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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.