How to Design a Proper Welcome

By Marie Bishop

Yay! It’s Come Home Year!

Clearly we are still dealing with you know what… But we have managed to navigate our way through and around it. Yes, we are still cautious. Yes, there are still serious cases and even deaths due to it, but we have decided that life goes on. So we mitigate the risk, take precautions, keep an eye to our friends and neighbours, and celebrate life to the fullest.

A big part of that celebration is the “arms wide open” feeling we all have for our family and friends who have been itching to get back to this blessed Rock! A place they call home, even though many of them haven’t lived here for years, if at all.

I have a first cousin (who’s more like a sister) coming this month with her new partner. He’s never set foot on Newfie soil, but he’s been counting the sleeps and for months has been researching all the things he wants to see and do while they’re here. It’s exciting! What’s more exciting is that they will be staying in what used to be my grandmother’s apartment, built on the back of my parents’ house, the old family home. It’s small, adequate and absolutely sweet!

Home – the place to gather, share a meal, tell stories, make memories. It’s the place that nurtures your soul, supports your being and wraps you in a big, warm hug. The place you are super excited to visit after you’ve been away from it for long. Or the place where you never lived but feel like it’s home because one of your parents grew up there. So, a big Welcome Home to all our family, friends and newbies this summer!

If you’re expecting company this summer, you may be feeling a little pressure as you look at your space through the eyes of your visitors. Even though it’s a bit late in the game to start renovating, there’s still time to give your space a cosmetic facelift.

The obvious place to start, of course, is the guest room. A fresh coat of paint is always a great start. I always find a fresh coat of paint gives new life to a room; things get moved around, you find things you forgot you had and get rid of things you no longer need. And if that space has become the storage room (a.k.a. “junk room”), it likely needs a facelift anyway.

My recommendation for a paint colour would be Benjamin Moore #OC-10 White Sand, a beautiful, warm neutral that will work perfectly with any bedding or accessories. Add new bedding, of course. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant purchase to look and feel good. I recently purchased this lovely cotton blend duvet cover set at Walmart for less than $60. The sheep’s wool duvet inside came from Bed, Bath & Beyond – less than $100 with your 20 per cent off coupon that they offer on a regular basis. Most likely you can reuse some ofthe accessories you have, and by simply adding a new throw pillow or print you can give the room a fresh face.

You don’t need a lot of furniture in a guest room; in fact, if you could provide a suitcase stand or two, like the ones you see in hotel rooms (and can order online from Amazon) that would be more efficient than a dresser. House guests rarely unpack, so having a place where they can access their suitcase is a thoughtful touch. A nightstand with reading lamp, small chair or bench and, if you have the space, a small desk or sofa table (instead of a dresser perhaps) would be ideal to complete their requirements. Add a basket or tray of toiletries – small items they may have forgotten like toothbrushes, Q-tips, hand sanitizer etc. – a vase of fresh cut flowers and a sweet treat of Newfoundland Chocolate on their pillow, and they will never want to leave!

Next you’ll be looking at the bathroom situation. Great time for a deep clean, getting rid of all the unused and forgotten bits and pieces in that cupboard under the sink and the outdated items in those “junk” drawers. Have one drawer completely empty for your guests to store their things. Add a few mildly scented candles, a supply of nice soaps and fresh towels, a tray of leafy green houseplants or a vase of fresh flowers, and you are ready.

Lilacs are in bloom about now and they can add such a beautiful colour and scent to any area of your house. That’s the often overlooked accent to your décor: scent. I don’t bake a lot these days, but when I do, I try to time the arrival of my guests to a tray of cinnamon pinwheels coming out of the oven as they walk through the door. The sense of smell is closely located to the memory cells in the brain; as a result, the wonderful aroma of baked goods and all the good times wrapped up in that are forever ingrained in our memories.

Finally, step outside for a minute and have a look at your house from the street, with fresh eyes. Does the door need a coat of paint, maybe a fresh paint colour? Nothing says Welcome Home like a beautiful entrance. Pots of colourful plants like these bright pink geraniums and sapphire blue lobelia bring a smile to everyone who crosses your doorstep. They aren’t expensive and are readily available at most local nurseries right now.

It’s always exciting to have family and friends home from away, to catch up on their lives, share the food and stories of our place, and make memories that will last forever. And it’s exciting to prepare for their visit, to fuss and plan for all the wonderful times you will enjoy together. So, have a look around your home, show it a little TLC – make it so that everyone who visits will love your space!

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Downhome Magazine

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