The last thing you want after a long day is to come home to an unwelcoming or chaotic atmosphere. Your home should be a place to relax and recharge-a sanctuary for the soul. These trouble-free tips will make it feel better than ever to come home.
Since the living/family room is the gathering space where you probably spend much of your time, you'll want to create an especially cozy and welcoming feeling here. Fabrics that beg to be touched in rich, warm colors are instant soothers: fleece, velvet, chenille, velour, satin.
There are a great variety of inexpensive throws and blankets available in these cozy fabrics-drape them artfully over the backs of easy chairs or the arms of the sofa. Obviously, you don't want a satin-covered couch around kids (not to mention what a hard time guests would have staying put on it!), but a small, satin-covered throw pillow might be just the thing to wrap your arms around or rest your head upon when you're curled up in a chair or on the sofa. One really luxurious velvet pillow mixed up with several smaller throw pillows is also a nice touch.
Create a feeling of instant ease with a reading area. If space permits, designate a corner of the room for this purpose. A comfortable chair, a floor lamp, a small table holding a stack of books (with room for a snack or a cup of tea) are all you need to create a mini-oasis in this busy room. Other touches to include are a footstool or cushy ottoman, a cozy throw or afghan, and a magazine rack.
A game nook is another easy and fun way to invite people to sit and relax. You could designate another corner of the room for this purpose, or you can make it the centerpiece of the room. Arrange a couple of chairs around a small table with a chess, checker, or board game all set up to play. You could keep a storage bin or small toy box nearby, stocked with more games, decks of cards, and small notepads and pencils (for keeping score in those hot games of gin rummy!).
The bedroom is your "escape hatch" from the stress and hassle of daily life-make it into a haven! Cozy, comforting fabrics rule in this space. Add the little decorative touches that we usually reserve for more "public" places in the house-plants, fresh flowers, candles in beautiful colors and scents. A small indoor fountain is another wonderfully soothing accent; the sight and sound of gently moving water is guaranteed to calm and restore you.
And if your bedroom is large enough, create your own private reading area here, too! Indulge in a comfy easy chair, and place a stack of all those books and magazines you've been wanting to get around to reading nearby. Do you have a portable CD/cassette tape player? Plug it in next to the chair, and set up a stack of CDs or tapes of relaxing music.
At a minimum, if the bathroom is clean and functional, you're OK! But even this space can be made personal, inviting, and soothing with a few small touches. Pamper yourself, your family, and your guests by making your bathroom into a mini-spa. Bring in candles and fresh flowers or houseplants-these small touches instantly brighten and warm up a room; in addition, their pleasant scents make the room more inviting.
Make "spa bags" for family and guests to enjoy; many specialty bath shops have sample or trial sizes of products such as lotion, shampoo, and bath and shower gels, so you don't have to invest a lot of money or time. You can add bath and grooming tools such as loofahs or bath scrunchies, pumice stones, and emery boards. Or take a cue from fancy restaurants-in a guest bathroom or powder room, set up a pretty (but unbreakable!) tray with trial sizes of lotions, hand soaps, hair spray, and other niceties for guests to enjoy.
There are a few other touches that can go a long way toward making your bath more inviting. A bath pillow (available at home and bath shops) and a basket or rack of magazines might be welcome during those long soaks in the tub. A shower head with variable sprays is another little indulgence that family and guests alike are sure to appreciate.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of the right towels! Invest in some thick, fluffy towels and washcloths; spring for some bath sheets (oversized bath towels) if you really want to treat yourself right-you can get some really wonderful bath linens inexpensively at discount home stores.
Now, doesn't it really feel good to come home?