If you’re like me and a bit compulsive when it comes to fixing up your home, the cold winter months won’t stop you.  The holiday season is not known for being the time of year for home improvement; you certainly don’t want Christmas guests judging you over unfinished projects!  But if DIY projects sounds more enjoyable than slaving over an oven or stuffing yourself silly with turkey during your time off, all these projects are doable over a 3-day weekend.

  1. Interior painting. Painting is a great winter DIY project because you can stay inside the entire time.  No running back and forth to the garage/shop/back patio to use a saw or get materials.  A high-quality paint and nap will save you a lot of headache in the long run.  Sherwin-Williams has great paints; they can be expensive, but they frequently run 30%-off sales.  Personally, I loathe the Home Depot paint counter (it’s always busy and I tend to know more about paint than the employees), but for a reasonably priced paint, Behr Ultra isn’t bad.  Primer is cheaper than paint, so put a couple coats of tinted-primer on if you’re going from dark to light or light to dark.  If you’re painting bare drywall, make sure to get a drywall primer first.

Don’t limit painting to your walls.  Beef-up and brighten your baseboards…

painting baseboards
I love this little trick with trim – thank you, Pinterest!

your fireplace mantle…

before and after painted fireplace
Here is the before and after of our painted fireplace from House Renovation #2, along with an “in process” picture of my 6-month pregnant self enjoying a donut.

…or take care of those outdated cabinets once and for all.

before and after painted cabinets
Courtesy of Tasha at Designer Trapped.

Even old floors can look new with some paint!

painted vinyl floors
See the end result at Designer Trapped.

If you’re painting wood, you’ll need to sand first (and maybe even strip), so prepare for a bit of a mess in this case.  Just make sure to use the right paint for the job, and keep in mind if yours calls for oil-based paint, you may want to wait for warmer days when you can open windows for ventilation.  I am a huge fan of Rust-Oleum’s Spray Paint-and-Primer-in-One, and use it whenever I can.

2. Install hardwood floors. This is a project best to do in cold weather because wood expands in warm weather and contracts in cold.  If you install in summer, you are more likely to see your floors pull apart from each other come winter when your planks “shrink,” leaving unsightly gaps.  Remember to acclimate the wood, leave an expansion gap according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and don’t rack the planks too tight.

You’ll probably need a quality, non-shrinking wood filler.  I love the Timbermate fillers, and they come in species-matching colors.  Be sure to install matching flush-mount heat registers – I consider this a must for aesthetic appeal and resale!  It may be tricky to get your cuts just right around the heat registers if you don’t have specific tools, so this is where the filler helps.  For wood-colored caulk, look for caulking products for log homes.  Good filler and caulk is harder to find for the DIY-er (as opposed to a contractor).  I have had more luck at lumber stores than home improvement stores.

flush mount heat register
See how lovely those flush-mounts are? This was from our first renovation.

Install solid wood (as opposed to engineered, which is plywood with a hardwood wear layer), but remember there are places only engineered hardwood can go, like on concrete slabs.  You may be able to get away with engineered hardwood depending on your homes’ price range.  Ask your real estate agent for her opinion.

  1. Home gym or theater.  Either of these is certainly a frivolous addition to your home, but if you have the room and extra cash, it may help you get through winter’s dark days a little easier.  Deals abound this time of year for media or gym equipment, but keep in mind it’s easy for this project to run away with your wallet.  You may need to remodel an entire room with new floors, light/fan fixtures, audio/visual equipment… and then you’ll want to furnish it.  Still, whether you’re watching a movie or burning off  pumpkin pie, both are great it’s-too-cold-to-go-outside activities.

Our DIY home gym in process:

black and yellow home gym
…and the tot helps out by entertaining himself with my yoga strap.

On a final note, any renovations that require a contractor are best done in winter.  Not only are contractors more likely to return your call, but they often slash their prices during the off-season.  Big projects that involve a permit are usually processed faster in the colder months as well.

Happy winter DIY-ing!

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