July 14, 2012

Welcome Spring: Longer Days, Cleaner Home


Spring Into Action With a Clean Sweep of Your Home
By Craig Tomashoff, Contributor

When you think of the four seasons, certain images immediately come to mind. For summer, it’s barbecue grills, swimming pools and lawnmowers. For fall, it’s pumpkins, turkeys and footballs. Winter is hot chocolate, snowmen and stockings. And spring? How about buckets, brushes and a mop? While the season is a sign of new birth, it's also when most people take the time to clean up.

“It’s a good thing to get in the habit of," said Newell Turner, editor-in-chief of "House Beautiful." "It’s out with the old, in with the new, a fresh start. Spring connotes all those things.”

Brightening Things Up Inside


For centuries, spring has been the season for cleaning. In Chinese culture, they have traditionally swept their floors and cleaned out their houses to purge any bad luck and prepare for the coming of a new year. According to Jewish lore, Passover is a time to clear out the home of all leavened products. This led to a full spring cleaning of the home.

Meanwhile, in America, the idea of spring cleaning has become a tradition for very practical reasons. The cold and darkness that trapped you in your house all winter fade away and are replaced by longer days and warmer weather.

“Spring cleaning is psychologically important,” said Danny Lipford, a veteran remodeling contractor and frequent contributor to CBS’ "The Early Show." “We’re ingrained with the idea of cleaning up once we’re unleashed from the house in the spring.”

For Peggy Johnson, a North Carolina-based specialist in budget-friendly redesign, spring cleaning is more than just tidying things up. It’s about change and shaking things up for a whole new look around the house that suits the spirit of the season. For instance, she suggests using bright baskets rather than plastic containers to organize items like newspapers and keepsakes. It’s a way to clean up and “create texture, as well as adding another element to the room, something fun.”

If your cleaning is mostly about changing the look of your place, it does not have to be expensive. Something as simple as moving artwork to different walls can give your home a different look.

“Rearranging your furniture is good,” Johnson said. “Or you can take that large, dark piece you have and give it a light-colored paint job to make the room feel fresh and clean.”

After all the gray gloominess of winter, painting a chair, table or plant stand a sunny color, or getting new pillows for the sofa, is the perfect way “to do something bright and cheery,” Turner said. “These things elevate the mood of a room, and they aren’t big projects.”

The same goes for the bedroom, where Turner recommends just buying new sheets or a duvet to alter the look of the space. The dining room can get a spring facelift, too. It’s getting brighter outside, so try the same inside by doing what Johnson likes to do: put a bowl filled with colorful, seasonal fruits like oranges and lemons apples on your dining room table.

While it may be a little more time consuming and expensive, spring is also the best time of year to install ceiling fans.

“Without a doubt, they help you save energy but also have a cooling effect in the summer,” Lipford said. “They can keep fresh air circulating and make a room feel seven or eight degrees cooler. So March or April are the perfect months to install ceiling fans, before the heat of summer sets in.”

The Great, and Clean, Outdoors

As the weather warms up, you know you will leave the windows open to catch a nice breeze. That makes spring the time to free the screens of dust and grime. Lipford creates what he calls “a screen bath" for the job. He fills a watertight object like a kiddie pool with soap and water, then places the screens in the mix.
They only need to soak for several minutes before they're ready to go back in the window.

Spring also offers the first chance in months to get out and spruce up your yard. Lipford suggests starting with improving the curb appeal of your home by working on the first thing you see when you come home and the last thing you see when you leave -- your mailbox.

“Straighten it up, plant a plant there, put some new numbers on it,” he said. “You’re looking at it every day, and with just a little work, you’ll have a big impact.”

Spring is traditionally the time for planting, but you also need to get the soil healthy enough for flowers like the summer hydrangeas. According to Lipford, pH testing kits are cheap and available at most home and garden stores. They’ll let you determine if your yard has an acceptable level of lime to allow plants to thrive. They must be used early in spring so you have plenty of time to improve the situation if your soil isn’t healthy.

“If necessary, you can help by aerating the yard,” Lipford said. “You can rent a machine for $25 or so, and it well help loosen the soil in spring so the grass has more avenues to flourish and not choke.”

The earlier you can start on spring cleaning projects, the longer you’ll have to enjoy your handiwork.

“It’s good to start all this in the spring so you can enjoy the work you’ve done through the fall,” Johnson said. “Do it all now, and you’ll have it behind you.”


Read more: Welcome Spring: Longer Days, Cleaner Home | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/feature_12221718_welcome-spring-longer-days-cleaner-home.html#ixzz21ClAcYm3