January ABODE: Rental Rescue

Begin again
I was recently asked to provide some advice for young alumni in 2012. In addition to the usual “manage your finances responsibly” piece, I told them that each New Year yields an opportunity for growth and change. January is a time when we head back to work, the holiday buzz wears off, the lights dim, and the credit card bills are neither merry, nor bright. In addition to my annual vow to lose 30 pounds, I like to start fresh at home. As the holiday decorations come down, the New Year is a perfect opportunity to do a low-budget spruce-up for your old home in the New Year.

(Photos by John Robinson)

Color me happy: There’s a reason they call it the bleak midwinter. In a vast sea of grey, white, and dead, it’s no wonder we crave color. Bringing some new color into your abode is a surefire, simple way to add positive energy and a feeling of renewal to your space. If you’re lucky enough to be able to paint, go for it. Add a deep red to your bedroom for passion, or if you’re all set in that department, go for a cooling blue. With paint, the possibilities are endless.

If your lease requires you to return the space to the original color, go for lighter, softer tones in your paint selection; they’ll be much easier to paint over. If a paintbrush isn’t in the cards, you can still splash color on the walls. Try hanging pieces of wallpaper on poster hangers. Frame colorful scarves and fabrics for a graphic art piece. Hang drapery panels from a hospital track to mask a dull wall.

Swap meet: I’m always inspired by the holidays—the one time of year we put away our everyday things to make room for special, seasonal items. Adopt this principle year-round. Think of your home as a rotating gallery. Keep your furniture as anchor pieces holding the scheme together, but swap out your accessories. Purchase some new, inexpensive pillows or pillow covers to revive a tired sofa. Browse Artifacts or Quince for some fun new accessories to adorn your tabletops. I even like to swap out photos. On the fridge or on the wall, you can continually honor the past but incorporate new, happy memories in a matter of minutes.
Organized chaos: As always, the New Year is a prime time to get organized. I like to think of fun and aesthetically pleasing ways to stay organized. Organize that junk drawer: Place your spools of string or twine in sugar shakers, threading the loose end through the spout to stay untangled and ready to use.

Now that the holiday cookies are all eaten, try a dessert stand for all of your daily items (eyeglasses, keys, watch, etc.). Even out in the open, everything can have its place.
If you really want to stay organized, steal a trick we use backstage in the theater for props. Line a drawer with brown butcher paper. Lay out the items that will be housed in the drawer. Using a black Sharpie, trace each item, providing it a designated spot. Store seasonal items, recycle old magazines and get rid of clutter that weighs you down.—Ed Warwick

Before joining the ABODE team, Ed Warwick was the author of “Simply Cville,” a blog about D.I.Y. design, entertaining, and home improvement projects. A UVA grad, Ed currently works as the Coordinator of LGBT Student Services under the University’s Dean of Students.

The keepers
If you’re purging stuff in the New Year, you might wonder: When it comes to your home tool kit, how does one determine what stays and what goes?

First off, tools are not like clothes hanging in your closet. Even if you haven’t used them in a year, it doesn’t mean that you should toss those wire cutters. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as finally needing a tool, only to realize that you took it to Goodwill six months ago along with last year’s bubble skirt.

Here’s my list of must-have tools in your home tool kit:
Cordless drill with set of quality bits (including at least two Phillips head bits, in case one gets stripped) and an extra battery
Utility knife with extra blades
At least two quality, drop-forged flat-
head and Phillips head screwdrivers
Small screwdriver set for itty bitty screws and bolts
Wood glue
5-minute two-part epoxy adhesive
Roll of blue painters’ tape
Roll of gaffers’ tape
Needle nose pliers
Adjustable wrench
Rubber mallet
5-in-one painters’ tool (scrapes, opens, seals, etc.)
Various screws and anchors
Jar or box o’nails and wire brads
Sandpaper or sanding block with grits: 60, 100, 150, 220
Safety glasses and gloves
Locking pliers/vise grips
Rubbing alcohol
3-in-1 oil
L square
Small metal file
At least two clamps (one-handed “Quick Clamps” are my fave)
Sharpie and pencil
Measuring tape
Wire cutters
Oh yes, and a toolbox, bucket or bin to put all this stuff in.—Christy Baker

Christy Baker is a local Jane-of-all-trades. Whether it’s fixing furniture, building a chicken coop or maintaining her roller skates, this creative mom of two always keeps a toolbox (or at least some duct tape) handy.


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