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No money? No problem. The Home Depot reports Americans will take on more budget-friendly projects in 2011. Use our DIY planner to map out a year's worth of small, affordable home projects.

New Year's Resolutions 2011, home improvementsFrom January to December, upgrade your home with these small projects. Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to home renovations, 2011 is the year to think small.

With a housing market that remains shaky and major remodeling projects on the decline, The Home Depot is endorsing the small projects movement.

At the company's annual conference for analysts and investors, The Home Depot reported an increase in revenue in 2010 and expects that Americans will increasingly prefer small home projects over major renovations. As a result, homeowners will opt for maintenance and repair projects that lower the operating costs of their home.

So in the upcoming year -- when small will be the new big -- how about putting a little DIY action on your list of New Year's resolutions? The concept is simple: do one small home improvement project each month for the whole year. To aid you on your quest, we've assembled 12 projects for you to tackle in 2011. Each one is easy and cost-effective to complete, and designed to add beauty and value to your home. Come year's end you'll have a brand-new home -- without an enormous hole in your wallet.

Photo: Shaw Flooring

JANUARY PROJECT: Install New Flooring

Are your carpets showing a little wear and tear? Have you always dreamed of having beautiful hardwood floors? Refinishing wood floors and replacing old carpet can reinvent a room without changing anything else. So kick-start your year with new flooring that is sure to wow (for less). January is the best time to take advantage of bargains. During this month you'll find the lowest prices on flooring material due to slow sales.

If you're looking to really stretch your budget, opt for laminate flooring. Plastic laminates look like wood floors, are easy to install and cost a few bucks per square foot. They are put together with a snap-and-groove system, which requires no nailing or gluing. The finished laminate is tough and resistant to stains, fading and most scratches. Other good options include peel-and-stick carpet tiles, pre-finished hardwood and engineered flooring.

DIY IT: Installing Laminate Flooring | Caring for Hardwood Floors

Photo: California Closets


There's no need to scrimp and save for an extravagant renovation project like adding a second story. Simply clearing up the clutter in your home can double it in size. Maximize winter's down time by organizing your closets, drawers, garage, computer files and storage areas. Focus on one room at a time and schedule different rooms for different days. Utilize a good all-in-one copier/printer/scanner to digitize paper documents and eliminate mounds of paper clutter. Need budget storage? Wire shelving systems brings order to closets and garages -- without costing a bundle.

Cabinets, Home Office, Kids' Room: Magic Tricks of Professional Organizers
Coat Closet: How to Organize Entryway Closet
Computer Files: Organize Your E-Clutter Like a Pro
Paper Clutter: Go Digital and Get Organized for Good
Drawers: Organize Junk Drawers
Closets: Customize Your Closet With Fiberboard Shelving Systems
Closets (Budget): Corral Clutter with Wire Shelving Systems
Garage: Get Garage in Tip-Top Shape

Photo: Corbis

MARCH PROJECT: Spring Cleaning
Don't be overwhelmed by the thought of spring cleaning. Breeze through the mess that winter has left behind by tackling it in a room-by-room fashion. Wash windows and floors; polish furniture; clean bathrooms; dust lightbulbs and light fixtures; tame clutter zones; and polish wood furniture. No time for a big scrubfest? Remember, you have a whole month -- so don't try to get all your spring cleaning done at once. Break it down and you can clean your home in just 10 minutes a day.

DIY IT: Spring Cleaning Tips

Photo: Getty Images

APRIL PROJECT: Clean Rain Gutters

Rain gutters carry away thousands of gallons of water from your house's exterior and foundation walls. But after a harsh winter of diverting rainwater and melted snow from the roof, your gutters are due for an inspection and cleaning before the heavy rains begin. Cleaning gutters is a simple DIY task and an important small project to complete, as blocked gutters and downspouts can cause rot and other water-based damage to your home. It's advisable to revisit this project late in the fall too when leaves, twigs and other debris have fallen and collected in gutters.

DIY IT: Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Photo: Steveritchie, Flickr


Pressure washing is a fast and easy way to blast grime, mold and mildew off of your home's exterior, decks, driveways, and sidewalks. You can buy a pressure washer (they start at about $100 for the most basic model and run up to $1,000 for advanced versions) or rent one from a local home improvement store. Pressure washing is a potentially hazardous job, so stand at least three feet away from the surface you're cleaning. Make sure to avoid windows, light fixtures, and anything else that could break under the pressure. If you're not comfortable using the equipment, simply hose off the surface instead.

