The Top Projects Bob Vila Editors Have Planned for 2023
Take a peek at the home improvement to-do-lists of the Bob Vila editors who have big (and not-so-big) projects ahead this year.
If your home improvement project list is overwhelming, you’re not alone. Here at Bob Vila, we editors are right there with you. In fact, imagine spending all day reading about the creative DIY possibilities for every aspect of your home and garden. All that inspiration has to go somewhere. This year, we’ve narrowed down our lists a little so we can focus on our priorities. To help you with ideas–or just commiseration–we’re sharing our potential project lists with you before we get going. Tune in later this year to see our progress!
Declutter and Rediscover
High on my list this year is getting the oft-hidden spaces in my home (particularly the basement and garage) cleaned out and organized—both have way too much stuff in not enough space. I also have aspirations for carving out an emergency zone in the basement, in case my family has to hang out down there during tornado warnings or other emergencies.
What I’m most excited about doing this year, however, is getting the kids’ old wooden swing set out of the yard, and figure out how to use the considerable yard space that it’s taking up: Lay down some pea gravel and install some corrugated metal garden beds? Splurge on a Polywood Adirondack set and a fire pit? We shall see! Here’s the full list:
- Hire someone to haul away our old wooden swing set, and figure out how to use the rediscovered space in our yard.
- Seriously declutter both the basement and garage, and organize what’s left in a way that makes everything easy to find.
- Power wash, sand, and restain the deck.
—Daryna Tobey, Deputy Editor, Service & News
To-Do List Before Listing
In addition to my usual list of New Year’s resolutions (e.g., eat better, exercise more, declutter), I decided to get serious about my home improvement to-dos in 2023 and created a “House Projects by Month” list on my phone. The hope is to complete several straggler projects throughout the year at a pace that feels doable, so I can list my house for sale in 2024. After completing a DIY kitchen makeover a couple of years ago, here’s what’s left to get my home market-ready:
- Replace three interior doors in January: This project is done! My husband and I installed two of the three solid-core doors during the second weekend of the month. The third and final door that completes our mission to banish all hollow-core doors from the house was installed during the final weekend of the month along with the new trim.
- Replace entryway flooring in February: The small section of damaged vinyl tile in the entryway had to go before we list the house. We used leftover laminate tiles from our kitchen makeover to tie the spaces together.
- Remove bathroom wallpaper in March: I wish the original owners of my house would’ve read Bob Vila’s advice on wallpaper in the bathroom before making that design choice, because it has not fared well over the years. We’ll paint after removing the residual glue and anything gross lurking under the wallcovering.
- Replace the broken garage door opener in April: Not long after we bought the house, the garage door opener went kaput. Springtime will afford us warmer temperatures when working in an unfinished garage in Minnesota.
- Replace decking in May: Several boards on my ground-level deck are showing signs of rot. After inspecting the ledger, joists, and footings to make sure it’s still structurally sound, the hope is to only replace the existing deck boards, then stain and seal everything.
If I can stick to this schedule, there will be only minor touch-ups to do before listing the house—and those are a lot easier to squeeze in during the summer when I’d rather be spending my time in the garden.
— Jenny Stanley, Executive Editor, Service & News
Finish the Covered Deck
Over the course of 17 years, my 1970s ranch style home has been kind of needy. It has needed a new roof, HVAC system, and hot water heater (twice). The basement used to get wet after every rain, so I installed a sump pump system. I upgraded the old single pane windows to make the place more comfortable year round, and upgraded the outdated flooring to improve the appearance. Maintenance is never ending.
Last year, instead of answering to my home’s needy nature, I decided to splurge on a project for my own enjoyment. I built a covered deck, enclosed it with a knee wall to keep the dogs in and screen to keep the mosquitoes out. The new deck is great. It looks out over my backyard and garden, and into the natural area beyond. I can catch the sunrise with a cup of coffee and listen to the birds sing, watch the flowers bloom, and on a good day, feel a nice breeze. Now I need to finish the job.
