13 Simple Fixes to Show Your Home You Care

published Feb 4, 2020
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Credit: Laura Hoerner

It’s February, which means your inbox is probably filling up with ads for flowers and jewelry and your local drugstore is overflowing with cards, candy, and stuffed bears in every size. And no matter where you fall on the Valentine’s Day scale—from my insides are made of conversation hearts to last night I was visited by the ghost of Valentine’s Day past—we’ve got one giftee you should definitely give some love to: your home.

It’s easy to get caught up in big projects at home and forget the little ones, but those are often the ones that make the most difference in your day-to-day (with the least amount of time and effort). So this month, give your home some love with one or more of these tiny tasks—we promise, it’ll send that love right back.

Credit: Laura Hoerner

1. Keep cabinet doors from slamming

Add cabinet bumpers to the backs of cabinet doors to help dull the commotion and keep any paint on your cabinets from chipping, says Thumbtack pro Richard Duncan-Verdier of Three Knights Construction.

2. Loosen up a sticky lock

You don’t have to keep struggling to turn your key. It’s as easy as adding in some lubrication to make the parts inside move a little more smoothly. Keep liquids out, though, says Scott Sidler, founder of restoration and renovation company Austin Historical. They can gunk up the interior even more. Instead, reach for a dry lubricant like spray graphite. Squeeze it directly into the keyhole before inserting your key. Turn, remove, and wipe away any debris with a rag; repeat until it functions smoothly.

3. Speed up a slow shower head

The most likely culprit? Mineral buildup. Pour a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water into a plastic bag and tie it around your shower head so it’s fully submerged in the liquid (you might need rubber bands to help keep it on, too). Leave it there for 30 minutes to an hour; once time’s up, dump the vinegar and run the shower to clear any remaining gunk.

Credit: Laura Hoerner

4. Unclog a slow drain

Slip a flexible plastic drain-clearing snake into your sink or tub, says Sidler. Pull it out, and the barbed edges will bring up any hair or other gunk that’s keeping your drain from clearing.

5. Remove a water ring from a coffee table

Place a t-shirt or towel over the stain, then run an iron over top to help pull out the moisture. Use medium heat with no steam, and keep the iron moving; letting it sit in one spot for too long can damage the wood’s finish. Pull up the towel every minute or so to check on your progress.

6. Re-stick curling wallpaper seams

First, wipe the area with a damp sponge to make the adhesive more pliable, says Bailey Carson, who oversees services provided by home improvement pros for Handy. Then, use a putty knife to lift the edge of the wallpaper and apply wallpaper adhesive to the wall underneath using a small craft brush. Press it down with a seam roller and use a damp sponge to wipe away any excess adhesive before it dries.

Credit: Laura Hoerner

7. Silence noisy door hinges

A bit of WD-40 on the hinges should do the trick, says Carson. Open the door and spray a bit into the hinges, then open and close the door to work the lubricant in. Make sure to spray at close range, Carson advises, so that you can avoid getting any excess on the wall or woodwork. Wipe excess with a rag. If any pins are loose, tap into place with a hammer.

8. Remove scuffs from baseboards

A Magic Eraser will do the trick—dampen the sponge, rub away the scuffs, then use a towel to dry.

9. Subdue a squeaky floor

For minor creaks, the solution is as simple as sprinkling a little baby powder on the floor and sweeping it into the joints between the boards with a clean paint brush. Wipe up the excess with a damp cloth.

10. Fill naked nail holes

An all-in-one tube of spackle like this one makes this job super quick. Squeeze some spackle in the hole, scrape excess using the built-in putty knife on the end. Once it’s dry, sand smooth using the built-in sander. Then, cover the spot with a bit of touch-up paint.

Credit: Laura Hoerner

11. Fluff up flattened throw pillows

Throw yours in the dryer with a tennis ball to help break up any clumps in the filling. Still lackluster? Try replacing the pillow form with one that’s just a bit bigger than the size of your cover—it will give your throw pillows a super cushy, overfilled look.

12. Free up sticky dresser drawers

Rubbing a bit of beeswax on the spots that are causing friction can help drawers glide freely. You can also use a spare candle for the job.

13. Stabilize a wobbly table

Use a level to figure out which leg is the culprit. Mark it with tape, flip the table on its back, and tap a furniture glide onto the leg to give it some extra lift.