With the start of the holidays comes the realization that your house isn't fit for company. The first week of November starts a flurry of activity that has nothing to do with the turkey, the tree or the presents. It's a slap in the face to many that the guest room still doesn't have window coverings, nor does the toilet ever stop running. You really don't have adequate space in the kitchen for the upcoming open house you want to host and wouldn't it be nice to finally get the dining room redone? I am smack in the middle of a kitchen re-do myself, and I get the pain of trying to work with contractors who want to be there when I'm still getting my child off to school and the granite guy who wants to negotiate price over text because he's too busy to show up. It's awful - and I'm in the business! This is probably the worst time of year to start major projects and yet we all do it because we only notice what is wrong with our homes when seen through other people's eyes - namely, family coming to visit or friends stopping by for a party. I happen to be having water damage repaired or otherwise, I would take my own advice and wait it out.
I would highly recommend doing the minimum to get your home in shape for company and putting off major work until around the end of January. That's when contractors hit a lull because the rush of the holidays has passed and a lot of people over-did it and are not wanting to lay out more cash. Plus, maybe you got that end-of-year bonus and are ready to go! It will pay off in dividends to just wait. In the meantime, here are a few things that you can do around your house which will make a huge difference when Grandma comes to visit or your in-laws hole up in your guest room.
I often talk about painting because it's one of the easiest things to do to make your rooms look fresh. The caveat is this; if you're going to be changing anything else about the room, like your couch or rugs, don't paint first. If however, things will remain the same or you're simply painting with the exact same color again, then go for it. Paint color should always be the very last thing you do when making a lot of changes within a room. Don't believe me? Talk to my friend with the pink dining room. Yeah, the one who wanted a brown dining room.
Small jobs like running toilets or broken fixtures should be repaired in time for company. Nobody wants to be up at night listening to the toilet or drain that gurgles because it is full of icky things. If the blinds don't go up and down, or close, get new ones or even replace window coverings if you can buy something in time. Sometimes we've started a project and finished, say, 85% of it. My husband and I often do this. We're not sure why it happens but it does with frequency and were it not for parties or company, the other 15% might never get finished. Finish your own 15% now. Walk through your home and try to be as critical as possible, without driving yourself into a deep depression. See what others might see when they walk in, or have your best friend come in and give him or her license to pick your home apart, verbally. It's not easy but that way you'll know what eyesores really stand out. Then once your friend leaves you can either fix those items or cross them off of your open house invitation.
With all of the items we add at the holidays, it makes sense to take this time to go through your home, room by room, and remove about 1/3 of the decor. Seriously. You probably have quite a few pictures on desks and side tables. Take them away until after the holidays. If it still looks bare to you once the holiday decor is put away, bring a few of them back. See what you can live without. You'll have less to dust and more space to add things in the future that you really do want to show. The exception to this is that around this time of year, you'll want to add another throw or two to the sitting area. Don't make your guests share a blanket! Also, maybe another throw pillow for the same reason. I actually like to add a little sheepskin rug (Mine's faux but there are inexpensive one's at Ikea and Costco) in front of the fireplace so that my son is more comfy when he sits there.
Think about how you might make your guests the most comfortable without putting yourself out too much. This time of year should be about enjoying your home, your company and yourself. There's plenty of time in the New Year to enjoy breakfast with your contractor.