Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend who was moaning about an upcoming stay at her mother-in-law's. I asked her why she didn't want to go and she said: 'I just hate her house!'
She couldn't put her finger on why, but it did get me thinking. Our homes are true reflections and an expression of our sense of self, and they should be styled, curated and designed to please only us.
However, there are always going to be features that may not be liked by others. I'm pretty sure that's true of my house, and I know there are some homes I love visiting, and others I feel less comfortable in.
Whether it’s that 'home' smell, or simply a lack of clean guest towels, there are certain ‘mistakes’ that we could all be making that can not only impact how our guests feel, but how we live in our homes, too.
Of course, we can't get it right all the time, and it would be boring if we all had the same taste and lived the same lives, but when I started asking people 'what makes you hate someone's house?', there were certain answers that came up time and time again.
'Hate' is a strong word, obviously. Some of these are pet peeves, and perhaps even first world problems.
11 reasons why your friends hate your house
I asked friends, colleagues, and gained expert insight from psychologist and wellbeing consultant Lee Chambers to discover just some of the reasons why your friends might hate, or at least dislike, your house.
1. 'The color scheme stresses me out'
Color psychology has a huge part to play in our interior design choices. From colors that cause anxiety, to the most stressful color, our chosen room color ideas may not be to everyone's taste and could be a reason why your friends hate your house.
Lee Chambers says, 'there's nothing wrong with a bit of color, and finding ways to express yourself in a space is important for our overall wellbeing. However, a house where neon is default and vibrant is the standard can become harsh, cause eye fatigue and generate feelings of irritability, discomfort and overstimulation, making your space an unpleasant place to spend more than few minutes of time.
'On the flip side, as humans, we have an appreciation for color, and the distinction makes life rich and interesting. A space completely void of color can make some people feel restricted and that they can't express themselves, which is anything but welcoming'.
2. 'It smells funny'
From pet odors or lingering food smells to too much of a good thing with overpowering reed diffusers and candles, no-one wants to be greeted with an overwhelming smell when they step through the front door.
'My friend is a fan of plug-in room scents, but the odor is far too strong and, to be honest, gives me a headache,' says Homes & Gardens' Deputy Editor. 'I always suggest we meet at a bar nearby rather than at hers. I hadn't really thought too deeply about this, but next time I'm just going to politely ask her to unplug it before I come over!'
Chambers explains, 'we are easily repelled by odors we find unpleasant, and at the same time, become quite accustomed to the smells in our home that are reflective of us. Whether is getting too excited with the incense or leaving the trash lid open, there's nothing that gets people running out of the back door more quickly than a space that smells.'
Taken your own sniff test? Cleaning with baking soda is a quick solution if you've got guests coming around any minute.
3. 'The clutter is overwhelming'
It is so important to make your house really feel like a home, and often that is through incorporating objects, decorations and meaningful possessions that help make the space feel personal and unique to you.
However, a clutter-free home that embraces home organizing ideas is key to making the environment feel more inviting, comfortable and functional to use.
Whether it's one too many cleaning bottles in the bathroom, or a living room bursting at the seams with unnecessary pieces of furniture, your friends will not want to feel overwhelmed or cramped by the clutter in your space.
'I have a lovely friend who won't mind me sharing that when I first went to her charming but very cluttered house, she showed me around,' says Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief. 'She took me upstairs to show me the bedrooms and as we stood talking about decor options on the landing, I looked down to see that each of my feet were in a cup of one of her bras which, along with a lot of other clothing, was on the floor. She's never forgotten it!'
Chambers says, 'you might like the chaos and collections you've surrounded yourself with, but not everyone else will. A cluttered space uses our cognitive capacity in our brain, and can be really disturbing for some people to be surrounded by. It can make a space feel claustrophobic and can create feelings of overwhelm and stress.'
To help you get on top of the mess in your home, our top decluttering tips are really useful (or you could pass them on to a friend).
4. 'It's too cold/hot'
There is nothing worse than being too hot or too cold in someone else's home, but we all have a different preference on what temperature is the most comfortable. Some of us love a hot house, others, a cool house with a constant through-draft, so, could it be the temperature that your friends hate?
'I once spent Christmas at a relatives and wore a coat throughout because it was so cold,' says Jen Ebert. 'No one else seemed to be affected, so now when I go, I just make sure to pile on more layers, but I still always have a cold nose and hands!'
'I have a relative,' counters Lucy Searle, 'whose home is so hot that it makes me feel physically sick if I'm indoors for too long, even if I under-dress. She won't turn the heating down nor open windows, so I have to keep going outside to cool off.'
'We all have different levels of thermal comfort, and this means there is a variance in temperature in most homes. But when the temperature is extreme in either direction, our brain sends us constant messages saying we are uncomfortable, and it becomes the only thing you're thinking about, completely taking away any enjoyment of the space you are in and the company you're keeping,' states Chambers.
