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Every year, about this time, promises and resolutions are made, and generally quietly forgotten as the normal daily routine sets in once again. However well intentioned, vowing that it’s going to be different this year is really a waste of time.
It doesn’t have to be that way though, and whatever you promised yourself (or someone else) on New Year’s Eve, whether it was to quit smoking, lose some weight, travel or spend more time with your family, it’s not too late to set some goals for 2019 that focus on your home, aimed at making the place where you’ll be spending much of 2019 lovelier, better organised and more comfortable.
Where to start? How about doing your bit to improve the planet while you’re improving yourself? Going green could be a great way to make this year truly remarkable. You could start with solar panels or a hybrid car, but they aren’t the only things that can make a difference.
Learn to recycle properly, remember to turn off lights while you’re not using them and turn the taps off when you’re brushing your teeth. That way you’ll not only contribute towards a better planet, but also reduce your bills.
You can trim energy use by sealing and insulating your home, potentially increasing the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems by almost 20 per cent. It will make your home more comfortable, and also extend the life of your heat pump or air conditioner.
■ Create a healthy and familyfriendly kitchen.
The kitchen is where families gather in the midst of all of the hassles of everyday life. We are all busy busy in our work or studies
Recognise that the kitchen is the heart of the home, not just a place to cook food and wash dishes.
throughout the day, but the kitchen brings us together, so why not make it a healthy and family-together one?
Make your kitchen clean and organised, and keep it full of healthy, nutritious ingredients. Look out for healthy recipes in cookbooks or online. Check expiry dates and throw out anything that has overstayed.
And transform your kitchen into a place that’s not just about cooking, but also about connecting. Make it more accessible. You could also create a zone for kids in the kitchen. Try to make it multipurpose yet elegant.
■ Keep indoor air uncontaminated.
Indoor air quality is one of the most important indicators
of the quality of the environment we live in. Prolonged exposure to polluted air can lead to complications like chronic respiratory disease, heart disease and lung cancer.
Indoor air can be full of contaminants, like dust, pollen and mould spores. The problem can be even more severe during winter, when doors and windows are likely to be kept shut all the time.
You could also try using localised ventilation in your bathroom and kitchen to get rid of smoke, cooking fumes and surplus humidity.
■ Use low-maintenance, durable materials.
This year, shift your focus towards materials that are lowmaintenance and durable.
They will provide you with trouble-free service for a long time, and will spare you from worrying about looking after them.
You could use fibre-cement siding, which is weather-proof, exceptionally stable, resistant to fire, dents and rot, and lasts for as long as 50 years. LED bulbs last a phenomenal 18 to 46 years, even when they are used for three hours every day. Seasonal artificial plants can be used to decorate your home if you don’t have time to spend hours every week tending to your flowers and trees in the garden. Ceramic tiles, which look extremely good on floors and walls, also last for decades.
■ Make your house safe and sound.
Your home might look wonderful and be properly organised, but is it safe? You should ensure you’re not living with a potential fire, health or security risk. Besides installing smoke alarms, check your house for gases like carbon monoxide. The hardware that performs these tests is not particularly expensive. And watch out for dryer lint.
Make sure your house is properly ventilated.
You could also install door and window alarms, which don’t cost much, and should ensure that your house is up to date with latest safety standards.
■ Get your space organised.
Getting rid of clutter is a must. In fact, it’s probably the best and cheapest way to feel better about your home. The job can be quite overwhelming, but can you think of a better way to start the year than with a clear and organised home?
Keeping your space organised basically comes down to two things, if you stick to them. One is to periodically get rid of whatever you don’t use often, or don’t like at all. The other is to only bring in things that you
actually need. Creating extra space for storage is another way to keep your home organised. With added space, you can store your possessions easily without a room looking untidy. This year, how about making use of your imagination to create a little more space in the most unimaginable places?
■ Spend some time on home improvement projects together.
How about trying your hand on some cool home improvement projects with your family? Such projects will not only improve your living place, but you will also get to spend lots of quality time together as a family. DIY projects are a fun and creative way to spend time, and, when finished, you’ll have something elegant to admire.
Projects can be chosen to suit any budget and as much or as little time as you have to give them.
■ Get outside.
You could try something organic. Plant a tree in your backyard or spend some time in the garden with your family. Preparing a home emergency preparedness kit or making your entrance more inviting are also great ideas.
■ This could be the year that you finally get your finances right. Creating a yearly budget will help you a lot. That way, you know how much you’ll need to spend this year, and you will avoid overspending.
Do not forget to allocate some budget for house improvement and maintenance. Cutting down the use of energy will also help significantly, so turn off your air conditioner when you’re not at home and dial your heater down to a lower temperature at night.
Sound financial health is assured when you make enough money and when you do not spend more than the money that you have worked hard to earn. So think of the ways to make enough money this year, and try to cut down costs as much as possible.
■ Work out a system to keep your house clean.
Everybody loves to live in a clean house, but almost everyone dreads the act of cleaning itself. Coming up with a solid plan to keep your house clean could be the best thing you do this year. Devise a daily, weekly and a monthly plan to keep your entire house clean.
It’s best to focus on one particular type of cleaning at a time. You could wipe windows and mirrors first, then move on to sweeping floors. Keep cleaning utensils like sponge, scraper, cleaning cloths, plastic bags and apron in a place where you can easily find them.
You could also divide the cleaning jobs among the members of your family. Some of them can do dusting and vacuuming while the others can clean up the bathroom. This way you can clean the entire house in no time.
■ Make your place more welcoming.
Every year we vow to spend more time with family and friends. So why not make your house friendlier to increase the odds of real conversation and connection? It might only take a little bit of rearrangement and a couple of updates. You could start with your living room. It doesn’t need to be very complicated; just adding a few bright cushions or a new rug can make a huge difference.
Guest bedrooms constitute the other essential part of the friendly experience, and can create lasting memories, so try to make them cosy and comfortable.
Whatever your family’s finances, having — and sticking to — a budget is always a good idea.
Get the family together and plant a tree. Even if you never get to enjoy the shade, your grandchildren will.
If you don’t already have smoke alarms, make them your first priority.