We asked Caroline Carter, founder and chief executive of Done in a Day, a home transition company based in Washington and Palm Beach, Fla., and author of “Smart Moves — How to Save Time and Money While Transitioning Your Home and Life,” for suggestions on what families can do right now to improve their homes.
“Set up a family meeting to discuss when and where you want to start," Carter wrote in an email. She added, "Develop a schedule that will work for everyone and assign tasks based on the age and capability of each family member.”
All projects should share the same strategy, Carter wrote:
· Remove items to assess the space.
· Deep clean.
· Purchase and install necessary organizational items. Home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s are considered an essential business, so most remain open if you need supplies.
· Throw away or recycle unneeded items.
Here are Carter’s suggestions of projects in a range of experience levels and prices:
1. Household files: Organize, consolidate and shred unnecessary papers, including personal, work, educational, medical, financial, tax, insurance and other paperwork.
2. Family mementos, school projects and art: Give each family member a plastic bin and let them choose which projects and mementos are worth saving and storing.
3. Photos, videos, slides and frames: Organize loose individual photos, picture frames and videos and decide what you want to keep. The larger project is to convert any old movies, slides or videos to an updated format.
4. Technology: Pull old TVs, monitors, computers, phones, cables, DVDs, CDs, VHS and cassette tapes. Organize them by type to donate.
5. Books: Sort and organize your books by subject and decide what you want to keep or donate.
6. Garage, attic and storage: Remove everything, assess the space and deep-clean the floor, walls and ceiling. Purchase metal or sturdy plastic shelving and metal hooks to reorganize what needs to be kept.
7. Kitchen cabinets: Remove everything from the cabinets, clean, install shelf liner if preferred and organize items. Group unwanted dishes to donate.
8. Closets: Install shelves, shoe racks, bins and baskets to sort items in your pantry, clothes, linen and other closets. Reorganize your clothing, coordinate and unify hangers (felt, wooden, plastic) and remove all clothes and linens that can be donated.
9. Basement: If needed, repaint the walls, and update the lighting, carpet or tile. Assess the furniture: Slipcovers and throw pillows can update a look without breaking the bank. Create separate toy and craft spaces.
10. Laundry room: Paint the walls, tile the floor, and upgrade the lighting, laundry sink and faucet. Install shelving to organize cleaning supplies and laundry products; create a gift gallery or backup pantry.
11. Bathroom updates: Paint the walls and ceiling, and install a new vanity, sink and faucet. Install a new medicine cabinet, tile the floor, update the lighting and add hardware. Remove old bath and shower doors and replace with a shower curtain rod, rings, liner and curtain. Purchase new towels and bathmats.
12. Family room: Paint the walls and trim, upgrade the rug, buy new lamps, pillows and throws; sort and organize all video games, movies and cords.
“Each of these home projects will create instant visual and physical impact in your home,” Carter wrote. “Beautifying our living space is something we can control right now. Family projects are a great opportunity to promote responsibility, accountability, bonding and team building as well as incorporating critical life lessons. Investing time in your home is a great way to benefit your family now and attract buyers in the future.”