Bob Vila’s 10 “Must Do” Projects for January
It's a new year, and the perfect chance to start fresh! These tasks that will help you restart, reorganize, and reinvigorate your home this month.
January is the month to take stock, plan ahead, and start fresh: Our “Must Do” projects for this month include adopting some home-focused goals and resolutions for 2024, tackling small maintenance tasks that will make a big impact, and organizing what’s in your house before contemplating new purchases. Before you get “in with the new,” job one is to tuck and trash last season’s holiday gear—but not, of course, the memories that go along with them.
1. Pack Away Holiday Gear
As fun as it is to unearth boxes of holiday decorations in November, there is nothing enjoyable about packing Christmas decorations 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: For example, you might wrap ornaments in newspaper and stash them in divided cardboard wine boxes. To see our favorite holiday storage boxes and bins, refer to our researched guide to the best Christmas ornament storage.
2. Shop the After-Holidays Sales
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 make judicious 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.
3. Put Your House on an Energy Diet
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 2024: using less energy. 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.
4. Plan This Year’s Renovations
Is it in your budget to redo the kitchen or bathroom this year? As you make financial plans for the new year (and start working on your 2023 taxes), take the time to plan for any upcoming remodels. Set a budget limit now to help you decide whether to call a contractor or DIY. To however much you think your project will cost, add 15 to 20 percent—most remodeling projects go over budget. Consult the IRS’s 2024 tax credits for energy efficiency, too, to see if your big reno qualifies for savings.
5. Build a Better Fire
Although many 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. If the idea of heating your home with fire is one you’d like to explore, read up on what to think about before installing a wood stove.
RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Wood Stoves
6. 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.
7. Condition Leather Furniture
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 leather conditioner.
RELATED: How to Clean Leather Furniture
8. 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.
9. Fix the Small Stuff
Make a list of all the minor household problems that need fixes, then focus on the ones that you can DIY in an hour or less: Fix the squeaky front door hinge, for example, touch up chipped paint in the kitchen, and install a dimmer switch in your living room. You’ll build up your DIY confidence, and build up momentum to take on bigger projects.
10. 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!