We’re all going a bit stir crazy during this time of sheltering in place, no? (And to those of you medical professionals and other essential workers taking care of the rest of us, THANK YOU!)
Whether furloughed, working from home with freed time from lack of commuting, or just a slower life from lack of socializing, here are 7 low-cost, simple, and satisfying home projects you can tackle now. Your future self will thank you when these are complete and you’re back to work, busy, and social!
First off, please remember to keep yourself safe, and note that any trip to the hardware store is a health risk, as well as online ordering from warehouses. Practice all precautions! If you’re following our site, you may be a renter or a homeowner looking to trade up or downsize. I’m keeping my suggestions universally relevant.
Clean Out and Organize Household Closets and Storage
I will admit, I really don’t like Marie Kondo’s personality or cult of personality. I was unable to sit through her Netflix special, but the best thing about any fad, cult, and trend is that you can take what you like and leave the rest. I sing the praises of the folding method--wow, does it really work! I can’t tell you how invaluable it was for me to do the process of pulling out all clothing I owned into one pile. I discovered that I owned an unnecessary excess of little black dresses, but I’d not have known otherwise. Once I refolded everything using her method for drawers, I didn’t free up drawer space so much as I freed up the ability to see everything with once glance. Ridding the closet of the items that were least flattering and least chosen to be worn also allows me to see what I own more when entering my closet and not having everything so tightly shoved in.
In under 3 minutes here on YouTube, see Kondo show you her life-changing folding method!
I didn’t touch my books. I have a spouse who will never adopt these ways or cooperate with a cleanout. We’ll never be a wholly transformed house with minimal items that “spark joy,” and we won’t be rushing to container stores to buy dividers, organizers, or containers for everything. But getting dressed in the morning is easier for me, and it’s lovely to open closets and cabinets that contain some negative space in them and be able to see my inventory of things. While I can’t look at my Vitamix or even a favorite work dress and tell you definitively that it “sparks joy,” I can identify items of useful need and easily forgo the rest. I recommend taking what you can from the Kondo method.
Do a Whole-House Dusting
While we may be good at throwing around the vacuum cleaner and wiping surfaces, how often do we wipe down the top of the fridge or the kitchen cabinets? What about our older homes with moldings that collect dust? Those cobwebs that collect around windows? Put together your favorite Apple or Spotify motivating playlist, and hit your dust, room by room! It’s high satisfaction, and you don’t even need to leave the house! I’m going to orange-oil my gumwood trim this week.
Fix Broken Those Pesky Broken Things
Are we all guilty of not repairing or replacing that broken thing that’s been causing us mild grief? I am. On my SIP list is these useless battery-operated motion-sensor lights in my closet. They eat battery life, and recently they stopped working. I’ve got a rain gutter detaching from my house too. What’s broken around your house that you can easily fix? Or maybe you’ll start making a list for your handyperson or contractor?
Batteries and Bulbs?
I’ve seen suggestions in the past to check smoke/CO detectors and change out other battery-operated equipment during daylight savings time changes. If you haven’t been following this suggested protocol, why not do a battery check now? I changed my refrigerator water filter and air filter, and I check the household light bulbs for type and dimmer type. Do you have that annoying burned-out recessed bulb in the dark corner? Ya, get it done. You’ll be so happy you did! (This can be combined with whole-house dusting, and you can get cobwebs out of ceiling lights.)
Caulk and Grout
One of the most insidious types of household damage is water, and properly caulked sinks and tubs will help keep water out of places it’s not supposed to go. My no-drop caulk gun is one of my favorite essential tools that moved with me from renting to owning. I preferred to take care of these types of things rather than bother typically nonresponsive landlords. I never tackled grout as a renter, but if you do, you can look primarily at dirt and mildew. The “advanced” version may be tackling a regrouting project or resealing of grout.
Start Your Spring Herb Garden
Some herbs can be grown indoors or on your balcony. You can order seeds from the comfort of your living room, or if you’ve got to do that hardware store run for a smoke detector or light bulbs, you’ll often find seeds and starts at your local store. I’ve been sheltering in place (a great time to call me about real estate--you’ll catch me at home!), so I haven’t been out taking inventory, but if you need something you can always call in advance. Here are my favorite local hardware stores:
Cole Hardware, Rockridge: colehardware.com/stores/rockridge-store
Grand Lake Ace: oaklandcahardware.com
Pagano’s Alameda: paganoshardware.com
Outdoor Supply Hardware, Berkeley: outdoorsupplyhardware.com
Replace Dated Hardware and Lighting
This one is more for pros and those of you who likely already own your home. (Thinking of selling? This is a GREAT time to get ahead of everyone else with your home prep for market. Call me for free, no-obligation advice on sprucing up your home; I can review photos or video-chat/tour with you right along your questions in real time!)
Again, please be safe with your online shopping, but know that it is possible. I got my kitchen knobs and pulls from Jack London Kitchen and Bath, and I liked the selection available at Townsend Showroom]. My favorite lighting store, which is offering limited service at this time, also has a selection of knobs and pulls. My other favorite lighting store has beefed up its online ordering, and you can do storefront pickup.
This might be a time more for browsing and planning than full-on shopping, but what a great time to be inspired! Maybe throw down some bookmarks, or call me to discuss some low-cost high-“pop” improvements?
Stay safe and healthy and careful, everyone. Did you decide to adopt any SIP projects at home? What were your favorites? I’d love to hear from you.