Temperatures reaching down to 40 degrees at night is a sure sign that winter weather is on its way in New England. Before winter comes, cold-climate home owners have some interior home improvement projects that need tackling.
Below are some varied pre-winter home improvement projects I’ve done as well as others that are on my pre-winter list. They may differ from your to-do list, but they’re still worth considering, both for aesthetic value and for much-needed upkeep.

Pre-Winter Windows Maintenance

Living in an old house with not new windows can be drafty. Last year my husband sealed some windows with insulating plastic before I had a chance to clean the windows. Because I decided I would rather not look at the same pine needles stuck in screens for three months, I gave the windows a thorough cleaning first. The job took more paper towels and time than expected.

On a sunny day, I rinsed the screens outdoors and cleaned the storm windows and interior windows, inside and out. A vacuum helped clean the interior window sills. Because the heat had been turning on every night, it was time to pull all the storm windows in place and push the screens out of the way. The heat has been turning on every night.

The winters are now ready for some plastic installation, easily applied with a hair dryer. I was lucky enough to stock up on some last spring went it went on clearance. This year I will be adding pull-down shades to some of the windows to add a further layer of insulated protection from the icy winter drafts.

Because we are transitioning from windows open to windows closed season in the Northeast, it’s also a good time to wash all of the curtains and to shore up any loose window treatment hardware.

Decorative Painting

After living with walls with nothing more than a fresh coat of paint, I have decided to paint decorative elements on the walls. I am still not keen on adding a lot of holes or wall-hanging fixtures to the walls because it feels as if I just recently applied spackle, sanded and painted them.

Currently the kitchen has a block feeling to it and one way I am going to add more organic shapes is to stencil tree shadows on the wall in the dining area. When the curtains are open, at the right time of day, their shadows dance on the wall. Tracing the shadows with a pencil, then filling them in with a dark gray paint will be one of my pre-winter projects.

Stenciling is an interior painting project which can be done while the family is in the house. Decorative painting involves working in small areas, adding details, without having to remove furniture or open all the windows, making it an ideal pre-winter home interior project.

Repaint and Touch-Up Before the Holidays

Because our bathroom was initially painted in haste, it needs to be repainted. I initially painted it during a thunderstorm and before we had reinstalled the ceiling light in the bathroom. The bathroom remodel had taken longer than expected and the time I had to paint it was cut short. Painting in a thunderstorm without proper overhead lighting (I did have some portable lights) is not recommended. Now repainting the bathroom has become a pre-winter project.

The trim was also unpainted and months after the bathroom had been painted. In hindsight, the trim should have been painted first, then added, because our walls were already painted. When my well-meaning husband painted the trim, he figured the walls had to be repainted and he was not worried about splashing white paint on my Blue Agave walls.

The timing of the repainting works out because it will give the bathroom a fresh and clean look before the busy holiday season. If you’re concerned about painting interior walls, choose a no-VOC or low-VOC paint.

Heater Cleaning

One annual pre-winter task that I do not enjoy is cleaning the heaters. In our previous home, we had the old steam radiators, which would collect dust in hard-to-reach and clean places. This year, I have baseboard heating that needs to be cleaned. I removed the covers and vacuumed between the metal slots and under the heaters. After replacing the long metal covers, I also checked around the house to see where the heaters were obstructed by furniture or any other items that would interfere with their efficiency.

The most problematic areas are where we have our sweatshirts, coats and hats hanging on a row of hooks, above the heater. The row of hooks, which we re-purposed from our bathroom when we remodeled it, needed to be moved up to keep long winter coats and sweaters from touching the top of the heater.

Winter Home Improvement Shopping List

Before the snow and ice visit for the winter, it’s a good time to stock up on the home improvement items you will need for this winter’s projects. That decorative painting, organizing or repair job looks more attractive on a snowy day when you already have the tools and supplies you need on hand.

Some of my undone pre-winter home interior projects are trying to call me away from enjoying the glorious fall foliage. While the sun is shining and the days are tolerable, I will be enjoying fall and saving some of my projects for rain days or cold evenings. With some of my pre-winter home improvement projects already done, I am ready for hibernation season with my family, and invite Old Man Weather to bring it on.