The Best Winter Home Improvement Projects to Do Now

Increase the value of your home and tackle these four interior home improvement projects

While it may be too cold to complete exterior home reno projects, there’s certainly enough time to tackle those interior remodel plans you put on your to-do list.

Here is a list of the best projects to tackle that don’t require a sledgehammer, the removal of walls or the purchase of super-expensive material.

Project #1: Update your kitchen

A full kitchen remodel can cost thousands of dollars and take weeks and even months to plan and complete. An alternative is to replace components that can dramatically alter the look and feel of your kitchen, and are quick and easy to do.

One quick change is to update your kitchen’s cabinetry hardware. Updating pulls and handles on cabinets with new hardware is a simple upgrade that can dramatically alter how your kitchen looks and functions. Better still, the project is relatively simple and usually requires only a screwdriver along with a bit of patience and time.

Another cost-effective update is to replace your kitchen’s backsplash. The backsplash helps to reduce the build-up of dirt and grease on painted walls (which can absorb dirt and develop a permanent stain), and adds a decorative flair to your kitchen. The best part is that replacing a backsplash is a relatively cheap upgrade that’s easy to complete, typically in one weekend.

When choosing the backsplash, keep in mind how the color, texture and material impact and work with your countertops and your cabinets. Also, consider whether or not you want the backsplash to be the feature of your kitchen — drawing the eye into the room — or help to create a seamless transition throughout the room.

The cost of this project will vary, depending on how large the backsplash area is and what material you choose.

Expert advice:
You can minimize costs by choosing a dramatic, expensive tile (or other backsplash material) as the focal point — such as a solid strip down the middle — and a more inexpensive tile (or other material) for the remaining backsplash area.

When selecting new hardware, use a piece of adhesive tacky blue putty to attach the hardware to your cabinet temporarily. The putty will hold the hardware to the cabinet long enough to give you an impression of the finished look and won’t damage the door.

Project #2: Reconfigure your entrance

When the colder months hit, the problems with too little space and not enough storage increases dramatically with the extra clothes and accessories we tend to wear. To help reduce clutter and confusion, consider reconfiguring your entryway.

If you have the time and budget, consider replacing the flooring. Tile or other water-repellent material is best. However, not everyone has the budget or skills to replace the floor. If that’s your situation, consider covering the entryway with weather-resistant or washable rugs. Synthetic rugs, typically made out of nylon, polyester and polypropylene that are marketed as outdoor rugs are a good option as they hold up well in wet conditions. Or buy smaller cotton mats that can be thrown into the washing machine and dryer, before being replaced in the entranceway.

To control clutter, consider how people will hang their coats, store their boots and where they will drop their gear. Pick functional storage furniture that allows you to store items that are not used all the time out of the way, while allowing you and your family space to place your everyday items. This could mean buying a shelving unit that lets you store shoes inside drawers while providing a shelf for purses, wallets and keys.

Expert advice:
Don’t forget to take advantage of vertical space. Rows of hooks can be useful, decorative and can take advantage of unused wall space in the entryway.

Project #3: Refresh with a coat of paint

Painting is one of the cheapest, but most effective, ways to update and add value to your home. According to renovation data, a refresh of your home’s interior paint will give you a return between 105% to 110% on the cost of this upgrade. Few other home improvement projects provide such a solid return on the money spent.

To choose the right color, consider when you will move. If you plan on selling your home shortly, go with white paint as this lightens and brightens rooms, which is what prospective buyers want.

If you think you’re going to sell your home eventually, but you’re not ready to move just yet, go with neutral colors like beige, gray, or cream when choosing paint because they work well with just about any decor and appeal to more homebuyers when the time comes to sell.

Expert advice:
Winter is the best time to paint interior rooms in your home. According to professional painters, fresh paint dries faster in the cold, crisp air. To take advantage of this perk, you’ll need to open (or at least crack) your windows enough to ventilate the room with cold air. You can minimize how cold it gets in the rest of your home if you close the vents and door to that room and tuck towels (or a draft stopper) at the bottom of the door.

There are other advantages to completing your paint upgrades in the winter. Many professional painters aren’t as busy during the colder months so you’ll probably have an easier time booking professionals and getting a better rate.

Other projects to consider

Add wainscotting: Another dramatic way to update your home and add a bit of a classy touch is to add wainscotting to key rooms. It's easy to do because it comes in panels you can put on the wall in one piece.

Bring in the light: Updating your lighting fixtures in rooms with low ceilings or little natural light can really improve the look and feel of the room. Remove light fixtures that shine the light down and go with floor lamps or bright wall sconces. You want options that shine light up and out.

Redo the laundry room: Like entryways, most of the less-than-appealing laundry rooms tend to suffer from a lack of functional features. Adding shelves, bins and cabinets, along with a dedicated folding table, goes a long way to taking this room from drab to fab.

For more inspiration and ideas, talk to your local hardware professional.