Make your home cozy and welcoming for guests

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by Emily

Emily Walker writes about making your home a haven, and is a stay at home mom to two littles. While she and her husband have fixed up their 1960s ranch home, Emily has learned lessons along the way in do-it-yourself, making do with what you have, simplifying, and living life to the fullest. When she's not busy bossing her husband around on remodel projects, Emily blogs at Remodeling This Life.

I believe that it is possible for a home to be welcoming and comfortable, as well as beautiful and functional. Nobody loves a home that seems too sterile, a place they are afraid to sit down and make themselves cozy. Every guest should feel comfortable when they step inside.

When my home is ready to greet guests, I like to call it “lived-in cozy”.  I like to make my home  so that any guest feels welcome to pull their feet up under them on the couch, sip a cup of tea and flip through a magazine while they are here – just like I would.

After checking for basics like making sure the temperature is set comfortably, the toilets are clean and the sink is empty, here are some other tips for making your home cozy and welcoming for guests, leaving perfection at bay.

    Create ambience.

    This doesn’t have to mean that your home is filled with lit candles or dim lighting and soft music. Simply creating a peaceful atmosphere with some fresh flowers, a subtle neutral scent, and a comfortable place to sit and chat, with a refreshment or two to offer, is all that is necessary for any kind of company.

    Pay attention to detail.

    Guests will notice a vase full of fresh flowers, personal photographs tastefully displayed, and nice smelling soaps in the bathroom more than they will notice a perfectly clean home. Pay attention to details that matter, accept that no home is perfect — and no one expects it to be, and any visit will be more relaxing and authentic.


    Photo by Emily at Remodeling This Life

    Let your home reflect who you are.

    There is nothing worse than trying to make your home something it, and you, are not. Making your home what you think someone else wants will make it — and everyone in it — uncomfortable. Keeping up with the latest trends that don’t even reflect your taste is far worse than having some toys strewn about when someone comes over.

    Keep it practical, keep it real, keep it you.

    The home you share doesn’t need to be perfect. Perfect homes aren’t relaxing and they often make people feel uncomfortable. A simple welcome from you and your family is all that is necessary. Offer your home favorably, and greet your guests knowing they are there for you, not to inspect your home. They just want a relaxing visit with you.

    What are some things you do before guests are arriving to make your home comfortable, authentic, and welcoming?

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Comments

  1. I agree that you don’t want the house to be too neat and tidy. You don’t want guests to feel that they are going to mess something up. You don’t want to be so precious about everything that you don’t enjoy having people in your home! People often comment that they find our home relaxing to be in. We have second-hand furniture, two children and an inside dog, so things are definitely not super-clean. I think it shows when you enjoy being in your home yourself and you think about the needs of your guests, not putting on a display for them. Great post. Thanks for the ideas.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..Love Language =-.

  2. Thanks, this post comes in the right time, because my brother and his family will visit us this weekend! I will rearrange the room from my little daughter for them and hope, we’ll have a nice time.
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Sellerieschnitzel / celery schnitzel =-.

  3. I think about what they may need and try to provide it. For example, I have alot of friends with babies, so I set up a portacot and another nappy change station prior to them arriving so they don’t have to fuss when they first get here. I also have instructions on the baby gate between the lounge area and the bathroom, so if they slip away to ‘go’ and they struggle with the gate, they don’t need to embarrass themselves by asking for help!
    I believe my house is more welcoming because it is lived in. It is clean and tidy, but did not just drop out of a homewares catalouge. The furniture is lovely enough to show off, but battered enough to encourage lounging and feet-ups.
    .-= The Working Mum´s last blog ..Rack off, lady! =-.

  4. We have a nearly 2 and nearly 3 year old so having a perfect home for guests is near to impossible. One thing I try to do, if I am in my right mindset, is to think about the guests that are coming, their particular interests and place in life. I try to remember and pray for them and our time together….asking God to grant us a time that’s encouraging to them and us as well.

    Sometimes I have to remind myself that the point of guests coming is not to see perfection but to see US, as we really are, and for us to see THEM–to learn from them and grow together in the short time we get to share.

    Thanks for these reminders, Emily. I really enjoy your writing and thoughts.
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..Choose Your Lovey Wisely =-.

  5. The first photo takes my breath away! I want to live there.
    .-= Mrs. Money´s last blog ..Is Being Frugal Always Being Different? =-.

