Ask Brian is a weekly column by Real Estate Expert Brian Kline. If you have questions on real estate investing, DIY, home buying/selling, or other housing inquiries please email your questions to [email protected].
Question from Renee in NM: Hi Brian, I’m sure you won’t be surprised that my husband and I are one of the millions stuck inside our home and almost flat broke right now. Neither of us is working from home so we have a lot of time on our hands. We’ve worked out a routine that takes up a fair amount of our time each day such as getting some exercise and doing a better job of cooking our own meals. We’ve also been reading a lot and watching too much TV but we don’t have kids so homeschooling isn’t taking up time. If we could afford to buy more than the essentials, we would start a home remodeling project but that’s not in the budget right now. We really don’t even want to spend money on craft materials during these very unpredictable times. Is there anything we can do to improve our home without spending money?
Answer: Hello Renee. I’m going to take you at your word and suggest a few ideas that cost absolutely nothing. Things that most people can do with what they already have around the house or no materials at all. These are going to be some very simple things like rearranging furniture and deep cleaning parts of your home that might not get attention on a regular schedule. Renee, you said you’re watching a lot of TV. Why not take a careful look at how the furniture is arranged in the room where you watch TV the most? Although the weather is warming, if you have a fireplace in the TV room, consider positioning the TV at an angle near the fireplace so that you can enjoy both at the same time. Let’s be realistic, most people don’t have a room dedicated only to TV. For your furniture layout, you want to take into consideration the two or four other activities the room is frequently used for. If you also use the room for socializing, you can position the TV in a corner of the room behind the chairs that guests sit in. Of course, you probably don’t have any guests right now but it’s worth a thought for the future. Your own comfortable chairs for TV watching can be facing the visitor couch with the TV behind and above it. The drawback here is that if you have guests over to watch TV with you, this arrangement doesn’t work. But if the room is large enough, you can consider bringing in easy to move chairs when gusts want to watch TV with you. Another option is using swivel chairs for guest seating. Since you don’t want to spend money on furniture right now, you can plan the layout to add swivel chairs later. Something similar can be done with a game table if that is something you do regularly.
There are other furniture related changes you might try. If you have a montage of family or favorite photos on display, this is a time to refresh or swap them out with newer or second choice photos that you have stored away. Or maybe you have some paintings or other wall hangings in storage to swap out with what has been on the walls for a while. Also, take another look at your bookshelves. Maybe these are organized just the way you want them or maybe they are disorganized. Either way, this is a good time to take them all off the shelves for deep cleaning. You can put them back on the shelves in an organized manner that could be by subject, alphabetically, or by size.
What have you been planning to clean but just don’t seem to get to? You’re probably pulling out cleaning supplies to disinfect your high-touch surfaces. What else needs a cleaning that you procrastinate about? Think about the lampshades, ceiling light fixtures, heating and air conditioner vents, dryer lint vent, baseboards, junk drawers, and other drawers (bathroom, kitchen cabinets, cutlery drawer, laundry room cabinets, etc.) that don’t get enough attention. This is the high allergy season. You might want to go after places that allergens are hiding right now. Something else to do that doesn’t cost anything is draining your hot water tank to get the sediment out.
Renee, I know these aren’t incredibly creative ideas but they are worthwhile ways to spend time getting things done that don’t normally get enough attention.
How are you productively spending your stay at home time? Please leave your comments.
Our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions or inquiries to [email protected].