Since winter is a time for staying inside, indoor home improvement projects are a great way to pass the time while increasing the value of your home. Here are some simple, inexpensive projects to consider for a winter home improvement lineup.
Install a Garage Cabinet
If your garage is like most garages around the universe, it’s full of clutter and disorganization. Spend a day finding a place for everything. Invest in a good garage cabinet (around $200-300) that will enable you to organize tools, hardware and other garage items neatly. This will help keep clutter out of sight and allow residents in the home to find everything when needed. Another inexpensive way to declutter a garage is by installing large wall hooks, which help get bikes, lawn implements and other items off the ground and onto the walls. Maybe you’ll even be able to park your car in the garage again when you’re done!
Remodel a Bathroom
Focusing on a small room enables homeowners to feel a sense of accomplishment when a project is complete. A bathroom is perfect for a small winter home improvement project. Whether replacing a tub, sink and/or toilet or simply choosing new area rugs, towels and other bathroom accessories, the area of the room is small, making it a perfect room to start and finish on a cold winter weekend. Even small decorative changes to a bathroom can make a big difference- consider a new wall picture, trash can or wall shelf.
Love Your Laundry Room
Homeowners often spend more time in the laundry room than in other rooms of the house, yet it’s usually the most neglected room in terms of home improvement. Make your laundry room into a restful spot by organizing non-seasonal clothing into labeled storage bins, adding a candle or picture, or installing a comfortable chair with favorite reading materials where one can relax while waiting for the next load of laundry to finish. Adding wall hooks, inexpensive wire shelving and other storage container units can make the room seem like a whole new place.
Kids Room Pick-Me-Up
Children have a tendency to acquire some new belongings over the holidays. It would be easy for a home to be overrun by new clothes, new toys, new shoes, etc. So winter is perfect for a redo of your children’s play area. Box up unused items for the yard sale in the spring, donation to a local charity, or storage in the attic or cellar. Organize ‘incoming’ new toys and items into easy-to-reach areas for kids.
Don’t let the winter doldrums get the best of you! Use chilly weather as inspiration for ‘nesting’ and making your home more beautiful for spring.
Windows Need Help During Winter
If this is happening, then new windows might be required. New technology has improved the insulating capacity of windows. However, changing all the windows in an ordinary house can be expensive. For a historic house, replacing old windows with the new version is not acceptable to history buffs and, in most cases, not permitted.
A solution found by one historic site in one of the coldest areas of the continental U.S. might be worth adapting for non-historic homes that have old windows that can’t be replaced before winter.
Sibley Historic Site
The Sibley Historic Site in blustery Mendota, Minnesota (minutes from St. Paul), has 128 windows in three buildings. The Sibley House was built during 1835 by Henry Sibley, Minnesota’s first governor. Faribault House was built during 1837 by Jean Baptiste Faribault, a farmer and fur trader. Du Puis House was erected during 1853-54 by Hypolite Du Puis, a fur trader and storekeeper.
To imagine how cold it can get in an old house compared to modern structures that use today’s insulation products, here is a partial list of building materials that went into Sibley House:
- Limestone cut in large blocks from a nearby quarry.
- The laths were made from willow and other trees cut from the banks of the nearby river. They were woven together with reeds and grasses.
- The insulation consists of mud and clay from the river bank that was mixed with straw.
- The larger timbers used for braces, joists, beams, floors and window sills were hand hewn and joined with wooden pegs. They likely contain many gaps for cold air to seep into the structure.
- The roof was covered with clapboards split by hand.
Insulating the Windows
To replace the original single-sash and double-sash windows with modern insulated windows in any of the three buildings at the site would have compromised the historical integrity of the structures. Using just about any modern weather-sealing materials could have created a permanent visual intrusion to the historic setting and possibly caused permanent damage to the original windows.
The site director more than 15 years ago turned to insulation experts for assistance. After analyzing the situation, a simple solution was provided that kept some cold air from entering the buildings and helped save money on fuel bills while not compromising the historic setting or damaging the windows.
On double-hung sashes, a reusable weather strip was placed where any two sashes met, at the window ledge and across the top of each window. On single-sash windows, the same kind of stripping was placed around the entire window. While noticeable, the stripping was not overly intrusive since it could be painted to match the sash. It did not use damaging adhesives and it was both reversible and reusable within minutes.
An unanticipated benefit of this kind of stripping during summer was that it reduced the invasion by bugs. When the stripping for a specific window needed to be removed for any reason, it was placed in a zip-lock bag and identified for quick retrieval and reapplication.
This kind of reusable weather stripping is available at hardware stores and home centers to seal leaky old windows in any home. It even can reinforce newly installed insulated windows by providing extra protection from the cold.