4 weekends, 4 ways to prep your home for the holidays

Maryalene LaPonsie | Improvement Center Columnist | November 9, 2012

We've rounded the corner from Halloween, and Thanksgiving is in sight. Then it is just a few short weeks until Christmas, Hanukkah and the other winter holidays are at our doorstep.

Will your house be ready for the festivities?

Whether you are hosting family and friends for the holidays or simply staying in and enjoying the season with your closest loved ones, you want your house to look its best. Fortunately, all you need are these four weekend projects to get your house in the holiday spirit.

1. Cut the clutter

Start with the low-hanging fruit. That would be the clutter that is likely lurking in every corner. When you feel like the walls are closing in on you, it is probably because there is simply too much 'stuff' in your space.

DIY: Cleaning out clutter is an easy DIY project. Get prepared by having three boxes or bags handy: one for trash, one for donations and one for 'maybes' that can be stored while you decide their fate. Then start in one corner of the room and work your way around the perimeter where most clutter lingers. Remember, you aren't trying to rearrange your clutter; you are trying to eliminate it.

Hire a pro: If you are truly drowning in clutter or feel paralyzed by the thought of getting rid of anything, you might want to call in a professional organizer to help you work through your rooms.

2. Update your lighting

Once you have moved out the junk, you want to be able to see what is left -- that is, the stuff you really love. Evaluate whether you have enough light and if the fixtures you are using reflect the style you are trying to achieve.

DIY: Swapping out lighting fixtures or installing dimmer switches can often be done safely on a DIY basis. You can also add lamps to dark spaces or switch shades to quickly and cheaply change the atmosphere in a room.

Hire a pro: Electricity deserves your respect. If you don't feel comfortable working with electrical wiring or aren't sure what you are doing, by all means, hire a pro. That also goes for anything that involves re-routing wires in walls or more complex work. Better to spend a few bucks on an electrician than to risk a fire or electrocution.

3. Paint the walls

That drab room in your house might not be as bad as you think. It might simply be begging for a new shade or a fresh coat of paint. Spend some time researching all the colors currently available, and don't forget to consider which finish would work best for your particular room.

DIY: Painting is the ultimate DIY project. It takes only a few supplies and a free weekend to give your walls a makeover. Be sure to properly prep the walls and cover the floors to ensure a clean look after you're done.

Hire a pro: While painting doesn't have to be hard, many people find it to be tedious. In that case, you may prefer to pass off the work to a professional painter. You may also want to consider bringing in a pro if your walls require extensive prep work to cover up dings and scratches.

4. Brighten your kitchen cabinets

Food takes center stage during the holidays. Don't spend the season in a dark and cramped kitchen. Giving kitchen cabinets a facelift is often the best way to immediately change the look and feel of your kitchen.

DIY: If your cabinets are solid and in good shape, painting them may give you just the change you need. You can also switch out the hardware, stencil images or add embellishments to the cabinets to make your kitchen your own.

Hire a pro: For cabinets that seem hopeless, it may be time to think a little larger than a new coat of paint. Cabinet refacing, which adds new door and drawer fronts to existing cabinetry, is one option for a kitchen that is serviceable but dated. Of course, if your cabinets don't meet your needs, it may be time to treat yourself to a holiday gift and have the entire works ripped out and replaced.

The holidays are almost here, but don't panic yet! In just a month of weekend projects, you can take your living space from familiar to festive and make it a place to enjoy the holidays in style.

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.