Decorating, cooking, cleaning, and ironing; who has time for it all? There are so many more fun ways to spend your time. But everyone wants their home to look well pulled together when guests --announced or unexpected—show up on their doorstep. And believe it or not, it is possible to make that happen without spending hours with the mop or standing over a hot stove. Use these simple tips to get your house in tip-top shape—or at least looking like it is.
Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place
In a busy household it’s easy for mail, toys, laundry, and just about everything else to stack up in piles on the countertops, tables, floor, and any other nook and cranny that can be found. Whenever something comes into your house, designate a “home” for it. Pens go in the desk drawer, toys go in the basket in the corner, mail gets sorted and either put in a file to be paid or trashed.
If it’s clear where everything belongs, and everyone in the house is expected to put things in those places, then you’ll have less clutter overall. It’s also a good idea to keep as much as possible behind closed doors. Get a laundry bin with a lid to it, use solid cabinet doors to hide pantry items, and lots of baskets around the house will help corral magazines, toys, and other odds and ends. Even if the cabinets and baskets are a mess on the inside, as long as they look nice from the outside, you’ll have everyone fooled.
Clean as you go
Don’t let a mess rest for a moment. Wipe down those counters, pick up those dirty socks as you walk by them, and do the dishes right away. The few seconds it will take to do those things will help keep your house in order, and won’t make it seem like a huge cleaning has to be done so often. Keep cleaning wipes on hand in the kitchen and bathroom so you can always grab one to wipe up a mess quickly, and it’s also a good idea to invest in a small lightweight, upright vacuum that you can use to quickly clean up the crumbs after a meal while not having to lug out the big vacuum.
Stage your home
Just because your home isn’t on the cover of a magazine doesn’t mean that it can’t look like it should be. Simple tricks like organizing your books in various stacks and mixing them with knick knacks makes it appear that you’ve really spent a lot of time arranging items, but it only takes a few minutes to do, and once it’s done, it never has to be done again. An inanimate centerpiece such as a candle in a hurricane-style holder on the dining room table make it always look ready for a party even when there isn’t one planned.
Keep fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers on display
Even if you favor takeout over cooking at home, anyone can look like a cook by simply keeping a bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables on display on a kitchen island or as a table centerpiece. Fresh flowers also always catch people’s eye so pick a colorful bloom from the garden or grab an inexpensive bouquet from the grocery store. If flower arranging isn’t your forte, stick to a single type and color bloom and just pop them into a vase.
Have linens pressed at the dry cleaners
Ironing can take hours, but crisp fresh linens sure do stand out. Wash your tablecloths and bedding yourself, but send them to the dry cleaners to be pressed. It only costs a few dollars and will make your home look so much more pulled together without you having to spend an afternoon standing over an ironing board.
Do one deep house clean at least once a month
If you keep up with the little messes consistently, clean the bathrooms, and vacuum once a week, that will be enough to keep the house sanitary and looking good on the surface. But once a month, spend a few hours wiping down the windowsills, scrubbing the floors, and getting into all the corners of the house so that you’ve got a truly fresh start on a fairly regular basis.