Continuing in the spirit of contribution, collaboration and community, I have compiled a list of things we all can do to confront and overcome what I call the Quarantine Blues. Take a few minutes to read, watch and learn how a little bit goes a long way to lifting not only your mood, but also your home’s perceived value. Whether you wish to improve curb appeal, would like to ready your home for sale once this whole COVID-19 thing is behind us, or if you just want to get through this virus without pulling your hair out, here are 30 Homebound COVID-19 Tips to help get you over the hump.

  1. Flowers – A bouquet of fresh flowers makes everything seem more tolerable. Why else do men in the doghouse buy them? Pick a few daffodils and throw them in a mason jar on your kitchen countertop, coffee table, or even on the back of your toilet. If you don’t have any flowers in your yard, do what I do: pick your neighbor’s flowers. They won’t notice, and even if they do, they can’t blame you. We are all out of our minds at this point. Besides, desperate times call for desperate measures. While you’re at it, pay some mind to the outside too… you can find beautiful urns, pots and planters for cheap on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Tell your neighbors their lilacs would look great in a pitcher on your front porch, then do a YouTube search on how to covertly prune a flowering tree.
  2. Paint – Nothing, and I mean nothing, spruces up a room like a fresh coat of paint. If you don’t happen to have paint you like just lying around, and you don’t want to risk contracting a deadly virus by going out to purchase some, simply look online at paint swatches and live on the edge. Call your local paint supplier and ask them to deliver a couple of samples. Depending on the store, you can get a pint of sample paint for around $6. Order a few colors you like and test them out. Then once you’ve made your decision, order however many gallons you need and have them delivered too, along with the necessary tarps, brushes, rollers and pans. You can even do what I did and throw a poll out on social media to garner people’s vote. People love giving their opinion. If nothing else, this makes for great entertainment when they start disagreeing with each other.
  3. Closets – Isn’t it high time your closet looked respectably like an adult’s? Has a study ever been done to analyze what age exactly we go from college dorm hellhole to Aunt Barb’s organized oasis of shelves, totes, baskets and hooks? Anyone else feel traumatized by the sheer number of black plastic TJ Maxx hangers holding up your horribly outdated clothes? We all love opening the IKEA catalog and marveling at the way all the beautiful color-coded clothing on wooden hangers look. Buy some online, once and for all, and swap out all the godforsaken plastic crap. Goodwill always needs hangers and if they tell you they have plenty and turn them away, then melt them down in favor of a cool new epoxy for your wretched kitchen counters. More on that later.
  4. Donate – Everything from unworn clothing to old towels, dishes and glassware you no longer use, furniture, nicknacks, bedding and window treatments. Throw it in a bag and take a drive to a drop-off bin. Or call for a porch pickup so you don’t even have to leave the house (please be patient and mindful of current COVID-19 advisories which may potentially result in delays). If you are a minimalist and have nothing to donate, stop bragging and pray for your own self-righteousness. Better yet, write a blog about how to help us less fortunate achieve enlightenment. If you suck at writing, hire a realtor who needs a side hustle.
  5. Trim – Not that anyone is playing right now with a circular saw and nails, we’d all rather be watching Netflix, but if you have a handy spouse or in-law you can FaceTime, then this is a great project to tackle during quarantine. One thing that really dresses up a room is pretty trim. You don’t even have to know how to miter corners or how to square off a room that has settled. Adding a simple chair rail or accent trim can be remarkably transformative and satisfying. We aren’t shooting for coffered ceilings like the Vanderbilt Mansion here. Pinterest is crawling with simple DIY trim ideas, so don’t get too ambitious or you’ll end up drinking more than you are already, and this is supposed to be a time of productivity, not powerlessness
  6. Windows – No one likes washing them. No one feels like doing it. And yet, just like in The Karate Kid when Mr. Miyagi had Ralph Macchio wax on and wax off, when we finally break down and get it done, we feel all happy and proud inside. Unless we see streaks, and then we want to punch holes through said windows. Someone once told me to use a coffee filter to minimize streakage, however I think they must have had a wicked stepmother. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wash a window with one single paper towel, let alone a single coffee filter. From whence do these so-called life hacks hail? If you are yearning for a sure-fire way to clean windows like a boss, there are all kinds of pros touting effective methods on YouTube, otherwise you may find that an old cut-up t-shirt works just as poorly as anything else.
