Have you found yourself noticing things about your home that were never obvious before? Things don't work as they should or need some TLC? Perhaps you've realised that you really aren't fond of the layout and flow of certain rooms or that your home as a whole just doesn't suit your new routine?
You're not alone. As we are now spending so much time indoors, our minds are switching to nesting mode and we are seeking organisation as well as distraction and so many people are craving a bit of DIY. Although we have more time for it than ever before, it can be hard to know where to start, especially when the issue isn't urgent.
The truth is that you can easily make some edits to your home without great expense, skills or knowledge. All it takes is a little She-I-Y.
But knowing where to start can be daunting. In my role as a property portfolio developer, I've experienced this conundrum a lot. I arrive to a new property and have two hours to assess how it functions, what niggles it may have, repairs needed and what décor updates could help the property look, feel and function better. Once the 'to dos' are set, I then have a week to repair and decorate, as well as style the property to enhance life within its walls.
To make sure this initial assessment is thorough, I created the 'Goddess Checklist' and I have also developed my own zoning method. The checklist is a routine I go through the minute I get to a new property. It helps quickly uncover underlying issues and creates a list of DIY and décor jobs in an easy-to-tackle way.
To help you decide where to start your DIY mission, here's a guide on how to make your own 'Goddess Checklist' as well as some guidance on zoning to help you get the most out of your home right now. While many people are afraid of making a list of DIY jobs for their home for fear of what they may uncover, it's the first step to taking control in your home, whether you're an owner, renter or flat-sharer.
Having this list doesn't mean you have to do it all right away, I would encourage tackling each task at the most suitable time of year. For example, painting is great to do in early spring due to the temperature and light, tiling costs can be a breeze in late winter thanks to sales and I would never leave gutters until winter. Colour-coding your list into categories such as 'urgent', 'later' and 'decorative' can help you lighten the load and give you a starting point. It also means that you will have enough time to plan, shop for and learn more about the task ahead.
Now, grab a pen and paper and let's talk about the 'S' method. Stand in the middle of each room and cast your eye in an S shape in every direction, starting in the top right, taking in everything from the ceiling, walls and surfaces, down to the skirting boards. This will make sure you spot anything lurking like damp spots on walls or cracks, and it also makes taking notes easier by giving you a start and end point.
Once you know how to approach the space you need to allocate a page to each room you're assessing. Don't forget the front door and its fittings as well as hallways, these are often missed. Then add some headings; 'item', 'to do', and 'when' are ones I find handiest. I also add a notes column. Finally, grab a phone and charger and plug these into every socket as you go to check power supply, it's something that's always overlooked and can highlight bigger problems.
As we are now confined to the home in a way like never before, having no commute can make starting and ending the working day difficult. Whatever you do to begin your day, now is the time to really indulge in it. If it's a coffee, set up a zone separate to your work station and use your best mug. An online scroll? Do it in your favourite chair not your desk. You could also spend your old commute time meditating or working out.
It will give you a starting point to your day and will reduce the feeling that you are easing into your work. When it comes to the end of the day, introduce a ritual that signals it's time to down tools. It can be a hot drink in a different space, a few laps of the living room or physically shutting down and putting away everything in your new office space. It is important to have these routines now, to give us structure to a strange time.
Having a space where you can decompress is really needed now. When creating this zone, it doesn't need to be big or one that has a single use. It could be somewhere you use differently during the day, but with a few moves, becomes a space just for you.
Mine for example, is an armchair in my living room that doesn't face the TV.
The usual suspects here are the sink, splashback, silicone around counter tops and, of course, your appliances. As you do the S method, take in if anything needs to be replaced, painted, isn't functioning as it should, has missing parts, needs a deep clean and so on. Check your fridge drain, it's the hole on the back wall. If this is clogged, water could be gathering under your crisper drawers and this can lead to a host of issues. See how your dishwasher is doing, does it need salt, rinse aid or its filter cleaned? All of these can ensure a longer, smoother life. Don't forget to check your cooker hood, these items need to be cleaned and some need to have carbon filters changed to ensure they can do their job well.
Each room, no matter what its use, should have the following on its list:
• Flooring • Walls • Skirtings • Sockets
• Windows • Light fittings and switches • Door and door fittings
The main issues you'll be looking out for here will be the bath or shower silicone, grout condition, water pressure, dripping shower hoses or taps, signs of ventilation issues (damp, mould, chipping paint). If you want to check how well your extractor fan is working, hold four sheets of toilet paper against the fan and see if it can hold it up. If it falls when you take away your hand then it isn't doing its job as it should. You can switch it off and hoover away any dust to see if this improves its suction or consult the manufacturer's guidelines. Storage in your bathroom is another area to assess: go through all products and make sure they are not past the usage period as stated. We tend to hold onto beauty products and cosmetics far longer than we should, so this is a great time for a clear-out.
As you move through your home, assess the function of each space and make a note of how you could cleverly zone. I live for the benefits that I get from this. It's all about dividing spaces into areas that have a specific use and ensuring everything for that use is within it. It is especially helpful now as zoning makes the most of multi-use rooms. An example is the kitchen/diner/office/work-out area that many of us currently find ourselves in. The great thing about zoning is that you can start with what you have - you don't necessarily need to buy anything new. It's all about using what you have to enhance a space and set up your home to suit your needs and the flow of your day. This is a lot of fun and the benefits you reap from it can be instant.Remember, a zone can be any size, it just needs to aid the way you want to live and want to use your space. It can be a temporary home office set up to help you feel like your working day is more defined, or an entire living area zoned to perfection for your evening needs. Everyone will need different zones, and some are far more obvious than others, such as those where you sleep or cook. However, there are two less obvious ones I'd love you to consider...
With the right prep, research and supplies, the following are repairs and updates you can easily do yourself around the home.
Mouldy bath or shower silicone
Before you begin here, you need to ensure that the mould and cracks are not down to the bath or tray rocking. If so, sort this beforehand.
This can make such a huge difference and save you a fortune. With the right tools and prep you can transform your bathroom. Be warned, it's not a gentle task and I would have a few podcasts downloaded as well as some hand cream for the days after.
Replacing UPVC window handles
The key here is in the shopping; make sure you know what type of window handle you need including the right spindle measurement and you are good to go.
Dripping taps and showers
These can be sorted with a spare part that costs around 25 cent. That part is a little rubber ring called a washer. Just make sure you know where the stopcock is to turn off your water beforehand!
Leaks under the kitchen sink
This is an issue I see more times than you can imagine. The set-up under the sink can get knocked when the cupboard is overloaded and it's not an area where leaks are noticed until it's too late. Here you will usually need to do some simple repairs, which will save you a major headache.
Prep is key here. Get familiar with the art of cutting in and always protect your floor. Make sure you're painting on a clean surface and you have the right tools - different rollers will be needed for different walls. When it comes to paint selection, I love water-based paint for the ease of application and clean up but also because it doesn't yellow over time. If you're stuck for choosing colours and have a small budget, peruse the more expensive catalogues to inspire and train your eye to the current luxury trends and then source from a brand more matched to your price range.
Most issues can be resolved with some simple troubleshooting. I am constantly called out to a 'broken' machine that in fact has a very minor issue. Reading your manual will ensure that they will work better for longer, it will also save you money on call-outs once you have familiarised yourself with the manufacturer's troubleshooting pages.
Laura de Barra is the author of 'Gaff Goddess' published by Penguin