By Marilyn Pribus –
Most people want The Perfect Home. Admittedly this is pretty much impossible since perfection is the enemy of the good. Often attributed to Voltaire, that aphorism holds a lot of truth, so let’s settle for nearly perfect.
It may be that your home has many great qualities but there are still some nagging imperfections—often one in particular. Does the laundry door open the wrong way? Does your bathroom seem gloomy? Does your place just seem dated?
Instead of seeking vast solutions, establish reasonable goals. Remember a goal has three components. It should be specific, measurable, and have a definite time frame.
The oft-cited classic example of a goal was NASA’s aim to put a man on the moon by the end of 60s. Around the house, of course, you’ll be aiming a bit lower, yet you can take similar steps.
Tackle a Project
Here’s an example. A door into a kitchen keeps children and pets from underfoot, but prevents parents from keeping an eye on them. An ideal solution might be a Dutch door, also called a double-hung or half door. A reasonable goal might be to have such a door installed before Thanksgiving.
Small, planned steps toward accomplishing it might include online research on where to buy such a door or determine if an existing door could be modified into a half door, whether you could do this yourself, where to find a handyman to do this for you if you can’t, and to have your plans in place by September 30th.
The next step could be to purchase supplies or engage a handyman by October 20th. The final step would be completion by the week before Thanksgiving, just in case there is a last-minute glitch.
Some other rewarding tweaks: brighten a windowless room or closet with a solar tube to bring in outside light. How about maximizing space in a closet with decked clothes rods for shorter items and perhaps new shelf space with storage cubbies?
There are many examples of closet organizers to build or purchase online. Even quicker (and cheaper): treat yourself to some lazy-Susans to increase convenience and accessibility in any cabinet.
A Pot of Paint
A gloomy bathroom might well benefit from something as quick and easy as a designer shower curtain or brighter paint. In fact, it’s surprising what a gallon or two of paint can do to freshen and update any room.
Be sure to choose a color you can live with for several years unless you simply love to paint. Whether you choose a color to compliment that new shower curtain, the tile floor, or your favorite bathrobe, you probably have an idea of what you like.
Visiting local model homes and prowling around the websites of various paint manufacturers can help you find inspiration and the latest “hot” colors for any room.
If you might be selling in the next few years, opt for shades that are both popular and fairly neutral. Neutrals today have definitely moved beyond white and include pale grey, blue, and green.
If your time, energy, or budget is limited, consider painting a single wall of a room in a bold tone while leaving the others a complimentary neutral—or a lighter shade of the same hue.
This makes it far easier to change the personality of the room by redoing that single wall, either to an entirely different bold color or to a neutral to increase marketability later on.
Finally, get a small sample of the color you have chosen and paint a small section of your wall—or even a large piece of poster board. Check it out both in daylight and in artificial lighting to be sure the color is what you expect.
In any room, inexpensive upgrades can make a real difference. It could be something as small as a new window treatment in a bedroom, a set of matching spice jars in the kitchen to replace all those different sizes and brands, or an updated medicine cabinet in the bathroom. (Some modern cabinets even have USB plugs built right in.)
How about installing or updating a backsplash in the kitchen? There are many options these days including ceramic and metal in styles from Colonial to retro to edgy modern. Many handy people do this themselves and even hiring a contractor is not a major expense.
Up-to-date light fixtures can make things sparkle in any room. Improve your home’s overall appearance with welcoming outside lights beside the front door, a special overhead fixture for the entry, a couple of handsome lamps in the living room, and contemporary fixtures in kitchen and bathrooms. You can do these one at a time.
Finally, remember that few things are as inviting and cheerful in any home as fresh flowers and growing plants. If your place is large enough, make a ficus tree part of your family. Blooming plants such as peace lilies, Christmas cactuses, oxalis, or African violets live happily in various situations from full sun to simply bright light.
Unless you have a great cutting garden to provide blossoms inside your house, add a bunch of flowers to your grocery list every week. Nothing like a bouquet to make your home nearly perfect!
Marilyn Pribus and her husband live in Albemarle County. Inspired by snorkeling vacations, they recently replaced a boring white shower curtain with one covered with bright tropical fish.