  7. Kitchen – It’s one of those rooms in the house where you either love it or hate it. In my case, it was the latter, but not everyone has a budget earmarked for renovation, especially when no one is coming in and no one is going out (i.e. contractors). So I took to Pinterest and had my husband take off the cabinet doors in favor of an open shelving concept. I used items I already owned that had been previously relegated to the darkest corners of my cabinets to stage a different aesthetic to create a new and refreshing look. This is a bold, daring approach and I don’t necessarily recommend it, however I will say it has kept me busy, if not altogether distracted. There are all kinds of counter refinishing products I never heard about too, including messy, smelly epoxies (melted down plastic hangers, no doubt) and even fake marble contact paper, which makes for a quick, inexpensive fix for nasty looking countertops like ours.
  8. Bathroom – Just as with the kitchen, there’s not much you can do to renovate a bathroom during a plague, especially if you only have one bathroom. But in the age of online shopping, there are plenty of other things you can do: replace the shower curtain, change the color of your towels and choose a new bath mat for the floor. You can also add or replace the artwork on the walls and and, assuming you or your significant other aren’t afraid of a little electricity, you might even swap out the light fixture. For example, I’ve always wanted a chandelier in my bathroom. It adds a touch of elegance and far softer light than the standard over-the-mirror nightmares that make my under-eye circles look a fright. If you are feeling exceptionally antsy, you can always take a crack at some decent DIY that doesn’t require a total demo.
  9. Walls – Fewer things show the reality of our walls quite like a quarantine. Scratches, strange marks, dings, booger smears, cat pee, condensation streaks and clashing paint colors, there’s nothing like a little cabin fever to wake us up to the ugliness of our own four walls. Yes, that’s an analogy, but someone famous once said that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, which is why my husband and daughter are painting as I type.
  10. Floors – Just walk around barefoot for three weeks and you’ll see how clean  your floors are. It makes you consider adopting a leave-your-shoes-at-the-door policy, which is popular in Asia. Go figure. A great and gentle homemade floor cleaner is simple vinegar and orange peels. So, peel an orange, eat the fruit, throw the peels in a bucket, toss a little vinegar (and, because we are in a plague, a splash of isopropyl rubbing alcohol), along with some scathing hot water in there, and have at it. The acidity of the vinegar picks up the grime and the aroma of the oranges will have your home smelling clean and delicious and the bonus is having the soles of your feet looking a little less offensive to your Peeping Tom neighbor when you are outside tanning later on in the week.
  11. Lawn – Before anyone with allergies starts griping about the season, I get it. You can’t do yard work. Thankfully, in most states, landscape companies are deemed essential businesses and they don’t even need to come inside, so re-allocate those funds you’d be spending on gas and tolls and have someone whack the weeds of your property every two weeks, for cheese and crimony.
  12. Garden – Unlike allergies with yard work, gardening can be done inside in containers. Unlike the mythic culture, you don’t need a plough or a greenhouse or even a garden hose to be a successful gardener. You officially have no excuse, especially since you now get to grow your own food and live off the land like a frontier family. You could purchase some seed packets online, buy a hydroponic light or just easily regrow some of what you already have. Here, watch some YouTube videos and get to work.
  13. Concrete – If you fancy yourself a hard ass, or if you have a spouse who would look much sexier holding a sledgehammer, order some bags of quikcrete from your local hardware store. Most will do delivery or curbside pickup. Send your bae out to the shed to fetch a bucket and a shovel. Tell him/her to fix the damn cracks in the sidewalk before you take a crack in their general direction. This is a great project for week three or four of quarantine because all mental health data points to the fact that your significant other will be happy to do this work, maybe even more than you hoped. Besides, when it comes time to sell, most townships will require that the concrete be repaired anyway, so you may as well get it over with.
