New Year Blues

Bring that home back to life

Patricia McLoughlin says we all feel depressed when the decorations come down and the home looks grubby and lacking in sparkle. Don’t just sit there counting the cobwebs, get up and go!

So you’ve taken down the tree, removed those sparkly decorations and the house looks dull and listless just like your mood now that the festive season is over.

You peer around and sigh at the cobwebs, the grimy windows and wonder how on earth to give the homestead a facelift while juggling work and family.

The last thing we all need in January is a complete campaign of house beautifying but to lift everyone’s spirits there are a few easy to achieve improvements.

If there’s any money left after the Christmas spend and the January sales there are a couple you can pay to get done for you.

Dirty windows will always dampen your spirits, so find a local window cleaner and add some sparkle.  Having done that you’ll also let the light in, so look at getting grubby carpets cleaned and perhaps curtains dry cleaned too and maybe get the duvets service washed.

If you really want to throw money not elbow grease at it you could always employ a one-off house cleaning service. There will be loads online and you might want to get the oven done after the turkey has taken its toll.

If, however, money’s short you’ll need to take down and wash the curtains yourself.  Do a room at a time and please check the washing instructions to ensure they don’t shrink and end up a foot above the windowsill.  Stow all the curtain hooks or rings somewhere safe and give the pole or track a clean too.

If you can’t afford a professional carpet cleaning service, consider hiring a steam cleaner, a vast improvement on trying to cover an expanse on hands and knees.

You’ll also have accumulated lots more stuff over Christmas. Be resolute and rid yourself of unwanted or unopened gifts to the local charity shop and turn out cupboards one by one. Doing the lot will just depress you. Take out the contents of each, dump stuff you will never use and then wipe out the interiors before returning the essentials and nice to haves.

Now move the chairs and sofas and give the floor underneath a good clean. You’re sure to find the last of the party poppers, the odd earring and a couple of cracker jokes under there, along with the occasional spider, so have a glass and piece of card handy to pop the furry friends outside.

Then tie a duster on the end of a soft broom and sort out the dust on the picture rails or the cobwebs in the corners. 

If living room and hall walls are emulsioned you’ll probably be able to give them a wash with warm water and detergent. If some walls are looking really miserable it might be time to repaint, even if you leave the woodwork and simply wash it. It’s amazing how a fresh, new colour on the walls can cheer up a space at little cost or effort.

If, like me, you have managed to get candle wax on your wall by some small relative blowing out Christmas candles with too much gusto, try putting some absorbent paper over it and applying a warm iron. Might work!

And once the cards have been removed from the bookshelves, have a serious look at your library. Do you really still need that tome you used for your university dissertation or that novel you will never begin, let alone finish? Get rid of books nobody wants, dust the rest and replace in a more orderly fashion – no you don’t have to go all A – Z but try to eliminate the piles laid on top and the weird height differences.

Then see what you can stow out of sight. You don’t need to put stuff in storage, lots of items like spare towels, duvets and sleeping bags, can be vacuum-packed and stored in the loft. Just don’t step between the boards and bring the ceiling down…

Patricia McLoughlin