How to plan for unexpected company

You may have been in a situation where a friend/relative/long-lost roommate decides to pop over for a visit. This is fine when your house is clean; but, of course, it never works that way. After hanging up the phone, you may see dirty dishes, scattered toys or a smear of yogurt from your child’s snack. Still, you can pull together your house in about ten minutes, and leave your company feeling welcome and anything but a nuisance. Here are tricks for a seemingly put-together home:

• Focus on the kitchen (the heart of the home). When it’s a mess, the rest of the house feels that way. Wash dishes or put them in the dishwasher. Wipe down counters. Set out a clean tea towel.

• Prop up pillows on couches and chairs to make your living room look neater.

• Shove (yes, “shove”) toys in bins or closets. Compartments and trunks make picking up a breeze when toys have a designated place.

• Food feels fancier when set on nicer serving pieces. Don’t have nice platters? Try a mix of dishes in the same color or style for a purposeful eclectic look.

• If you have kids, enlist their help. Your daughter might get a kick out of sweeping. She may not do a perfect job, but she will likely clean the most prominent spots.

• Focus on scent. Candles, room sprays or plug-ins instantly changes the mood of a room. Scent impacts perception, and a pleasant scent means a more pleasant arrival for any guest.