Home, the place where you keep all your stuff. Several times a year, it looks pristine, like the pages of Vogue Living. The floors shine, the windows are completely see-through and clean surfaces make you swell with pride as you check your reflection on the kitchen bench.
The other 360 days a year it looks lived-in and for the bulk of those, it looks like it's lived in by 23 extra people.
My dining table is NEVER clear, never ready to use for a crazy activity like dining. Each night, all the objects scattered on the table get bundled into a pile and moved to the top of the buffet where paper goes to die. If your child's party invitation accidentally makes it to that pile, we will be unable to attend. Apologies.
We all make an extra effort to clean up before guests come over, even if that guest is actually a plumber coming to fix the leaking tap.
Here are 5 ways to totally cheat and achieve the Vogue Living look in a hurry.
1) DEDICATE A SPACE FOR STASHING
To achieve clean surfaces, all the crap piled up on the table, the buffet, the kitchen bench and the coffee table has to go somewhere. The big obvious stuff gets dealt with properly (time permitting of course) and nobody escapes this task, not even the kids.
What about all the little bits and pieces? The bills, school notes, kids drawings, earbuds, magazines, USB sticks, McHappy toys and paper-planes?
Pile it all up and shove it into a cupboard or drawer that has been left vacant specifically for this purpose.
Next time you need something you can't find, go straight to that special place and sort through it like a rabid dog. You won't mind because you'll know deep down that your dining table was bare when your kid's 9 year old friend came over.
Yes, you'll eventually have to clean it out but the beauty of this method is that by the time you get to this stuff, you'll realise you don't need most of it and chuck it away without thought. Winning.
2) REDEFINE "STORAGE SPACE"
This one is particularly useful if you're selling your house.
There is not one good reason why you can't store your dirty dishes in the microwave before an open-house. Not one.
It's also completely acceptable to store crap in your car. Trust me.
3) DISTRACT YOUR GUESTS WITH GOOD SMELLS
|Who has cleaning cloths that look like this?|
Nothing says clean like the smell of bleach. OK, OK, don't yell. I know we don't like to use cleaning products. They're bad for the environment. But I'm sure a little Spray & Wipe on this special occasion won't hurt too much.
If you really want to show off, use Mr Sheen. Then your guests will not only be impressed that you've clean, waxed and polished as you dusted, they'll also think they've time travelled. Warning, they may then expect devilled eggs and ambrosia.
Taking it a step further, a scented candle implies you are calm as well as organised (little do they know) and fresh flowers look great while masking the usual odour of wet-dog.
4) SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY
Think realistically about where your guests will be at your house. Are they really going to hang out in your bedroom or the laundry? Sure, make your bed, do the basics but when it comes to the nitty-gritty, save it for the rooms that will actually be occupied. If the laundry is in view, remember to store all your dirty washing in the washing machine. An empty basket says superwoman.
5) HAVE DRINKS, NIBBLES AND SNACKS READY
Your guests won't have time to notice how dirty your blinds are if you hit them with a drink before they've even put their bag down. A ready to go platter means you can get them eating while you're still greeting, totally diverting their attention to what's really important: food and wine.
This is a double-edged winner's sword. If you have to rummage around for a platter or your fancy wine glasses in the cupboard where you just shoved all your shit, you might get caught out. No, don't do that. Be prepared.
Do you have your some cheats of your own? Let us know, share the love.