DIY IT: How to Use a Pressure Washer

Photo: Jupiter Images

JUNE PROJECT: Clean and Maintain Air Conditioning System
A properly maintained air conditioning system will run more efficiently, use less energy and lower your utility bills. For window air conditioning units, clean the filter and coils. Concerning central air conditioning units, it's highly recommended that you call a professional to inspect your system. In addition to pro help, you can DIY clean your system by replacing your air conditioner filters regularly; this will cut down significantly on dust and allergens in the home. Also, clean the condenser and evaporator coil in the unit.

DIY IT: Clean, Troubleshoot and Maintain Air Conditioning Systems

Photo: Klaus Tiedge/Corbis

A fresh coat of paint is the easiest and cheapest way to dramatically change a room's appearance. It not only adds to your home's appeal, it can even make it look cleaner. Plus, thanks to paints with low-volatile organic compounds (Low VOC paints), as well as no VOC paints, you can paint the walls in your home without inhaling that horrible paint smell. These eco-friendly paints don't produce the toxic fumes that traditional paints do.

Love the look of wallpaper or Venetian plaster, but short on cash? Get especially creative with wall stenciling or faux-painting techniques such as sponging, gingham, wood grain, strie, grasscloth, marble and more. Use painters' tapes to make elegant vertical stripes or casual horizontal stripes. Or simply paint a bold accent wall to bring drama to a room.

DIY IT: Make Your Own Paint | Decorative Painting Toolkit

Photo: Georgie Carpet Industries

AUGUST PROJECT: Deep Clean Carpets

After a messy winter and active summer, nearly a year's worth of spills, foot traffic, accidents and lively pets have taken a toll on your carpets. Give flooring a quality cleaning to remove dust, dirt and grime buildup that is embedded deep down in carpet fibers. Shampooing or deep cleaning your carpeting will give it a tidy appearance, as well as a fresh smell. Rent a carpet cleaner from a local home improvement or grocery store, or buy a professional-style model designed for home use.

DIY IT: Deep Clean Carpets

Photo: artgoeshere, Flickr


Roof shingles will eventually come loose in spots, so take advantage of the reasonable fall temperatures to inspect your roof for loose and damaged shingles. The harsh winds and cold winter weather can exacerbate shingles, potentially causing a small roof leak. Make sure to repair damage well in advance of the first snowfall.

DIY IT: How to Repair Roof Shingles

Photo: Mark Clement


Your thoughts may be turning towards winter, but this is a time to actually start prepping for spring. To ensure a beautiful lawn next year, complete important yard work such as raking leaves, fertilizing, top dressing, and re-seeding in the fall.

DIY IT: How to Repair Your Lawn

Photo: ASurroca, Flickr

NOVEMBER PROJECT: Clean Fireplaces
With winter just around the corner, now is the perfect time to prepare your fireplace. Part of this preparation includes inspecting and cleaning the accumulation of soot, ashes and debris from your wood-burning, gas or electric fireplace. Doing this will assure safe and efficient heating of your home come winter.

DIY IT: Clean Fireplaces

Photo: Jolie Novak, AOL

DECEMBER PROJECT: Winterize Your Home
Old Man Winter is ready to roar and wreak havoc on your home and energy bills. Combat the chill by sealing gaps around door and windows with weatherstripping: an easy, inexpensive tool for sealing openings, staying warm, and reducing your heating bills.

DIY IT: Weatherstripping Doors and Windows

  • Gail

    Love the picture of the closet. Who on earth only has four dresses and a coat??? Time to get real.

  • jjletsgo

    It never fails to amaze me that none of these "hints" ever include any challenges. What idiot couldn't organize an 8x10 walk in closet if he/she hired a contractor and spent the amount of money on it that was spent in the example pictured above? How about making the most of a small closet that isn't a walk-in and doesn't have double doors? Or how to patch cracked plaster (which must be done BEFORE you paint in June.)

  • maralynn

    but we still should try to spend smart whenever making home updates.
    Http:// had some simple pointers and fresh ideas worth checking out.

  • 3 Comments / 1 Pages

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