Have you ever entered someone’s home and immediately felt relaxed and comfortable? What is it that makes the difference between homes that exude an immediate sense of welcome and hospitality, and those that reinforce the feeling that you’re not in Kansas anymore? Is it the home environment, or the hostess? In my experience, both play a vital role. Whether you entertain occasionally, or just want to be prepared for the pop-in visitor, here’s some practical advice on how to help a tiny home give a giant welcome.
If you’re a gracious hostess who is relaxed, open, and accommodating, your guests will naturally feel at home without much effort, regardless of their surroundings. On the other hand, if you’re uptight, nervous, and unprepared, your guests will also feel uptight, nervous and out of place. You set the pace for your home environment.
Besides mannerisms, being personally inviting requires anticipating your guests needs in advance and acting on them. Is it raining outside? Have a place for wet items. Always offer beverages, and show them where your bathroom is so they won’t have to look around or ask at an awkward moment.
Make a good first impression
The moment someone enters your home, they’ll get an immediate impression of it — and you— by extension. That’s why it’s important to engage your guests’ senses positively as soon as they enter the door. Baking or brewing a pot of coffee naturally creates inviting aromas, so take full advantage of it. Otherwise, light a scented candle or warm oil on a diffuser a few minutes before someone’s due to arrive. Good smells and the ambiance of a flickering candle will immediately help others feel at home.
Style. The living room is the point of entry for most homes, so it should be the focal point of your decorating efforts, even if you prefer a minimal style. Exhibit a few interesting pieces that reflect your personality and communicate openness. Use a variety of comfortable textures, and opt for an overall warm but neutral palate with pops of color for the most welcoming vibe.
Neatness. Too much clutter quickly makes a room feel claustrophobic and uninviting, while a pristine home tends to make people feel uptight. Find a comfortable balance between the two. Your home should look lived in, but give the impression you care about it. The smaller your apartment, the harder it will be to hide messes, but here are a few tricks when you’re caught off guard:
- Perform a quick sweep of dirty dishes and place them in the dishwasher or otherwise hide them from view.
- Close doors to messy personal areas. If you have a room divider, this is the time to use it.
- Have a designate storage cube for odds and ends you can quickly place out of sight and sort later (it can even double as a decoration…your guests will never know).
Practice Guest Readiness
Keep in mind that your home set up may be perfect for you, but not everyone else. There are many little things you can do to be constantly visitor-conscious without inconveniencing your daily lifestyle. For instance:
- Keep the entryway well lit.
- Create an area, no matter how small, where guests can take off their shoes and hang their jackets easily.
- Arrange at least one portion of your furniture for optimal conversation: couches facing each other, or placed at right angles.
- Keep your floorspace clear and pathways free for easy movement. You may be used to navigating obstacles, but others aren’t.
Be Sensitive About Pets
Not everyone who enters your home will be as much of an animal-lover as you may be. If your pet tends to be overly social or unpredictable, be aware of how your guests react to them, and willing to kennel or confine them to another room for a while. If you know particular friends have allergies, do a more thorough vacuum for pet hair and dander before their visit.
Freshen the Facilities
Next to the living room and kitchen, it’s especially important that your bathroom is clean and inviting. When you don’t have time to clean, a few simple things like pulling the shower curtain, wiping the sink, stocking supplies, and putting out fresh hand towels will go a long way to freshen it up and detract from anything that’s less than ideal. And candles…definitely light candles.
The size of a home has little to do with how accommodating it is for company, and everything to do with your ability to make others feel welcome. Present the best perspective of what you and your home have to offer. What are some things you do to help your tiny home feel more inviting?
Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/chris lim