  6. I love it when I walk into a house like you just described – where I feel comfy to pull my feet up on the couch :) I always hope my home is welcoming to guests.
    .-= Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog ..Make Extra Money Selling Baked Goods =-.

  7. I love getting the house ready for guests. My sisters can’t visit enough!

  8. Before guests arrive at our place, I just do a quick tidy up and make sure everything is in its place.

    Ironically, people often tell me how “clean” our house is when they visit–but it isn’t really, just the tidiness makes them think it is!!

    Jamie
    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Play to Your Strengths =-.

  9. I’m a firm believer in functional beauty! As much as I love making my home welcome for guests, I need to focus on keeping it welcome for my family.

    I knew I was in trouble when I told the kids it was time to clean the house and my kids ask “whose coming over?”
    .-= Lindsey@ Mama Sews´s last blog ..a good read =-.

    • Lindsey, You are so right. I fall into that trap too and have to remind myself that making home welcoming and cozy for us that are here all the time is important too (maybe even moreso).
      .-= Emily´s last blog ..It Won’t Wait =-.

  10. It was good to read this “There is nothing worse than trying to make your home something it, and you, are not. Making your home what you think someone else wants will make it ” today. We’re in the midst of redecorating and I have ideas about what I want our home to look like, but reflecting I know in my heart of hearts that it doesn’t reflect who WE are. Sometimes you need some one to say that. Thanks.

  11. I’m in the same boat with Jamie. Our house is never really clean because a clean house isn’t our priority — our family and friends are! But because we keep it tidied people always comment on it being so clean. Lol. Usually before guests arrive, I do a quick wipe down of the bathrooms, light whatever candles are sitting around and fluff up the sofa. Sometimes I’ll throw a little baked goodness in the oven. :)
    .-= Toni Turbeville´s last blog ..Six More Weeks of Winter =-.

  12. Love the colors. How do you keep it clean with kids though?
    .-= Aaron Shaw´s last blog ..Safari Baby Animals =-.

  13. My inlaws are visiting this week and although I love and believe everything in this article, for me, too, it’s a timely reminder. I had a friend tell me that if I was prioritizing my heart’s values in life and only had a few minutes to clean/tidy up for guests, that my passion and joy for living life would be more welcoming than any perfectly mopped floor. I loved that.
    .-= Misha´s last blog ..Because I Love To Read! =-.

  14. avatar
    MrsScotsman says:

    I put snacks in their bedroom. There is nothing worse than being hungry in the middle of the night and not feeling comfortable enough to raid the kitchen.

  15. How bout I trade my home for the one in the picture! LOL! Your tips are great, and I love them especially because you\’re not suggesting one has to spend a lot of money to make their house look cozy and nice. Btw—absolutely love the colors of the room in the pic!
    .-= The Pursuit of Mommyness´s last blog ..5 Resources to Help Moms and Wives Balance their Lives! =-.

  16. I loooove to entertain and for even a quick friendly visit, I like to have a beverage and snack available, a candle lit, hand soap and a towel ready and a place to sit. Sometimes I literally have to “make a path” through the toys from the door to the couch, but that’s just a part of having two young kids!
    For bigger get-togethers, I like to have a few beverages available, including water and lemon. I do like to have reading materials available, and a blanket in the cooler months.
    I’ve been told my home is cozy and comfortable and i think it is! Never perfect, always inviting!

  17. Your writing style is calming and cozy, too. Thanks for the post!
    Our house isn’t the biggest, most luxuriously furnished, or gasp, the cleanest, but it’s usually pretty tidy. I always like that if someone decides to stop by and surprise us, I don’t panic about the way my house looks.
    Kids’ toys being strewn about while we’re playing doesn’t bug me. But, I do make the kids help me clean them up before naptime and at the end of the day before bed.
    .-= Melanie at Parenting Ink´s last blog ..Leisure Time? =-.

  18. Agree totally…there is nothing better than visiting a home with fresh flowers…linen. As mentioned it doesn’t have to be major effort. With a toddler it is hard to keep the place neat…but I do find that some pretty boxes and linen hamper baskets work wonders for putting toys in quickly (they also look good in my cottage). I think the only places that I try to focus attention to is the bathroom when guest come round that it has been cleaned and freshened with some flowers
    .-= Mini Stylista´s last blog ..Monkeying around: Noosa =-.

  19. I feel like visiting right now :) What is the paint colour in the living room photo? It looks so nice next to the red. Now to pick up some fresh flowers – our flower shop nearby has half price bouquets once a week. Thank you for the inspiration :o)
    .-= Sarah @ Mum In Bloom´s last blog ..Recipe: Maple-Roasted Pork With Sweet Potatoes =-.

