Bob Vila's 10 "Must Do" Projects for January

'Tis the season for resolutions—and have we got some good ones for you! Follow our lead, and come next December, your house will be more energy efficient, better organized, more creatively decorated, and cozier, too.

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  1. Happy New Year!


    January is the month to take stock, plan ahead, and start fresh. That’s why my "Must Do" projects this month include everything from adopting some home-focused resolutions for energy saving, tips for organizing your home (and life), taking on a project or two and preparing for the snow, ice and cold of winter.

  2. Make a Resolution You'll Keep


    This month, as you make your resolutions to spend less, go on a diet, join a gym, learn a new skill, or perhaps just find more time for yourself, consider adding another goal for 2014—putting your house on an energy diet. If you want to keep your house trim and fit in the new year, adopt these 12 easy ways to reduce your energy consumption and costs.

  3. Pack Away the Holidays


    As fun as it is to unearth boxes of holiday decorations in November, there is nothing enjoyable about packing them all away again in January. Big-box stores will have plenty of bins and containers to help you stash your holiday trimmings, but with a little planning and ingenuity, you can create your own DIY solutions that will work just as well.

  4. Build a Better Fire


    Although many of today’s homeowners opt for the convenience of a gas fireplace, the traditionalists among us still prefer the smoky smell, crackling sound, and tactile ritual of a real wood fire. There is an art to building a fire, but it all begins with the right choice of wood—and, of course, a fireplace that has been properly maintained.

  5. Give Wood Floors Some TLC


    Wood floors are a thing of beauty, but only if they are well maintained. If your floors have lost their luster, are riddled with scratches and gouges, or show signs of neglect, age, and wear, don't despair. There are a number of remedies you can try, from sandpaper and stain to precolored latex wood filler. Check out our Rx for Hardwood Floors.

  6. Prepare for the Ice and Snow


    If you live in a part of the country likely to experience ice and snow, make sure you are ready for whatever winter has in store. If you rely on shoveling rather than blowing or throwing, go for an ergonomic snow shovel with a smaller scoop; it may lengthen the snow removal time, but it will be easier on your back (and heart). Other snow-control items to have on hand include a windshield scraper, ice melt, and roof rake (if your house is prone to ice dams).

  7. Get Organized


    January is the month for fresh starts. In our busy lives, any new beginning should include clearing out the clutter that has a habit of taking over our homes—and lives. Start with the closets (keep what you use and shed what you don't), then tackle the drawers and organize your cupboards—where you may find items that you can repurpose into useful storage containers. The journey begins here: We've put together a plan to get you clutter-free in 30 days!

  8. Do Something Fun and Creative


    Now that winter's come, you'll be spending more time indoors. Put your home time to good use by making something fun and creative. For example, even with a minimal amount of DIY skills, materials, tools, and time, you can create a one-of-a-kind headboard. Candidates for repurposing include unused doors, salvaged shutters, or a piece of plywood cut into a distinctive shape and coated with chalkboard paint. Check out these other nine "dreamy" headboards you can make

  9. Troubleshoot Your Furnace


    We hope you had your furnace checked out by a pro in the fall (something I recommend that every homeowner do yearly). But if you did and are still wondering why your furnace is not performing up to snuff, do some furnace troubleshooting on your own. Here are nine things you can check—before calling in the furnace man.

  10. Paint Something


    Set your inner interior decorator free by transforming walls, furniture, countertops, and more with DIY decorative finishes, glazes, and treatments. Even if you're not up to the faux bois finish shown here, which was accomplished by means of an easy-to-use tool you can pick up at The Home Depot, a simple can of paint and a brush can transform anything.

  11. Grow Something


    Unlike Christmas presents, gingerbread cookies, and wrapped gifts, holiday plants—poinsettias, amaryllis, paper whites, and Christmas cacti—can let you exercise your green thumb, even during the dormant winter months. While there’s no guarantee these plants will bloom again next year (they can be a little persnickety), you can certainly try. Here are some tips for getting amaryllis and poinsettias to rebloom. Good luck!

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