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With the holidays on the horizon, most of us can expect to have a parade of family and friends coming to our homes to share in the festive spirit. We want our homes to look their best, especially with guests on the way (some of whom can be a bit more critical than others!) but it’s a hectic time of year, so how do you step-up your “my house looks great” game without taking-on a major renovation project? You’ll love how easy this is.
 
De-Clutter
One of the most effective and inexpensive ways you can breathe fresh life into your home is to de-clutter. Throughout the year, particularly when we get busy, things tend to accumulate in odd corners and places without our intending them to or even really recognizing that they are (I say this as I look guiltily at the stack of magazines sitting on my coffee table waiting to be read since August).
 
Go through those items. Sort what you can toss, donate, and would like to keep, then actually recycle and throw-out the toss pile, drive your donation pile down to a depot today (otherwise you’ll have a whole new hoard of clutter waiting to leave) and set-up proper storage solutions for the things you’d like to keep.
 
shutterstock_236920330 There are some stylish ways to store things in plain sight which incorporates them into your décor, and there are great storage bin options for keeping things dry and protected but out-of-sight in closets, basements, etc. This major de-cluttering can be a daunting task, so I recommend doing one major space a weekend, then focusing on smaller rooms one or two nights during the week. If you chip away at it, focusing on one area at a time, it will feel less overwhelming and it will be easier to finish the project. You’ll be amazed at how much more guest-ready your home is when you’ve eliminated unnecessary stuff.
 
First Impressions
Speaking of clutter, the entryway to most of our homes tends to be a catch-all for random odds and ends. This is also the first impression guests have of the interior of your home. After you’ve organized this area, consider implementing some ways to keep it tidy so that during your holiday soiree when you have twelve extra coats and pairs of boots to store, you’re ready!
 
A nice, waterproof, durable mat is a winter must to protect your flooring from the snow, salt and slush that will inevitably come in on guests’ boots. Available in all sorts of stylish colours, designs and patterns, you can even opt for a festive one and make it part of your holiday decorations.
 
If you’re short on hall closet space, consider adding a free-standing closet, even just for this busy season where everyone has their large puffy jackets, scarves, big boots, and other snow accoutrements. No room for this? Find a chic coat rack or add some hooks to your wall. A simple shoe rack will also go a long way in minimizing mess in your entryway.
Guest-Proof Your Home.
 
Many of us can expect to have guests who will be staying overnight. It’s smart to prepare for this in advance so that you’re not scrambling when the time comes (and imagine how impressed will your mother-in-law be when she sees you’ve had the guest room ready for her before she even arrived!).
 
Wash the bedding to freshen it up, check lighting to make sure it’s bright enough and update any burnt-out or dark bulbs, add new lighting solutions as needed, assess whether changing your window coverings would benefit the space (Blinds? Drapes? Is it time for an update?), and set-up the things your visiting loved one will need but can easily forget to bring, such as an alarm clock on the bedside table, or putting some fresh clean towels and toiletries on the bureau for easy-access when they’d like a shower. I even keep a few inexpensive spare unopened toothbrushes in my linen closet, just in case.
 
Guestroom
 
Small details, such as a new area rug or a change in artwork or a quick coat of paint can add a whole new personality to the oft-neglected guest room, and none of these things need to take a lot of time or money. Remember, it’s the thoughtful details that make someone feel welcome, like having a pair of simple slippers waiting for them beside the bed.
 
Boast-Worthy Bathrooms
One of the rooms we forget almost every guest will see during their visit is our bathroom. It’s one of the smaller spaces in our home, which is great news because this makes it easier to update. If you want to go for a more noticeable (but still not overwhelming) makeover, why not change the wall colour with some fresh paint, or replace the vanity and mirror with something new and different? One of my favourite things is to have really nice, high-quality towels for guests to dry their hands on. It just leaves a positive impression of your home, while adds to your guests’ comfort. For smaller changes, consider switching up your bathmat, shower curtain, and accessories. Those little touches go a long way in changing the ambiance of a room, particularly one that is smaller.
 
“Mind if we stay the night?”
It’s almost inevitable that at least once during the holiday season you’ll have a guest or two who asks to unexpectedly stay over, but usually your in-laws are already in your lovely, refreshed guest room, so what do you do? Prepare in advance! If you have a roll-away couch, make sure the linens are fresh and the mattress has been aired out. Have extra blankets and bed linens ready to go so that you can make up a spare bed on the living room couch if required. Do you have sleeping bags? Have a couple of them dry-cleaned so that they’re fresh and ready in case someone needs to use one. It doesn’t take much to be prepared, but if it’s midnight and you’re scrambling for where Uncle Ned can sleep, it can be less easy.
 
It’s the Little Things
Small changes can have a huge impact on your home. Adding a pretty new lamp to a dark corner, or putting a cozy rug down on your bare floors can add major personality and warmth to a space. Switching around some of your artwork and décor, or replacing your couch pillows and throw—these are all easy ways to give your home a little face-lift.
 
Safety First
Once the bad weather hits, it’s important to keep your walkway and driveway clear of snow and ice so that none of your visitors fall and hurt themselves (I would have a stocked First Aid kit in the bathroom, just in case though). Keep some salt by your front door so that when you’re expecting company, it’s easy to just pop out and sprinkle some on the walkway.
Make sure your outdoor lighting is working and bright enough as well. It gets dark very early at this time of year and it’s imperative for your safety and theirs that the exterior of your home is well-lit.
 
