Ask Val: Make the Best of Your Home During Quarantine

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What are some good home improvement projects I can do during this time of quarantine?

Answer: I hope this column finds you and your family healthy. This is week 5 and we’re all wondering how to use all this time at home. Putting away winter clothes? Done. Watching YouTube tutorials on how to disinfect groceries? Done. The only reason I’ve stopped making banana bread is that I ran out of flour and it’s sold out in most grocery stores.

You can use this time you’re spending at home to make it better. I’ve collected some examples of wholesome small projects to tackle while you’re hunkered down so your make your home more enjoyable.


  • Paint your exterior window shutters: Remove old shutters from windows and wipe them down with all-purpose cleaner. Spray paint is easier to use. In a well-ventilated area, hold the can 6-8 inches from the shutter surface and paint the sides and ends of the shutter using a sweeping side-to-side motion with slight overlap. Allow the shutters to dry overnight before reinstalling.
  • Replace damaged window screens: This weather is perfect for open windows and fresh air. Just make sure bugs don’t get in.
  • Paint your front door: Fast and easy way to increase your curb appeal.
  • Check for peeling wood trims: An easy fix for peeling outdoor paint without sanding and scraping is using a thick primer that locks down and hides peeling.

Rearrange your furniture and give a new look to what you already have.

It’s easy to get bored of the same old furniture setup, but what if you move the couch to a different wall, or mix things up by swapping rugs from one room to another? Even switching a lamp from a side table to another spot in your house could brighten up a space in new ways.

Time to Clean

Beyond disinfecting all of your high-touch surfaces, it’s also time to clean your vents and baseboards. Cleaning heating and vent covers can help reduce allergens in your home and increase the efficiency of your air conditioning or heating unit.

Vacuum the vents with a dusting brush attachment or wipe with a dry microfiber cloth. And while you’re at it, change the air filter on your furnace. Unplug lamps and clean the lampshades with a dry microfiber cloth or vacuum cleaner attachment. For other types of lamps, clean the bulbs and use a cloth to dust off the hardware.

Clean curtains can make a room feel much brighter. If you can machine-wash your curtains, use the gentle cycle, cool water and hang them to dry. Get a tub and tile refinishing kit to get your tile and grout looking just as good as new.


There’s no more affordable way to freshen up a room than with a new coat of paint. If you’re done painting for the day but you still have more to do, a tip to keep your brushes fresh is to simply brush off the excess paint, then tightly wrap them in cling film and place them in the fridge overnight.

You can give your kitchen and bathrooms a new look by painting the cabinets and replacing the faucet and hardware. Love your current hardware but wish it were a different color or finish? Don’t be afraid to give them a little makeover with a can of spray paint.

Make Your House Smart

Try new self-programmable thermostats or camera doorbells. Most of them are easy to install. There are many options for smart home features that seamlessly integrate into your existing wiring and systems and upgrade your home’s energy efficiency.

Pay close attention to your appliances, heating, plumbing, electric and exteriors. Seal gaps and cracks in windows, inspect roof gutters after storms, clean outdoor furniture and power wash exterior decking and tiles.

Now that you’re spending much more time at home, pay attention to the areas that need some work and you can even get the whole family involved and accomplish a project together.

And don’t forget about your pets…

There are seemingly endless resources available to help do-it-yourselfers, such as books with step-by-step instructions and online videos. The general rule is to undertake projects you feel comfortable with and have the skill set to complete with good results. Otherwise hire a professional (I always recommend it for plumbing, heating and electrical work).

Quick Market Update

Within 5 miles from Tysons, here’s what happened in the past 14 days:

  • 157 properties were listed
  • 110 properties were sold
  • 104 properties went under contract

I hope you are staying safe, sheltered in place, stocked with toilet paper, and staying proactive during these unprecedented times!

If you’d like more information, or would like a question answered in my column, please reach out to [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon.

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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