VISITORS take just 38 seconds to judge a home – with bad smells, dusty ornaments and piles of washing all standing out.
Nearly one in two visitors will have a snoop, and one in five guests will check for dust, says a report by trade organisation Independent Network.
Here home organiser Nicola Lewis, who has 110k followers at @thisgirlcanorganise on Instagram, provides a cheat sheet to ensure your home is safe from nosy visitors.
Ready steady go
WHEN you only have a limited amount of time, set a timer and prioritise your rooms. Nicola says: “Dedicate a set period to each area, maybe ten minutes for the living room, five minutes for the kitchen, and so on.
“Set a timer for each so you don’t run out of time. Stick some music on while you do it to motivate you and get you excited about guests coming over rather than worrying about how clean your house is.”
Hoover the way
ACCORDING to the report, half of us give our homes a quick vacuum before guests arrive. Louise says: “Visitors tend to stay on the lower floor so just focus on these areas.
“Start from where guests will enter and follow their route. Whether it’s an entrance hall or a porch, pick up everything that doesn’t belong there and put it in its home and crack on with the vacuuming. As you go through your house, declutter anything that’s out of place.”
MARKS on walls are one of the top ten things people notice on visiting a home.
Nicola says: “I make my own wall-whitening pads. I add drops of water to baking soda until it creates a paste. Then I use a clean cloth to scrub the scuff marks with a small amount of the paste. Then I wipe the area with a damp cloth. Finally I wipe the wall with a dry, clean cloth.”
Blitz the dishes
DIRTY dishes came fifth on the judgement list in the study, so make washing up a priority. Nicola advises: “Put all of the dirty dishes into the dishwasher and turn it on so when they arrive you’ve got no mess out. Then just clean pots as you need them.
“If you don’t have a dishwasher, just get the washing over with and get someone to help you to dry up. No one wants to see a sink full of dirty pots and pans.”
Make it sparkle
ONLY a fifth of us clean the windows before visitors come round, but considering they are the sixth thing people notice we should maybe pay them more attention.
Nicola suggests: “Cleaning your windows takes no time whatsoever. Use the homemade cleaner of white vinegar, water and essential oils and get to work with a microfibre cloth. If you’re in a real rush, just use water and the cloth. Microfibre cloths are great as they leave your windows looking polished and smear-free.”
WHEN expecting visitors, 23 per cent of people buy flowers.
Nicola says: “Get a nice little vase and put some fresh flowers on the window sill or on a table. This adds that finishing touch and makes it seem like you’ve really made an effort to brighten things up. They can also add a fresh aroma to the room.”
EVERY house has its own smell, and it is the top thing visitors notice. A quarter of us will buy candles or air fresheners, but how else can we make our houses smell nice?
Nicola says: “People love smells. For a quick fix, I like to use homemade cleaning products so that my home isn’t left with that chemical smell. Mix together white vinegar, water, and an essential oil of your choice. The essential oil will make your room smell lovely while you’re cleaning and you won’t have to buy candles. Rather than it being obvious you have done a massive clean-up before your guests arrive, you can pretend you have just spritzed lavender. Alternatively, you could make coffee, a homely smell that everyone loves.”
Be book smart
THE study also found that people judge the books on your shelves.
Nicola says: “I love to have my books organised in rainbow order on my shelves. It’s your home, so have your books displayed in the way that you want them. Maybe you want to do it by colour, or author, or genre. Or if you want a book to become a talking point, especially if it’s your favourite, put it on the coffee table.”
Create a cosy vibe
THE temperature of your home is one of the main things visitors judge. Nicola says: “You become paranoid about it being too hot or too cold when you’ve got people coming over. Maintain a comfortable room temperature, but start to turn it down as more people arrive as body heat will bring the temperature up.
“You want your home to have a cosy vibe, and an automatic trigger for cosiness is a faux fireplace. You can bring up a video on YouTube of a fire, stick on some candles and dim the lights. If you haven’t got a smart TV to do this, there are DVDs available that will play hours of fireplaces – sound and all.”
Take it to bed
NICOLA has learnt from her mum to put stray items on the bed if she has to get her house ready in a flash.
She says: “Move all the clutter on to your bed as a ‘do later’ pile.
“This way, you know exactly where it is and have to deal with it afterwards so you can get into bed. You can also use your bed as a cloakroom and get the kids involved by asking them to take guests’ coats upstairs.”
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