The other morning, after I waved goodbye to my 3 boys and made myself a second cup of tea, I started thinking about the next couple of months and the kinds of fun things summer would bring. My favorite part of summer (besides NO MORE LUNCH PACKING) is the amount of time we get to spend with friends and family. We do a lot of camping in July and August, but we’re also lucky enough to have family come and stay with us. So I thought I’d do a quick blog post on ways to make your guests feel so welcome and comfortable, they’ll never want to leave! (Which is a good thing, right??)
1. Make a Good Impression
Never underestimate the power of curb appeal! A pretty wreath on the front door or a quirky doormat sets the mood before guests even enter your home.
2. A Place for Everything
Once guests are inside your home, make sure there is a designated spot for shoes and coats. Consider adding a bench to your front entrance so people can sit while they remove their shoes. (Bonus points if you’ve got a couple pairs of clean slippers to lend visitors!)
3. Embrace Your Style
Be true to you and what you love! I can’t tell you how often I repeat this to clients – your home should be a reflection of you and your family, not of the latest design fads. Find what you love to look at, and fill your rooms with it. Your friends and family love you for you, so when your space is a reflection of your personality, it’s familiar and comfortable to your crew!
4. Scent & Sound
We don’t often think about it, but scent plays a huge role in our comfort level. Nothing beats the smell of fresh baking or towels just off the line. Think softer, more natural scents – don’t go overboard on the plug-ins and candles (ironically, heavy scents often have the opposite effect – guests might wind up wondering what kind of stink you’re covering up!) Same goes for sound – dead silence is never welcoming, but you’ll want to keep music at a level that encourages conversation. Think background, not concert level volume.
5. Light Matters
I talk about lighting a lot. I’m repetitive, I know. Your home should have a variety of light layers, from overhead, to task, to ambient. I strongly recommend dimmers on overhead lighting, particularly over a dining table. Also, never underestimate the power of candlelight. Softly flickering candles (battery-operated or flame lit) instantly up the cozy level – and bonus, candlelight is super flattering to any skin tone!
6. Encourage Conversation
How you lay out your furniture is important when keeping guests in mind. Basically, you want to encourage conversation, and the best way to do that is by making sure your main seating pieces (sofa/loveseat/armchairs) all face each other (or the centre of the furniture group), and that no one will be left out of the conversation based on where his or her seat sits in the room. Also, make sure each guest (or seat) has an adequate space to set a drink.
7. Cut the Clutter
Make sure guests can comfortably move around your home without fear of knocking something over. No one wants to have to push aside laundry before they sit on the sofa, or slide stacks of papers away so they can settle at the kitchen table. Hallways and main traffic patterns should be free of trip hazards, and bathroom counters clear enough for people to wash up without worrying about spilling or breaking something.
8. Homey Accessories
The easiest way to layer in warmth is with accessories. Think of the things you love at the end of a long day. A cozy throw on the sofa, fluffy pillows to sink into, soft towels to wrap yourself in. These are the personal touches that make our houses into homes. If you look at most luxury hotels, it’s these little elements that they include that receive the best reviews online, and for good reason: we want to feel at home, even when we’re not at home.
9. Put Memories on Display
It’s funny – when I stage a home for resale, it’s always with a touch of sadness that I encourage clients to limit any personal photos or mementoes. Maybe that’s why, when decorating, I love seeing an abundance of personality in the rooms I work on. A sure-fire way to showcase your family is to add framed photos, keepsakes, and other pieces that make you, you. And don’t forget furry family members! Our pets add so much to our lives, so let’s lay those pics out too!
10. Little Things
At the end of the day, and as clichéd as it sounds, it really is the little things that count. Think of them as the icing on the cake, or the statement necklace on the little black dress. Some of my faves include fresh flowers (bought, or hand-picked if you’ve got them!), stacks of books or magazines, and a pretty bedside carafe filled with water.
Really, you know your guests best. We tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people, so often the things we love most are the things our family and friends will appreciate too. When visits come to an end, and we’re saying our goodbyes, it’s the memories made that matter most. I hope whatever summer has in store for you, it’s filled with love, laughter, and sunshine! And if you’re looking forward to great gatherings and wonderful company, but are feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of making your home a nest of comfort and warmth, let’s talk! I can help you turn your space into an extension of amazing, wonderful you!
Cheers to summer and sunshine!