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Add some whimsy to the new year

So you have resolved to lose 10 pounds, renew your expired gym membership and become a better person. Now it's time to make a few resolutions regarding your house.

Yes, you already know that January is the time to declutter and get organized -- boy, do you know it -- but there are other things you can add to the list. Fun things. Good things. Important things.

A good place to start: Resolve to have more spontaneous get-togethers at your home this year. Call friends in for pizza some Tuesday night just for the fun of it. Start a game night. The laundry can wait.

Another thing: So many times, people put off having company over until the basement is refinished, the dining room painted or the carpet replaced. Don't wait. If you think your old kitchen table is an eyesore, throw a pretty tablecloth on it. No one cares, really.

Some other things to do (besides losing that 10 pounds):

* Add a little color to your life. Frame a museum poster and hang it in the kitchen. Buy brightly hued place mats. Paint an old wooden chair bright red. Change old cabinet knobs to ones that are more whimsical and bright.

* Plan a new garden -- even if it's a window box. Start gathering ideas now, and you'll be ready come spring.

* Buy some flannel sheets -- on sale.

* Use your good china more often.

* Move around the living room furniture.

* Paint the inside of a cupboard or even your closet your favorite color.

* If there is a wedding, graduation or some other big event in your future, decide now what you absolutely want to have done in the house beforehand. Don't wait until June to have the couch reupholstered, for example.

* Gather old family photographs from boxes and dresser drawers and hang them somewhere unexpected -- like the powder room. Scout flea markets, estate sales and garage sales for interesting old frames.

* Hang out at home Sunday afternoons.

* Resolve this year to replace or refinish at least one piece of furniture that doesn't look so hot, anymore.

* Resolve never to lose your car keys again. Establish a place where keys can be deposited each day.

* Make a list of all those small maintenance jobs such as caulking that require your attention. The idea is to get the small jobs done before they turn into big jobs. Designate a Saturday a month to get these jobs done, if that's what it takes.

* Stop wrestling with plastic grocery bags. Store them in a container designed for this purpose. Or get in the habit of recycling them.

Finally, make this the year to make your home a safer place. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, and make sure there is an alarm near every sleeping area. The Home Safety Council recommends installing additional smoke alarms inside all bedrooms as well. Test each smoke alarm every month. Also, install at least one carbon monoxide alarm near sleeping areas.

There are many other things you can do as well, including making sure windows and doors securely lock; forming a neighborhood watch group; installing grab bars in showers and tubs, and improving lighting both indoors and out.

Also: If your family does not have a fire escape plan, make this the year to create and practice one. (For other tips, the Home Safety Council's Web site,, is just one resource for making your home a safer place to be.)


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