Attention to Detail: 3 home improvement projects to tackle before the holidays

ATTENTION: Oye. I am a little embarrassed about the lack of blog posts I’ve churned out over the past couple of weeks. I wish I had a more legit excuse for being MIA, but the truth is I’ve just been a bit exhausted by my 9 to 5 and haven’t been able to muster up the strength to do much home improvement during my downtime…much less the strength to blog about it. Fortunately though, I feel like I have enough ammunition to fire off a blog post about my most recent discoveries in nesting. So please forgive my foolish absence.

After a year of inhabiting our current place, I thought I had pretty much tackled all of the little touch-up projects that would make the house feel like home: painting the walls, switching out light fixtures, installing shelves. You know, the small-ish projects that make a big impact. Foolishly, I thought the only things left to address to make my home “magazine worthy” were the big remodeling projects like putting in new counter tops in the kitchen, building a fence in the backyard, and laying down wood floors in the living room. With a trip to India just around the corner, I resigned myself to the fact that it would be a good long while before any of those projects would be checked off our to-do list.  Nothing to do but sit and wait, right? Wrong. A recent trip to mum’s house for Thanksgiving reminded me of the impact homing in on the small stuff can make on your GDH (gross domestic happiness). So I’m pretty jazzed about some of the micro-projects I’m going to take on this week that will help me get my head, house and heart in a good place.

Project One: lining the kitchen cabinets with vinyl tile
When Heath refinished the cabinets last Christmas, he did a swell job of giving the musty exterior some much-needed sheen. The interiors, however, were left untouched.  The bottom cabinets especially feel like a 50-year old dingy crawl space, which, let’s face it, they essentially are. Good old mom had the genius idea of lining the bottom of the cabinets with white vinyl tile. It’s easy to clean, easy to install and gives some brightness to an other wise dark and dirty nook of the kitchen. Wouldn’t have thought to do it, but I’m glad mom did.  I’m planning to use the peel-and-stick tiles for mine, but I found some cool projects on the interwebs that have other suggestions for bringing character to forgotten spaces. Check out this tutorial from Apartment Therapy, or this one from Pink Shirts and Car Wrecks. And for a whole post dedicated exclusively to making dreamy drawers, check out this one from I Heart Organizing.




Project Two: fridge focus
Since we’ve taken to harboring Bro in the house, it means sharing areas of real estate that I once had complete control over. Sadly, one of the areas over which I relinquished rule was the fridge. Once upon a time I kept it relatively organized, with specific spaces designated for particular foods. A cheese drawer, a produce container, etc. But when we started sharing the space with Bro’s foreign food stuffs, I kind of let keeping tabs on the fridge fall by the wayside. This is foolishness. I’ve got to rethink the way I manage the fridge. Rather than just throwing our groceries in there willy-nilly, I’ve got to reestablish a system of order. It has become a new priority for two reasons. First, we’ve got a pretty bad case of fridge blindness, which is the term I’m making up to describe what happens when you only eat the foods you see in the very front. The leftovers in the back get pushed further and further backward until they’ve spoiled. (Embarrassing fact: we recently discovered a gallon of milk in the depths of the fridge with a September expiration date. So you can see this is a serious problem). Putting everything (our food and Bro’s) in order will help us save money by not wasting food. Secondly, I think having a spruced up fridge will encourage better eating habits. I’m thinking of it like a department store.  I always get lured in by the fancy displays of intricately folded blouses and color-coded dresses and inevitably spend money on something I didn’t need because it just looked so damn fine in the store. Maybe I can mimic that effect in my fridge. I’ll want to eat more lettuce, fruits and produce if I display the healthy foods properly in the fridge.  It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever had. Just ask Real Simple, which has an entire article on the subject.




Project Three: a clean coffee tableI think maybe a dirty coffee table is the unmade bed of the living room.  Think about it, whenever you want to give the appearance of a clean house, the first thing you do is make the bed, right? Every morning when I get up to let the dogs out through the back window (like all classy people do), I inevitably wind up doing the face palm dance over how grotesque I left the coffee table from the night before.  There are always at least two of the following splayed across our already decrepit cedar chest coffee table: finger nail clippers, half empty glasses of OJ, remote controls, coasters, pencils and bobby pins/hair ties (obviously, those belong to Heath). Of all the things in my house not worthy of a magazine photo shoot, I think our coffee table situation might take the cake. I’m starting my new year’s resolution early and committing to finding a way to organize the items that are meant to live on the coffee table (coffee table books for instance, plus the coasters and remotes), and I’m committing to ridding it of the dishes, hair ties, and other nastiness that doesn’t belong there before I retreat to the bedroom at night. It’s a small change in behavior that will increase my GDH tenfold. I hate leaving for work with the house a wreck, and this measure is bound to help address that.

A wire basket of sorts for storing remote controls I'm thinking will make a dramatic difference.

A wire basket of sorts for storing remote controls I’m thinking will make a dramatic difference.

Using trays with vivid surfaces to aggregate knick knacks is a winning idea in my book.

Using trays with vivid surfaces to aggregate knick knacks is a winning idea in my book.

I've got a whole bunch of books on design on my Christmas wish list that will hopefully make their way onto our made-over living room centerpiece.

I’ve got a whole bunch of books on design on my Christmas wish list that will hopefully make their way onto our made-over living room centerpiece.

There you have it!  My commitment to improving the home on a $0 budget before the we leave for India.  Hold me to it, readers!

13 Comments on “Attention to Detail: 3 home improvement projects to tackle before the holidays”

  1. kmom says:

    So pleased that I already do a bunch of this stuff: using a frig filing system, trays for knickknacks and remotes, tiles in cabinets.

  2. I might have to try the vinyl tile trick. Might work better and make more of an impact then the contact paper, which ends up being difficult to place due to being flimsy. I redid both of our bathrooms floors in the peel and stick vinyl…loved it and so easy to do.

  3. great ideas! amazing organization! i’m a wee bit jealous over here 😉

  4. I so want an organized fridge and pantry! Thanks for sharing – Have a Great One:)

  5. Jared says:

    I appreciate the way to organize a fridge. I also know how new kitchen counters and floors make a big difference as we still need to do them. I think getting the fridge together will be a motivator.

  6. Definitely get a tray for your coffee table. I thought I was OCD about it being straightened before we call it a night. My man, he could care less. If he’s trying to get on my good side, he takes his dishes to the kitchen.. but the beer bottle usually stays where it is. If your coffee table has cabinet space or drawers.. our coasters & remotes go in there (ours has drawers) & if nothing else – go get a cute basket (or not so cute and spruce up with spray paint perhaps) & throw those suckers in there so at least they have a home. The bobby pins, I’m still working on that one. I have a pretty big problem with that as well. Josh just won’t put them back where he found them! 😉

  7. I love the term GDH. Makes me happier just thinking about it. 🙂

  8. Thomas says:

    My fridge is always organized coz I don’t like to spread thing inside the fridge and it also looks good, so I need to clean my kitchen and coffee table, oh god my coffee table is in too bad condition I need to clean it..

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