At the start of each new year, many of us are full of good intentions to embrace good habits and improve our health. But what about our homes? Maybe we should have some resolutions there too.
The middle of winter is a tough season to try to change the habits of a lifetime but every New Year, optimism wins out as millions join gyms, invest in nicotine patches and drag their way through a dry January. How about starting the year determined to improve your living space instead? It could be a habit that reaps greater rewards in the long-term.
People’s favoured resolutions will vary slightly, but we’ve chosen some perennial favourites:
Yes, it’s the number one favourite year after year. We swear we are going to spend the next twelve months working out as much as Madonna to end up with abs worthy of an Olympic swimmer. In reality, most of us join a gym in January, are overwhelmed by the excess of lycra by the end of the month and spend the rest of the year in denial.
So, as an alternative, why not work on getting your home in shape?
Prevention is always better than cure, so we would recommend that you:
Your electrics should be checked and certified by a qualified electrician once every 10 years in a private home, once every five years in tenanted property (or at the changeover of a tenancy) and once every five years in business premises.
Asking your plumber to give your system a thorough check can help avoid problems in the future. Read our 10 expert tips on how to look after your plumbing system for more detailed information.
Maybe you’re thinking of undertaking a larger remodelling project. This year could be the one for a bathroom upgrade, your dream kitchen or expanding your living space with an extension. Which? Trusted Traders has endorsed builders, bathroom designers and fitters and kitchen fitters who can come and give you a no-obligation quote to start turning those dreams into a reality.
Or if you want to go up in the world, the Which? guide to loft conversions offers expert advice on the different types of conversion available, costs involved and planning permission requirements.
Losing weight is another resolution that’s near the top of many people’s lists. While we can’t help with any cake-cravings – how about having a clear-out of your home instead? It could keep you away from the Battenburg for a bit.
Decluttering has become increasingly popular, thanks to practitioners such as Marie Kondo. Whether you want to live in a minimalist paradise or just clean out a cupboard or two – clearing your home of excess goods gives you more space to think and enjoy the items you really value.
It doesn’t have to be difficult.
Take it steadily. You don’t have to declutter everything in one hit. Maybe set aside a particular area to work on, or decide to remove one item a day.
Investigate options for the items you’ll declutter before you start. Having an idea of whether you’ll take them to the charity shop, put them on Ebay or Freecycle makes it more likely you’ll follow through your plan.
Start with the easy stuff first. It will give you a sense of achievement and encourage you to keep going.
Even if you don’t want to have a clear-out, you can have a clear-up. Which? Trusted Traders has professional cleaning services who can clean your carpets, upholstery and oven and generally freshen up your home.
Air pollution has been linked to a range of chronic diseases and contributes to about 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK, according to a 2016 report by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Obviously you’re not helping yourself if you’re still smoking, but even if you’re not, you can still improve the air quality in your home.
Cooking, heating, foam in your furniture and chemical cleaning products can pollute the air inside our homes. Ventilation systems deliver clean, filtered air as well as creating an inhospitable environment for dust mites by lowering moisture levels, which helps people with asthma or allergies.
Learn French, take up the violin, master Chinese cookery – the possibilities are endless. If it all feels a bit like hard work, why not try something new in your home instead?
You could install some new lighting to brighten up your home. Or soft furnishings such as cushions, throws, curtains and blinds are a great way to change things up in your living space without all the commitment and cost of redecorating.
Which? Trusted trader Zanda Russell, from Zanda Russell Design, suggests adding pops of colour to plainer basics to brighten up your abode: ‘Stick to neutral hues and natural materials when it comes to your furniture. You can adjust your colour scheme with accessories in bold, retro prints and bright bursts of colour and - because it’s cheaper than re-doing a whole room - you can update it as often as you like.’
If you’d like to go for a large-scale redesign, or want some advice on colour, Which? Trusted Traders has endorsed interior designers who can help you refresh your property.
Life can be very busy – sometimes our schedules are full with work, children, grandchildren, hobbies and the rest. It can be difficult to keep up with all our friends but it’s important for all of us. If we’re struggling to keep up with people, then we need to book them in – set a date to meet, even if its months in the future. Reconnecting in real life is always better than sharing time online.
So how can Which? Trusted Traders help? Hopefully we can save you time. By providing a resource of accredited tradespeople who you can call on when you need them. All Which? Trusted traders have been through our assessment process and work to our code of conduct, so finding a trader should be a straightforward and anxiety-free process.