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Elegant Home: Making an Elegant Home Series

PART 1: The Entrance

This Making an Elegant Home series of posts that help in achieving an elegant home without spending much money. Getting the most you can out of very little effort. Home is where your heart is and let’s face it, you spend a majority of your time home, so we should be making an effort to make it an extension of our elegant selves. This will not only be beneficial to ourselves but also to our families.

WE SHOULD FIRST EXPLAIN WHAT AN ELEGANT HOME IS…

Is it something that you see only in glossy magazines or people with tons of money? Absolutely not! Sometimes when people try too hard to have the perfectly coifed room, it is actually off-putting. It seems forced and unnatural. It doesn’t seem like a home but more like a museum, which makes people feel uncomfortable and uneasy about touching or being in the house. The state of your home sets a precedent for the rest of your guest’s experience. Having an elegant home is much more than expensive furniture and buying the latest decor, it is about the way you feel when you are there.
  • It is about how the senses experience the home. 
  • It is about the placement of the furniture and the ease of getting around from room to room and not feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by clutter. 
  • It is about displaying love and feeling the love when you enter in the home. It is very obvious if you respect your house or not. 
  • It is not Martha-Steward-perfect-Thanksgiving set tables, but more about how we receive and greet our guests and how easily we can put their belongings in a place, so they don’t feel like a burden.
  • The elegant home should help us be confident and at ease with ourselves, and not feel a wave of panic setting in when someone unexpectedly rings the doorbell.
  • The main focus is on the guests and them truly enjoying their time with you and not thinking that they are inconveniencing us.
  • An elegant home should be warm, welcoming, and most important, it should make you happy and proud every time you walk in.

Today we begin our series at the first part of your home where you and your guests enter.

If you’re like me, there are two separate entries into the house. We have a foyer where we greet our guests and anyone who comes over, then we have our garage entrance where we come in. Of course the latter is less beautiful, but that is the point of this series. Just because it is just an entry for my husband and I doesn’t mean we deserve for it to be hideous. Why do we always save everything nice for other people and let us, our husbands and immediate family get the less than perfect rooms. This series is about breathing fresh, elegant air back into our homes and appreciating the home that we have made.

THE FRONT ENTRANCE

For many people this is the front door. We always talk about first impressions and how important they are, well, this is the same thing. It sets the tone for the rest of the house and how it is treated. When someone walks in for the first time, they use their senses to determine how to act and how to feel. When hosting, we must remember that the comfort of  others is our number one focus, but it should also be the same for ourselves and our families. If we invite someone over, and the second they walk in and the house smells of dirty laundry or there is overwhelming clutter, it can make them anxious or uneasy, possibly feeling like a burden to you. Unfortunately, this will be ingrained in their minds believing that this is how you live, like it or not.  Even if they just caught you on a bad day, it doesn’t matter. I am not talking about being a little Miss Perfect. But you must make an effort in keeping the look and feel of your home as good as you can. This is not something you work on once a month and forget it (we could only wish). Rather this is something you address everyday, even for a few minutes. The minimal effort you put in now, will pay dividends later because there is no monumental clean up, rather just harmless tidying.

As I repeatedly insist, you must anticipate elegance.

Always be ready for someone to drop by without invite (because that always happens, Mom!) and that way if someone does, at least you can enjoy their visit and not be consumed by the messy state of your house. You will appear more elegant and calm and therefore you will  be much more satisfied with yourself. So, next time you walk by your front entrance and see that something is there that doesn’t belong, just pick it up and put it away. You will see that it only took 15 extra seconds but looks much better.

FIRST STEP

Go outside, take a big breath of fresh air and look at the front of your door. This is what everyone notices. What does your front door look like? Are the windows clean? Is the paint peeling on your door or it is faded to almost a whole different color? See what you can tackle now. Bring out the broom and dust away all the cobwebs or dirt in the corners. Take a paper towel and wash the windows to let more light in and see it shine. Address any issues, and get a running list of what can be changed later.

Now walk in slowly.

