Make it Personal

Want a quick fix for a big living room that looks more like an auditorium than a casual hang out space? Create small groupings of furniture and anchor them with wall art, area rugs and light fixtures. You can use this technique to carve out a reading nook, create a conversational grouping around a fireplace or designate an entertainment area near your flat screen.

Visitors love to snoop around your home. If you connected your guests to a lie detector, how many do you think would have to admit to peeking in your medicine cabinet? Are you blushing?

Visitors and friends are curious about your family, so make your living room more fun and friendly by putting a few personal touches out there to keep folks entertained. Photos, a novel you're reading, an afghan you crocheted yourself or a collection of shells from your last vacation are reminders that your space isn't an impersonal showroom somewhere, it's a home inhabited by interesting, vibrant people.

Offering visitors a couple of carefully positioned diversions will also keep them from discovering that barbecue stain on your favorite decorative pillow and the secret stash of Mallomars you keep behind the chair cushion.