We’re in sort of an awkward phase of the year right now. It’s still technically winter, but by the end of this week we’ll be in March, when many people start to think about spring and all its trappings.
You never know what you’re going to get around here in terms of weather – it could be in the 20s and snowing one day and up to 60 degrees the next. That can make it sort of tough to plan for anything that’s going to be outside.
That’s why this is the perfect time of year to think about getting some stuff taken care of around the inside of your home. It’s not time for spring cleaning just yet, but there’s no better time than now to start checking some things off your honey-do list before the warm weather comes and you won’t want to do it.
We did a similar feature to this one back in April. That one was more wide-ranging, focusing on both outdoor and indoor projects. For this one, we’re staying inside.
We went to Rocky’s Ace Hardware in April to see what kinds of supplies they had. For this issue, we went to Aubuchon Hardware on South Main Street. We were looking specifically for items that you could use to get going on some simple, do-it-yourself projects inside your house, and we found all kinds of useful stuff there.
For starters, one of the easiest improvements you can make to the inside of your house is changing out all your old-fashioned light bulbs and replacing them with energy-efficient LED bulbs. Even those twisty bulbs that were all the rage about a decade ago are now obsolete.
Switching from incandescent or CFL (the curly kind) bulbs to LEDs can save you a nice chunk of change on your electric bill each month, and they aren’t even that expensive to buy – Aubuchon has four-packs of GE LED bulbs for $19.99. That’s more than your classic bulbs cost, but these will last much longer and use a lot less power. Modern LED bulbs are even available in the classic, yellowish soft color of incandescent bulbs as opposed to the harsh, crisp white of many LEDs used in other applications.
Right behind light bulbs on the list of easy-but-useful projects is cleaning all the wood surfaces in your house. If you have hardwood floors, they’ve no doubt taken a beating this winter – kids and adults alike clomping though the house with wet, muddy, salty boots all the time. While it has no structural bearing, we all know how it looks when the floor in the main entrance to the house is all awash in salt residue and has footprint stains all over it.
It goes beyond the floor, too. Maybe you have natural (unpainted) windowsills or trim, which can also get pretty dirty for a number of reasons. It could also just be your kitchen table or the top of your island in the middle of the kitchen. Whatever the surface, if it’s wood, it should look good.
All it takes for this job is a bottle of polish, oil, cleaner or any similar substance that promises to bring that natural wood back to life. There are many products to choose from at Aubuchon – go in with a plan, knowing what type of wood you’re looking to clean so you don’t get the wrong product.
One word of advice on the wood-cleaning project – go easy on the stairs. While a sparkly set of stairs might look nice, you might as well coat them with black ice if you plan on walking on them with socks. This is especially important if you have little kids at home.
For more intensive wood projects, you might want to invest in a power sander. If you have an old rocking chair or coffee table you’ve been thinking about restoring, don’t waste time and energy doing it by hand. You’ll get the job done in a fraction of the time by picking up a sander, of which there are several options available at Aubuchon. Using a power sander also provides consistent, even pressure across the whole surface, unlike your hand, which will leave finger-shaped grooves in whatever you’re sanding if you’re not very careful.
Another easy and important job, if far less glamorous, is clearing out your drains, shower and sink. If there are people in your house with long hair, a must-have tool is a hair snake. These are long, plastic sticks with ridges on both sides made to grab hair caked up in your pipes and pull it back out. If you haven’t done this in awhile, be prepared for some exceptionally foul sights and smells to come out of there. When you see what comes out of there, you’ll very likely want to start snaking on the daily.
For a project nowhere near as gross as that one, you can focus on your window coverings. After a few years, your shades or blinds start to wear down – either a slat or two breaks or the springs wear out or someone puts a hole in one by accident. These things are easy to replace – usually you can just unhook the whole unit from the bracket by hand without any tools.
Once you get the old ones off, you can find a small but not bad selection of options at Aubuchon. Just measure your old shades before you get to the store so you know what size you need.
Another item around the house that gets a lot of wear and tear is the doorknob. You probably have more doorknobs in your house than you realize, and after years of twisting, opening and closing, it might be about time to change them up. A loose knob left unattended can lead to worn-out screw holes, causing the whole unit to fall out and never be able to go back in again.
Aubuchon has a pretty big selection of high-quality Schlage knobs and handles, with many options for style, color and locking vs. nonlocking. Usually all you need for the job is a basic screwdriver which, if you don’t have, you can of course get one at Aubuchon.
That leads to the next point – tools. While you don’t need lots of big, heavy, complex and expensive tools around the house, it’s good to have some of the staples on hand just in case.
Start with screwdrivers, both flat and Phillips tipped. You’ll also want some basic wrenches and pliers – for convenience, you can get a crescent wrench, which can be adjusted to fit a wide range of sizes. For pliers, get a pair of needle-nose and a pair with a broader head – you’ll find all kinds of uses for both. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a hammer, in case you need to either install something or knock something down, and a tape measure to make sure whatever you’re shopping for will fit. You can find all these basic hand tools at Aubuchon.
The final tip here is just basic cleaning, of which there are many supplies at Aubuchon. For the housecleaning starter kit, grab a shop vac, a mop, a broom, a pair of gloves and a box of contractor trash bags. Take all that stuff into your basement and/or attic and go to town. Having the new supplies will motivate you to finally get rid of that old blender you found at the junkyard in 1997 that you swore you’d get running again by the turn of the century.