The Essential 2023 Spring Cleaning Checklist

It’s officially spring! For homeowners especially, that means it’s officially time for spring cleaning. There’s no wrong way to go about it, but a spring cleaning checklist certainly doesn’t hurt. And remember, the key to not losing steam halfway through is to take it one step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your spring cleaning doesn’t have to be done in one either.

The 2023 spring cleaning checklist

There are generally two schools of thought on the best way to tackle your spring cleaning checklist: Room by room or task by task. Both have their pros and cons, but we’d argue that the best approach is actually a hybrid of the two, broken out into three phases (it’s less technical than it sounds).

  • Phase 1: Declutter
    • Room by room, throw out or donate what you don’t want
    • Store winter items out of the way
  • Phase 2: Clean
    • Wash bedding
    • Dust and wipe down surfaces
    • Clean baseboards
    • Sweep, mop, and vacuum
  • Phase 3: Organize
    • Choose a method that you can maintain all year
    • Utilize vertical space
    • Replace any essentials you threw out in Phase 1

Before you dive in, you’ll want to set aside some moving boxes for items you’re donating, items you’re throwing out, and items that need to be stored for the season. 

Spring Cleaning Phase 1: Declutter

For Phase 1, we recommend the room-by-room approach.

  • Bedroom
    • Remove winter clothes from drawers and hangers and place in boxes for storage
    • Place any items in good condition that you no longer want in your donation box
    • Throw out any clothing or decor items you no longer want that can’t be donated
    • Throw out sheets if you’ve been using them for over three years
  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
    • If you have any utensils, towels, or cookware that need to be replaced, throw them out
    • Donate any unused items (like that fancy blender from your wedding registry that’s never seen the light of day)
    • Throw out expired food from your pantry, fridge, and freezer
    • Donate non-perishable food items if you know you won’t be using them

Not sure what needs to be thrown out? Use the handy chart below as a guide. Just remember, the exact expiration dates will depend on the quality of the item and how much you use it.


ItemReplace every…
Bathroom towels2 to 5 years
Kitchen towels1 to 2 years
Sheets2 to 3 years
Mascara3 to 6 months
Eye shadow6 to 9 months
Eyeliner3 months
Lipstick1 year
Foundation6 to 12 months
Concealer1 to 2 years
Face powder2 years
Blush1 to 2 years

Pro Tip: If you’re a bit of a clothes collector, it can be hard narrowing down what to keep and what to get rid of. A good way to keep yourself in check is to buy a set number of clothes hangers and don’t buy more when you run out. Instead, solve the problem by getting rid of clothing items you have, or holding off on purchasing new ones. Hello, closet equilibrium.

Spring Cleaning Phase 2: Clean

In Phase 2, we recommend tackling your checklist by task (dust, sweep, mop, etc.) rather than doing every task in one room, then repeating the list for the next room. When it comes to cleaning, start from the top (literally) and work your way down to avoid dust and grime from higher areas getting swept down onto a surface you already cleaned.

  • Strip beds and start the laundry cycle 
  • If you have ceiling fans, dust or wipe down the blades
  • Clean windows, mirrors, and any other glass surfaces
  • Dust and wipe down furniture, shelves, cabinets (inside and out), and counters
  • Especially if you have little ones of the fur or human variety, vacuum your furniture
  • Wipe down baseboards and molding
  • Sweep, mop, and vacuum all rooms
  • Place clean bedding back on beds
  • Take a nap on that clean bedding, you earned it

Pro Tip: If you want to get really particular about your approach, take out your trash and recycling before you clean the floors. This way, any drips from the garbage bag or dirt you track back in won’t undo all your hard work.

Spring Cleaning Phase 3: Organize

Now that you’ve cleared up space and cleaned your home, it’s time to organize what you have left. This is also the time to replace any essentials that needed to be thrown out, like new cookware or towels. In Phase 3, we recommend going room by room. How you organize is up to you, but here are a few tips for each area.

  • Bedroom
    • Utilize vertical space in your closet
    • Get a bedside table with built-in storage
    • Store out-of-season items under your bed
  • Bathroom
    • Keep a stylish bin or tray on the bathroom counter to store items you use every day
    • Install a shower caddy
    • Add shelves over the toilet
  • Kitchen
    • Add riser shelves inside cabinets
    • Stack towels vertically (like books)
    • Use a caddy for sponges, dish soap, and other sink-side cleaning products

There are a lot of elaborate and aesthetically pleasing organization methods out there, but remember to choose one that you can realistically maintain in the long term. Spring cleaning is all about setting you up for a better homeownership experience for the rest of the year.

Any other spring cleaning tips?

With your spring cleaning checklist squared away, you’ve got all the essentials you need to handle it like a pro. But because we like you, we have a few more spring cleaning tips for you to take or leave before you get started.

  • Don’t try to do it all in one day
  • Make a physical list that you can check items off of to see your progress
  • Gather all the necessary cleaning supplies before you start so you don’t lose momentum making a run to the store
  • Recycle as much as possible

Ok, NOW you’re ready to go. Oh, and if your home needs more than a thorough cleaning to feel refreshed, renovation loans could help you finance upgrades like new floors, fresh paint, and new appliances. The more you know.

With the right spring cleaning tips, you’ll be ready to make your house feel like home for the season in no time.


DIY Home Renovations on a Budget

DIY home renovations can be a lot to take on. They don’t have to be a lot for your budget, though. As you start making your DIY budget, consider our top five tips for easy, cost-effective home renovations. Who’s up for a trip to the hardware store?

Pro Tip: Saving up for renovations? Check out our best money-saving strategies here.

5 DIY home renovation budget tips

  • Make small changes first
  • Embrace the paint
  • Focus on your floors
  • Rethink your storage space
  • Demo it yourself

1. Make small changes first

The temptation to give your home a big overhaul is understandable, but you might be surprised what a significant difference small updates can make. So, before you start knocking down walls and ripping out cabinets, take inventory of small details that are easy, cost-effective swaps. This could include:

  • Replacing hardware on drawers and cabinets
  • Installing decorative switch plates over your standard light switch covers
  • Adding statement fixtures in focal lighting points like your dining room, entryway, or front porch
  • Updating your decor palette (darker tones add depth and drama, while lighter tones can help open up your space)

If small changes still aren’t doing the trick, it’s time to take it to the next level: Repainting.

2. Embrace the paint

Painting sometimes gets a bad rap for being a pain, but it’s well worth the work. To get the biggest bang for your buck, start with accents like trim, cabinets, or even a single accent wall. For best results, try these paint job tips and tricks:

  • Paint during dry weather. Humidity makes it harder for paint to dry, resulting in more drips and uneven patches.
  • Invest in the right tools. Make room in your budget for quality brushes, roller covers, and tape to save yourself a lot of frustration and do-overs.
  • Use primer. If you’re considering renovations, we’re assuming the walls aren’t in pristine shape to begin with. Before applying paint, a primer base will ensure it all goes on evenly.
  • Start at the top and work your way down. The last thing you want is paint dripping down onto the surface you thought you just finished.

While paint is a cost-effective update, you may want to avoid choosing colors that are too on-trend for your DIY home renovation. Unless, of course, you want to paint it all again in a year or two. If that’s your thing, don’t let us stop you. Otherwise, neutrals are always a safe bet.

3. Focus on your floors

Refreshing your flooring may seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually one of the more budget-friendly DIY projects out there. Plus, there are a lot of simple ways to give your floors a new look. If you’re working with a natural wood floor, try sanding it and applying a new coat of varnish. Peel and stick tiles are also an easy option, especially for smaller spaces like bathrooms and utility rooms. A fresh coat of paint can also spruce up your floors, just make sure to plan your painting schedule for a time when you can be out of the house long enough for it to dry without getting stepped on.

4. Rethink your storage space

Storage may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you remodel. After all, isn’t the point of storage to keep things out of sight, not draw attention to them? Not necessarily. Open shelving’s moment may be passing, but implementing stylish storage into your home can still involve minimal effort with a big payoff.  Some easy-to-update options include:

  • Portable kitchen islands
  • Free-standing bathroom cabinets
  • Ottomans and benches with storage
  • Stylish entryway racks
  • Headboards with built-in shelving

5. Demo it yourself

Finally, the fun part. Breaking things down requires less finesse than building, but don’t dive in without brushing up on some fundamentals of demolition. Experts recommend staying away from demo on interior spaces unless you’ve done it before. Otherwise, you risk knocking down a load-bearing wall or damaging wiring and plumbing. On the other hand, outdoor spaces like a deck or porch should be simple enough for a novice to handle.

If the DIY route isn’t for you, renovation loans can help you finance your professional home updates and your mortgage in one convenient process.

Are there any other DIY home renovation tips to know?

You’re investing more than money when you DIY. You’re also investing your time, energy, and creativity. So, before taking on a DIY project, remember that it will probably look worse before it looks better. Don’t get discouraged halfway through your renovations! The mess and inconvenience now are well worth you loving your space later (and the boosted home equity doesn’t hurt, either).


The Essential 8-Step Home Babyproofing Checklist

You may not be able to 100% babyproof your home, but a babyproofing checklist definitely won’t hurt. The good news is that you really don’t need to worry about incorporating these changes until your baby can crawl. And, with our eight-step babyproofing checklist, you and your home will be more than up for the challenge when your little one starts exploring. 

How to babyproof your home

  • Wrap up renovations
  • Store cleaning supplies out of reach
  • Screw unstable furniture to the wall
  • Cover outlets and cords
  • Invest in knob covers for your stove
  • Place corner guards on furniture
  • Place non-slip pads under rugs
  • Latch drawers and cabinets

1. Wrap up renovations

Welcoming a new addition into your family is a seriously busy period of life, so make sure you’ve wrapped up any home reno projects that you’ve been putting off beforehand. It’s not just a matter of time management—peeling paint, uneven floors, and more common fixer-upper problems could all be hazardous for children.

2. Store cleaning supplies out of reach

Raise your hand if the cabinet under the kitchen sink is your go-to cleaning supply storage space. We get it, but it’s not the safest location when you have toddlers on the move. We recommend choosing cabinets that are both higher off the ground and completely closable (open shelving might be in, but not in this babyproof house). This goes for any items that could be hazardous if your baby is exposed to them, from laundry supplies to medicine to toiletries.

3. Screw unstable furniture to the wall

Your little one will be learning to stand by pulling themselves up with furniture, so you need to make sure that furniture is stable. That means actually screwing that tall bookshelf into the wall at the top like the instruction manual told you to. If you’ve got chairs or other furniture with wheels, make sure the wheels lock if you’re unable to take them off entirely.

4. Cover outlets and cords

No babyproofing checklist would be complete without covering your electrical outlets. Outlet covers are fairly easy and inexpensive to find—just make sure you don’t forget any outlets tucked away out of sight. You’ll also want to store cords for chargers, appliances, and other devices out of reach from curious hands (and teeth).

5. Invest in knob covers for your stove

The last thing you want is for your baby to turn your stovetop burners on by accident. Or on purpose, for that matter. Stove knob covers may be a bit more challenging to find than outlet covers, but the peace of mind you get as a result will be well worth the extra effort.

6. Place corner guards on furniture

Falling is an inevitable part of learning to walk. So, it’s a good idea to cover any sharp edges with corner guards as part of your babyproofing process. Even if your baby isn’t at the mobile stage yet, you may want to consider corner guards for furniture near the changing table, crib, and anywhere else you’ll be frequently picking up and putting them down. To be clear, we think you’re going to be amazing as a parent and will absolutely not drop your baby. But, sometimes the best sleep comes from knowing you’ve prepared for the worst.

7. Place non-slip pads under rugs

From toddlers swaying unsteadily as they find their, well, legs in general to late-night rocking and pacing to coax the semblance of a regular sleep schedule, there are a lot of reasons you’ll want non-slip pads under your rugs. Tripping hazards are no joke when you’ve got a baby in your arms. And on a less serious note, it keeps your rugs looking neater. That’s one less thing to worry about on the adventure of parenting.

8. Latch drawers and cabinets

In an ideal world, we would store everything that posed a threat to babies out of their reach. But you only have so many cabinets, and the list of things that could potentially be problematic if a little one got their hands on it is essentially infinite. Props to toddlers for their ability to see the potential in objects beyond their intended purpose—never change! But for the sake of your sanity, we’d recommend installing latches on cabinets and drawers that are within tiny arm’s reach.

Is there anything else I should add to my babyproofing checklist?

You’ve probably noticed by now that a lot of people have a lot of thoughts about how you should raise your kid. While there are some good universal safety measures as we just went over, ultimately it’s your decision when it comes to how to babyproof your home. Your babyproofing checklist might look very different from ours, and that’s ok! If you tried to do everything everyone recommended, you’d go crazy. Do what you feel comfortable with and capable of, and the rest will come naturally. You’ve got this.

Babyproofing can feel overwhelming, but a good babyproofing checklist helps take some of the stress out of it.


Ten 2023 Interior Design Trends to Try in Your Home

Homeownership is known for its long-term benefits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace changing trends and mix up your decor anytime you feel like it. If you’re looking for home decor inspo for a fresh start this year, we’ve got you covered. Without further ado, here are our favorite 2023 interior design trends.

Top Ten 2023 Interior Design Trends

  • Accent walls
  • Asymmetry
  • Bold kitchens
  • Colors replacing neutrals
  • Gold finishes
  • Soft florals
  • Statement rugs
  • Stone accents
  • Stylish laundry rooms
  • Vintage furniture

Aesthetic utility spaces, art deco finishes, and warm purple tones are all making their way into the trendiest homes of 2023.

1. Accent walls

Accent walls are going strong in 2023. Wallpaper can be an easy way to try out new styles if you’re not sure what you want. But, if you’re ready to commit, consider bold paint colors (more on color later) and textures like exposed brick, concrete, and natural stone.

2. Asymmetry

No need for complete sets here—asymmetry is in. From mismatched bedside tables to uniquely-shaped lamps, there are endless ways to incorporate this trend into your decor. If you prefer a more balanced look, you can opt for more subtle methods like different pieces of wall art in matching frames.

Pro Tip: Asymmetry is a very thrift-friendly decor trend! Your local antique and thrift stores are a great place to find one-of-a-kind pieces at reasonable prices.

3. Bold kitchens

Kitchens are where you cook up coziness, so it makes sense that one of the top 2023 interior design trends is devoting more focus to the aesthetic of your cooking space. While it does still need to be functional, don’t be afraid to play with bold cabinet colors, open shelves, and detail-rich finishes like wood, marble, and patterned tiling.

4. Colors replacing neutrals

Colors are back, but not in the pastels and bright colors that dominated previous years. Warm, muted tones in purples, blues, and yellows are gaining popularity. It’s not a complete departure from the biophilic design craze of 2022, though. The key when selecting colors is to choose shades that could be found in nature, giving your decor a more timeless feel. Luckily, nature has quite the selection of colors to choose from.

Pro Tip: Not sure what hue to start with? The Pantone Color of the Year 2023 is Viva Magenta.

5. Gold finishes

Brushed nickel is out, gold is in. After all, it wouldn’t be the ‘20s without art deco. While Gatsby-level extravagance is not in the average homeowner’s budget, gold-toned finishes on light fixtures, knobs, and more small details can elevate and infuse warmth into your space. 

6. Soft florals

If you’re opting for patterns this year, stay on trend by channeling French countryside cottages with florals in muted colors. From wallpaper to throw pillows to window dressings, soft florals are easy to incorporate throughout your home in tasteful (and budget-friendly) amounts.

7. Statement rugs

To drastically change a room with minimal actual changes, swapping a simple rug for a statement rug packs the most punch. A good rug will last for years, though, so avoid going too trendy with your rug choices. Muted colors, traditional patterns, and cozy textures are all timeless elements to look for.

8. Stone accents

Nothing is written in stone, except maybe our eighth 2023 home decor trend. Stone accent walls are gaining popularity, but they’re also a big commitment. The good news is there are plenty of less labor-intensive ways to bring this natural texture indoors. Agate accent tables, concrete lamps, and marble kitchen backsplashes are all popular methods for incorporating stone into your 2023 home decor.

9. Stylish laundry rooms

2020 changed how we interact with our homes, and the past few years of interior design have reflected this. From a growing focus on outdoor spaces in 2021 to enclosed layouts in 2022, the trend continues in 2023 with a focus on combining aesthetics and utility—particularly in laundry rooms. Glossy wood finishes, vintage-inspired floor tiles, and subtle luxe touches on cabinets and light fixtures can help turn your laundry room into a space you actually want to spend time in.

10. Vintage furniture

In 2023, we’re embracing multiple eras of style. That means vintage furniture is maintaining its popularity, if in less kitsch forms than we saw in 2022. Always support local/independently owned thrift and antique stores when you can. But, if you’re striking out in your area, there are plenty of great online options as well.

Are there any 2023 interior design trends to avoid?

As in all things homeownership, it’s important to stick to your budget. So, don’t commit a huge spend to a home decor trend you’re not sure you’ll love in the long term. Luckily, there are several ways your mortgage can actually help you pay for renovations, such as an FHA 203(k) loan. Bottom line, it’s your home, your vision, and your call. Have fun with it!


How to Throw an Epic Housewarming Party

When it comes to getting your home financed with a VA loan, there are a lot of moving parts. But before the process can be set in motion, you need to get your VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

So, how do you get your VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE)? Buckle up and let’s find out (or don’t buckle up, it’s pretty straightforward).

You bought a new house, now it’s time to show it off. Here are 8 tips for hosting a housewarming party like a pro.

Even though the ink has dried on your closing documents and the dust has settled from the moving trucks, you might feel that there is still one final step to becoming a homeowner. Cue the housewarming party.

Hosting your friends and family in your brand-new space can help make your house feel like a home. Best of all? It doesn’t have to be stressful. The moving process is hectic enough, so let your housewarming party be whatever you want it to be. Not sure how to get started on planning a Gatsby-level soiree or an intimate gathering? Here are eight foolproof tips for throwing an epic housewarming party that’ll have your friends and neighbors asking, “When can we come back?”

Patience is a virtue

You know it’s coming. As soon as you tell your friends and family about your new house on social media, someone is undoubtedly going to ask about the housewarming party. The trick here is to not act as soon as possible. Give yourself some time to enjoy your home on your own before you invite everyone over. It’s YOUR space! Wait until you’re all moved in and your place is in reasonable shape before you start planning.

Between hanging the curtains and implementing measures to reduce traffic noise in your new backyard to create the perfect party oasis, it could take weeks, or even months, before you feel comfortable enough to have people over. Operate on your time, not anyone else’s.

Give a heads up

Once you feel like your house is ready to be “warmed,” it’s time to start planning. Housewarming parties are typically more intimate gatherings with close friends and family, so don’t feel pressure to tell the world about it. Send some emails, or better yet, create a Facebook group so you can keep track of who you’re inviting and who all is coming for space, food, and drink purposes.

It’s also a good idea to let your neighbors know what’s happening, especially if your homes are in close proximity to each other. You could even extend an invitation to them if you’re comfortable with it. The more (gifts and food), the merrier!

Theme-work makes the dream work

If you want to go the extra mile and make sure your party is a true success, you can’t go wrong with adding a theme to the mix. So, what are some good theme ideas? If you’re planning a fall housewarming party, it’s only natural that you go with a Halloween or Friendsgiving theme. Waiting for the winter? Secret Santa or other gift exchange parties are always solid choices. You could play into an “Around the World” theme and tell your friends to bring dishes from different countries, which provides a fun theme and food for you and your guests.

Any theme that you think your guests will enjoy, and won’t cost an arm and a leg to decorate for, is probably a good idea. Start brainstorming! And remember to have fun with it.

Have a seat

Have you ever been to a party where there aren’t enough places to sit? No fun, right? Don’t let that be your party, especially if you’re planning activities where you want everyone to participate. Nobody wants to be the person standing on the outside edge of the circle where everyone is sitting. The sofa is prime real estate, yes, but having some bar stools, floor pillows, or foldable chairs on hand can save your guests some awkwardness (and joint pain).

Want to take seating a step further? Deck out your deck (if you have one), with comfortable lounge furniture. That way, you can all enjoy the weather and take in the neighborhood just as much as your new home.

There will be refreshments

We spoke previously about the possibility of a housewarming potluck, but if that’s not your thing, it’s still a good idea to at least provide some snacks and drinks for your guests. There’s no need to prepare a royal feast here. You can just order some pizza or other finger foods that can be kept at room temperature. Fruit, cheese platters, and baked goods also work well.

As for beverages, you might consider serving a signature cocktail or “mocktail” to help yourself from having to purchase too much variety at your expensive. You can also let your guests know that they can bring any additional alcoholic drinks they’d like, such as wine and beer.

Welcome to my crib

As much as we’re sure your friends love you, you’re not the only reason they showed up to the party. They’ll likely want to check out your new place. So this is where you show off your best MTV Cribs audition and give your guests what they’ve been waiting for: the grand tour.

Pro tip: You’ll probably want to wait until all or most of your guests have arrived to prevent giving multiple tours. But if you’re in the zone and feeling extra tour guide-y, why not?

Let the games begin

There are plenty of ways to entertain guests at a housewarming party, but having a central game or activity is probably your best bet for full engagement. You’ll want to pick games that include everyone, and it’s a plus if you can relate it to your theme or your house.

Think Home Scavenger Hunt or Grand Tour Memory. But there’s nothing wrong with just playing some good old-fashioned party games like Pictionary, Uno, or Two Truths and a Lie. You know your friends better than we do, so whatever you feel is your best for keeping them entertained will work just fine.


Housewarming parties should be low-pressure. Essentially, you’re inviting a group of people who like and care about you over to hang out and explore your new digs. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that. Sure you’ll want to put your best foot forward and make sure your guests have a good time, but if you prepare accordingly, that will take care of itself.

So, our last bit of advice to you is to just relax and enjoy your own party. If the host is having fun, there’s a great chance everyone else is too.

Give yourself some time to enjoy your home on your own before you invite everyone over. It’s YOUR space! Wait until you’re all moved in and your place is in reasonable shape before you start planning.