By Bob Vila
On the cusp of spring, March is the month to start readying your house for the warm weather ahead, as well as to address any projects you put off over the winter.
Get a jump on spring
Even if you’re diligent about cleaning year-round, spring is the traditional time to address those areas of the home missed by your regular cleaning routine. Dust or vacuum out-of-the-way nooks and crannies — the tops of wall-mounted cabinets, for example, and the floor beneath large appliances. Launder or dry clean fabric draperies, and use a damp cloth to clean wood and vinyl blinds. Vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses, and if you have area rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting, think about renting a carpet cleaner. In short, the goal is to remove dust, mites, and allergens wherever they have settled in order to achieve a healthier home.
Grease residue lingering in the kitchen? Consider washing your cabinets, backsplashes and walls with a mixture of warm water and mild detergent. The same goes for the bathroom, where soap scum, mold and mildew are persistent nuisances. While you’re cleaning tile, look for areas of worn or missing grout, as these may lead to more serious water damage if not repaired.
And just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure your air conditioning unit is in good working order. Change the filter, examine hose connections for leaks, and verify that drain pans are draining freely. If you suspected problems with efficiency or performance last summer, call in a professional to check things out before the warm weather arrives.
Spring cleaning is by no means confined to the indoors. Take a walk around the exterior of your house to evaluate the condition of your home’s roofing, siding, and foundation. Snow, ice, and fluctuating temperatures can all take their toll on shingles and other exterior architectural elements. If you have a deck or patio, give it a good sweep, in the process checking for any minor issues in need of repair. You can get a year’s worth of grime and mildew off your deck and siding in minutes with a pressure washer and an oxygen-based bleach solution.
Organize a closet or two
Though many of us would rather keep the door closed on the subject of closet organization, cleaning up your act storage-wise can yield abundant daily and long-term benefits. Pick one closet as a starting point for your efforts and set a goal for what you wish to accomplish. List what you want to store in this closet and identify the ways in which it’s currently letting you down. Big box stores and specialty shops offer storage options running the gamut from strictly functional wire systems to highly decorative cabinetry. Budget, style, and the amount of space you have available should all factor into your decision-making.
Start planning your garden
While it may be too early in most parts of the country to start planting your garden, it’s never too early to plan! Consult seed catalogs or online retailers to find new varieties to experiment with. After all, nurseries and home improvement chains only have room to stock the most popular plants. So if you are looking for heirloom or rare varieties — anything to make your yard truly distinctive this summer — seed catalogs are the way to go. If you’re anxious to begin any way that you can, consider starting your tomatoes from seed indoors.
Paint something — anything!
There’s nothing easier or more rewarding than applying a fresh coat of paint to a room or piece of furniture. Would any room in your house benefit from a totally new hue or just a touchup? The answer is probably yes. If you’re interested in adding bright colors to your home’s palette but aren’t sure where to begin, don’t miss these expert tips on boosting color confidence. And there’s no need to stop at the walls; you can use paint to give new life to an old piece of furniture, worn-out cabinets, or a lackluster stairway.
Create a home office that works for you
Making the right design decisions in your home office can mean the difference between working hard and hardly working! Even if you already have a home office, consider whether there may be a better place for it. Two important questions to ask: Will you actually work in this space (steer clear of bedrooms, which our minds associate with rest), and will there be few distractions (laundry hampers, kitchen sinks, and anything else that might compete for your attention should be out of sight)? Be sure you have room for everything that is essential to the work you do. If your work area is small, take advantage of vertical space by installing shelves above your desk or tall adjacent bookcases. A home office should work for you, so if the setup you have isn’t working, change it!
- Spring Home Maintenance Checklist
- Creating Your Home Office Plan
- Mail-Order Seeds: Variety, Viability, Value
Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Bob Vila’s 5 ‘Must-Do’ Tasks for March.