Congratulations – you are moving into your new home! Whether you are starting with a plain new build or an older resale home, there’s no better way to make it yours than by putting your stamp on it. Invest a weekend or two into warming up a featureless space or refreshing someone else’s old homestead. It’s easy with our 10 steps to home sweet home.

Step 1: Change the locks

Secure your home by changing the locks as soon as you take possession.

Even DIY beginners can change a deadbolt lock. A replacement deadbolt set can be installed in place of the current lock – no drilling required.

Another alternative is to rekey the lock. Purchase a rekeying set from the same manufacturer as the existing door lock, and reset it for a new key.

Step 2: Get a professional deep cleaning

Hire professional cleaners to deep-clean and detail your home before you move your possessions in. Without any furniture to work around, they’ll have access to every nook and cranny. Yes, you’ll have to clean again after moving day, but the heavy lifting (scouring, scrubbing and scraping) will have already been done!

Step 3: Clean the guts of your home

Years of dust, pet dander and detritus collect in the mechanicals of any home. One of the most effective ways to refresh a resale home is to get right into the guts of it: the mechanicals. Have your ducts, furnace and air conditioning unit professionally cleaned. Change the filters as required to maintain that clean, fresh air.

Step 4: Apply a fresh coat of paint

Painting provides the most bang for your home improvement buck. Whether the walls of your home are dingy or you’re simply not feeling the magic of “beige,” it takes just hours to repaint your space with a colour that makes your heart sing.

Step 5: Freshen up the floors

Worn out floors can put a damper on that new-home buzz.

If your hardwood has seen better days, hire pros to refinish it, or tackle the project yourself by renting a floor sander and varnishing over a weekend.

Steam-clean wall-to-wall carpet and clean laminate flooring with special laminate floor cleaners, although if either is too far gone, you may want to replace it.

Personalize your space while protecting your floors by adding area rugs and runners throughout your new home.

Step 6: Neutralize any odours

Resale homes, particularly fixer-uppers, can come with lingering smells. Steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 will dramatically reduce any unpleasant odours. Stubborn odours require spot treatments, such as the following:

  • Put dishes of activated charcoal, also called activated carbon (available from aquarium stores), in musty, damp basements. Run a dehumidifier during the spring and summer.
  • Place a sock filled with dry coffee grounds or baking soda in closets, refrigerators or freezers to absorb stale odours.
  • Pour white vinegar down a stinky drain. 

Step 7: Give your windows a new view

Dirty windows and screens can make rooms feel dingy. A thorough cleaning will have your windows shining, and your indoors will feel brighter and fresher, too.

If your home came with the previous owner’s window coverings, be sure to clean or launder them (it’ll remove allergens as well as reduce any lingering odours). Or consider replacements more specific to your design tastes.

Step 8: Brighten your lights

A well-lit home feels inviting and warm. If your rooms feel dim, replace the existing bulbs with bright, energy-saving CFL bulbs. Dated lighting fixtures can foil your redecorating efforts, so consider replacing them. You can donate them to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop – after all, your taste may be urban-contemporary, but someone else may be looking for the perfect retro pendant!

Step 9: Replace the switch plates

A screwdriver is all it takes to swap out lighting switch plates. This easy change gives an instant lift to any room. With a little DIY expertise, screwdrivers, pliers and a voltage tester, you can install energy-saving dimmer switches, instead. 

Step 10: Display your art

Finally, dress up your walls with your favourite artwork and family photos. Get your kids’ kindergarten masterpieces onto the fridge, and deck out your mantel with family photos.

There’s a reason why we remove personal photos and mementoes when selling a house: it’s so potential buyers see a clean slate. Now that you’re in your own home, go wild and make it yours!

  • Carson Arthur’s top ideas for improving your outdoor space on a shoestring budget. Carson Arthur knows a few tricks when it comes to decorating on a dime. The outdoor design and lifestyle expert has helped countless homeowners get more enjoyment from their homes on the shows Room to Grow and…
  • Fall is a busy time for home improvements. What are the considerations you need to make, including how far ahead should you book if you need to hire a pro for your fall landscaping, planting, painting, insulating, roofing, moving and/or other projects?
  • Before you settle into that wonderful new home or yours, this is your chance to consider any DIY home improvements you could make now that will pay off later. Chances are, you can make at least a few fixes that will save you either money or headaches (or both) in…
  • Is Canada your new home? This guide breaks down the Canadian homebuying process in basic, easy to understand terms. Information available in 7 languages Recent Immigrants Guide to Homebuying How to find a Builder or Realtor Finding the Right Home Types of Housing Information on Mortgages Downpayment Requirements How much…
  • You’ve set out to live a new life in Canada, but have no idea where to start. Not to worry, we can help. Here’s a list of seven things you need to do before you arrive in Canada. 1. Learn English or French English and French are the official languages.…
  • Venturing into homeownership at a young age is a feat for anyone but it doesn’t come without some obstacles...

Achieve the homeownership dream sooner