Smart Solutions: Tackling autumn repair and maintenance projects

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Gutter cleaning gets rid of leaf and debris buildup.

As soon as summer began winding down to make way for fall, it was time to tackle my ongoing list of home repair, maintenance and improvement projects. Just because we hire others to do the work doesn’t make the process fast or easy. In fact, it often feels like a full-time job making multiple phone calls to get estimates and schedule appointments.

Though some of these projects should have been addressed a few months back, summer always flies by even when I have the best intentions. For now, getting our back deck power washed and sealed tops the list, even though it can be a challenge to perform outdoor work given the unpredictable weather.

Then there’s the garage door that rusted from the constant salting of our driveway during the extreme winters we’ve had in recent years. Unfortunately, when it comes to home improvements, ours rarely go as planned. For instance, I was elated when I learned we could replace the bottom panel on our existing garage door for a fraction of the cost of a full replacement. Shortly after I was told that our door is no longer available. In the end, even attempts to find a secondhand panel were unsuccessful.  

In addition, our recent efforts to upgrade some electronics and technology in our home hit some unanticipated bumps along the way that have yet to be resolved. Switching from traditional cable boxes to Smart TVs and streaming apps has yet to have a happy ending and our new wireless printer has also caused more headaches than help. With potential solutions in the works, I’m trying to be patient.

Other seasonal priorities include having the carpets cleaned as well as the windows. But first, I’d like to replace some windows, which requires another appointment to get an estimate.

With the arrival of fall comes a few outdoor projects to consider before snow becomes a burden. For me, this means some garden maintenance and replacing outdoor lights.

Around the same time, I’d like to get the furnace checked before we have to make the annual switch from A/C to heat.

Another project on the horizon is a new ceiling fan for the living room, which begins with a trip to the store to check out the latest styles before contacting our electrician to get the job done.

Since so many of these projects take time and focus on features that stay behind the scenes, like the sump pumps we recently had to replace, I plan to add some fun finds to the mix. Also on my wish list to enhance my home are pieces that provide convenience and comfort, like a small bookcase for the master bedroom and new bed pillows to cushion my head.

Lastly, this is a good time of year to address accent lighting as the days grow shorter and the nights get longer. I plan to rotate some table lamps to brighten my environment and celebrate one of my favorite seasons.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at