...Or, How to Make Your Home Appear Tidier Than It Is In Ten Minutes!
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I often get asked how we keep our home so tidy with a 3.5-year-old and a dog. The truth is, while our place is probably a little tidier than most, I should have a disclaimer on my Instagram account stating: objects in these photos are messier than they appear!
The same goes for when we have company over. If you're at my place, you can bet your bottom dollar that ten minutes before you arrived, I was in a tidying tizzy!
Above: one of my Instagram shots with the kitchen looking just a little tidier that it normally would (wink emoji)!
Granted, I'm not talking about going from complete disaster to clutter-free in ten minutes. You’ve gotta first lay the groundwork to be in the position to get your home company-ready in ten minutes. And, I know appearances aren't everything. If it's my family or bestie coming over, I may not feel the urge to lift a finger to feign order. But, for everyone else...
As you might have surmised, the kind of maniac who blogs about decluttering is not the kind who's cool with company coming over to a less-than-tidy home!
In this post, I'll share my tips and tricks on how to get the most of out of that ten minute tidy up before guests arrive.
1. Lay the Groundwork
If you want the type of home that's company-ready with just a ten minute sprucing, your starting point can't be something straight out of 'Hoarders.'
It helps to have a regular cleaning schedule (or cleaning lady schedule) to keep things baseline clean. I'll confess, ours comes biweekly; without her deep cleans, we'd have a very tough time making our place presentable with just a quick clean up.
I won't get into the nitty-gritty of how often you should be cleaning various things (because I'm no expert), but you might find the infographic below, useful:
2. Add Stealthy Storage To Your Common Spaces
If you've read my post on clever living room toy storage ideas, you'll know that I'm a big fan of maximizing storage space in common areas.
Ample storage is particularly crucial to last minute clutter concealment (errr...tidying up)!
We make use of a large, mid-century credenza that provides not one, not two, but three junk drawers, and two large cabinets for my son's toys. Most of the time, these cabinets are kept only half full, so that any errant toys can be tossed in for a quick tidy. We keep the bulk of his toys in rotating storage bins in the basement. For more on that, check out my post on how to declutter kids' toys.
We also make use of several baskets to store books and magazines. Again, these are never filled to capacity. When company's coming, I toss our laptops, chargers and other loose odds and ends in here:
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Manhattan Mid-Century Modern Buffet Stand ($119.99).
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AmazonBasics Foldable Storage Cubes - 6 pack ($16.99).
Household Essentials Wicker Storage Bin ($24.89).
Parker Baby Co. Rope Storage Bin ($27.95).
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3. Prioritize the Powder Room
All of your surfaces may be clutter-free, but one unsightly toilet stain or grimy hand towel and you're out of the running for hostess of the year! If your bathroom lacks basic hygiene, it will definitely taint your guests' overall opinion of your home. So, if you're really short on time, start with the bathroom!
Photo via: Cara Irwin/Goldalamode. This isn't our bathroom (unfortunately). We're planning a makeover of our teeny-tiny powder room over the next month or two, and will share that with you all when it's ready!
If you have time to do just one thing before your guests arrive, make sure your toilet bowl is clean! I don't know why, but my eyes immediately drift there when I'm using someone else's bathroom---like some sort of morbid preoccupation with discovering something that might gross me out...
Replace your hand towel with a new one (there's nothing worse than feeling like you're using a dingy towel at someone else's house). Then, if you've got the time, do a quick polish of the mirror and wipe down the sink.
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These are my favourite for that quick, last minute toilet scrub.Clorox Toilet Wand Disposable Toilet Cleaning System with 6 Refills & Storage Caddy ($11.67).
Lysol Disinfecting Wipes - 80 x 4 pack ($11.16). These are my go-to for that last-minute wipe down of the sink and toilet seat. I love their germ-killing power and the lemony clean fragrance they leave behind!
4. Keep Your Entryway Clutter-Free
After you've ensured the bathroom isn't icky, tackle the entryway.
The front entry is the first part of your home guests see; it sets the tone for what to expect from the rest of your space. So, if you want to make a good first impression, keep it tidy and uncluttered. (If this sounds familiar, I may have stolen this directly from my post on how to keep your entryway clutter-free. It's not plagiarism if you duplicate your own work, right? Just lazy writing...)
We keep very little in our front entry. The majority of our shoes and jackets are in the back entry/mudroom or in the walk-in-closet upstairs.
Depending on the state of your entryway and the number of guests you're expecting, you may need to move the bulk of your belongings elsewhere to make room for your guests' stuff; with our nearly naked front entry and less-than-gregarious lifestyle, this has never been something we've had to do. But, growing up, I remember going to house parties where guests' jackets were collected and piled on a bed upstairs. When it was time to leave, you were responsible for retrieving your own jacket from the pile, like a coat check free-for-all!
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5. Declutter & Wipe Down Flat Surfaces
The less clutter you have on your flat surfaces (kitchen counters, dining table, coffee table, etc.), the tidier your space will feel. For more on this, check out my post on how we keep our counters clutter-free.
Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher (I've used the oven as a last minute hiding place, in a pinch!). Gather loose items, like magazines, laptops, and cords, into storage baskets or drawers, where they'll be out of sight. It helps if you always put these away into the same 'quick tidy' areas; that way, they'll be easy to find, and you can seamlessly resume your Netflix binge when your guests leave!
Once your surfaces are decluttered, break out a multipurpose spray to wipe away dust and make them sparkle!
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Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner - 3 pack ($10.47). This is my absoute favourite multi-purpose spray. It smells great (again, lemon's my favourite 'clean' smell) and it's made with natural and biodegradable ingredients.
6. Spot Clean the Floor
Once our flat surfaces are decluttered and dusted, I roam around the with my trusty hand vac, scanning the floor for crumbs and dust bunnies to eradicate.
This is one step you can get your kiddos to help out with. My three-year-old loves making a game of spotting and sucking up crumbs! Cleaning up and keeping your kid occupied? That’s a next level, housekeeping Jedi mind trick!
Sometimes, I'll even get our Roomba going at the same time to really cover our bases.
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This is my proton pack! Black+Decker Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum ($52.35).
iRobot Roomba 620 Vacuum Cleaning Robot ($239.99).
If steps one through six don't resonate with you, consider just making your home smell clean. There's no better way to give the illusion of a clean space, without actually cleaning, than with a pleasant, clean scent. My favourite way to achieve this is by lighting a subtly fragranced candle.
If we've had chili for dinner the night before and a candle's not cutting it, I'll spray some air freshener, as well. This also works well for last-minute dog farts. Our dog, Charlie, gets all excited when he sees me going through the motions of the 'quick tidy,' as this is his cue that company's coming. This, coupled with his nervous stomach, culminates in a stench of canine flatulence, impeccably timed, minutes before guests arrive!
My favourite air freshener fragrance is 'fresh linen.' It smells clean without being overbearing.
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