Neat freaks beware! Research reveals the surprising thing that can make guests feel uncomfortable

This is how you can keep a tidy house that's equally as welcoming

White and grey open-plan living room with corner green velvet sofa in front of a window-style botanical wall mural
(Image credit: Future PLC)

New research reveals that a home that's too clean can actually do more harm than good if you're trying to make guests feel welcome – we asked professional organisers for tips on keeping the balance.

If you're expecting guests, it's natural to want to tidy up your space and ensure you've got your ducks in a row prior to their arrival. Whether you've opted to just go with easy ways to fake a tidy house or decided to commit to deep cleaning your home, the one thing you should never do is clean up so much to the point where your home feels sterile and lacking the 'lived-in' feel.

Living room with green sofa next to bookshelf

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dan Duchars)

Property development experts at Essential Living analysed data discussing the most common things guests notice when they first walk into your home, and one of the top responses is actually a home that's too clean.

Psychologist, Barbara Santini, at Peaches and Screams says, 'Although keeping your home clean and orderly can make it seem inviting, being excessively clean can make your guests feel uncomfortable as if your home is too sterile, your guests will feel self-conscious about making a mess.'

Wooden round dining table and chairs in room with large windows

(Image credit: Future PLC)

8 expert tips for a keeping a tidy, but welcoming home

Professional organisers share their tips for making a home feel inviting and pleasant regardless of whether you like everything 'just so' or 'squeaky clean.'

Headshot of professional organiser Sian Pelleschi
Siân Pelleschi

Siân's love of organising took her on the path she hadn't anticipated when she set up Sorted! in 2016 after the birth of her first child and came across APDO - the Association of Professional Declutters and Organisers.

Siân’s love of APDO and the organising community saw her step into the President role in September 2022. Her aim is to help APDO continue to grow the PO community, create better connections with International counterparts, allow APDO to be inclusive for all and create an Association that is seen and heard as leading the way when it comes to the Professional Organising industry.

Headshot of Katherine Blackler
Katherine Blackler

Based in London and owner of SortMySpace Ltd, Katherine is the first CPO® Certified Professional Organizer in the UK, the past President of APDO Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers in the UK (420 members) and a Golden Circle (5 year) member of NAPO National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals based in USA (approx. 3500 members)!

Living room storage boxes in grey shelving

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

1. Entertain guests in easy to clean areas of the house

If you're nervous about unwanted dirt coming in, Siân Pelleschi, owner of Sorted! suggests keeping your guests in areas of your home that can be easily cleaned once they've gone.

This way, you might not even have to ask guests to remove their shoes as you can just give it a quick hoover afterwards.

white kitchen island and cabinets with wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Douglas Gibb)

2. Leave out coasters for coffee tables

'If you do have pieces of furniture, like coffee tables, that you don’t want to get watermarked, make sure there is a coaster available before the guest enters the room or house,' advises Siân Pelleschi.

'That way they know automatically where to put their cup and you don’t feel like you have to ‘fix’ their cup or offer them a coaster later.'

Green living room with pink armchairs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3. Keep a stash of guest slippers

'If you're worried about your floors getting dirty, Katherine Blackler, founder of SortMySpace Ltd suggests keeping a stash of guest slippers handy (like the complimentary hotel ones) to offer to any visitors.'

Siân Pelleschi does advise, however, to leave the decision to wear the slippers with the guest, because 'while you might think you’re offering them a home-from-home comfort, they may feel you think their socks are dirty' if you force them.

Grey and white bedroom with navy slippers

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

4. Add plants and natural elements

'Even the whitest and starkest of spaces can be softened with a plant or flower which provides a calming and relaxed environment,' says Siân Pelleschi.

'If you’re not green-fingered, having a good quality fake plant can also do the trick – or opt for a hardy plant that’s easy to manage even for those that normally struggle with flora.'

Grey living room with yellow throw, berber rug and potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

5. Soften the lighting in rooms

'Often, harsh and bright lighting can make a room feel cold and will equally show up any dust or bits you may feel conscious of as the homeowner,' says Siân Pelleschi.

Opting for a softer and warm living room lighting idea can help to create a relaxing atmosphere that makes a home feel cosy and lived in.

White office lounge area, beige armchair with pale blue cushion, floor lamp with fairy light decoration, colourful framed artwork

(Image credit: Future PLC)

6. Add personal touches

Don't be afraid to embellish your home with some personal touches if you haven't already, such as family photos, artwork, or other items that show off your personality and interests,' says Nick Woodward at Essential Living.

Katherine Blackler agrees as it gives your guests something to relate to and start a conversation about. 'They’ll feel more relaxed if it doesn’t feel like an interview room so you can connect more easily and deeply.'

White living room with turquoise furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC / Max Attenborough)

7. Embrace the clutter

'Sometimes not having everything back in its home – like the odd toy or the books not in any particular order – can also help a space feel more relaxed and inviting,' assures Siân Pelleschi.

Even tidying guru, Marie Kondo, has 'given up' on keeping tidy all the time, and perhaps we ought to follow suit.

Blue alcove with built-in storage

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

8. Refrain from 'cleaning as you go'

It might be tempting, but try to refrain from following your guests around the house and cleaning every little thing up as you go.

Living room with white boucle armchair

(Image credit: Future PLC / Anna Stathaki)

At the end of the day, a home is a home regardless of the way you keep it. It's supposed to be lived in and act as an extension of our day-to-day lives and routines, so embrace the quirks and the clutter.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.