There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when the first signs of spring start to appear. During a particularly harsh winter, when it feels like your home is hibernating beneath a blanket of snow and ice, it’s easy to become complacent about even the small daily chores we usually take for granted. But when those first warm rays start filtering in, it’s like the house is beginning to awaken. We throw back the curtains in excitement only to find that the months of dismal days and dampness have left the place looking a little the worse for wear. But don’t despair. It won’t take long to restore it to its cheerful welcoming old self.
Here is a list of low-cost, no-fuss ways to freshen up your home for spring:
• Start by clearing any accumulated clutter – Easy to say, I know, but you can get to a point where you just stop seeing the clutter and start to accept the limitations it imposes - Like a woman I know who has a dining table that hasn’t been used in years because of all the junk that has collected there. A good clean out will benefit your home by giving it a larger, lighter, airier feel, and just might benefit your bank balance as well!
• Wash walls and windows – It’s amazing what a big difference this can make to the overall freshness of your home. The best product for walls that haven’t had a good clean for a while is sugar soap, available at supermarkets. A small price to pay for a big impact. And although we may not always notice how badly our windows are in need of a clean, we will definitely notice the difference when they are done! An easy way to reach to the top of your walls is with a sponge mop or a cloth wrapped around the end of a broom, and the cheapest, most effective window cleaner is vinegar and newspaper.
• Clean light shades, vents, exhaust fans & smoke alarms, wash curtains – One of the best things you can do for your home after a long winter is to let in plenty of light and fresh air and get rid of musty smells. Companies that manufacture air fresheners and room deodorisers make a fortune out of us by convincing us our home should smell like ‘mountain air’ or ‘green tea’ and other obscure sounding scents. If we opened our windows and doors more often, washed our curtains and invited nature in, we probably wouldn't need artificial air fresheners at all.
Dust and dead bugs that accumulate in light fittings can limit the amount of light. In vents and fans it can also be a potential fire hazard. Here’s a tip I received from a fire safety officer – When you change your smoke alarm battery, gently dust the inside of the alarm because dust build-up on the sensor can make it work less efficiently (i.e. it takes longer for it to detect smoke in the air).
• Re-arrange the furniture - A simple way to give your rooms a fresh, new look. Think outside the square here – can a piece of furniture be used for another purpose? Maybe some new knobs and legs on that old buffet can turn it into a great TV stand, or paint an old filing cabinet a bright colour for storage in the kids’ room. A small table or desk with its legs shortened can become a great coffee table.
• Hire a carpet shampooer – No doubt the months of mud and slush have taken their toll. You can hire a shampooer overnight for a small fee or consider arranging with a friend to hire it for a weekend and share the cost. Even cheaper still!
• Add fresh flowers / plants – Flowers or greenery add a lift to any room. If you don’t have flowers in your garden yet, pick some leafy twigs off a tree or bush and display them in a tall vase. If your garden could do with a quick re-vamp, trading tables are great places to find bargain plants. A bag of mulch or potting mix sprinkled around existing plants will not only give them a boost but will give your garden an all-over fresh spring look.
• Invest in a colourful throw rug or a couple of new cushions to dress up an old couch. These are inexpensive and practical as well as cosmetic. (Don’t overlook op-shops for furnishings like this – they often have lovely cushion covers, curtains, etc.)
• For your bathroom, try a new shower curtain, towels, bath mat or toilet seat. Again, inexpensive but can make a big difference to the look. Try a different colour that will complement the existing décor of an older room. For example:
- Olive green can be modernised with touches of chocolate and cream.
- Dusty pink looks great with grey and charcoal
- Sky blue can be toned down with white, cream or mauve.
• A bedroom will benefit from a change of quilt cover or bedspread. If a new one is out of the question, try op-shops or purchase a pretty piece of fabric, hem each end and drape it over your existing cover. If there is enough material left over, run up a couple of cushions or a pillow sham to match.
• If you are considering a new paint job, then spring is the perfect time to do it. Visit your local paint store and ask to see their ‘mis-tints’. These are mixed paints that were either the wrong colour or weren't picked up by the customer. You can purchase these quite cheaply.
Even one or two of these suggestions will make all the difference to your home and prepare it for the welcome arrival of spring.