How does it smell? Does it feel welcoming? What is the first thing you see? Does it smell fresh and clean or stale and stuffy? If so, some tips for refreshing up the place would be to get into a routine for opening up with windows everyday for about 20 minutes. Longer is better but sometimes we are busy or the weather doesn’t permit it. This is especially important for the rooms that we sleep in. There are numerous health benefits to allowing fresh air in, not only for a freshly scented house, but it helps to detoxify your body, help your organs work better and aids in your overall well-being. A great short and to the point article that explains the health benefits of fresh air is at Your Standard Life. If you don’t mind artificial scents, a scented plug-in in the foyer could really help with the entrance. There are many different kinds of infusers that work. These are quick and not a very expensive option.  Try a scented candle and light it when you walk in. Experiment with different scents to see what your favorite is. According to a study, the smell of citrus makes people excited and happy, the scent of vanilla was also happy but in a more relaxing way. Those two you can never go wrong with, it just depends on the kind of mood you are in and how you want your house to smell that day. If you prefer a more natural scent, flowers, either freshly cut or potted, or fresh herbs are always a great idea! Planting in a pot a rosemary plant can really help to change the air, giving a subtle sweet smell. When in doubt, bake cookies! Or, a quick method is turning your oven on a low temperature, dropping some vanilla extract on a tin foil sheet and bake. It will honestly smell like you baked and it’s so easy!

STEP 2: THE TABLE

Most of us have some kind of table or a little flat surface that collects objects and dust beautiful little pieces of art. I adore a foyer table. I feel like it can be something different than the rest of the furniture in your house because it is a small piece and it is a stand-alone piece. This can be something that reflects your taste or something that totally unlike you and crazy. It all works! You can spend a bit more money on it if you wish to because there isn’t any other furniture in the room. Or you can go very cheap and get a used one that oozes character and charm. What ever it is, do not allow clutter to grow on it.

Accessorize it with minimalism and simplicity.

A plant or two are great options. If it doesn’t get a lot of sun light, an orchid is a beautiful choice. They are fairly easy to care for and they are supremely beautiful without screaming for attention. Plus they can last for months. Try fake flowers as well if you cant seem to keep anything alive. They have really come a long way now. I get mine at a craft store. I personally love them because you can mix and match with colors and sizes so I can get the exact look I am going for. I have a few for the different seasons and for different occasions. It took a long time to acquire them, so don’t go out and buy a whole bunch because the price can shock you. However, nothing is more beautiful than the perfectly imperfect look of natural flowers and ferns. But if you’re a tad forgetful or neglectful, I would say just go for the fake ones!

An understated figurine can say everything you need

A little figurine or sculpture are fun too. Again always go for simplicity, the whole less is more really applies here. It doesn’t need to be huge or drawing too much attention, but something understated and something that fits you and your family. It could be something so insignificant or meaningful. It is really up to you, but remember more expensive does not mean more elegant. To keep this as elegant as possible, try to get a color scheme and just always stick with it! I would say no more than 4 colors and even that I feel is pushing it. If there are too many colors or patterns happening it will seem rather busy. We are going for simplicity, calm, serene, welcoming and inviting. Elegance here is more of a by-product than the main focus. If we try to be elegant by buying only “elegant” things, it could appear like we are trying too hard, which is the complete opposite of what we are trying to do.

One quick tip

Always remember when purchasing anything, is the dusting aspect. We bought a beautiful table and I just fell in love with it. We brought it home and I found the perfect spot for it. I thought it couldn’t be better! After a week or two I noticed how the dust was collecting in the little impossible-to-reach details of the side of the table. It’s a very intricate wood piece which takes a great deal of time dusting and removing cobwebs. Would I still have purchased it? Probably yes, but I would not have been so bitter when it gets dirty. You don’t want to over clutter this table. Allow there to be room for your guests belongings if there is space. Keep a little dish there for their keys or any little personal belongings. If you prefer the ultimate minimalist look, then do so, but have just a single beautiful flower in a tiny vase and embrace it. Like I said before, have fun with this because it is such a small room that is very different from the rest of your house.

