It's official. This is the snowiest winter in the history of Indiana (or at least as long as they've recorded the snowfall totals.) As a child, I am sure I would have loved digging out the giant snow mounds that have formed in the parking lot of our nearby elementary school, and spending my day fortifying a veritable snow palace. Unfortunately, I am not 8. I am 28, and I think this snow is terrible.
Hands down, the worst part of the winter has been the time spent indoors. In past years, we would get a few inches, a warm front would move in, the snow would melt, and we would be able to spend a week or so doing a few outdoor things before the next fall. However, this year I have not seen grass since, I believe, December. This has driven our family of three to spend the vast majority of our time inside (save for a couple of 40 degree days that felt like July.)
I think it is important to establish that I am by no means some king of the outdoors. I don't own an Xterra. My weekends are not filled with Kayaking trips. My most recent hunting endeavor was fruitless. However, I thoroughly believe in the healing power of the outdoors. Simply being outside exposes our body to a host of beneficial nutrients (see Vitamin D), as well as triggers our brain to release dopamine and serotonin. You simply feel better.
Outdoors is a ways away. I don't think I am going to be cutting the grass anytime soon. So, instead of complaining about how cramped I am feeling, there is plenty that can be done inside. And that brings me to point the point of the article. When you start to feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed, focus that energy on completing projects around the house. I am not necessarily talking about Spring Cleaning. I think that there are certainly a few tasks that take place in conjunction with a purge that should happen outdoors. I am speaking directly of those tasks that have been neglected over the last 9 months because you were spending too much time enjoying the great outdoors.
- Tackle your unfinished space: Garages, attics, basements. Most of us have unfinished space that is currently being used for storage. For garages and basements a coat or two of quality epoxy paint can go a long way. If you have a cinder block basement (Broad Ripple, Meridian Kessler, and just about any home built before the 1970's) throw a coat of white paint on the wall. I have also seen light blue look pretty good in a brighter basement. In the attic, try re-insulating the space. Grab a few rolls, a breathing mask, a pair of goggles, and go to town. Your heating bill will thank you.
- Address the paint issues. I will never use flat paint again. Period. We threw some flat paint on the walls of our dining room to create a striped pattern next to a gloss of the same color. Our two year old has convinced us that it was a bad idea. Juice, milk, mashed potatoes, and just about anything else you can think of have hit that wall at some point and the evidence is still there. We all have spots around the house that could be touched up, whether it's walls, trim, or ceilings.
Also, think about the wallpaper. Unless it was put up in the last few years, it is most likely a bit dated. If you aren't sure, it definitely should be taken down. Ask your crass friend, they will tell you the truth.
- ardware. Take a look at the hardware around your home. Cabinet pulls, doorknobs, etc... There is a good chance that something can be changed out. A new set of cabinet pulls could set you back $100-$200, but will bring a new, vibrant look to a dated kitchen. Trading out faucets is pretty easy, and can be very cost effective. Doorknobs are a bit slippery. For those living in a more historic district (Broad Ripple, Fountain Square, etc...) I would advise quite strongly against changing out any original hardware. If someone wants to buy your house, but hates the hardware, let them change it out. Leave the original stuff.
- Change it up. Simply move your furniture. You would be shock how much bigger (and smaller) a room can feel once you move the furniture around. It is a no-cost way to bring a new feel to a space that may have been sitting stagnant for a long while. If you are dead set on "maximizing" the space, consider hiring a stager. They typically run around $100/hr for any consulting work, and they might be able to provide the fresh eyes necessary to liven up a room or two.
All of the ideas above run from a couple hundred dollars on the high end to free. However, that doesn't mean that they can't have a big effect on how you (and others) view your space. For those of us who have sapped our Netflix queue, here are a few ideas to fill the next weekend stuck indoors.