The fall holidays are upon us and as such you are probably back home right now getting into the groove of being everyone’s public servant. Shopping for new towels, geting into arguments over who is going to host Thanskgiving this year and figuring out what to get the 54 people on your Christmas gift list. In the mist of all this, there will game nights, dinner parties, random drop-ins, and other get togethers. This season of high traffic in the home is a perfect time to remind yourself of some interior design do’s and don’ts that will allow you to maintain your status as host to the gods, in the discerning eyes of friends and family. The Black Female Interior Designers (BFID) network of which I am a member shares their top fixes to impress your guests!
Tip 1: Scrap Window Treatments
Curtains are one of the first things visitors subconsciously notice. Bad window treatments are notoriously cited as a pet peeve for interior designers. Repeated offenses include curtains that are too short or those that have not been properly lined. Luckily, window treatments are also very easy to fix. In fact, Raquel MacArthur Jackson, founder of BFID, advises to just get rid of them. “I love bare windows. Honestly I could live in a glass house. I want to see the outdoors peek inside. At night I would use some sort of window treatment for privacy but would go to sleep early just to wake up and make those dreadful things disappear again!” Bare windows during parties create an indoor-outdoor feel, reduce dirt accumulation on curtains and bring in the wonderful natural light.
Tip 2: Check Your Paint Job
Interior designer Madeline Irvin and others concur that the first thing they look at when they are invited over for any event is the professionalism of the paint job. So before an army of glitterati invade your space for NYE shenanigans, make sure to consider a fresh coat of paint. “Bad paint jobs are especially evident with black matte paint. People think you can just slap it on. No! It needs to look and feel like butter,” cautions Florida designer, Nicole Jackson Bertrand. In order to avoid paint job shame, most designers recommend a satin paint finish and neutral grey-tinted hues or if all else fails a bright white. A good paint job sets the right backdrop for a magnificent looking home.
Tip 3 Declutter your bathroom
The bathroom seems to be where the war for the title of world’s best host is fought. Interior designers agree to eliminate articles like contour rugs and shrines to accumulated hotel cosmetics. “I always cringe a bit when I see those dusty unused body gel and lotion basket sets, still in the original packaging, sitting in a bathroom. I want folks to realize that lotion baskets are not décor,” says Monica D. Watson a Tennessee-based designer. For guests, the bathroom should be minimalist and spa-like, functional and devoid of as many personal effects as possible. When you do wish to use your hotel toiletries stash, put out only a select few, preferably a matching set, and stand them in an upright position on display next to the sink to encourage actual use.
Tip 4: Remove false pretense
We can all agree that obsessively cleaning your home prior to a gathering is inescapable. However, a home is supposed to be a reflection of its owners and must feel lived in and well, real. There are some dead giveaways in the art of decorating which might give visitors the impression you are putting on airs or being disingenuous. “I hate seeing candles with the wick intact, especially if dust has collected on them. If for decor only, I still snip the tip and burn briefly and blow out,” suggests Monica Watson. The less your home feels or looks like a showroom, the more comfortable guests will feel.
Tip 5: Mind the fridge
The ubiquitous kitchen. The epicenter of entertainment during most parties, it is also the area of the home likely to be judged the hardest by incoming visitors. With a growing self-serve ethos, guests will be scurrying back and forth to get drinks and to help with serving platters. In such back and forth, the one overlooked area is the utilitarian refrigerator. As horrible as it sounds, I judge people by how their fridge looks. If I see a plastic grocery or takeout bag of any kind in there you are dead to me. Other interior designers caution to avoid using the top of the fridge as storage as it can come across as unkempt. The best solution is to invest in cute Tupperware and fridge-based organizing trays from the Container Store or other retailers, which can last you well after guests have gone home.