Finessing a First Impression

Simple steps to wow the guests in your home

ENTERTAINING GUESTS is an all-consuming task. So much so, in fact, that many hosts forget to pay attention to details—such as where the TV remote resides, how the throw blankets are folded, and whether the powder room is guest-friendly. Details such as these, if not tended to properly, can be surprisingly off-putting to guests.

When it comes to creating a home that woos company, there are certain tactics that immediately spruce up your space without draining your time or your wallet. Caroline Colston is a New York City transplant now residing in south Charlotte, and she’s spent more than 25 years styling photo shoots for national magazines, high-end hotels, and big-brand advertisements. As a home stylist, she transforms a space from its original, flat version into what she likes to call a “juicier” version.

To make your home “juicy” when expecting guests, start by thinking about yourself. Colston says, “If your home is a place that looks like somewhere you treat yourself well, people will be impressed by that, but they will also be inspired.” Aim for comfort with touches of luxe that show you take care of yourself and take pride in your home.

Create Collections 
Since clearing out clutter is the first thing a person does when preparing for guests, Colston explains, it’s impactful to collect items into trays and bowls that suit your decor. Using these containers in places such as the living room and bathroom helps turn your ordinary, practical items into an artful arrangement that seems organized. “It contains and organizes the chaos and makes it look like still life,” Colston says. She also suggests rolling living room throw blankets into cylinders and placing them in a basket.

Go Green
Ditch the fake plants and treat yourself to live greenery. Colston says having fresh-cut flowers in the home is a simple idea that will reap big rewards. The key, though, is to place the flowers in another room besides the kitchen, such as on a bedside table or in the bathroom—it’s an unexpected twist that feels inherently pleasant. “It’s something nice you do for yourself,” she says, reiterating the fact that your home should be a reflection of a life well-lived. Accessorize your home with additional live plants if you want the atmosphere to improve even more.

Pamper the Powder Room 
If a guest walks into the bathroom only to find a strange bar of soap and no hand towel, don’t you think they’d be underwhelmed? Well, even if there were soap and a hand towel, Colston suggests you dress up the bathroom. She advises stocking the bathroom with a stack of thick, paper napkins, similar to what you’d find in fancy hotel and restaurant restrooms. As for soaps, she says to treat your guests to high-end hand soap and hand lotion. “Nice things” make the space sophisticated and chic. 

Layer the Lighting
Whether too dark or too bright, rooms with poor lighting design are not typically welcoming. Instead of having a singular overhead light (such as the fixture on your fan), Colston says you should have multiple layers of light: table lamps and floor lamps, then overhead lighting, then a third layer of illumination underneath shelves or behind the TV. Additionally, Colston says, “To make your home more welcoming, every single lighting apparatus should have a dimmer switch.” Playing with lighting will create dimension in the living area, something that guests will react to immediately. 

Live with Luxe
Lastly, introduce luxury into your everyday life. You can mix luxe and bargain items to curate a unique space with an upscale feel. Countless homeowners have cabinets full of once-a-year china and a room reserved for once-a-year dining. Simple changes, such as using the dining room, occasionally eating off china, and investing in a high-quality rug for a hallway runner will make a world of difference in the way the home feels, and, ultimately, how the people inside it feel. Having a touch of luxe in place of an everyday item is irreverent and makes an impression.