This year I’ll complete phase two—upgrading the interior space. Last year I only finished the exterior, leaving the knee wall framing and ceiling joists exposed. Also, I couldn’t find satisfactory screen doors that have built-in pet doors. So this year my to-do list looks like this:
- Re-route the electrical wiring from the old back door light fixture to the porch ceiling.
- Install tongue-and-groove pine boards to finish the ceiling.
- Install a new ceiling fan and lighting.
- Custom-build two screen doors with pet doors.
- Stain the decking.
- Trim and paint the porch interior.
— Mark Wolfe, Staff Writer, Commerce
Remodel the Shower
Since my partner and I moved into our apartment in 2020 after COVID-19, we have been dying to get a bathtub in the unit. In every house we have owned together (and separately) we have had a bathtub, and we got used to the private, calming oasis over the years. So, in 2023, we are finally going to pull the trigger on remodeling the shower in our apartment’s bathroom.
Since our current standing shower has a glass wall, glass door, marble tile flooring, and a marble frame on the floor, the job is bound to be tricky. We want to keep the existing showerhead and marble wall tiles if we can but remove the marble flooring to put in a tub. But, we are excited about the process that is unfolding:
- Hire a contractor to quote the work to be done. (Fingers crossed we can keep the marble wall tiling!)
- Select the tub style and material as well as select new fixtures and storage options for the tub/shower space.
- (Maybe) repaint and revitalize the whole bathroom while we’re at it!
— Ally Mantella, Commerce Content Update Editor
Brighten Up the Backyard
We moved into our house last May and finally got some outdoor backyard space, but my focus was much more on getting the indoors livable. We have a set of chairs outside, but I’d really like to make it a little more inviting, especially since we back up to a little wooded area and it’s so nice to sit outside and take in nature.
- Power wash the patio: Before I can do anything else, our concrete patio needs to be power washed. I’m waiting until late spring for all of the pollen/moss/etc. to stop falling and/or forming.
- Finish furnishing the outdoors: I’d love a fire pit—ideally wood-burning rather than gas, but it’ll probably matter more which one I see on sale first. We definitely need a hose, and I might install a little partition fencing since there’s no boundary between me and my neighbors. The way our houses are aligned, we actually don’t need any more privacy, but some sort of partition might make the backyard feel a little more “finished.”
- More greenery: My husband thinks the inside of our house looks like the Rainforest Cafe with the number of houseplants I have and how often I have the humidifier running for them. I’d love to bring more greenery outside—maybe with some vertical planters that I can mount onto the side of the house. I’m also going to dip my toe into some actually edible gardening. I had a successful stint with peppers a few years ago, so I’m thinking about some kind of small raised garden bed. (There are only two of us in the house and there are only so many hot peppers we can eat!)
— Sabrina Serani, Associate Editor, Performance
Making It Personal
I love my house; it’s quirky and the only one like it in our neighborhood. When I moved in, my main focus was furnishing and decorating, and since I’ve lived in the home, my attention has been on day-to-day maintenance. This year, I’m looking forward to adding more of my own style and preferences to the place, mostly outside. Here are a few projects I have in mind:
- Clean and replant the front beds. The previous owners had a love of plants that extended to the eclectic. I admit to being much less of a green thumb, so I’m going to aim for easy-care, drought-tolerant shrubs and ground coverings that add some color and curb appeal.
- Paint the front door. This might not seem like a big deal, but I’ve spent the last year debating what color to paint the door and whether to include the surrounding porch. So I’m starting with the door, and we’ll see what happens…
- Organize the garage. It’s chaos out there right now with bikes, outdoor gear, tools, and items held for that garage sale I keep intending to have one day. I’d like to use some of Bob Vila’s garage organizing ideas to make the space more usable.
— Amy Anderson, Features Editor, Service & News