Foyer or entryway
First impressions always count and your home’s foyer or entryway is the first impression received by visitors. Make it a clear, clean and welcoming space, even if it’s small. This means ensuring that coats and shoes are stored neatly, there’s a doormat for wet feet, and that any entryway console is free from clutter and dust.
Experts suggest that a comfortable room temperature is around 68F but everyone has slightly different ideas about what makes the perfect room temperature. This increases the chance that guests to your home will find it either too hot or cold. However, if you keep it at around that 68F threshold, you’re less likely to see guests slip on their coat or suggest stepping outside for fresh air.
It’s hospitable to offer visitors a drink, even if they’re not staying very long. Don’t leave it too long to do so, especially if your visitor has had a long journey and is particularly likely to be hot, thirsty and tired. The type of drink is less important than the fact that one is offered, but most guests will appreciate something that’s tailored to the temperature and time of day.
When staying away from home, there’s little that’s less appealing than grubby sheets on the bed you’re sleeping in. At best, grubby sheets suggest that your host’s washing machine is malfunctioning. At worst, they indicate that no-one has bothered to wash the linens since the last person slept in the bed.
Whether the bed is comfortable
Guest room beds are rarely as comfortable as one’s own bed. However, expecting anyone to sleep on a lumpy mattress or to share a single bed with another adult is asking for criticism – even if that criticism is never voiced out loud. While a teen might cope well on a blow-up mattress, your 80-year-old grandmother probably won’t.
Most rooms and houses have some sort of smell. Chances are, you don’t notice your own home’s smell because you’re so used to it. However, visitors will notice and, with this in mind, make sure they only notice pleasant smells. Airing the house, ensuring it’s thoroughly clean, using beeswax on furniture and, the real estate agent’s favorite, brewing coffee, are all helpful.
Help yourself or wait to be asked
When staying in someone else’s home, it’s often a little awkward trying to work out whether it’s all right to help yourself to a drink, a fresh towel or a piece of fruit, or whether you should wait to be asked. There’s no right answer but if you choose the wait-to-be-asked, make sure you’re especially hospitable and anticipate your guests needs almost before they know them themselves.
A bedside table lamp is a must for guests. Getting in and out of bed in an unfamiliar house can be disconcerting in the dark. A handily place table lamp makes this easier, especially when it comes to making middle-of-the-night bathroom visits easier. And, of course, it allows your guest to read in bed without having to use the overhead or side lights.
Assuming you’re not a college student, providing towels for visitors is expected and their absence will definitely raise eyebrows. Quality – and, of course, cleanliness – matter too. If you know your visitor likes fluffy, fresh-out-of-the-dryer towels, giving them a thin, much-washed, air-dried towel might not go down well.
Not every overnight guest will be particular or even knowledgable about thread count. Clean, fresh-smelling linen is a given but almost every overnight guest will also notice if the sheets you put on their bed are old, scratchy or made from sweaty polyester.
Guests often notice books, or their absence, especially when visiting someone’s home for the first time. Like it or not, you almost certainly will be judged if you have no books on display in your living room. Similarly, you can probably expect to be silently judged on the contents of your bookcases.
How the toilet flushes
You might be used to the particular method needed to get your toilet to flush properly, but a guest won’t have any idea. The embarrassment factor means that awkward toilets that won’t flush, that need several flushes to empty the bowl, or that make a racket when flushed are universally disliked by visitors.
If a visitor wrinkles their nose after stepping through your front door, there’s a fair chance they’ve caught a whiff of your pet dog or your kids’ hamster. Animal smells are some of the most pervasive and hard to eliminate and, while you might be so used to the smell that you’ve stopped noticing it, your guests will definitely clock it right away.
TV on or off
Are you the sort of person who likes to have the TV on as background (whether muted or not), no matter what else you’re doing or who else is there? Or are you the sort of person who wouldn’t dare switch the TV on if visitors are present, regardless of who wants to watch a particular show? Either way, expect judgment!
The state of the floors
If you haven’t even run the vacuum cleaner over your floors, guests will definitely notice visible dirt, hair and bits – especially if you ask them to take their shoes off. And even if you have swept, hoovered and polished, they’re still likely to notice those seemingly indelible stains on the rug and the strange marks on your wooden floor.
Show home-style interior
You might take pride in your pristine, show home-style house, and take special care to ensure it’s always looking its best when guests are expected. However, note that many people find coming into an immaculate home a little intimidating. They may find it hard to relax, worrying that they might spill a drink, mark the sofa or unplump a previously perfectly plumped cushion.
Photographs and paintings
Good gallery walls are hard to create. Even actual galleries struggle to pull it off sometimes! It’s a rare and remarkable thing to find a beautiful wall montage of photographs and pictures. Of course, it goes the other way too: a poorly executed display may raise eyebrows. So, too, will a home without any photos, pictures or evidence that someone actually lives there.
Not everyone can offer a dedicated guest bathroom. However, if you do, you can be sure your guests will appreciate it. Even if it doesn’t, overnight guests will notice – and appreciate – mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner, a basket of individually wrapped soap, sanitary protection and, of course, spare toilet rolls. A trash can with a lid is also always notable by its absence.
You might be so used to the snags and flaws in your home that you no longer really notice them. However, you can be sure that most guests will clock every section of poorly-executed paintwork, every chipped door jamb and, of course, bigger issues, such as damaged plug sockets, a malfunctioning extractor fan and broken blinds.
No one appreciates having to hunt for fresh supplies of toilet paper – especially in someone else’s bathroom. Sparing your guests’ blushes by leaving spare rolls in an obvious place within the bathroom is always appreciated. Even if a visitor doesn’t need to change the roll, they’ll almost certainly notice the fact that you’ve made it easy for them if needed.