STEP 3: THE MIRROR

This I find is a must near every door. Especially the doors that lead out to the public. It is not to be vain, but it serves a few purposes. It is nice to give the last touch of lipstick or tame a misplaced hair before going out in the world. It helps with your confidence for that last look to make sure everything is where it needs to be and there are no surprises on your clothes. Personally, I didn’t look and the back of my shirt had a stain. The whole day I had some weird fabric softener stain that was the size of my fist. Very not elegant! It’s always good practice to do one last check of yourself. Additionally, it also allows a different lighting than the mirrors in my bedroom or bathroom (you see, where I am naked, I tend to prefer the dimmer lighting, which is much more flattering!). Since it is near more windows, it is much brighter, and gives me a more realistic (sometimes frightening) look. It helps to make the room look a bit bigger because it is deceiving when looking around and noticing not a wall but a reflection. Lastly, it helps to bounce light around and make the room seem brighter without adding more light. The best part about mirrors is that you can do so much with it, the shape of it, the color of the border, the size, how far it sticks out of the wall, you can even do a few  little mirrors strategically placed. Let your creativity speak for itself. Besides the mirror, depending on how large your entrance is, you can display a picture or some beautiful art.

STEP 4: THE FLOOR

When you walked in did you see anything on the ground that doesn’t belong? For me it was just my shoes. They just jumbled on the floor and that is how some of them get ruined. This is so not elegant. Examine what you have and see if anything can be put away. A good rule of thumb is to keep absolutely everything off the floor. It makes it look so much cleaner and more organized, it helps when cleaning that you don’t have to move too much, and it feels bigger. Add a little welcome mat or rug as well to keep it cleaner, especially in the colder and wet months. There are so many options for  this. There are many different sizes, shapes and colors. Pick one that you love but that is also easy to clean and doesn’t  look too dirty. Some months of the year I go without the rug and just let my floor speak for itself. Plus, I have tile so it won’t get ruined unlike wood floors. Here, we are focusing on looks but also practical needs too. To keep it elegant, always choose a smaller, darker one that isn’t too high maintenance, but fits perfectly with the rest of the room. And choose an inside mat, not an outdoor one. They are usually bigger and thicker than the indoor variety.  

STEP 5: ADDRESSING THE PERPETUAL CLUTTER

We all have some perpetual clutter, you know what I am referring to. The change that is always reappearing after you put them away. The pens that you needed. A dog’s chew toy or part of a bone. Sometimes scissors because of a last minute thread you needed to chop off. A stray button. Honestly you never know what can end up on that table, and I am personally talking about just my husband, my dog and myself! This doesn’t even include children, I can only imagine the kind of things that get collected there. At some of my friends, it’s not strange to find a slobbery toy train, or their child’s toothbrush, and sometimes even a diaper. Hey, we are all guilty of it! But let’s not let this happen, we are better then this.

So what to do about the perpetual clutter?

Find a dedicated spot. That really is the only solution to it. If you  have a place for your dog’s belongings including leash, poop bags, etc. It is nice to have some space in your closet for this. If you don’t have one, I recommend getting a very useful table that has drawers or cupboards to hide it from people. I don’t know about you, but I have this problem also in the laundry room, the loose change. I would end up putting the loose change on the dryer and it would get dropped or lost or who knows, and on our front table there would be a few coins floating. And once you see a little, it somehow snowballs and next thing you know you have about 20 dollars in change mixed in with some pocket lint that welcomes you every time you come home. I had had enough! So I looked through what I had in my drawers and found a sugar bowl that didn’t match anything I had, I have no idea how I came across it, but regardless, I had one and that became the designated loose change bowl. It’s small and discrete that I put it in the kitchen near the phone. You walk by this just as you walk by the front table, but it looks more organized and much more cute.

THE OTHER ENTRANCE

This one is even more simple seeing as it usually only has a mat. Maybe a closet in close proximity. This I recommend trying to keep it always organized and tidy. Since it is so small, it can easily get over cluttered. This is even more imperative to get a functional piece of furniture to store anything necessary. In the garage right outside the door, I have a shoe mat to keep any dirty or very wet shoes so I don’t bring anything in. I also have my dog leash hanging there too incase we go out that way.   The main objective is to find a perfect place that you deem fit.
For an elegant foyer, just use your best judgment on what needs improvement and work on it slowly. I thought this room was perfect to begin the series with because it is the first room that we see when we walk in, but also because it is the small room with not much in it that it wouldn’t be too hard to begin.   If you need any help with getting out of a lazy rut, check out my post for some inspiration and motivation.   I hope you enjoyed the first part of Making an Elegant Home. I would love to hear about your foyers and how you have made your entrance more elegant! Come join me next week for the second installment! Unleash your Elegance! This is NOT a sponsored post. This is my opinion.

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