It’s all go­ing to work very

The Northland Age - - Local News -

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.

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