A vase of flowers is a lovely addition to any room. However, a vase of dying or already dead flowers is worse than no vase at all. As well as looking sad and suggesting that you’re rather a slovenly housekeeper, dead or dying flowers often fill the air with a perfume that’s anything but pleasant.
Whether it’s a key that’s broken off in the lock, a bolt lock that won’t shoot into place (or is stiff to unbolt), or a button that doesn’t work, malfunctioning locks are annoying. And, if they’re annoying even when you live in the place, they’re even more annoying and disconcerting to a visitor, especially if it’s a bathroom lock that’s broken.
You might have put considerable time and effort into cleaning your windows – only to be left with streaky, smeary glass. Sometimes you won’t even notice the streaks until the sun’s shining and sometimes your visitors will spot the smears before you do. There’s a knack to avoiding this problem but possible remedies include wiping with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water.
Perhaps you’re vaguely hoping your visitors might be impressed by the golf clubs in the hall, the oar on the wall, or the latest Peloton in the corner of the Family Room. However, they’re unlikely to be impressed by a jumble of footballs, hockey sticks and dirty shoes, or, indeed, by a spin bike that’s currently being used as a laundry airer.
The drip-drip-drip of a leaking faucet offers one potential definition for the phrase “water torture”. Don’t subject your guests to it. If it’s loud enough for you to notice, they’ll definite also notice it. Worst of all is if the leaking faucet is in the ensuite guest bathroom. Make it a rule to check faucets in time to effect repairs before guests turn up.
A slow-draining sink isn’t nice. Even once it’s finally emptied, the soap scum usually left on the sides of the bowl is a continuing reminder of the problem. A visitor who uses a slow-draining sink really can’t fail to notice the issue. Perhaps they’ll mention it to you and perhaps they won’t. Either way, it’s usually an easily-fixed problem that could have been sorted before their arrival.
Bad mannered pets
Some people don’t like pets at all. If you know you have someone like this visiting, it’s courteous to put your dog in a separate room and ensure your cat doesn’t jump onto their lap. However, even pet-lovers can look askance at badly behaved animals. Whether it’s counter-surfing, begging, growling or hissing, a visitor will judge your training skills, if not the animal itself.
It’s nosy and, with the possible exception of someone who’s hunting for Tylenol or a plaster, usually completely unjustified. However, regardless of that, many of us can’t resist a peek into someone else’s bathroom cabinet. It’s up to you whether that means you want to lock it, tidy it or leave it exactly as it is.
Some people are further along the hoarding spectrum than others. Even if you don’t consider yourself a hoarder (more someone who puts off tidying up…), it’s inevitable that visitors to your home will notice excess amounts of clutter. At the very least, make sure chairs and sofas are cleared so that your guests have somewhere to sit down and survey the mess.
Stained or chipped furniture
A piece of furniture that’s stained or chipped is one of those things that, if you’re familiar enough with it, you may stop noticing. Unfortunately, a fresh pair of eyes will find the spot that your dog chewed when he was a puppy or the coffee ring stain that appeared after someone didn’t use a coaster.
Dusting and cleaning baseboards is one of those unappealing tasks that is all too easy to put off. While it’s unlikely that a visitor will comment – after all, the baseboards in their own home are probably in a similar state – they may well notice that yours also need cleaning.
Some people put considerable effort into getting the lighting right in their homes. Unfortunately, good lighting is less likely to be appreciated by guests as bad lighting. That’s because people usually take good lighting for granted and only think about it if they’re struggling to read their book or make out someone else’s face…
Mould is a health hazard, particularly where young children, the elderly and anyone with respiratory problems is concerned. Consequently, you can expect visitors to notice any mould in your home and even to comment on it, especially if it’s in a guest bedroom or if they’re concerned for your health.
If you invite someone for a meal, it’s only polite to ensure you give them sufficient to eat. Excessively small portions are a bugbear for many guests, especially those staying overnight. Allowing people to serve themselves – and ensuring you’ve cooked enough food in the first place – is often better than plating up a meal for everyone yourself.
If you have a dog prone to shedding or a cat that leaves hair on the sofa, cleaning up can feel like a never-ending task. However, while you might get (somewhat) used to the constant pet hair, visitors will notice it. Some won’t mind much, especially if they have their own pets. Others, thinking of their sweaters and pants, or their pet dander-induced allergies will mind.
Damp, grubby hand towels
Damp, grubby, over-used, in-urgent-need-of-laundering hand towels are almost to be expected in house shares of young people. However, even then, the house sharers can expect judgment and opprobrium from visitors – especially visiting parents. In households occupied by older people, any hand towel other than a freshly laundered one is unacceptable in the eyes of most guests.
Full trash cans
A full trash can ought to be a no-no even if you don’t have visitors. After all, think how annoying it is to find it full to overflowing just when you have something you want to throw away. And then there’s the fact that trash has a tendency to stink after a while – and that definitely isn’t the welcome you want for your visitors.
A kitchen in need of a clean
You can skip cleaning some rooms. Take bedrooms, for instance: it’s a rare guest who goes into this private space. However, a kitchen is fair game and a natural congregating space for visitors. Make sure yours is clean and tidy if you don’t want your guests noticing and judging you.
Laundry drying in communal areas
We all need to dry our laundry somewhere – and, if you don’t have a dryer or a laundry room, that might mean using a bedroom, bathroom or living room. However, it’s best to try and put drying laundry out of sight when you’re expecting visitors.
Nowhere to hang a coat
It’s such a simple thing but having somewhere to hang a coat instantly makes a visitor feel welcome. Conversely, leaving them standing holding their coat, inviting them to sling it over the back of chair or making them watch you cram it onto an already overfull rack is much less welcoming.