Pre-Party House Prep
When you come home, your eyes probably sweep right past the stacks of papers and smattering of scuffmarks on the wall. And hey, we get it. After a while, little imperfections just sort of blend in—that is, until company comes over, and you realize that to fresh eyes, they may be very noticeable. Does this mean your house has to be perfect every time you have guests? Of course not, but it should be a place you’re happy to have in the spotlight. Here’s how to pull that off before your nearest and dearest arrive.
- Clean Up
- Start with a clean sweep. Begin with high-traffic areas like the living room, entryway, and stairs. While you work, keep your eyes peeled for any stains, dust bunnies, or junk piles. Some things to look for and fix along the way: errant holes and marks on walls; scuff marks, especially on doors and baseboards; and dust in unexpected spots like in the folds of drapes, corners of rooms, or on tops of lampshades, TVs, books, and frames.
- Then turn your attention to the guest bathroom: Besides the toilet, tub, sink, and countertops, wipe down less obvious spots like the floor (especially in corners and behind the toilet), baseboards, shower grout, medicine cabinet shelves, and the ceiling. De-gunk holes in the shower head, and make sure the shower curtain and liner are mildew-free.
- Inspect Rugs
- The focus here is on stains. Fresh ones can usually be lifted with soap and water, but older, set-in ones may require extra elbow grease or even a steam cleaner. In a pinch, though, you can cover up marks with a piece of furniture or small area rug.
- Look for Signs of Wear and Tear
- Pay attention to everyday things that quickly show signs of aging; updating them is usually quick, easy and—best part—cheap. That means swapping out yellowed switchplates; replacing cracked or dented lampshades; filling in scratched or nicked wood—especially the legs of chairs and tables—with a furniture repair kit; and substituting broken or missing drawer pulls with new ones.
- Pretty Up the Place
- A well-appointed room is a surefire way to make guests feel like you’ve rolled out the welcome mat, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, the best thing you can do for any space—clearing off surfaces—won’t cost you a dime. Stash extraneous knickknacks and other clutter in an out-of-the-way spot when possible. When it’s not, use storage containers with lids—they look cleaner. If you have blank walls, now’s the time to fill them up. Try a gallery wall or, for instant impact with minimal effort, hang a bold piece of art on whichever wall you first look at when you walk into the room.
- Décor looking a bit tired? Perk things up with small but attention-getting accent pieces. A few of our favorites: a snuggly new throw tossed over the arm of a chair or sofa; colorful, patterned throw pillows; a coffee table book of beautiful photographs; or a few fresh flowers in a funky vase.
- Prep the Guest Room
- Outside of the living room, this is probably where company will spend most of its time, so it’s important to get the room right. Some ideas to get you started:
- Get under the covers and feel the sheets against your bare skin. Are they soft? Is the blanket fresh-smelling and stain-free? Are pillows fluffy or flat as pancakes? Are extra blankets and pillows easily accessible?
- Give the nightstands a once-over, making sure drawers are empty, lamps have working light bulbs, and the TV remote control has new batteries.
- If there’s not already a mirror in the room, consider hanging one. Not only does it reflect light, helping the space look bigger, it’s also helpful when visitors are getting ready in the morning.
- Don’t forget thoughtful extras, like an interesting book or magazine on the nightstand or a pretty bowl to collect jewelry, coins and sunglasses.