rev up your walls

You've been staring at the same colors for so long -- aren't you getting a little bored? Now is the time to brighten things up with a fresh coat of paint. This winter-friendly project can be done in stages, tackling only one room at a time and scheduled to avoid the big holiday plans.

Painting your walls a different color might be enough, but this is also a place where homeowners can get creative with designs, colors, and additions. Add trim work and crown molding to create an entirely new look. Use painter's tape to create stripes to liven up a kid's room. Not in the mood to wield a brush? Look into hanging your own wallpaper. Start very small, perhaps with an alcove or a single wall. If that goes well, full speed ahead anywhere else your heart desires!

Light things up

Winter is cold and dark. The sun seems to be up for only a few hours a day, then things go back to being dreary. What better time to change and enhance the lighting inside your house? One of the most popular changes is the replacement of overhead lights with ceiling fans. This is especially helpful in the winter, when you want to force warm air down from the ceiling and thus lower your energy costs.

Other options include installation of dimmers, which can be done by the handy homeowner in an afternoon. Pendant lighting, chandeliers, and similar fixtures can be easily installed, too. Recessed lighting and track lighting might be more difficult to work with, but seasoned do-it-yourself gurus might find these to be perfect projects for winter.

Replace the doors

There is often a great deal of talk about curb appeal and what a new front door can do for your home. But what about the doors inside it? Installing new doors in your home can lend an entirely new look and feel to your everyday life, and it's a job that can be done over a span of weekends throughout the harsh winter months.

When you do replace the doors, remember that the simple wooden door we are all accustomed to seeing in homes doesn't have to be your norm. Doors with large glass inserts can be great for places like dining rooms or living rooms, where privacy isn't as much of a concern. Don't want to change the doors themselves? New hardware can make the existing door look new.

Changing out standard doors in a more modern home can be easy for a homeowner, but keep in mind that doors in older homes might not be as straightforward. Also remember that sliding doors, bi-fold doors, or those that require changes in the structure around the frame might be best left to a contractor.

Tackle kitchen changes

Many homeowners find that they spend a great deal of time in the kitchen around the holidays, so by the time the festivities are over, you just might be ready for a change. Simple kitchen upgrades can be done in a weekend or two, and they give you something to look forward to when even more snow is in the forecast.

A backsplash is one easy way to change the look. You can opt for hundreds of styles of tile, from simple flat subway tiles to small stones to metal to anything else you can imagine -- as long as it looks great with your kitchen design, it's going to be a good winter project. Other small projects include changing out your kitchen faucet, installing new hardware on the cabinets and drawers, and even adding those gliding cabinet shelves you have been coveting.

Now is also the time to tackle things that you might have let go during the busier months, such as a thorough cleaning of the appliances. Speaking of appliances, if you are in the market for new ones, now is the time to bundle up with a blanket, some hot cocoa, and your laptop to do the research into which appliances might be best for you.

Bonus project: Get organized!

Sure, spring cleaning is the norm. But who wants to be knee-deep in closet clutter when they can be outside enjoying the first warm breezes? Turn your winter hibernation into an organizing party. This applies to any part of the house where you have clutter -- and for most of us, that's everywhere. Start small, with a single section of the family room or the bathroom closet, and work your way out from there.

If you are dreading the long winter already, start with a list of projects. Choose the materials, plan out the time, and look forward to filling those cold days with some really hot upgrades. The sense of satisfaction you will have at the end of the winter will be warm indeed.

Photo credit to Nam Phan

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she’s not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.