By Katie Marks, Networx
They're coming. You can practically hear the ominous music and the gunning of engines in the background heralding the arrival of guests for the holidays. And while you're excited to see old friends, family members, and loved ones, you're also embarrassed about that scuff on the front door, the funky tile in the bathroom, and the weird stain on the guestroom ceiling.
We're here to help with a roundup of quick tips for sprucing up your home for the holidays. We kept a sharp eye out for low-cost, high-return projects that would make your home look a little more glamorous...without sucking up all your available time.
Refresh your floors
Hardwood floors wear down with age, and eventually they're going to need polishing and later refinishing. But if you don't have time for that, you can use a refresher -- found at most hardware stores -- to restore gloss to your floors. Choose a water-based product for easy application and cleanup and confirm with the staff at the store that it won't interfere with future refinishing projects.
A bare porch can look unwelcoming, and it can tend to bring out the other shortcomings of the home because there's nothing to distract your guests. Try planters filled with mums and other hardy fall/winter plants, a wreath on the door, or even just a good trim of your existing evergreen shrubs. You don't need to add any fancy decorations, but you might find that a few potted plants and a fresh doormat totally change the look of your house.
Are your guest towels getting a little...aged? Try demoting them to cleaning, pet, and all-purpose towels, and pick up a fresh set for the bathroom. A set in bold colors can help distract guests from other components of the bathroom, because they'll be too distracted by the soft terrycloth to notice that crack in the floor by the toilet (but really, you should get that fixed -- call your tile contractor to discuss the situation).
Hide nicks in the table
Every table tends to acquire a few over time. This trick sounds bizarre, but it works: grab a shelled walnut and rub it along the crack to release the oils in the nut, which will help make it less visible. Finish with a quick polish to get rid of extra oil, and then treat the table as usual.
Rearrange some furniture
If your house is feeling stale and you're craving a new look, you could remodel. You could also try rearranging furniture, adding decorative accents, painting an accent wall, or going more minimalist to see if that changes the way you feel about your home. You may find that some simple changes radically shift the feel of a room, and make you feel more comfortable entertaining.
If your drains are smelling funky, run some vinegar and baking soda through to clear out debris, and follow with a rinse of lemon juice to give them a fresh scent. For disposals, try running lemon wedges and ice cubes through to cut grease and release a fresh citrus scent.
Turn hanging lamps into chandeliers
Brilliant! (Literally.) Hanging chains can be covered, and you can swap out the fixture for a chandelier that meets your tastes. Suddenly, your living and dining areas will look a whole lot more classy. You can also use this trick to add lighting in dark areas of the house.
Clean out stains in showers, tubs, toilets, and stinks
Pumice sticks designed specifically for cleaning porcelain without scratching can help you eradicate stains. Make sure to keep the surface clean and the stone wet for best results. Once the stains are removed, you can fix chips and hairline cracks with matching porcelain repait kits, available at hardware stores. It will fill in for a neat fix!
Backsplash in a flash
Peel and stick tile sheets are available at many hardware and home improvement stores, and they'll totally change the look of your kitchen. Just decide on the style you want, follow the directions, and voila! You'll be looking at a whole new kitchen, without spending too much. If you want to refresh additional elements, you can also swap out the hardware on your cabinets and drawers.
Clutter tends to be especially noticeable to guests, and it doesn't have to be a visible part of your life. Use baskets, shelving, and other tools to round up your belongings, and get rid of the ones you don't need. Make sure other members of the household get into a habit of cleaning up after themselves, taking advantage of storage, and being responsible citizens.
Hang that art