Finding the perfect balance between having sufficient ventilation and a feeling of freshness, and not being overwhelmingly warm in the home is key. Whether you have the heating on at all times of year, or can't resist keeping your windows open for a fresh breeze, the temperature of your home is one of the most important things that will make your guests feel comfortable. A smart thermostat might help, and it will certainly make you more room temperature aware.
5. 'It's so noisy'
Whether it's a busy main road nearby, noisy neighbors, or you own an older property that isn't well soundproof, obtrusive noise, one of the main undesirable features that puts home buyers off, can impact how we relax in and enjoy our homes.
If you have guests staying, you will want them to have a peaceful, comfortable and undisturbed good night's sleep, rather than a stressful stay where they are kept up all night by noise.
There are certain decor choices that can help with noise issues, such as double-glazing, fitting shutters, and installing better soundproofing on walls and ceilings, otherwise a pair of ear plugs may have to do!
6. 'There's never anything to eat or drink'
Some of us are born to host, and love having parties at home, so making guests feel welcome comes naturally, whereas for others, having gatherings and guests visiting can be the stuff of nightmares.
No matter your preference, if your turn up to someone's house, whether it's for a few hours or for a weekend away, and you do not have enough food or drink, you're not going to want to come back in a hurry.
You do not have to go all out, one of the most simple things to make your guests feel at ease in your home is by offering them a drink or snack as soon as they step through the door – it can be as easy as offering a cup of tea and a biscuit.
These little pleasantries can make a good impression and make all the difference in how people feel about your home – and your hosting skills!
7. 'I can't stand the pets'
Homes & Gardens' editor in chief, Lucy Searle states, 'I have a distant relation who has really large dogs. They're lovely beasts but they have a strong odor about them which has ingrained itself into the house to the point where it's pretty difficult to be in any of the rooms they frequent, which are pretty much all of those downstairs, including the kitchen. When she offers me drinks, I'm reluctant to take up the offer, and I'd never eat there because her dogs' hairs are everywhere.'
Most of us love our furry friends, but whether its their smell, hairs that get everywhere (our best vacuum for pet hair can help with that), or mess they make when darting around from room to room, it can sometimes be off-putting for friends and family visiting who are not used to living with pets.
8. 'It feels dirty and unkempt'
Dirty dishes, no fresh towels, or thick layers of dust, your guests will not want to spend time in a space that feels dirty, and having an unclean home can send a message that you do not care and have put in little effort to prepare for their visit.
Making sure that your house, and especially your guest bedroom and guest bathroom (our 5 places in your bathroom you might be forgetting to clean is a useful read) are spick and span will only make for a more enjoyable and comfortable stay for your friends and family.
Our essential guide of cleaning tips might provide you (or your friends) with more fodder.
9. 'It's uncomfortable'
When you have people visiting your home, you want them to feel both physically and mentally comfortable and at ease.
Homes & Gardens' editorial director, Sarah Spiteri says, 'seating options make a big impact on how I feel about someone's home, such as uncomfortable sofas or bar stools instead of dining chairs'.
Whether it's having enough comfortable seating in your living room, creating an inviting place to sleep – check you've not made any major bedding mistakes, or generally creating an inviting and open atmosphere, comfort will always be key.
10. 'It's always too dark or glaringly bright'
Chambers states, 'natural light plays such a big role in human health and how we feel, and it's just as important when it comes to welcoming spaces. When a room feels like the dark corner of a cave, it's never long before everyone wants to walk back into the light. Dark rooms do not inspire people to socialize, generate energy and generally do not create the positive emotions that will entice people to come and visit again.'
Having a house with uncomfortable lighting, such as too many bright spotlights for living room lighting ideas, or not enough lighting, such as no bedside lamp in a guest bedroom are also things to consider. Our guide on lighting schemes for guest spaces will give you more inspiration.
11. 'It feels like a showroom'
As we have discussed, clutter can be one of the reasons why your friends hate your home. However, by having no personal touches at all, your home can feel cold, uninviting and lacking in character.
Jo Bailey, Homes & Gardens' Deputy Editor says, 'I have a friend who has nothing out in the kitchen – not a single thing – she even puts her toaster in a cupboard. It can make you feel like you’re the dirty and messy one!'
Of course, more minimalist, Scandinavian decor ideas can look utterly serene and beautiful, but as a guest, you can't help but feel a little restricted and uneasy in a space that is clinically clean and tidy.
Chambers supports this and says, 'for some people, a house that is minimalistic and contains very little can be as unsettling as a cluttered space. It can feel more house than home, and the barren aspect leaves some people feeling very unwelcome and cold inside.'
Whether it's a beautiful vase of flowers on a console table in a hallway, or an eye-catching gallery wall in a living room, these small yet meaningful personal touches can elevate your interior to feel more warm and welcoming.
In the meantime, I'm going to explore our top tips on how to decorate a guest bedroom – I have guests staying this weekend and I don't want them to hate my home.
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Zara joined Homes & Gardens in February 2022 as a Content Editor. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. Her role at Homes & Gardens unites her love, experience and passion for the world of design and desire to create inspiring written content. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.
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