Simple home improvements for Labour Day

The national curfew will have Jamaicans spending Labour Day at home, but with a bit of creativity and effort, you can revamp your space and make good use of the day with minor home improvements. The Sunday Gleaner spoke with experts and has compiled some simple redecoration ideas and tips to get you on your way.


Many didn’t have home offices at the start of the pandemic, but this has all changed. With the entire family now working from home, If Walls Could Talk, Managing Director and Interior Designer, Joelle Smith, advises that more than one space in the home be designated for working.

“The beauty is not necessarily focusing on a home office, but instead, integrating the space into the rest of your home. We need to create spaces in the house that are multipurpose,” she says. “Focus less on having a specific room that is a home office and more on how one integrates a workspace into various parts of the home.”

While noting that many design aesthetics have changed due to our new way of living, she adds, “You see chairs now that can be integrated easily into a home while looking like an accent chair but still being ergonomic in various colours and different materials so it can easily integrate into your house.”

She suggests that if you put a desk in your living room that you ensure that it is cohesive with the other décor so that it becomes a part of the design and looks intentional rather than just an arbitrary desk in the space.

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Another tip is to use a console table at the back of your sofa. “It’s a sofa table, but it can also be a desk,” says Smith.

She also emphasises the importance of having a good backdrop and lighting due to the increase in virtual meetings. “Positioning your desk to also enhance what is in the background of the space is important, whether it be a blank wall, plants, art, or bookcases.”


The family is at home and in the same space now more than ever. More television is being watched, sofas are getting worn, and in general, we are harder on our pieces. Labour Day is the perfect opportunity to “freshen up your space,” says Lavange Ltd CEO Lavonne Dunbar.

Widely known for their main line of fine architectural ironmongery, Lavange, which has been in business for over 30 years, is a treasure trove for unique and beautiful items for the traditional or contemporary home.

With a soulful curation of items that include a wide array of rugs, lamps, art, bookshelves, throw pillows, and other items, the out-of-the-box shopper is always in for a treat when they step into the 16 North Ave location.

“Change the lampshade. Change the rug, reupholster. Put in a mirror and even update the art,” says Dunbar on how to make simple changes in the family room space. “There is a lot of affordable art by talented young artists that will enhance your space. Jamaica abounds with creativity.”

While you re at it, she also recommends swapping out hinges, handles, door closures, and variations in bolts. “They are aesthetically pleasing, and they will refresh and add value to your home.”

Concerning outdoor spaces for the family to unwind, Dunbar says, “Patios are a natural part of most our Caribbean living, and with the lockdown, we need to enjoy outdoor spaces even more.” Whether it is used for meditation, reflection, work, or even bird watching, a visually appealing outdoor space is important to Dunbar. “Soften your atmosphere and add a sense of calm with the addition of potted plants, ceramics, signs, lighting, tables, and chairs.”


At-home fitness has exploded during the pandemic, so popular entertainer Agent Sasco plans to use his Labour Day to tackle a long-standing project to build a gym for his wife, Nicole.

Simple home improvements for Labour Day

“I’m starting to get some pressure about that,” he says with a laugh.

A man of many talents, theAlive singer adds: “I’m not afraid to try and bring forth the things that are in my imagination. I have different interests, and I get to express my creativity in different ways, and building things is another way.”

The gym, which will be positioned in the basement of his home, is slated to get a tray ceiling and recess lighting. Sasco shares that he has been planning the project for some time and has his material ready. “Whenever doing any work with lumber, it’s best to get it a bit before so it can dry out because the lumber can shrink and cause problems after,” he says.

Remarking that he started building and doing very simple things such as making border frames for young trees when he first became interested in construction, he adds: “Start small, and if you are keen to learn, then you will start to pick up more things. And now you have the great ‘YouTube University’, where you can get more information. But start with simple projects to build your confidence and skill up.”


One of the quickest home-improvement hacks to refresh your space is ro add a simple coat of paint.”Instead of just staring at the walls, a lot of people will be painting,” says Carlene Dinald, manager of H&L Rapid True Value Portmore. “The national curfews have brought out the do-it-yourselfer in everyone. People now have the time and the confidence to take on home improvements themselves, and it’s exciting to see the energy from people who show up at our stores.”

“Painting is always a top pick, but there is also a lot of interest in gardening,” said Dinald. Whatever you chose to do, start with a list of supplies and steps, and do your research. Sometimes people take on projects without being fully aware of what they need to do to get it right.”

Step 1: Prepare the Room

Before you begin, remove hardware and fixtures from the walls and ceilings with a screwdriver. Remember to turn off the breaker or fuse for the room before working with electrical components. Remove electrical switch plates, cable TV outlets, phone jack covers, curtains, and decorations, and cover edges with painter’s tape.

Before you paint, remember to prepare the walls. Wash the wall surface using a damp cloth, mild detergent, and water. Patch any holes and wall damage with spackling compound. Scrape off flaky paint using a putty knife.

Step 2: Prime Walls

Always prime if you’re painting a lighter colour over a darker one. On flat-painted walls with minor repairs, you may only need to spot prime. Priming doesn’t require as much care as painting, but you’ll use the same technique. Start with the ceiling, first covering the perimeter and unpainted areas around the fixtures. Moving in six-feet-square sections. Use a series of overlapping W strokes from right to left then back from left to right.

Spread the primer evenly using horizontal strokes. Continue in six-feet-square sections until the entire surface is primed.

Step 3: Apply Ceiling Brushwork

Mask the perimeter of the ceiling with painter’s tape. Next, ‘cut in’ or outline the entire room with a brush to reach the areas a roller can’t. An angled sash brush works well for cutting into corners. Get as close as you can, applying the paint about a 1/4 inch from the edge of the surface. On your second pass, apply more pressure to carefully push the paint into place.

Step 4: Painting the Ceiling and Walls

Start with the ceiling before painting your walls. Always use quality latex paint. Use the same technique as priming your ceiling and walls, moving in six-feet-square sections across the ceiling and walls. Be sure to feather the edges of the squares, using less pressure when applying paint at the edges of the square. This will keep the finish even and prevent any lines where the paint overlaps from another section. Keep working with the squares until the surface is completely painted. Without adding paint to the roller, use light strokes to re-roll from the bottom of the wall to the top (or across the ceiling) to make sure everything is even. If your paint is any other finish than flat, you should go over the entire surface (for very large areas, do two square sections at a time) once again with one-directional, overlapping, non-diagonal strokes to blend the paint.

5. Apply Brushwork

Use the brush to do wall brushwork wherever your roller couldn’t reach. Dip the bristles no more than an inch into the paint and go over areas in the corners and next to the doors, windows, and moulding.

Step 6: Paint Second Coat

The first coat doesn’t have to be totally dry, but you’ll get better coverage the longer you let the surface dry. Paint the second coat in the same way you painted the first.

Step 7: Paint the Trim and Doors

For base moulding, run blue painter’s tape along the floor to prevent any drips. Before painting a door, you need to take off the handle or knob and the strike plate. If you have inset panels, paint those first, followed by the horizontal bars and then the vertical.

Step 8: Clean Up

Good brushes will last for many years if you treat them well. Use a brush comb to separate bristles that stick together near the heel of the brush. Next, rinse the brush out in either water or paint thinner. When the water or paint thinner runs clear, thoroughly shake out any excess liquid. Put the brush back in its protective sleeve, or hang it on a nail or hook.