Open those shutters and pack away the long johns -- spring is just around the corner! After months of hiding inside from the cold, it's time to flush out the stale winter blahs and prepare your home for a fresh new season.
1 Get the mould out
With increased time indoors and more contact with your furnishings, bacteria and moulds have been multiplying in your carpets and upholstery all winter long. Yikes! It's a time to give all fabrics a good shampoo to nip these nasties in the bud, especially before the weather gets wet and rainy as moisture helps moulds grow faster. Also, take a look around your windowpanes for fuzzy black growth, scrub with an unscented detergent then dry quickly. And don't forget the fridge -- give it a good wipe-down, throw away spoiled foods and clean up any sign of mildew along the seals.
2 A breath of fresh air
After blasting heated air through your home all winter it's time to clean out or replace your air filter. If your filter is especially dirty it may be time to get your air ducts professionally cleaned. Check your return air filters and heating vents with a flashlight for extreme dust, and be aware of any unpleasant odours, poor airflow or cold spots in your house -- all are signs you need your air ducts cleaned.
3 Indulge in a new armoire
It's much more fun to pack away wooly socks and sweaters when you have a pretty new armoire to place them in! The extra storage space will also house blankets, snow pants and whatever else you're not going to see until next winter. And remember, anything you didn't wear all winter is classified for give-away. Now your closets are wide open for spring and summer wear.
4 A fresh start with flowers
Get into the spring of things with potted pink tulips, yellow daffodils, purple irises or white lilies. Even if the weather is still wintry outside, you're reminded that soon these lovelies will be sprouting forth in your own garden.
5 Be Irish for a day
There's no excuse not to host an Irish-themed dinner party, whether on St. Patrick's day or the weekend before. Decorate with potted four-leaf-clovers, serve up some Guinness beef stew, Irish soda bread and a round of stiff Irish coffees for dessert.
A hot paint trend this year is to mix pastels with darker neutrals. Give your home a splash of pretty spring colour on an accent wall, in the kitchen or create a colourful trim in a dull-looking room.
7 Vacuum out your fire alarm
Dust will accumulate inside your smoke detector, causing it to give a false alarm. After checking the battery this month, take the top off and vacuum the inside with the drapery-cleaning attachment of your vacuum cleaner. And remember, batteries should be replaced once per year and the detector itself needs replacing every 10 years.
8 Go fly a kite
High winds in March make it a great time for kids to construct, decorate and fly their own kites over March break. Check your local bookstore for kite construction books or browse online for easy instructions. If the weather remains too cold all month, kids can hang their kites in their rooms until April.
9 Hippity hoppity
Decorate your home at the end of March with some artistic Easter eggs. Try your hand at Chinoiserie Eggs, Hydrangea Eggs, or have fun with the kids using food colouring and crayons. Surround your pretty eggs with a couple small pots of fresh grass for an extra springy look -- but keep an eye on your eggs around grass-eating housecats!
10 Get ready, green thumbs!
Before the first real thaw comes, make sure your gardening tools are in working order. Grease up any stiff cutting tools, check screws or bolts on handles to ensure they're secure and replace anything that rusted over the winter. Have power tools serviced and replace old blades or chains with sharp ones. And go ahead -- indulge in that cool new gardening gizmo to get you really pumped for the upcoming season.