It's that time again. Time to make those resolutions to lose weight, leave a bad relationship, or stop smoking. It's what we all do every year—take on a huge, often impossible or unrealistic, quest to change our lives for the better. No wonder most resolutions end in frustration by March (or February, if we're being honest).
This year, be smart—and practical, and savvy—and make some New Year's resolutions that are easier to achieve and that will improve your surroundings. Here are 10 resolutions you can make for a better home.
1. Make a plan and stick to it. Deciding what you want to do is half the battle. Actually getting it done is the other half. If decisiveness is an issue, make a list of major and minor items that need to be repaired or renovated and take it to a family vote to determine what is going to happen first. Then, make it a family effort to get it all done. It can even end up being a fun bonding experience (but don't forget about that great equalizer—bribing—if need be).
2. Finish what you start. Whether you want to replace some ratty old light covers, redo your floors, or double the size of your home, determination and resolve are critical. Daily life has a way of derailing good intentions! And leaving projects unfinished can cause stress.
"Starting a new project is like falling in love," said Psychology Today. "Then, after some time goes by, the activity…turns into harder work than we expected. It takes longer to complete than we'd hoped, or there's some tedium and drudgery involved. We realize we aren't sure about the next step. Stuck, we grind to a halt."
For some tips on how to avoid getting stuck, click here.
3. Save your pennies. If you don't have the money to complete a big project now, start small. Or, start saving. Resolve to put a little money aside every month, or, even better, every week. By the end of the year, you'll be ready to go.
4. Clean it out. We all have that room we keep hidden from company. The one that houses all the stuff we don't have space for anywhere else—or the time to get rid of. Set aside a weekend—or two—to purge all that old furniture and out-of-date clothes by having a garage sale, donating what you can, and trashing the rest.
"One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter," said HGTV. "Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated and dirty, designers say.)"
5. Repaint. If it's been more than a handful of years, your colors are probably not reflecting the latest trends. House Beautiful recommends updating every 5 to 10 years…"depending on your lifestyle."
"Quite often your style evolves, and decisions that you made several years ago don't feel as ‘true' now as they did then, said House Beautiful. "Repainting is clearly a part of this process, as well as cleaning, repairing, or replacing furniture and floor coverings that are beginning to show wear and tear."
6. Fix it. That busted outside light, that broken rattling sound when you turn on your shower—these are annoyances, but they could also be indicators of an unsafe home. This year, make it a priority to identify any risks and then eliminate them.
"There are a few things that every homeowner should do to ensure that they're not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk, said HGTV. "First, check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels."
You can check your house for radon with "test kits costing as little as $20 at your local hardware store. Installing a carbon monoxide detector "on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors" is another important safety measure. And don't forget to "clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer. Lint may seem innocent, but it's highly combustible, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, accounting for more than 15,000 building fires a year."
7. Go green. "Many people resolve to slim down their waistlines, but there's a different way to shrink in the New Year—one that benefits both you and the environment, said Huffington Post. "Reduce your home's carbon footprint by making energy-efficient and eco-friendly upgrades. These can be as minor as fixing the draft underneath your front door or as major as upgrading your kitchen to EnergyStar appliances and installing solar panels on your roof.
Learn more easy ways to go green on Better Homes and Gardens.
8. Do it yourself. Always wanted to put up a new backsplash or install a new bathroom vanity? It may be easier than you think. Watching a simple tutorial online may be all you need to become a DIY superstar.
9. Hire someone. Some projects may be over your head, even if you're pretty DIY savvy. Don't be afraid to bring in a professional for electrical or plumbing work, roof repair, or home additions.
10. Give yourself a fresh start. You might be coveting the house around the corner with the larger floorplan and the pool out back. But if it's not in the cards (or the budget!) for you to move right now or double your square footage, there are tricks to help you fall in love with your home again.
"Make a few updates, perhaps change things around a bit and you may start to rekindle the love you felt years ago when you first moved in and the space seemed to ooze with possibility," said Boutwell Contracting & Development. "Rethink the way you live in a room" by turning an unused space into something that suits your family. "Do you really need a living room that you never use? Instead add functional pieces for games or hobbies or music and you've got instant additional living space. Make your house fit your needs."
Or, make smaller changes like swapping out furniture or adding bright accessories and new lighting. So your house isn't the 10,000-square-foot, fit-for-a-king palace you dream about. What's so great about moats anyway?!