Welcome to the New Year! Make any resolutions? I never have before, but for 2014, I’ve pledged a “less is more” resolution – eat LESS, exercise MORE. Simple, right? We shall see. In the meantime, I’ve given some thought to New Year’s resolutions for our homes.

Like that fitness routine we promise to start, or bad habit we vow to kick, our home needs some thoughtful intention too so it can be a happy and healthy place for us to launch a peaceful and productive new year!

Here are my 5 EASY New Year’s resolutions to make your home better:

1. Streamline… and I’m not talkin’ your waist

declutterTake a look around at all the clutter and excess stuff we collect over the year(s). Pack rats of America (and aren’t we all?), listen up! Yard Sale, Craigslist, donate, throw away – let your home breathe.

You know there will be more stuff shoved in closets and crowding shelves in 12 months from now anyway. A clutter-free home fosters clarity and cleanliness and even counteracts cursing… you know, like when you can’t find your keys cause they were swallowed up in the chaos.

2. Organize Creatively

An avid foodie, I have enough culinary supplies to stock Sur La Table. With limited kitchen space I needed to get smart about how to organize in an accessible way. (Who likes digging through 9 circles of cookware hell to get to the food processor?)

Norma's William Sonoma wallThinking outside the box, I found a solution – a steel wardrobe system from The Home Depot, you heard me, wardrobe. I hang pots from the rod, keep utensils in the wire drawers, arrange cookware, appliances, baskets, and jars on the shelves, plus I filled the open hanging space with a beverage fridge whose top became a coffee station. I call it my “Williams-Sonoma” wall at half the price!

Get creative and have fun organizing your goodies. Here are some ideas:

  • Stack wooden cubbies or place a lidded bench by the entry to catch shoes.
  • Hang ceiling brackets in your garage to hold storage bins and seasonal articles.
  • Investigate the attic – there’s a lot of unused space up there. Putting down a simple plywood floor and installing an attic ladder may save you a monthly storage bill!

3. Labels Do Matter

I admit to sometimes being a clothes whore, err… I mean horse, but where labels really matter are in your home. Do you know where your water-main shut off valve is? Do you know which circuit breakers power which rooms? In that spaghetti wad hanging behind your TV, do you know which cable powers which electronic?

You can buy cable labels or valve tags, but you can easily make your own using something like bread bag tags. Trust me, in an emergency, for home repairs, or any electronic reconfiguring, having your utilities and devices properly labeled will save you time and a world of grief. (bread bag tag images from The Photographer’s Life).

bread clips

4. Maintain The Maintenance

Routine maintenance needs to be carried out in every home. The challenge is keeping up with it. When was your HVAC filter last changed, smoke detector/carbon monoxide batteries replaced, boiler inspected? These “system checks” add up and are hard to keep track of.

Start a home schedule and put dates in a calendar so you can notate the what and when. (Templates are available on-line). Have it make sense seasonally, so for example, schedule gutter cleaning early spring, chimney inspection late summer. Besides the date, note pertinent information like a filter size, or an inspection company you used, etc. This way you won’t have to play that yearly guessing game (I think I changed the air filters in May, wait… or was it June?)

5. Create An Eco-Healthy Home

We’ve come a long way from recycling plastic bottles and cans. An eco-friendly and healthy home will change your quality of life while helping to preserve the environment. Here are a few ways to get eco-healthy at home:

  • Potted Philodendron Houseplant on WhiteGrow oxygen producing, air purifying houseplants like heart-leaf philodendron.
  • Weed out toxic cleaning chemicals and choose low/no VOC paints and building materials.
  • 20% – 50% of home energy goes to creating artificial light. In addition to using high efficiency light bulbs, choose lighter colored walls to boost natural and artificial brightness.
  • Choose cork flooring! It’s a super stylish sustainable material that absorbs shock and sound, plus it’s warm to the touch – all healthy and natural comforts for us bi-peds.

In keeping with my “less is more” New Year’s credo, following these easy resolutions will help you STRESS less, and ENJOY more in and around your home throughout the year!

Norma sig

Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.

Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.