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Get your Home Ready for the Holiday Season

holiday home

The holidays are fast approaching, so why not get a head start on the season of entertaining and houseguests? For the next five weeks I will be sharing tips here for decluttering and decorating every room in your home. Check back next week for more great ideas!

BATHROOM 1. Purge your cabinets – Toiletries, cleaning products, and medications seem to enter the bathroom never to be seen again. Empty out the medicine cabinet, drawers, and the area under the sink completely. Dump any unused products, near-empty bottles, or expired medications. Wipe down all the interior surfaces and before you put everything back, do this… 2. Use containers to corral your stuff – Instead of just putting everything back, try adding organizers to your drawers and vanity to keep items separated. These don’t require any investment – you probably have some small boxes from checks, jewelry, or electronics that can be put to use in your drawers, and I simply use plastic buckets to keep cleaning supplies and hair products in place under the sink. 3. Clear the counters – This one is a major challenge for me! If you store lots of toiletries on the counter like I do, try keeping them in a bin that can easily be hidden away in a cabinet when not in use. You’ll be amazed at how clean and organized your bathroom will look with all the surfaces clear! 4. Freshen up the décor – Without tackling a major remodeling project you can give your bathroom a face-lift with new towels, shower curtain, and bath mat. Window coverings tend to get very dusty in this space, so take them down and clean or replace them. If you have curtains or a valance, try swapping them for a simple, moisture-friendly vinyl shade or blind for a clean look. Most bathrooms don’t have a lot of wall space, so changing the paint color is a quick project that has a big impact. Even just adding a fresh coat of white to the ceiling will brighten up the space!


1. Pare down – Most of us store way more stuff in our kitchen than we ever use. Sort through your dishes, glassware, coffee mugs, and storage containers and keep only the number that will fill the dishwasher plus a few extras (if you don’t have a dishwasher, you can pare down even more!). 2. Control cabinet clutter – One reason why kitchen cabinets and pantry shelves get cluttered is because small items get lost in the back. Purchase shelf risers to lift items in the back, or use some small, sturdy boxes to get the job done. Place bagged food items in a bin to keep them from shifting around in cabinets, the fridge, and freezer. Click here for more ideas to help organize your cabinets. 3. Put away appliances – What to do with all that space you’ve made in your cabinets by paring down and organizing? Use it to store your appliances! My rule of thumb is to only give them a coveted space on the counter if they are used daily. Stow the rest and take them out as needed. You’ll be happy for the extra work space on your counters and your kitchen will have a clean, streamlined look! 4. Make your junk drawer work for you – The kitchen serves many functions besides food prep and meals, so it makes sense to set aside one drawer or shelf for those items you are always looking for, such as batteries, tools, office supplies, or stamps. Clear out the actual junk, use dividers to keep small items from rolling around, and your junk drawer will be transformed into something useful! Click here for more junk drawer tips. 5. Decorate sparingly – Most kitchens have a lot of interesting surfaces to catch the eye: countertops, tile backsplash, even your cabinets and flooring are designed to be decorative. Keep additional furnishings simple, such as a piece of art on the wall and a pretty bowl to hold produce.


1. Use the 9-foot rule – Arrange your seating within a 9-foot circle. This is a good distance for people to comfortably talk with one another, and in most rooms it is also a good viewing distance from the TV. Click here for more tips on arranging your room around the TV. 2. A surface for every seat – Make it easy for everyone to set down drinks by placing a tabletop surface within arm’s reach of each seat. This might require the addition of a coffee table, end tables, or a small accent table next to your chairs. 3. Add levels of lighting – Relying only on overhead lighting can make your living room feel harsh and institutional. Warm up your space with table lamps and add some concentrated task lighting if you will be using the space to read, craft, or play games. 4. Consider closed storage – To keep your living room from looking like a cluttered mess try adding some closed storage. This could be a media cabinet with solid doors, a chest of drawers, or bins on a shelf. Items that get regular use like video game controllers, DVDs, games, and craft supplies should all have a place where they can be put away easily. 5. Add accessories that have meaning – It is surprising the impact a few well-placed accessories can make, and the living room is the perfect place to decorate with sentimental items. A gallery wall of family photos, objects from your travels, or a throw knitted by someone special will create a space that reflects your personality and reminds you of happy memories. Click here for more tips on expressing your decorating personality.


1. Remember the three-foot rule – Allow at least three feet between the edge of your table and the wall or any other furniture. This space is needed for chairs to be pulled out and people to sit comfortably. If you have an area rug under the table it should ideally extend three feet from the edge of the table on all sides to avoid getting the chairs stuck when being pulled out. 2. Place another surface within reach – It is very handy when entertaining to have a secondary surface nearby, like a buffet or console table, to place large serving plates and bowls. If you don’t have something like this, a rolling cart or small table can be brought in just for your special occasion. 3. Keep visibility in mind – When entertaining at the table the interaction between your guests should take top priority. Remove any tall centerpieces or candlesticks and instead keep your tabletop décor low. A tablecloth or runner is a great way to add visual interest without obstructing anyone’s view. Make sure your light fixture doesn't interfere by keeping at least 30” from the top of the table to the base of the fixture. 4. Decorate vertically – Most dining rooms don’t have a lot of floor space to spare, so focus your decorating efforts on the walls, windows, and ceiling. Try a dramatic paint color or bold piece of art. Hang floor-to-ceiling drapes on the windows. And don’t forget the ceiling! An unexpected color or wallpaper there can make your dining room shine.


1. Control the light – Your guests are on vacation, so give them the option of sleeping past dawn with window coverings. An easy and effective option is to purchase ready-made curtains that have blackout lining. Hang them from a simple rod with clip rings, and they will slide open and closed without a fuss. 2. Clean it up – Make your guests feel welcome with clean and uncluttered accommodations. Wash the sheets, run the vacuum, and put away your own stuff. I’d also recommend keeping the décor neutral and personal items like family photos to a minimum. 3. Give them space – Make room in the closet for your guests to hang a few items and provide a bench or luggage rack for their suitcase. No one wants to keep their clothes on the floor, or worse, hoist their dirty luggage onto the bed. 4. Provide the essentials – Stock your guest room with necessities such as tissues, basic toiletries like soap and shampoo, pain reliever, band-aids, bottled water, wastepaper basket, extra blanket, and towels. Having these things on hand will keep your guests from having to ask or go searching late at night for what they need. 5. The pillow question – Haven’t we all had the experience of staying in an unfamiliar place where the pillows were the complete opposite of what we’re used to? It usually makes for a restless night and aching neck the next day. Since preferences vary greatly on pillow firmness, I would suggest providing a couple of medium-to-soft pillows that can be stacked for guests who need more support.

If you found these tips helpful be sure to subscribe to the Pretty Neat weekly email! You'll get a short and sweet message each week with my best advice for a more beautiful and functional home. Click here to sign up, and you'll also receive my FREE guide: How to Get Rid of Stuff! Make it fab! Carrie

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