Best Winter Projects When You’re Stuck Inside

With spring still weeks away, it’s officially that time of year — Winter Blah.

Trapped inside with little to do but stare at the walls and binge on Netflix, it’s a great time to tackle some of those indoor projects you’ve been avoiding, including some you may not have thought about.

For most of us, cleaning out stuff is usually the place to start. But if you’ve been thinking about hitting one of the big box stores to stock up on plastic bins and organizers in anticipation, you might want to hold off, said to Ben Soreff, a professional organizer and owner of House to Home Organizing, which is based out of Norwalk and serves clients in Fairfield, New Haven, Westchester and Hartford counties.

According to Soreff, buying storage containers and other organizing supplies prior to sorting through your items or cleaning out closets can be counterproductive.

Photo: Ben Soreff

“It’s fun to go to The Container Store and buy stuff, but if you went through your things, you’d probably end up with some empty bins. So do the clean out first, then buy bins,” he said.

Also, once you’ve cleaned out your clutter spaces, you’ll know what you have left and can then purchase exactly what you need to store it without spending additional money.

If you’re unsure of where to begin, Soreff offers a few recommendations starting with doing a seasonal swap.

Sayonara Summer

Summer items like bikes, beach toys, gardening tools are months away from being used, so if they are out and taking up prime real estate in your garage or basement, Soreff said to put them away.

“They take up room in your house, so put them more remotely; you don’t want them taking up valuable space.”

The same applies to summer clothes. If shorts and flip flops are still jammed in your drawers or closet, pack them away into storage containers until you’re ready to use them again, which creates space for winter items like sweaters and other bulky items.

“Clothes make the most noticeable dent inside the house,” he said.

Photo Finish

Another project is to find all your errant photographs and store them in one spot. Soreff said that while most of us aspire to one day organize all our pictures into albums, it’s such a daunting task, that despite our good intentions, most of us will probably never do it.

Instead he suggests that we give ourselves a pass and recognize that it’s enough to just collect them all and put them together in one location.

“That would be a noble goal,” he said. “A shoe box, craft box, all the photos in one place. Just enough for the kids to be able to look through somebody. Very few people are actually going to organize them into photo albums.”

Past The Expiration Date

When was the last time you checked the date on the cough medicine in your medicine cabinet or that can of chick peas in your pantry from the time you were going to make that weird recipe?

Snow days are the perfect time to go through your cabinets and pantries and get rid of expired products. Even if you think they’re still good, but you haven’t used them since the VCR was popular, it’s time to let them go.

Pantry II

“Some people say it doesn’t expire,” explained Soreff. “But the point is we want to create space to be able to get to the things we use frequently.”

Bath, Bed, And Beyond

While organizing is one way to fill your winter days, another is to reinvent some of the rooms in your home, starting with the bedroom.

“We are in the bedroom practically one-third of our lives,” said Anna Smerdel-Ramoya, owner of ASR Interior Designs, LLC in South Glastonbury. “Very often people don’t focus on that, but the fact is, it’s where we wake up and want to feel good from the early morning.”

Smerdel-Ramoya also said that during the winter months we tend to spend more time in our bedrooms reading, relaxing or just hanging out, than other times of the year.

Because of that it’s the perfect time to breath some new life into the space starting with a new comforter, sheets, rug (if the floors are hardwood) or window treatments.

kids room (2)
Photo: Monika Szymanska

“Start where you want to spend the most money,” she recommended. “The rest you can do anytime.”

An update to your bathroom can liven it up and it doesn’t have to be expensive, said Smerdel-Ramoya.

In fact, it can be as simple as hanging a new shower curtain, mirror or window dressing. A fresh coat of paint and changing out the art on the walls can also provide a change of scenery.

“If you don’t have art, add some framed fabric in a complementary color,” she said.

The fabric can be purchased at any craft store and the frames can be picked up easily from discount retailers like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.

Creating a mudroom, if you don’t already have one, can help alleviate the daily pile of snow boots and coats and doing so doesn’t necessarily have to involve heavy construction. If there’s space, Smerdel-Ramoya said a bench with some hooks or hangers above it may be all you need.

“If there’s no designated mudroom space, use some nice decorative boxes that you can close and put close to the garage door, or wherever kids are coming in, to keep clutter out of the way.”

Finally, Smerdel-Ramoya said that winter is a great time to update the lighting in your home.

“There’s so little light outside, you want to bring light into the house.”

If you’re only using overhead lights in your rooms, create ambient light by layering with additional lamps, and in the case of the kitchen, installing lights over or under the cabinets, above the table, and in your work areas.

“Light should come from the top,” she explained. “The ceiling, lamps, recessed or crown molding, something that brings ambience. One light from the ceiling won’t give it that update, you should definitely have a few sources of light.”

Baseboards And Paint Projects

Most people probably never notice the baseboard heaters in their home until they start looking beat-up and rusty.

Retrofit, baseboard covers can easily update them, according to Maxwell Satti, store manager at Ace Hardware in Middletown.

“They can make the home a little nicer and it’s a project that doesn’t take too much effort.”

And it’s something most homeowners can easily do themselves without having to hire a contractor.

Satti said that baseboard covers can also help save a few bucks during the winter months.

“They are a little more efficient in the way they spread heat around the room. Instead of being propelled across the floor, you can aim them upwards and warm more than just your feet, while keeping the heat lower and saving a little on electricity costs.”

Though many people think that painting is a warm-weather project, Satti said that winter is a great time to do small, interior paint projects.

“We suggest repainting the inside of your home, bathroom, living room, or kitchen. It’ll help kill some time and take away that inside depression.”

Before starting any paint project, Satti recommended prepping the walls by giving them a light sand and making sure they are clean. Fix or fill in any holes with spackle, and if you’re going from a dark color to a lighter one, a primer coat might be necessary for optimum coverage.

Trying out sample paints can save you from having to repaint if you don’t like the color once it’s up.

“It’s very inexpensive and it’s going to help you find the perfect color.”

Finally, Satti suggested speaking with a paint specialist who can help you figure out what kind of paint you need and how much.

“It will save you money,” he said. “A specialist can tell you how much paint you need to cover your square footage so you don’t end up with an extra gallon that sits in the basement.”

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