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Put your house in good order for 2012

23rd January 2012

Ring out the old with these 10 simple steps to domestic bliss.

Stepping up: to get the New Year off to a good start, catch up with odd jobs around the home and put everything to rights, says Rosie Millard  

By Rosie Millard

The United States government advises Americans on subjects to pick for their New Year’s resolutions. Aside from dieting and giving up smoking, one perennial favourite is fixing up their homes. So what New Year’s resolutions should we have for our houses in 2012?

1 Lose the paper trail

This is the single most effective way to freshen up your house. Why not mark the New Year by throwing out everything that has 2011 printed on it? Keep letters and bank statements, of course. But bin all those old receipts, theatre programmes, tickets, newspapers and copies of The New Yorker. Well, all right, hold on to The New Yorker.

2 New Year wash list

Take a steely look at your paintwork. You might like to start by devoting a morning to rolling up your sleeves and washing it down. Sugar soap, sold at DIY stores, will clean away scuff marks. It will make a big difference. After you have done that, assess how badly it needs repainting. If you are not up to doing it yourself, then visit for a list of energetic men who are.

3 Room to move

If you can, suggest everyone changes bedrooms. For a night, for a week or for good. But if that proves controversial, and with young children it might, try moving the beds instead. A bed in the middle of a bedroom can release a huge amount of wall space. I recently liberated one of my children from his bunk bed, leaving the high bed as a spare and putting him in a single on the floor. Now at least I can get him out of bed in the morning.

4 Sound advice

Go to the sales and think about updating the technology in your house. Install Wi-Fi, if you haven’t already. Or how about fitting a Wi-Fi music system? We’re going to try Sonos (, which provides a Wi-Fi speaker system throughout the home, starting at about £250.

5 Green house effect

What can you do to make your house greener and save money at the same time? Simple techniques such as getting a water butt for the garden, and attaching the hose, can work brilliantly. Save Cash and Save the Planet by eco-warrior Nicola Baird ( is what you need. This book contains advice on how to make your house energy efficient, the greenest appliances for the kitchen and how to stop draughts.

6 Go the full yard

Put a table outside the front door and pile it with your Christmas junk, and anything else you have outgrown. They do this all the time in New York, even during winter. A plate of brownies and a flask of tea might help attract some of your neighbours too.

7 Security alert

Audit your house for safety. Check light bulbs, wiring behind your television and plugs in all your rooms. Most important of all, renew the batteries in your smoke alarms. If you haven’t got smoke alarms, fit them.

8 Just the job

Book a six-hour deep clean with a team of professionals. Go out for the day and leave them to it. When you get back, the sparkling, waxed, vacuumed, perfumed abode that used to be your chaotic house might help you move forward to domestic bliss in 2012.

9 Pound the high street

Visit Poundland for all those little things that help a house run smoothly. You will find anything from laundry baskets and tea towels to clothes pegs and a new cover for your ironing board. I’m talking about the sort of things that are under my sink and on their last legs. They would probably cost a lot, should

I venture into the wrong places, but they can be picked up cheaply at pound shops. And they will make you feel as if the house is facing 2012 in good order.

10 The future’s clear

Put all the things that take up residence on your mantelpieces, tables and bookshelves, back where they belong. Add casters to your furniture. Fix those irritating little things that need mending. Have a non-negotiable attitude to your wardrobe. If you never wore them in 2011, you probably won’t in 2012. Take the old clothes to a charity shop, or hold a swapping night with your friends.

Source: Telegraph 23/1/12