  14. Paper Piles – Decluttering is the worst, until it’s done, then it’s the best. It took me a full 72 hours to get through all of my paper piles, shredding, recycling, scanning and filing all the ridiculous crap. Before and during the tedious process, I was cursing and feigning exhaustion, however once it was finally done a warm, funny feeling washed over me, not unlike when the seat warmers come on in the car on a cold, winter day. My friend, brand client (and sister-in-law) Sue wrote this great article about how to stop piles before they start.
  15. Command Center – My highly organized friend told me about how she created a Command Center in her house to help keep the kids and parents on the same page. When she mentioned it, I immediately judged her and fought the urge to even look it up on Pinterest. Turns out there are all these organized people in the world. It made me feel simultaneously dumbstruck and more than a little bitter. How had I never before heard of such sorcery? My kids are now doing their work at the table and not off in their respective rooms on their mind-numbing devices. Command Centers. Look it up.
  16. Garage – If you’re anything like me, the garage is a place where dreams go to die. I can’t stand the garage, which is why I avoid it like the plague. That expression takes on new meaning now that the plague can only be avoided by staying in your home or garage. I don’t have to tell you, haul that crap out, sell it all, organize the rest. Not that you need another itemized list of To Do’s, but here’s 51 Brilliant Ways to Organize Your Garage. Hey, you have nothing but time on your hands, so now’s as good a time as any to tackle it.
  17. Cars – Get out and take a Sunday drive like our parents used to do… in fact take a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday drive too if you can. See some scenery. Throw the dog in the car take a ride somewhere to a place you’ve never been before. When you get home, clean everything out of the car and vacuum it. Then spray the windows with windex, grab a towel and wash away all the dog slobber. You could wipe down the dash and the steering with that same vinegar, alcohol and orange peel solution you used on the floors earlier, or maybe look at these 13 Weird Tricks to Clean Your Car. While granted, this may not have a direct impact on your home’s perceived value, it doesn’t hurt anyone to drive around a shinier car.
  18. Compost – We are living in one of, if not the most, strangest times of our lives. The rivers, oceans and streams are recovering from the reduction in pollution. The canals in Venice Italy have returned to their clear, Mediterranean state and you can even see dolphins and many varieties of fish rejoicing in the clean waters. Now’s a great time to learn about composting and how to reduce your carbon footprint.
  19. Junk Drawers – Alright, we all have them. I have five of them. I shove crap in drawers when I’m tidying up and I never look in those drawers. I just push things around, which doesn’t help with finding anything,. My jewelry armoire is a nightmare. Talk about junk jewelry. The only time jewelry ever looks good in an armoire is in the advertisement. You know this. It’s time to figure out what to do with all this stuff! Take it one drawer at a time… or you can even MacGyver it. Check out this total fake-out closet DIY Jewelry Built-in
  20. Gutters – You know what’s a good idea? Not only cleaning out your gutters of leaves and debris, but also implementing rain barrels. Why have I never done this before? You can water your plants, wash the car and the dog, and fill up your pool with the rain water coming from your downspouts.  This is some seriously genius stuff here. Check it out and do it.
  21. Air Filters – During this time of allergies, colds and the Corona virus, it’s time to get serious about better air quality. No joke. Clean your filters. Monthly. Not only will it help protect you against colds and flus, it will also help your HVAC system run more efficiently, which is healthy for home system maintenance. It may be located on the side of your main HVAC unit or you may have a return intake air conditioning filter located elsewhere in your home.
  22. Clothes – Marie Kondo says if it doesn’t spark joy, then it has to go. She says to pick up each item of clothing, hold it, look at it, listen to it, and if it doesn’t whisper that you have a mutual love affair, then get rid of it. I have never embraced this approach, but I do find it fascinating. I’d consider being in the camp of turning your black plastic TJ Maxx hangers backward, but even the author of this video isn’t in that camp. The idea is at the end of the season, any hangers not facing the other way are items to be donated. There are cons to that approach, so just do what I do and ransack your closet until you have nothing left, then cry when you realize what you’ve done. If nothing else, it gives you a reason to shop on Facebook Marketplace again.
