The 5 things guests always notice when they enter a home - how to use them to make a good impression

If you're hosting this Christmas these are the things that your guests will notice

The White Company Christmas wreath and lights on front door.
(Image credit: Future)

It wouldn't be the holidays without a festive dinner party or New Year's Eve house party. But if you are the one hosting this Christmas you'll want to know the things your guests notice so you can make a brilliant first impression.

You might have cracked out your best vacuum cleaner to transform your floors and invested in new bedding to upgrade your guest bedroom ideas, but according to a new study, there are a few unexpected things guests always notice when they come over.

Things guests notice when entering a home 

Luxury bedroom furniture retailer Feather & Black recently conducted a study with 2,000 participants to drill down into the things that guests always notice when they first enter a home (that isn’t their own, of course).

Given that, according to them, 1 in 3 of us spend around 2-3 hours preparing our homes for guests, it’s well worth diving into the things that guests notice the most to ensure we're prepared.

A living room with a decorated Christmas tree

(Image credit: Future PLC)

1. Scent

According to Feather & Black’s study, smell is the very first thing guests notice when entering a new home. And this may not be all that surprising, given how off-putting a bad smell can be – and how welcoming a great smell is. A top tip for scenting a guest room is to light a candle an hour before guests arrive while you're getting the room ready, but the time you blow it out the wax will throw out a lovely fragrance.

Property stylist Fabienne Miler explains, 'Your other senses apart from sight, such as sound and smell, will create a story in your guest's mind and be a big part of their first impression.

'As such, some gentle music in the background married with a lovely perfumey scent, for example, will absolutely seal that feeling of how a house makes them feel upon entering, in a positive way.'

Lit tealights and candles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby)

2. Home decor

The second thing people notice when visiting someone's home? The interior design and overall style of the property.

Of course, everyone has their own look, and we should all decorate our homes in a way that makes *us* happy. But it’s worth noting that a few subtle design choices can make your home much more appealing for visitors.

'The main thing people notice - which is often unconscious - is the atmosphere of your home, how the space make them feel,' Fabienne says. 'This is the result of the combination of different elements put together, and this is the art of interior design, bringing all these components together.'

For example, she suggests that it’s important to consider the flow of your home when planning how best to make a good impression with visiting guests. 

'How you navigate around furniture is important,' Fabienne explains. 'If the sofa seems in the way, or a table is in the middle of what appears to be the natural path, this is something your guest will pick up on instantly. The easier the flow, the more open the space, and the more welcome they feel.'

Christmas living room with tree with stripy bows and armchair.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Clutter

Guests also notice clutter, making it the third thing on the list – which makes a lot of sense given that a property overwhelmed with 'stuff' can be incredibly overstimulating.

Laura Price, owner of organisation company The Home Organisation, says, 'Clutter is often one of the first things guests notice when they enter a home because it evokes such a strong physical response. 

'Seeing clutter raises cortisol levels (the body’s stress response) which can leave your guests feeling anxious and overwhelmed almost as soon as they enter your home,' she says. 

'You want your home to be an inviting environment where your guests are at ease, so reducing visual clutter can help the space (and your guests!) feel happy and calm.'

Pink sofa with built in shelves

(Image credit: Future PLC)

4. Colour scheme

The fourth thing guests first notice when entering your home, according to the study, is the colour scheme. We're not about to suggest repainting your home to suit your guests, but it is something to consider when considering how to decorate a guest room or even planning your hallway colour schemes.

Choose colours that appear homely, Fabienne says. 'A yellow entrance, for example, gives a sense of joy, warmth and happiness.'

Yellow hallway with bench and storage baskets for shoes and accessories

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

5. Ambiance

When it comes to creating a cosy ambience guests will love, there’s nothing more important than lighting, she explains; whether you're planning living room lighting ideas or lighting for the bedroom.

'Lighting is so important in creating the overall atmosphere of a home - it really sets the tone,' Fabienne told us. 'Spotlights can appear aggressive, especially if guests visit in the evening. 

'Equally, a lack of lamps might make the place gloomy and sad. Softer lights, coming from different sources, will instead create a warm glow around the room, and fill your guest with a warm energy.'

dining room with white wood panel walls and table set for christmas dinner

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

The study also covered the habits that make guests feel welcome in your home, and reported that 43% of respondents claimed that being offered a drink would make them feel the most welcome – while 33% said that the house being clean and tidy would also make them feel very welcome in someone else's property.

So while these are a few tips to bear in mind for the festive period, it's also important to remember that – while guests are important – you and your family should create a home that you enjoy, first and foremost.


 Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist and editor, now working in a freelance capacity specialising in homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, overseeing the homes, books and features sections of the website. Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine