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Unlike being a renter or a tenant of someone else’s property, being a homeowner means that you get to make all of the decisions about how to spruce up your home. Whether this means painting your walls, fixing your pipes, or decorating your lawn, the choice and decisions are up to you. While this gives you the enormous upside of freedom, it also creates the downside of having to be responsible for all this maintenance (and paying for it too).

Some people put off maintenance or improving their homes because they simply cannot afford to hire someone else to do it. This is understandable, but also incredibly frustrating if you have been wanting to spruce up your home for a long time. Lots of homeowners even know how to do specific things (such as painting, carpentry, or more), but don’t have tools available that they can use or afford to rent. So what’s a homeowner to do in these situations? A couple of volunteers from Chicago, IL may have come up with the perfect solution.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the unique volunteer organization that is the Chicago Tool Library. Far from simply allowing people to borrow and donate tools, they have provided a free option for people to spruce up their homes with all the free time that they’ve had during the COVID-19 pandemic. From high-skilled tools (like a power saw) to low effort (such as a hammer), the Chicago Tool Library has been a way for homeowners and makers to come together to get assistance, share tips, and help each other out. The inspiration you glean from their organization can also help you to make your own home the grand place you’d like it to be.

What The Chicago Tool Library Does And How You Can Learn From It

In the history of amateur volunteer organizations, The Chicago Tool Library holds an interesting place. Founded just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by Tessa Vierk and Jim Benton, it has become a space for community members to borrow tools for up to seven days at a time. It’s almost like a public library, but with a focus on hammers and screwdrivers instead of literature. Here, you can find kitchen cabinet installation tools or wood planers to help even out boards. Indeed, they have quite a large selection to choose from.

What makes the vast inventory even more unique is the fact that more than 90% of the tools have been donated by community members. The Chicago Tool Library posts a list of tools that it would like to have/needs, and anyone can donate to them at will. Since many of the tools are in perfectly fine condition (but have been neglected in a garage or basement somewhere), the fact that they find new use is a win-win for everyone. Much like donating to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, items that have no use to one person can be an incredible gift to another.

Despite the pandemic, 2020 was apparently a banner year for The Chicago Tool Library, with lots of people utilizing the service and kitchen items being a big hit. Everything from tortilla presses to ice cream machines seemed to be in play, and the future doesn’t show any signs of slowing them down. Since they operate on a true library model (access over ownership), this allows many people to be exposed to tools or appliances that they otherwise would have never known about. Perhaps inspiring some DIY mentalities in formerly reluctant homeowners.

To become a member of The Chicago Tool Library, citizens can query a sliding membership scale program to see what works best for them. Membership has ranged from $350 a year to $3, whatever the library deems fit for the individual. Since more than 80% of the members are from Chicago ZIP codes (a city of 2.7 million people), the founders consider it a success. You can learn more about them at chicagotoollibrary.org, and expand some of their ideas into how you’d like to spruce up your home as well.

Quarantine Cleaning (Let Your Space Shine)

One of the easiest ways to spruce up your home without even attempting to use power tools is to do a little bit of spring cleaning. Even if it’s way past spring, you can rebrand it as “quarantine cleaning” and blame your clean house on the pandemic. By getting rid of items you no longer use, you’ll create space in your house that’s already there but not being used efficiently. By this, we mean more than just taking out the trash and dusting up (although that does help immensely).

Going through your entire home and deciding if you really need something or just want to have it out of habit can be an eye-opening event. You may start to decide that you don’t listen to record albums anymore, or wear flannel. While some people throw out these items, it may be more practical for you to donate them or sell them for profit. If you really just want to be rid of them and have created quite a mess, you may even have to hire a trash removal company to put a bin in your front yard to throw your excess trash into.

Hiring a trash removal company to give you space may also benefit some of your home improvement projects that you’re thinking of undertaking. When you spruce up your home (especially with tools), you tend to create quite the mess. Instead of making endless trips to the dump or overloading your garbage cans, you can conveniently put it all in one bin and then have them haul it away in one fell swoop.

Small Steps To Inch Your Kitchen Toward A Five-Star Eating Space

Having an amazing kitchen that one can actually cook gourmet meals in is usually listed as one of the dreams of many homeowners. While you’re probably not going to be ripping up countertops or replacing dishwashers, you can attempt whatever you want in your own home. Many people start by replacing old electrical sockets, doing basic tiling, or other small projects that only require manual tools. Your comfort and skill level will obviously dictate what you gravitate towards. These may seem like small things, but if they make your kitchen more functional and beautiful, then you will be truly getting towards a five-star eating space.

You may be able to learn how to install relatively simple things, such as microwaves or faucets, on YouTube or other learning platforms, but it’s probably best to leave the installation of gas grills to contractors. In the same way that if your pipes are clogged it’s better to leave the sewer and drain cleaning to a professional so you know it’s done right. Much can be done on your own, but some things are better left for the professionals.

Making Your Restroom Relaxing

Bathroom remodeling is almost always on the “to do” list of homeowners because everyone wants a clean bathroom that is actually relaxing. From finally revamping your shower head to replacing the cabinet doors on your medicine chest, lots of little small projects add up toward a better bathroom that will spruce up your home. After all, the other word for it is “restroom,” right?

Other simple projects that you may want to include could be: installing a new mirror (seems difficult, but isn’t), finally getting a new toilet paper holder, putting down new rugs or tiles, or replacing the bathroom door/knob. Many people have bathroom doors that don’t lock and privacy is an integral part of using a bathroom. By fixing these small things, you’ll be able to finally do your business in a comfortable space and spruce up your home instantly.

Don’t Neglect The Inner Workings Of Your Home

It can be tempting to simply focus on the rooms of your home as improvements, and not your whole home as a holistic space. You probably haven’t given a thought to your air conditioning system or water pipes in a while, since a professional was able to check on them. While it’s still recommended that a professional perform HVAC repair, there are things you can do to help stop incidents from happening.

Replacing furnace filters, administering water tests, or simply checking on the system as a whole is more than most homeowners do. In a manner of speaking, it is a hidden way to spruce up your home, because it functions better. Performing some basic research on the specifics of the inner workings of your house can lead you to do some basic adjustments (often with a wrench, screwdriver, or other manual tools) that may drastically improve the longevity of your home’s inner workings.

Outdoors And More

When it comes to the outdoors of your property, there are ample areas to spruce up your home. Whether this means planting a garden or calling up pool repair services will depend on what’s on your property, but don’t neglect the outdoors. In fact, if you’re having trouble dealing with the indoor sections of your home, you may find it easier to deal with the outdoors instead. Anyone who takes the time to arrange brick mosaics, install solar-powered walkway lamps, or figure out how to place a fountain just right will find their efforts rewarded.

Another small thing that you may notice is your garage door being in cosmetic disrepair. If this is from mold or mildew, you can always rent a pressure washer and spray it away. If that’s not an option, you may also create a solution of vinegar and water to try and make it go away. Finally, you might simply want to paint over it with a new, industrial paint that will impress even the overhead door company (when they eventually come to check on it). Of course, this all goes out the window if you have a carport or other storage space for your automobile. Do what works best for your home!

Last (But Absolutely Not Least): Check The Roof!

Last, but certainly not least, try to inspect your roof for damage so that you’re aware of it. We can’t advise repairing your roof yourself in good conscience, but you can certainly have a qualified contractor come out to tell you whether you need a legitimate re-roofing service (because your roof is in such poor condition) or whether it can be patched up in some way. The answer may lie somewhere in the middle, and there may be low-cost solutions to help keep a roof over your head when it matters most.

In these challenging financial times, many people are hurting for both work AND money. So in the situation that you cannot repair your roof yourself and require residential roof installation from a company, you may be able to arrange a situation in which you get a large discount, or take longer for the work to be completed. Although it isn’t always the most efficient way to spruce up your home, sometimes it needs to be done.

Humans Help Each Other (It’s What We Do)

Man times, in this larger than life world of ours, we can be overcome with despair and hopelessness on what seems to be happening around us. From our outdated infrastructure to our seemingly fractured political system, it can seem like when you wake up in the morning that there is no way to fix anything. That if you try anything, someone will deem you a fool or tell you that it’s not worth it to try. Yet that’s simply not true, and the Chicago Tool Library is simply one of many examples of people helping each other get through hard times.

Humans are social animals, and that should be apparent to anyone who has spent time in a community of any size. Whether we live in large cities or small towns, humans want to be around each other to help, discuss, and collaborate together. This is no less apparent than the various home building organizations such as Habitat For Humanity or Homes For Heroes. It simply feels good to get out of ourselves and help someone else for a while. If only for selfish reasons, it gives us a break from our problems to help solve somebody else’s.

In these ways, you should recognize that the despair of living is more than likely only a temporary thing. It ebbs and flows like the seasons, getting hot at some moments while cooling down at others. So never forget that it’s always worthwhile to start organizations that help people, no matter how specific. The Chicago Tool Library was there to help you spruce up your home when you couldn’t hire anyone or possess expertise. Just think of what YOU could start, if you really put your heart into it. Let that be the statement that guides you every day when you wake up.

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