  23. Magazines – Dust off all those magazines you never got around to recycling and create your post-plague vision board. Things will get better, and a big part of that will be visualizing what life will look like once we return to some semblance of normalcy. While we get back to basics, begin to picture a future built on purpose and passion. Recommit to a life made of structure and healthy habits with a patchwork poster board filled with cut-out images of what you’d like your life to become, as opposed to what it currently is, and what it will look like after you’ve exhausted all your unemployment benefits and successfully burned off all the extra pounds you put on during quarantine. If you need a How To video to get a sense of how to create a vision board, here are some insightful do’s and don’ts that resonated with me rather deeply.
  24. Power Wash – The mold on the vinyl siding won’t be ignored any longer. The peeled paint on the back deck demands your attention. It’s high time you borrowed your neighbor’s power washer and took care of these items, you lazy bum. Ask aforementioned neighbor to just leave the thing in your driveway, then wipe or spray it down with disinfectant and get to work. In fact, just go ahead and fill the power washer with disinfectant so you truly have no more excuses. I promise the task can be really very satisfying.
  25. Spray Paint – Your rusty metal deck furniture is so ugly, so why are you even keeping it? I’ll answer that. Because times like these mean waste not, want not. For heaven’s sake, at least spray paint it. You’ll be glad you did.
  26. Grade – No, I’m not talking about education performance. You know those weird patches of brown and black on the cinder block walls of the basement? It’s more than likely because your home isn’t graded properly. You need to stock up on some topsoil and mulch. That stuff can be ordered and delivered too, so don’t even try to resist. Grab a shovel and a wheelbarrow and toss the stuff around the perimeter of the house, grading runoff water away from the foundation. This will also help detract wood destroying insects from taking up residence inside your walls. Here’s a vid proving I’m right, yet again. You’re welcome.
  27. Weed – No, not that kind of weed, although as with everything else on this list, that could help. Weeding by hand is tedious, annoying and time consuming. While popular, you’ll never find me recommending a commercial herbicide. It is a known carcinogen to both humans and pets alike as well as environmental toxin. You know that same vinegar you used for your nasty floors and your car dashboard? Well it can also be used to exterminate weeds in the cracks of your driveway and sidewalk. Simply purchase an empty sprayer from the hardware store, fill it up with plain white vinegar, Dawn dish soap, and, get this, iodized salt, and commence saturating the weeds. They’ll dry up in the sunlight and die as if the COVID-19 itself got to them. Here’s a how-to vid.
  28. Wires – The extension cords, oh the extension cords! Take a couple minutes to organize your wires and cables underneath your desk, behind your entertainment center and beside the bed. These cords can fast become fire hazards, so dust them off to minimize static electricity. Use zip ties, binder clips and a label maker to keep them safely bundled together and neatly identified. 
  29. Books, Videos, Games – In this digital day and age, there’s fundamentally no reason to even have VHS cassettes, DVDs, video games and books laying around collecting dust. But if you fancy yourself a collector, at the very least do an online search to see how to best stage these areas of your home… because, honestly, that leaning tower of CDs doesn’t impress people much.
  30. Craft – Nothing like a little quarantine to get the old creative juices flowing. It’s time to start crafting, sketching, painting and creating poetry again. Join an online group, enter contests, and frame and display your Corona creations in your newly fresh, clean home.

I realize this was a long read (imagine how long it took me to write), so thank you for hanging in there. I personally believe that levity is a great survival skill in these difficult times. We’ve heard it said before, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” We each need to stay engaged and stay busy so we can overcome the anxiety and dread that comes with idleness. Please know that I’m open to all kinds of ideas so leave your comments below or text me at 609-760-4334 with your additional blog ideas. Whatever gets us through this together…. be sure to stay active… and most importantly, stay safe and healthy.