Give the gift of doing
It’s the month of roses and chocolate. But instead of forking out money for a predictable symbol of love, consider accomplishing a long-delayed honey-do project. Skip downer chores such as unclogging drains and go for something that puts you both in a cheerful mood. For example, do you need a better solution for winter coats close to your main entry? Clean out a nearby closet, install a shelf (for hats and mittens) with coat hooks underneath or get a coat tree. Is the garage workshop a mess? Invest in a cabinet to store all those little parts. To bring order to hand tools, buy a pegboard and hooks and use a marker to outline where each piece goes, as Julia Childs used to do with her kitchen tools.
(Istockphoto) - Most furnace filters need to be changed every three months. So if you switched on your heating system in November, you’re probably due for a change.
Add some romance
Nothing affects the ambiance of a room like lighting. Candlelight sets a romantic mood, but so can the modern equivalent: a dimmer switch. If you’ve held off installing one because you wanted to use compact fluorescent bulbs, most of which aren’t safe on circuits with dimmers, check out the growing array of dimmable LED bulbs, including ones with narrow bases that fit candelabrum fixtures. You can also add romance to a room with strings of miniature lights or with rope lights. Not just for Christmas anymore, they’re great for highlighting an arch or a doorway or stringing around the top corners of a room as sparkly crown molding. Or maybe you just need a new or spruced-up lamp or ceiling fixture. Artisan Lamp in Washington’s Cleveland Park neighborhood (202-244-8900) and the Brass Knob in Adams Morgan (202-332-3370) specialize in antique fixtures. Artisan Lamp also carries a wide assortment of replacement shades, stocks hardware to modify existing lamps to support different kinds of shades and employs repair people who can install the parts. If modern design is more your style, there are plenty of other options, including Illuminations (202-783-4888 for the downtown showroom or 202-965-4888 for the one in Georgetown) and Vastu (202-234-8344).
February, the last month before the majority of gardening chores beckon, is a great time to tackle an indoor painting project. Not sure where to begin? Monarch Home Decorating Center has designers on staff at its Chevy Chase location (202-686-5550; www.monarchpaintdc.com) and will even send someone to your home to help you select colors — a useful feature because you’ll probably want to factor in the colors of existing furniture and flooring, as well as the kind of light in your space. Home Depot stores frequently offer free workshops about tools and techniques. The Northeast Washington store, at 901 Rhode Island Ave., has one scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. Find others at www.homedepot.com; set the store location to one near you and then type “workshops” in the search box. If you’re worried about disturbing lead paint as you work, read up on advice and rules at the Web site of the D.C. Department of the Environment, green.dc.gov/node/20762.
Plug those gaps
You might be dealing with lingering cold-weather issues in your house, but it’s also a great time to think ahead about areas that get too hot in the summer. A three-hour class in Arlington on Saturday will help you identify common causes of these uncomfortable situations and teach you how to correct them — usually without expensive measures such as replacing windows or adding a lot of extra insulation. The course fee is just $5. Sign up for “Fixes That Work for Home Cold and Hot Spots,” at the Arlington public schools Web site, www.arlingtonadulted.org.