Ever wondered what guests notice most when they walk into your home? We have the answers – plus some advice on how to make a great impact…

Enter here – As a first point of entry, your entrance hall should set the tone for the rest of your home. Make sure it’s neat and tidy (no shoes, bags, jackets hanging around, or a dirty floor, stained rug, etc) with furnishings and finishes that show off your taste, style and personality. Says Lucy le Roux of Illuminate Home Staging, a home-staging company based in Johannesburg that helps homeowners increase the overall appeal of their home to potential buyers: “Clutter and too much stuff everywhere really detracts from any efforts to help your home make a good first impression.”

Let there be light – No one wants to sit in the dark while they eat or have a lamp shining directly in their eyes while they’re sitting in the living room. Tone down any harsh sources of artificial light such as glaring TV screens and add dimmers, accent lighting and candles throughout. Natural light flooding into a room is always first prize. “Feature lighting and side lighting is more important than installing down-lights,” says Lucy. “I would choose pieces that make a statement and serve as both lighting and art, with the dining room being the one space you should have statement lighting – especially in an open-plan layout.”

Art and other collections – Your home is very much a reflection of who you are and what you like, so guests usually love to see what’s on your walls and shelves. It helps them get to know you better and makes for great conversation. “Invest in bold, striking pieces that are large enough for the wall they are on, framed in contemporary ways and that tie into the colours of the space,” advises Lucy. She suggests looking online for high-res photography or even making your own art by creating a feature wall with paint or wallpaper. “A mirror is also a great way to enlarge a room and create visual interest, plus everyone appreciates a well-stocked bookcase.”

Make yourself comfortable – “After art, the next thing guests notice when they enter your home is flooring and furniture,” says Lucy, who believes that art, carpets, furniture and accessories such as curtains can totally change a property. “If you want to achieve maximum impact in your home, focus on perfecting these items,” she says.

In terms of carpets, Lucy believes that “bigger is better” to create a truly luxurious feel. For furniture, “choose classic pieces that are timeless, rather than following trends”, she says. As for curtains, Lucy advises installing the same curtain throughout the house for a more unified look. “Hang your curtains 30cm from the top of the ceiling to elongate the room and with enough space either side of the window to allow for maximum light, while also giving you room to spread the drape out slightly against the wall.”

More things people notice…

● A clean bathroom – From the hand towel to the toilet seat and mirror, make sure your guest loo is squeaky clean. And don’t forget the extra loo paper, hand soap and a pleasant smell (think scented candles or a diffuser).
● Scents and aromas – Speaking of pleasant smells, make sure all the bins are emptied, your linens and furnishings look fresh and that you have some scented candles burning or other air fresheners in place when you have people over.
● Plants and other greenery – Plants add living energy to a home. Think of interesting ways to display them too, from terrariums on coffee tables to hanging planters.
● Pets – Not everyone is an animal lover, so be mindful of pet hair on carpets and chairs, dog or cat smells and whether or not people will appreciate Fluffy curling up on their laps.
● Sounds – From light background music, to the gentle sound of a wind chime or water feature, soothing sounds are almost always welcome.

What do you notice most (or first) in other people’s homes? We’d love to know…

Images: iStock