Short on time? Here are some tips to give your living spaces the illusion of cleanliness.
The Living Room
* Reserve one side of sofa cushions to be shown to guests. Before company arrives, flip over the cushions to reveal good-as-new fabric. When guests are gone, flip them back.
* Rid the sofa of pet hair by wetting the fingertips of rubber gloves and gliding your hand over the sofa. The hair will stick to the rubber.
* Stack books, catalogs, and magazines in neat piles on the floor or arrange them in a deep decorative basket.
* To disguise windows in need of washing, pull curtain panels closed.
* Fold a clean blanket neatly and drape it over a stained sofa. Strategically placed throw pillows can also camouflage soiled upholstery.
* Glide a sticky lint roller over the bath mat to pick up hair.
* Light a candle. Everything looks better (and cleaner) by candlelight.
* Hang a fluffy bathrobe on top of damp towels dangling from the hooks on the back of the door.
* Store a rattan or canvas basket on top of the toilet and throw in stray cosmetic brushes.
* Hang fresh guest towels. The humidity in this room makes textiles look droopy, even after a recent machine washing.
* Mound cosmetics and hairstyling products in a container underneath the sink. In a pinch, pile them in the tub and close the shower curtain. Cross your fingers that guests don’t snoop.
* When the dishwasher is full and the sink is overflowing, stow dirty dishes and silverware in a stockpot and pull them out later to be cleaned.
* Cover up the lingering aroma of last night’s supper by boiling nutmeg, cloves, or cinnamon and orange peels in a sauce-pan on the stove.
* Declutter the refrigerator by taking down notes, drawings, and magnets and throwing them in a plastic bag. Sort through it later.
* Fold hand towels to hide stains. Two tips: Hang the clean side over the oven handle (with the stains in the back), or roll towels in neat spirals and stack them pyramid-style next to the sink.