Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Top New Year's Resolutions for Your Home

Home Improvement Projects 2013

The start of each new year is a hopeful time. People vow to get to the gym more often or to finally quit smoking. But as winter turns to spring, even the most steadfast determination can begin to wane, and resolutions often get sidelined. The same is true in remodeling. There always seem to be things on our wish lists that we never get around to.

We spoke with three experts to identify the home improvement projects most of us think about but rarely tackle. And we got tips on how to finally get these projects done.

1. Making Our Homes More Energy Efficient
Home Improvement Projects 2013 - Energy Efficiency

Bob Vila knows a thing or two about the home improvement projects people dream about. One that he hears mentioned frequently is increasing a home’s energy efficiency. “People often ask me about energy conservation methods, from installing a programmable thermostat to adding insulation in an attic to replacing old windows and doors,” he says.

Why It’s Important: Boosting your home’s energy efficiency saves you money—a common resolution in and of itself!

What Holds Us Back: Budget concerns can be roadblocks to success, Bob points out, but they don’t have to be. “There are $50,000 window replacements, but there are also options as inexpensive as a tube of caulking to seal out drafts.”

How To Get It Done: “Take a realistic look at your finances and start with what you can afford,” Bob advises. “For larger projects, you may have to adjust your priorities in order to save money, like taking a one week vacation instead of two weeks.”

2. Remodeling a Kitchen or Bath
Home Improvement Projects 2013 - Kitchen and Bath

Modernizing an outdated kitchen or bath is a project that Amy Matthews, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network’s hit show “Sweat Equity,” is asked about time and again.

Why It’s Important: Aside from the aesthetic qualities, a beautiful new kitchen or bath can increase the value of your home.

What Holds Us Back: “I think people feel overwhelmed by the scope of these projects,” Amy reflects. “There are other rooms you can renovate for less money, but kitchens and baths can involve plumbing, gas lines, fixtures—they are expensive places to fix.”

How To Get It Done: “Begin by making a detailed plan of your dream room, but be realistic about the costs,” Amy says. To have the stove of your dreams, for example, you may need to compromise on cabinets—or the other way around. “A good contractor will be able to help you adjust your plan to fit your budget.”

3. Conquering Clutter
Home Improvement Projects 2013 - Storage and Organization

“Getting rid of clutter and finally getting organized is always on our readers’ list of New Year’s resolutions,” reports Amy Panos, Senior Editor for Home Design at Better Homes & Gardens.

Why It’s Important: Clutter-free spaces not only help you save time by making it easier to find what you need, they also foster an overall sense of serenity in your home.

What Holds Us Back: The urge to get it done all at once. “Remember, you didn’t accumulate the clutter in a day, and you’re not going to organize your whole house in a day,” Amy says.

How To Get It Done: Start small. “Think about the three areas that, if you could get them organized, would make the biggest difference in your daily life,” Amy suggests. “Work on one of them each month, even if it’s only for an hour a week. Focus on one and work on it until you finish, then move on to the next one. Let success breed success.”

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