Simple ways to spruce up your house for guests
A well-placed, luxurious throw covers up close encounters with markers and grape jelly (and will keep you cozy all winter). A nice variety can be found at Walmart and Kohl's. Pillows add a pop of color (DwellStudio pillows, $20 each; at Target stores or Target.com). A cheery basket helps conquer clutter—this one, made from recycled magazines, can hold your keys, cell and iPod ($14.95; originalgood.com).
Ditch the plastic cup and go for a modern toothbrush holder ($7; containerstore.com). An elegant hand
towel and fragrant soap make your guests feel special (Lulu hand towel, $12, bedbathandbeyond.com; owl soap in dish, $20, wishingfish.com).
Lay out a bamboo platter (Ty Pennington style, $110; at Sears stores) with Surya-print tea towels (Simrin, set of three, $34; VelocityArtandDesign.com) and coasters. Fill a hurricane jar (Ty Pennington style, $45; at Sears stores) with pears.
Use mix-and-match glasses (crackle glasses, $7 each, at Pier 1 stores; plastic goblets, $7 each, Disney by Zak Design at LaPrimaShops.com), and replace the bottle's cork with—surprise!—a cork candle (four for $12; spoonsisters.com).
Stash 'em in handsome wooden crates (Feathergrain Bins, $13 and $22; containerstore.com)—also perfect for those magazines your husband swears he's going to read. A clever storage ottoman does double duty (Pandan Storage Stool, $99; containerstore.com).
Cluster rainbow-hued votives on a windowsill (Illuminare by Rosanna, sets for $60 & up; rosannainc.com). Upgrade a photo frame: This one’s made of agate ($36; uncommongoods.com). Hang glass ornaments to reflect the candlelight for a dazzling display (uncommongoods.com).
New shower curtain + new bath mat + new
towels = renewed bathroom. Cool blues, greens, and silvers are seasonless and fresh (clockwise from left: Crescent curtain, $30 to $50, jcp.com; quilted Spa curtain, $40, bedbathandbeyond.com; two floral-design bath towels, $9 each, at HomeGoods stores; Chris Madden Hotel ribbed towel, $18, jcp.com; Palm Leaf hamper, $79,
containerstore.com; Philips child-safe LED candles, set of three, $49, amazon.com; reversible Chris Madden cotton rug, $17, jcp.com).
Fast fixes for common home problems:
- Use a Touch-Up Stick ($3; at Lowe’s stores)
to hide scratches on wooden cabinets
Chips in sinks are especially annoying because you’re looking at them all the time. The answer is TileGuard porcelain chip fix (in white and almond, $6; Ace Hardware stores or acehardware.com).
Got fingerprints and smudges on painted walls? We all do. But the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pads ($10; at supermarkets) live up
to their name.
- Many laminate countertops have burn marks and chips that can’t be repaired. Lou Manfredini, Ace’s “Helpful Hardware Man,” has a
secret: “Find some nail polish that matches. I’ve used this trick for years.”
- OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover works on a lot of your kids’ “oops!” We especially like it for spot-cleaning rugs ($8; at hardware stores).
Moldy grout? The Homax Tile and Grout
Repair Kit provides water and stain-resistant protection ($7; at Lowe’s stores or Lowes.com).