This is ALWAYS my go-to! People coming over in 20 minutes? Light three candles, straighten everything in the room, wipe down the bathroom, and turn the lights down low. You are ready for company!
Candles hit two senses with one punch: smell (whatever scent works for you) and sight (low, flickering candlelight). Plus, everyone looks wonderful in candlelight.
As soon as I am downstairs in the morning I put on a CD, or my favorite radio station. When I get home in the evening, the first thing I do is turn on music. Only THEN can I think about starting dinner.
Everyone has a radio or a CD player. Turn it on and experiment with different styles for different atmospheres. The music you choose can help set the mood for your home.
When my kids were in Jr. High and High School I always had soft music playing when they got up. I don't know if it helped them, but I know it helped ME!
You have to buy something to eat and drink out of anyway, why not get PRETTY things? Drink your morning juice out of goblets, your coffee out of English china and soda out of pretty stemware. They certainly don't need to match! You can pick these pieces up individually at thrift stores for as little as a quarter apiece, or pay more for a collection at your favorite store.
Paper plates and plastic cups are NOT cheap and have to be replaced. They were invented for picnics and frat houses!
There! I said it!
This is all we use. Everyday. Before you get all excited, it is NOT sterling, but it is heavy and doesn't bend. It was actually cheaper than new stainless silverware. Watch for it at antique stores where you can pick it up relatively inexpensively. I try to keep boxes of it at the store at all times, but they go fast.
Don't tell my mom, but we put the everyday silverware in the dishwasher.
This takes time, I must admit. Most of us start with (and keep using) our college/first apartment things. Who wants to spend money on things few people see?
Trust me, it is worth the effort to have beautiful sheets and pillow slips on your bed. YOU see them. Every day! Start with enough pretty linens to make up ONE bed nicely. Then add pieces as you find them. None of mine match and I now find (after years) that it is easiest to have all cream and white, because I can mix and match everything and it all just looks chic, crisp and clean.
6.) All white towels
Truthfully, I am still aspiring for this, but I do now, have enough that I can give all my guests matching white and cream towels.
Yes, I still have some colored and crazy striped towels in the everyday rotation because, let's face it I am too cheap to toss them. The towel police have not found me.
This is easy during our warm months and obviously more cost and effort during the winter. I am cheap, so during the summer when my rose bushes are blooming full force I take full advantage of them. Flowers add freshness and breathe life into a room.
Just do what you can within your budget. Well-maintained ferns and plants add almost the same touch and don't have to be replaced. Unless you kill them like I do.
A seriously comfy chair, like one you can curl up in. Even if it is tattered and torn and doesn't match. You can just throw a beautiful lace spread over it. Then, make it a point to use it. I sit in mine in the early mornings and late evenings with a magazine, my Bible, my computer or my crochet mess.
Extra points if you can squeeze an ottoman in too!
You can pick up an extra coffee pot very inexpensively at a thrift store. Put it on a table or dresser, add two cups and your coffee makings and Voila! Instant coffee bar. Why not? There is something so luxurious about getting your cup of coffee (or bottle of water) and padding back to bed. Or your chair (see no.8)
This doesn't mean your house needs to look like a bordello, but you will probably NEVER have to perform surgery in your home so turn the lights DOWN. No one looks good in glaring light and it is certainly not restful. Invest in a dimmer switch for all living areas. Get floor lamps for reading areas.
Share with me what you do to make your home warm and inviting. On the cheap!