Bob Vila's January "Must Do" Projects

The beginning of the new year is the perfect opportunity to start fresh. Here are 10 projects to keep your home in top condition, and kick off your year.

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  1. Plan Your Remodels


    The best laid plans... can set you up for your best renovation yet. If you're considering a large home upgrade in 2016, do your research now to prevent chaos later. Set a budget, determine which materials and appliances you will need, and gather leads on a qualified contractor. With proper preparation, you can increase your chances of spotting any problems before they occur—and keeping your project on-time and on-budget.

    Related: 10 Things Your Contractor Might Not Be Telling You

  2. Improve Efficiency


    For a more prosperous new year, perform an energy audit. It may be hard to believe, but with energy costs on the rise, it pays to root out inefficiencies in your home. Small jobs like checking for proper attic insulation and swapping light bulbs can make a huge difference. Use this energy audit guide and start saving more money in 2016.

    Related: The 1-Hour Home Energy Audit That Can Save You Money Every Month

  3. Establish Order


    At the start of a new year, many homeowners vow to get organized. Unfortunately, that verve usually doesn't last long. Capitalize on any enthusiasm now by creating a list of closets, drawers, shelves, and corners that need clearing out. Prioritize them by importance, and then steadily work through the list. Determine what stays, what goes, and what gets put into deep storage. By devoting no more than 30 minutes to an hour a day, you'll prevent burn out and have everything tidied by the end of the month.

    Related: Easy Storage Ideas for Every Room in the House

  4. Refresh Tile


    Freshly tiled floors and backsplashes convey a sense of cleanliness and order. If your tile has lost its luster, give it a deep scrub down using a heavy-duty cleaner, like oxygen bleach, on the grout lines. If you still want to make a change but can't afford to replace your tile, consider painting them with enamel paint designed especially for tile. Avoid using enamel paint on areas that are consistently exposed to moisture, like the inside of a shower, as it can chip and flake prematurely. 

    Related: 9 Things You Never Thought to Paint—But Should

  5. Condition Leather


    Cold weather causes the skin on hands and faces to chap and crack. Leather couches and chairs are prone to the same weaknesses, especially in low-humidity winter months. Keep your furniture in prime condition by using a leather conditioner to soften and moisturize the surface. You can pick up these products at any home center, or you can make your own.

    Related: 10 Ways to Use Leather in Your Next Project

  6. Repair Wood Furniture


    Wood furniture is a timeless household treasure and when maintained properly, it will last for decades. If your wood furniture has taken some abuse and is left with scratches, dents, or white water rings, set aside some time to make repairs. Small scratches in the finish can be concealed by applying a stain of the same color. More substantial damage may require refinishing. Before working with heirloom or antique furniture, consult with an expert to determine the proper treatment.

    Related: Small Miracles - 9 Amazing Home Repair Products

  7. Fix the Tiny Things


    A squeaky door hinge, wobbly doorknob, or sticking drawer are the kinds of minor household annoyances that go unaddressed for longer than necessary. Small issues do not require urgent attention, so they often remain ranked at the bottom of homeowners' to-do lists. Get this year off to a proactive start by repairing all those little persistent problems. First, take a walk through the house and make note of all those tiny repairs. Then, make them your top priorities for the new year.

    Related: 30 Things Every Homeowner Should Know How to Do

  8. Maintain Your Tools


    When it comes to tools, the best policy is to clean them after every use with a tack rag. If you've been lax about maintenance, however, now is a good time to reset. Clean tools thoroughly, remove any rust spots that may have developed, and coat them in machine oil for protection. Rust can occur when tools are stored improperly, so find a dry place for them, like a sealed, plastic toolbox. Also test saw blades and sharpen any that need it

    Related: 10 Toolbox Hacks for Your Next DIY Project

  9. Reuse the Christmas Tree


    If you decorated with a live Christmas tree this holiday season, don't toss it to the curb just yet. Put it to good use by repurposing it for the home or yard. Consider chipping it into mulch for garden beds, or transforming the trunk into wood slices for simple woodworking crafts. This is a great opportunity to get creative and resourceful in the New Year.

    Related: 7 Reasons Not to Chuck Your Tree After X-Mas

  10. Shop Smart


    Many shoppers know that January is the best time to pick up discounted Christmas decorations, new TVs, or on-sale towels and linens. You may be tempted to stock up, but be judicious in your purchases. If you're already testing the limits of your home storage, adopt a one out, one in policy. When buying new decor, identify an old or outworn item for it to replace. You'll have less to organize and keep clean.

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