Winter Blues Home Improvements

5 Simple home improvement projects to banish the winter blues of early 2016

If you are dreading the long months of cold weather ahead and the thought of being stuck inside, consider curing cabin fever with some fun, easy and rewarding home improvement projects. 

When choosing projects to tackle first, Jamie O’Hara, Senior Project Manager with Urban suggests focusing on ones that will increase your property value, save money on your utility bills, and, of course, add a smile to your face. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Create walls that wow

Since you're stuck inside staring at the walls, why not give them a new look. Adding modern trim work, crown molding and a bold coat of paint can completely change the look of a room without the expense of doing a complete renovation, O’Hara said.

“Contrary to what many homeowners might believe, you can use paint in your home without opening up every window as long it’s an environmentally friendly and waterborne paint, which has virtually no fumes,” he said. “Plus, the dryness of the colder months can actually produce faster results.”

To really add visual interest to your walls, homeowners could go with a new or dramatic paint colour or use painter’s tape to create stripes or patterns. A winter project O’Hara and his wife are actually getting ready to do is hang wallpaper in their bedroom.

“Wallpaper is making a bit of a comeback thanks to home improvement shows,” Bolger said. “It can definitely be a do-it-yourself project or you can get professionals to do it. My wife and I have hung it before in other rooms, so we have some experience on our side.”

“Replacing interior doors is an affordable way to give your home an updated look versus an expensive renovation,” said Conor Dunne, Urban interior design team.

2. Add a “splash” of personality to your kitchen

For homeowners looking to spice up their kitchen without spending a pretty penny, adding a backsplash is a great solution, not to mention the perfect project for a cold winter weekend. 

“For only a couple of hundred euros you can completely change the look of your kitchen, as well as customise it to fit your personality,” said Conor Dunne. 

Just a few years ago tile stores had only about a few styles to choose from. Today, stores have a lot more in stock, in different styles and sizes, ranging from classic subway tile style to natural stone to metal. While adding more functionality to a kitchen, a backsplash can also help accessorise and emphasise countertops, cabinets and appliances.

“Installation is a relatively simple process, but it is very tedious and time intensive,” said Dunne, who recommends making it a weekend project. “There are now other products like the simple peel and stick tiles that save time and eliminate a lot of the mess.”

Two pitfalls he warns do-it-yourselfers about are not taking the time to prep and lay out a template which can result in irregular lines or spaces. And not cleaning off the grout completely, which once dry can result in a nasty haze that is almost impossible to get off.

In addition to tiles, IKEA in Ballymun have really simple acrylic sheets that can be cut to size and stuck on, cheaply, quickly and easily.

3. Lighten up your rooms

What better way to brighten and warm your spirits this winter than with new lights or lamps. Not to mention it’s an easy and affordable way to update the style of any room.

“We get a lot of clients during the winter who are looking at new lighting to get ready for the holidays or to accent kitchen and bathroom renovations,” said Siobhainn Gallagher, Urban architecture team.

LED-style lights, which come in contemporary and bold styles, also provide a money-saving option. Installing dimmers in areas like the family room or dining room saves money, while allowing homeowners to customize the ambiance. 

In addition to pendant lighting, another style that is growing in popularity, said Gallagher, is Steampunk, which is a cross between vintage and industrial designs. But for a softer more romantic feel, a crystal chandelier is still a timeless choice.

“When it comes to installation and dealing with electrical issues my advice is to hire a professional so you know it’s done right,” Gallagher said.

4. Turn dull doors into classy decor

With home improvement projects, sometimes it’s the things that are used the most that are noticed the least. Like all the doors in your home — in and out of rooms, to closets and utility rooms. But after a closer look, the scratches, cracks, old hinges and outdated style can be hard to miss.

“Replacing interior doors is an affordable way to give your home an updated look versus an expensive renovation,” said Donal McCabe, Urban’s one-stop-property-shop Site Manager. “Most of the homeowners that come to us are looking for doors that have a unique or more modern look than what they have.”

According to McCabe, there are a lot of options that many people might not even think about. For example, double doors are a much more functional and attractive alternative to sliding doors and bi-fold doors, while French-style doors can add natural light and architectural detail to a space.

“A big thing with customers right now is not so much the door, but the hardware,” McCabe said. “Homeowners are choosing update hinges and doorknobs with more modern colours like brushed nickel or aged bronze.” 

While installing interior doors can be a job for do-it-yourselfers, McCabe pointed out that it can quickly turn into a bigger job than expected, especially when replacing doors in older homes. 

“Most doors are not going to just fall into place,” McCabe said. “The jobs we do involve cutting, trimming and shaping the door to size, and sometimes replacing the architrave,frames and stop beads.”

McCabe’s advice to homeowners looking to replace interior doors is for them to do their homework, know their budget, and have an idea of what they like.

5. Take your bathroom from drab to fab

There’s no better time than the winter to turn your boring bathroom into a spa retreat. While replacing a tap, re-grouting tile, or repainting are relatively easy for the do-it-yourselfer, more ambitious jobs like replacing the bath tub or adding a tile floor might be better left to a professional.

While a complete renovation might be a bigger investment, it’s worth considering, said Amber Sweeney, Urban building team.

“Many older homes were not built using mold-resistant drywall, so if you’re going to make an investment in upgrading your bathroom, that’s one of the best places to start,” she said. “Knowing what’s going on behind the walls is important before making expensive updates.”

According to Sweeney, there is also a lot of plumbing involved with replacing bathtubs, sinks and toilets, which requires an expert to ensure it’s done right. Once the walls are closed up, a small leak can go unnoticed for a long time, resulting in serious damage and possibly a complete remodel.

“My philosophy is that if you’re going to invest in a project, do it right the first time,” she said.


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