  20. Being a pastor’s family with a small church, we have guests every Thursday night for our weekly Bible study. I’m not a great decorator and am a recovering messie, so our home is not perfectly clean or up on all the latest decorating trends. I had to get over the our-house-is-not-perfect thing five years ago! LOL We do 3 things to make our home welcoming – bathroom clean and smelling nice, kitchen clean and shining, and coffee and tea ready (sometimes a baked treat is ready, but not often). The reason I have my kitchen clean is because our guests are free to make themselves at home and make their own cup of coffee or tea! We set out everything for them, but I’ve known some of them to feel so at home they grab a bigger mug or some more milk – and I feel flattered that they are that comfortable! Basic cleanliness is a must, but you have to let go of that urge to make everything spotless every single time someone comes over. I’d drive myself crazy with that mentality. And the highest compliment I’ve ever been paid is that my home is so comfortable and warm that people feel at home.

    We are Americans living in Canada, so to come here to start our church we had to travel to other churches of like faith to raise our support. We found that, although we enjoyed being taken to restaurants, what we loved most was being invited into people’s homes for meals. We never inspected their homes – we just enjoyed being able to relax and have regular food – everything from taco salad and watermelon to a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings. It didn’t matter – we just enjoyed the fellowship. We learned from our experiences that it’s not the house or the food, it’s the act of offering what you have with no more motive than to be a blessing to others.
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..An Apron Giveaway! =-.

  21. Great to see you here, Emily. The more people who get to read your wonderful writing, the better.

    One thing I always do if I know folk are coming is to make sure I have the fire on. There are always flowers all over my house but I go mad if I’m expecting folk. I always make sure I have loads of soup, homemade bread, fruit, fresh coffee and wine available, too. As for cushionss and things, I already decorate so that we live in a cosy place, but if we’re expecting folk, I just have to make sure my son hasn’t left anything gross behind the or under a throw!
    .-= janice | Sharing the Journey´s last blog ..A Patchwork Post: Soup, Song and Hyacinths =-.

  22. Um, I just try to get the dog hair tumbleweeds under control so people don’t think they’ve walked onto the set of a spaghetti Western!

    But seriously, this is a good reminder. Having a comfortable, welcoming home is an important goal. I just get into perfectionism traps where I feel like it all has to be “perfect,” and that doesn’t help anything. I like the advice to “keep it real”!
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..What I Like About You: Valentines With Heart =-.

  23. I’m just happy if my house is in semi-decent shape when people stop by! It always seems that if my house is clean… I can guarantee we won’t have guests. If it’s a wreck, well that’s when everyone seems to show up!

  24. I love your post and it is exactly what I tell my parents as teachers families when I come for a visit! Every family has at one point said something about the cleanliness of their home to which I always respond “i’m not here to judge your cleaning i’m here to visit with you and the kids.” I also let parents know that I too have a messy house (we do like to LIVE in it) and I believe that it is more important to enjoy time with your children than to have all the laundry done or the dishes put away.

    I will never will a clean house ribbon but I believe that my children know I love them very much and they are important to me, as for visitors, I have always welcomed people into my home and they settle in with coffee or tea for a nice long chat. I hope they fell comfortable, relaxed, and welcome. And if they don’t I’ll just send a pug their way no one can resist the pug love.
    .-= BreannaS´s last blog ..High Roller =-.

  25. Our house is what it is when people arrive but because people usually arrive late in the day it’s tidy. The kids do an end of day tidy every afternoon and that sets the living space in order (they tidy bedrooms after they get up). A homecooked (or ordered out pizza) meal and a cozy atmosphere are my standby’s for making people feel at home.

  26. I used to struggle with having people over, we have all hand me down furniture that does not reflect our style or even current style. I have resisted the urge to replace the furniture because it is sooo solid and I prefer to save the money for something fun. It took me a long time to really internalize that I am not my stuff. I keep the house clean and inviting and now feel more comfortable and I can share memories of me building forts from the very same couch!
    .-= shelle´s last blog ..my office wall =-.

  27. Is it proper to clean your home while you have guests?

  28. I am hosting a theological student for 3 nights==playing a bed and breakfast. Should I make his bed every day? Tidy his room? I’m willing, just unsure of my responsibilities. Please advise.

  29. It is nice to entertain those that know your heart that way the rythem is steady

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