4 achievable home improvement resolutions

Maryalene LaPonsie | Improvement Center Columnist | January 17, 2013

It seems inevitable. When the excess of the holidays has been packed away and the calendar prepares to roll over to a new year, we can't help but think about fresh starts and self-improvement.

Before you limit your New Year's resolutions to the old stand-bys of losing weight or getting the budget in order, do something different for a change. Consider these four resolutions for home improvements that are relatively easy to implement and can have a dramatic impact on your quality of life for months and years to come.

1. Lighten the load and let your house breathe

Getting organized is a popular New Year's resolution but most homeowners don't need more storage containers or a 12-step cleaning plan. They simply need to get rid of many of the trinkets, knick-knacks and clutter filling their house.

Volumes have been written on simplifying but here are some easy-to-implement tactics:

  • Commit to giving or throwing away five items (or three or seven or whatever number strikes your fancy) each day for a month.
  • For every item that comes into your house, send two items packing.
  • Purge a problem area every week. If an item doesn't instantly make you smile when you see it or you don't use it regularly, it probably doesn't belong in your house.

Clearing out excess items opens up space in your home and can immediately make your rooms feel larger, more inviting and more relaxing.

2. Make the most of wasted space

Once you have eliminated all the excess from your house, it is time to identify any dead space. Make this the year you put those underutilized areas of your home to good use.

Here are some ideas for making the most of the space in your house:

  • Convert that barely used closet into a small home office with a compact table and the addition of shelving units or hanging files. Brighten it up with some new paint and a light. Voila! You now have a place to store all your paperwork and when you are not working, you can close the door and tuck everything away out of sight.
  • Turn the space under stairs into a storage area by adding drawers or a mini-closet if possible. For open stairways, place a comfy chair and a small table under the steps for a cozy reading spot.
  • If the only thing lurking under your bed is dust bunnies, you are missing out on prime storage space. This is the perfect place to put off-season clothes and sports equipment.
  • No mud room? Improvise by hanging hooks for coats in the entry hallway. If space permits, find a compact bench that can double as storage for shoes, gloves, hats and other necessities.

3. Look for simple ways to make a big impact

Refreshing your home's look doesn't have to be expensive or even time-consuming. A few simple changes can turn ordinary rooms into vibrant spaces.

Consider these easy ideas:

  • Turn a bookshelf into a stunning display case by painting the back of the shelves and mixing up books with meaningful objects and photos.
  • Add a few bright pillows and wall decorations to liven up an otherwise neutral room. Another option is to use slipcovers to easily update furniture.
  • Wall decals are a hot way to add interest to a room without the commitment of paint or wallpaper.
  • A well-placed mirror can instantly make a room look larger and brighter.

4. Tackle a DIY project

Finally, make 2013 the year you plan and complete a DIY home improvement project. Maybe your living room is begging for a new color or your nightstand is ready to be refinished. There is something extremely satisfying about identifying a need in your house and then being able to resolve it on your own.

While major projects such as installing new kitchen cabinets may require calling in the pros, tasks such as painting, wallpapering and swapping out light fixtures can be handled by most homeowners.

It's a new year and that means it is time to start thinking about where you want your life to go in the next 12 months. Losing weight and exercising may be great for your health, but don't forget to give your living space an uplifting makeover, as well.

About the Author

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.