Most people prefer fall’s extra hour of sleep to spring’s extra-dark, extra-early mornings. But daylight saving time doesn’t give most Americans a choice (enjoy your exception, Hawaii and Arizona!).
Still, we’re not just losing an hour of sleep this week—we’re gaining an hour of daytime that we could use to accomplish small but significant home improvement projects.
Can you really do anything worthwhile in just an hour? Why, yes, according to experts we consulted.
1. Shut the—no, paint the front door
Your front door is on the receiving end of a lot of abuse, from people as well as the elements. As such, it can probably use a new coat of paint. Plus, refinishing your front door is a surefire way to increase your home’s curb appeal.
Can’t decide on a color? Go with black, says Leslie Ezelle, an interior designer and winner of HGTV’s “Design Star.”
“It works on traditional houses, contemporary houses—any-style house. It’s easy to work with and holds up really well, too,” Ezelle says.
2. Bring order out of chaos
If clutter is taking over your house, take an hour to put it in order—it will make cleaning up easier in the long run. The key is to get the right kind of bins or baskets, according to Tami Hills, owner of New Orleans–based organizing and staging business Nola Clutter Busters. Skip the plastic drawers and go for wood or metal containers for a more stylish feel, she says.
“Old luggage works, too,” she says. Think vintage trunks.
So measure your storage space, go get a set of containers, and tackle a room. Hills says the key to organizing is to “put like with like.” If it’s a bathroom, that means separate containers for dental products, makeup, hair products, etc. While you’re at it, grab another container to put by the front door to keep all your family’s shoes together.
3. Give your sad coffee table the makeover it deserves
If you have a wooden coffee table, you can transform it with a stonewashed look. (This technique also works on other wooden furniture such as a dresser.)
“A popular color right now is a slate gray color, like driftwood,” Ezelle says.
Take advantage of extra daylight by taking the table outside to remove the finish. Ezelle recommends a belt sander instead of a liquid remover, to cut down on fumes.
You will also need the following:
- A paint brush
- A satin, water-based polyurethane finisher
- A beeswax cloth
- A wet rag
- Slate gray paint
Do your sanding in the same direction as the wood grain, then take the beeswax cloth to remove the dust. Grab a rag and dip it in water so it’s wet but not dripping, then dip it in the paint and apply to the table’s surface.
“Paint in the direction of the wood grain, and you can’t mess it up. You want a nice, thin layer. You’ll be able to see the wood grain through it,” she says. You could also add another layer, this time using the wet paint rag in a swirling motion to create a deeper stonewashed effect. Use the brush to finish it off with the polyurethane finish, and you’ve got yourself a good-looking table in less time than it takes to watch a “Sopranos” rerun.
4. Don’t leave your bathtub feeling neglected, either
A less sexy project, but one that’s important for the upkeep of your home, is redoing old bathtub caulking. Brittle old caulk can allow water to damage the walls surrounding the bathtub, leading to mold.
“Fortunately, recaulking a bathtub is a simple task that doesn’t require any specific skills and that anyone can learn how to do,” says Leah Borden, co-owner of the DIY repair site SeeJaneDrill.com. Here’s how she does it.
5. Turn kitchen scraps into black gold for your garden
You might not be able to see the ground for the snow right now, but with spring right around the corner, you’ll soon want to get your gardening on. Get on the zero-waste bandwagon and put together a compost bin to recycle your kitchen scraps (fruits and vegetables only) into rich soil for your lawn or garden.
“You can certainly buy compost bins if you wish, but it’s cheaper to make your own and it only takes about 15 minutes,” Borden says. That gives a 45-minute cushion to those of us who aren’t that comfortable with a power drill.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Heavy-gauge wire fencing (Borden uses 48-by-72 inches)
- A 2-by-2-inch pressure-treated wooden stake that’s about a foot longer than the height of the fence
- A small bit of scrap wood
- Four fender washers
- Four 1-inch self-tapping decking screws
- Power drill
- Safety glasses
See Borden’s how-to:
6. Help your kids’ art to grow up
If you need to fill some empty wall space, you can create a new piece of work by recycling old bits of pictures or paintings. Ezelle says this works especially well with kids’ artwork.
It’s like making a collage—cut up the artwork and brush it down with glue on the canvas. Ezelle painted the edges black and drizzled paint, “Jackson Pollock–style,” over the art for a contemporary look.
And your kids would probably like to join in, too.