A Little Elbow Grease
Give your home a really good, thorough cleaning—you know, one of those ones that takes a little longer but has you scrubbing corners you forget exist. Remember to dust your ceiling lamps (something we usually forget) and window coverings, as well as along your baseboards and heating vents. Give your floors a really major scrubbing, as well as your bathroom(s). A home that is fresh and clean immediately gives guests a welcoming, inviting impression—it just takes a little elbow grease, but if you stay on top of it, you’ll be able to keep your home looking its best all season long.
 
Holiday-Ready
It can be stressful having family and friends over during the holidays, but if your home reflects lots of love and even a pinch of care, your guests will pick up on that. Remember, as much as you want your home to look its best for them, they are coming to see and celebrate with you, so don’t sweat the small stuff and just enjoy the warm and festive spirit of the season!¬
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Deck Your Halls banner
 
Although holiday décor trends are something retailers and designers have long concerned themselves with, it’s with the advent of blogs, vlogs, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media platforms that the average consumer has started paying more critical attention to as well.
 
While the traditional elements of the holidays will always have a significant presence, the colour schemes and details tend to vary year-by-year. It can be trickier to pick up on the season’s latest because it’s usually worked into store designs and holiday home guides subtly.
 
There is a timelessness about that time of year that no one wants to tamper with, so new ideas are integrated in very organic ways, which is perfect for you since it allows you to add some new touches to your holiday style without being tempted to redo everything.
 
One of the best places to pinpoint these trends is at Christmasworld, one of the biggest and most significant Christmas decoration trade fairs in the world, which takes place annually in Frankfurt, Germany. Many of the styles and designs celebrated there find their way into the places that inspire and fuel our holiday decorating desires.
 
Fashion trends tend to coincide with some of the holiday inclinations. For example - metallics. We’re seeing designers launching a lot of accessories and clothes in unique and unexpected metallic hues (dark burgundies, deep blues, and more).
While gold and silver have always had prominence in holiday designs, this year they’re taking a backseat to rose-hued champagne, brass, and copper.
ornaments
 
These warmer options are giving entirely new ambiance to existing styles, such as last year’s very popular royal blue, which shifts from icy winter when paired with silver to inviting regality when matched with champagne. Holiday décor designers have not been heavy-handed with these metallics, instead having touches of it here and there, allowing the shimmery colours to catch and interact with light and giving spaces that twinkling holiday feel. When it comes to metallics, less is more.
 
Copper edging or a bronze statement piece will have a more noticeable presence than if you overwhelm your tree or garland with them. An added bonus to metallics is that they complement almost any colour palette, so they’ll work in your home and with your existing decorations, holiday or otherwise.
 
There was a growing appreciation for design ideas inspired by that cabin-in-the-woods concept (you may have noticed an influx of plaids and knits on the clothing racks). The cozy lakeside feel has come into its own where the holidays are concerned. A roaring fire, natural wood elements, beautifully woven blankets, rich evergreens and bold deep reds—the style is perfect for decking the halls.
 
No fireplace to speak of? You can still create the warm lighting of flames. There’s a variety of beautiful old-fashioned style lanterns which look great in your home all year long but can be given a festive vibe with a sprig of holly tied in, or by being placed in a festive-themed vignette.
 
I love grouping candles of varying heights in a corner, and they have lovely holiday-themed ones with little red berries and spruce clippings visible in the wax. The best part? These are all available now in flameless options, which keeps things merry, bright, and most importantly, safe.
 
What would a lakeside retreat be without wildlife? You’ll see a lot of a woodland creatures appearing in tree ornaments and similar decorations. Owls remain center stage, and deer are also being featured more and more. Squirrels, foxes, and bears are also cropping up, many of them made in unique, natural materials to really add that rustic, cozy feel. These charming little friends are being portrayed in artistic ways, rather than as cartoon versions.
 
They’re featuring prominently on holiday pillows, which if I’m being honest, I see myself keeping out all year long. A water-colour stag cushion? You better believe that’s taking up permanent residence on my couch. A really cool detail we’re seeing a lot of which perfectly marries metallics with the lakeside feel are gilded antlers (not real of course). A single miniature deep-gold antler on a mantle or coffee table is a major style statement—if you see one, add it to your collection – STAT!!!
 
pillow
 
Geometric shapes are very big right now in home design, and they’ve made an appearance in holiday décor as well, particularly in tree ornaments. They’re being done in brushed metals and the look is very subtly modern without being overtly trendy.
Chalkboard statement walls and signs have been popular for a while now, but festive chalkboard signs are really showing up a lot for the holidays, bearing heart-warming messages about the season.
 
Perhaps because of this, black is being heralded as an up-and-comer for the holiday palette. Don’t dismiss it too quickly—it’s not being used in a mod, sterile way, but rather as a rich pairing with the deep warm metallics. The results are surprising lovely! For the very bold, we’re even seeing black Christmas trees, but if you go this route, remember to cozy it up with richly toned decorations and make sure you incorporate some metallics.
 
This is a great partner for your geometric tree ornaments! One of the best parts about the festive season are the warm underlying sentiments. They have a traditional, timeless feel about combining beloved memories with freshly made ones, and that is reflected in the mosaic stylings of holiday décor. Blending your favourite pieces that reappear annually with some new additions is a fun and easy way to make every year feel like a new take on a beloved classic. Enjoy decking your halls!
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.