As a 22-year-old newlywed, I didn't have much "vision" for our home. I appreciated order and organization, as I always have. However, we accumulated a lot of stuff throughout our college years and I felt burdened and unsure of how to store or manage all of it. Prior to moving to Texas, we trimmed down our belonging significantly, and haven't looked back. It's not necessarily that tidiness is directly correlated with a space being consider "welcoming"—that is certainly not true, as some of the most welcoming homes I've ever visited were cluttered and warm and wonderful. That magical "welcoming" aspect is wildly different from home to home. As I've gotten (a few years) older, I find our home most welcoming when it's tidy, because a tidy home makes me a more relaxed hostess. Our apartment is not always uncluttered—we make messes, do lots of projects, there's generally yarn on several surfaces, and (fun fact) I'm the messiest cook and baker you've ever seen. Like flour on the floor every time I bake messy. That said, Nicholas and I both thrive in an environment that is generally tidy and well-sorted. Something about the new year makes a desire for order more pronounced, doesn't it? In case you, like me, find yourself a happier and more eager host(ess) if your home is neat, I've shared the top six things I do to keep our home reasonably tidy:

Put items away asap when I walk in the door: groceries and my purse on an regular basis, but especially unpacking luggage from a trip, etc. as soon as possible, then I won't procrastinate and dread it later. Being "home" is so much more comforting with suitcases put away and clean laundry humming in the dryer

Spend 5 minutes tidying up before bed: rearranging the throw pillows on the couch, folding the blanket I napped with, putting my purse back in the closet where it belongs, filing or tossing those receipts from the day's errands

Wash the dishes before bed. I'm always much move overwhelmed by messes in the morning. Your future (morning) self will thank you. If the dishwasher needs to be run, start it right before going to sleep

First thing in the morning, make the bed

Have a place for everything and an organizational system that works (ie: things stay organized and don't need repeated organization every few weeks)

And of course all of this is much easier if we don't own so much stuff.

And after all of that, I must say that we don't do all of these things all the time. We try to, and in the end, doing them most of the time results in a cozy home for us. But more than "tidy" or "cozy," I want our home to be a place of joy and welcome, a refuge, so to speak. What use has a tidy home if it's not also a welcoming place? My other favorite tips for being a (novice) welcoming hostess:

  • have a candle burning, a diffuser running (or both!)
  • keep a throw blanket nearby, in case a visitor gets cold
  • lots of pillows on the couch (but maybe that's just because we're "pillow people"?)
  • making sure all the pretty mugs are clean so visiting friends can choose their favorites for coffee or tea

P.S.— that fabric bucket is from this Etsy shop. We're currently using it to store our fabric napkins, but I'm excited at it's versatility. I think it might be cutest thing I own.