Practically no one is immune to the desire to clean and reorganize their home when spring arrives. Being cooped up during the winter makes us all too familiar with our home s needs and shortcomings, and most of us are ready to tackle those areas right after we take down the storm windows and put up the screens. But to make the most of this spring s projects, take a thorough inventory of what needs to be done and create a solid game plan.
All too often, a spring project becomes a summer one, which drags into fall, and before long becomes something you ll finish next spring. Look around your house: Does anything resemble that last remark? Despite the best of our intentions, projects are often begun without realistic time frames or projected completion dates.
Here are some steps to take to make your spring cleaning and other projects go smoothly:
Are there any unfinished projects around the house hanging over from last year? If so, finish these first, no matter how pressing the new ones may seem. If you started to finish your basement, for example, don t start on an upstairs or outdoor project until the basement is how you envisioned it in its final stage. This makes not only economical sense in terms of time, but also in dollars. Spreading finances too thin over a number of home improvement projects causes them to be done piecemeal, taking months or years to complete. Get the old ones out of the way, no matter how bored you may have become with them.
Know your limitations. Hey, we all want the kitchens and decks from the latest copy of House Beautiful, but unless you ve got the bucks to have professionals come and spend March through June in your house completing the job, it s going to be long project. Stay within realistic boundaries by doing one step at a time. This spring, replace an appliance or two, or build that new pantry. Change the wall colorings or add a new tile floor. Replace the cabinet facades, or put in a new range hood. But don t try to tackle everything at once.
Pick the project that is going to give you the most satisfaction when completed, and commit yourself to it. Sure, every room in the house might need a makeover, but go one at a time, and start with the one that will benefit the whole family the most. Build that deck or patio, or turn that musty old basement into a rec room the whole clan will enjoy -- but tackle only one project at a time. When finished, it will be a source of pride and enjoyment, and give you the incentive and belief that a project, when focused on squarely, can be achieved.
Engage the whole family, or your best friends, especially those with carpentry know-how. Having Mom or Dad always slaving away on a home improvement job is no fun for the rest of the family. Let the family offer input on what the finished project should look like, take them to the store to help pick paint and even let them in on the dirty work. Kids are usually willing to help on something they know they ll eventually enjoy, even if it means sweeping up sawdust.
When doing spring cleaning, unless you ve already got a perfect system, do one room at a time. Trying to hit every room in a single weekend will leave something undone in every room, and may cause chaos to boot. Most folks like to clean the way dust settles, from top to bottom. Start with the attic or upper floors, and don t move downward until those are done.
Remember above all else: Don t start something you can t -- or won t -- finish.