Photo: Cupcakes and Cashmere

Create That "Yes, Peonies! How Better to Celebrate" Feeling

What You Wish You Could Do: Greet guests with a "I'm so glad you're here I got a massive bouquet of your favorite flower" bouquet displayed right on the coffee table.

You Settle for: Placing a small, affordable vase of flowers on the coffee table that nobody seems to notice (leaving you to wonder whether your money was wasted).

Next Time, Try: Move the bunch to the bathroom, like Cupcakes and Cashmere's Emily Schuman did. It's a room just about every guest visits during their stay, and the space is small and sparse enough that even a single bud vase is unmissable.
Coffee cart

Photo: © 2014 by Janae Hardy

Cut Down the "Where Do You Keep the…?" Guesswork

What You Wish You Could Do: Have a Matt Bomer lookalike serve drinks at your next cocktail party, charming everyone while keeping their glasses full.

You Settle for: Dumping the contents of your liquor cabinet on the kitchen counter so guests can serve themselves without conducting a scavenger hunt.

Next Time, Try: Keeping a bar cart in the living room. You can store all of your drinks and mixers right where the action is, and vintage, brass-colored carts are almost (almost!) as easy on the eyes as Bomer. If you have wood or laminate floors, roll the cart over a welcome mat so it won't move around—many of the older models don't have brakes, say Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, authors of A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home.

Photos courtesy of A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home, copyright © 2014 by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Janae Hardy. Published by Potter Style, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Photo: ZStockPhoto/iStock/Thinkstock

Spritz a New Signature Scent

What You Wish You Could Do: Throw open the windows and let the refreshing smell of the rows of lemon-verbena trees waft in, because—surprise!—you actually live in a Tuscan villa.

You Settle for: Getting that crisp, clean scent from a few strategically placed candles.

Next Time, Try: Swapping out your go-to home fragrance. Clean scents have been very popular over the years—think the cucumber melon-infused '80s, which gave way to the spring rain and linen scents of the '90s—but the latest take tends to borrow inspiration from fine perfumes. People are starting to gravitate toward scents that include hints of amber, musk and wood, says Geoff Medeiros, vice president of brand and product development at Yankee Candle. These notes are so subtle they're usually just mentioned in the candle's description, not its name—for instance, he suggests Yankee Candle's Soft Blanket.
Decorative welcome mat

Photo: © 2014 by Janae Hardy

Make a Delightful First Impression

What You Wish You Could Do: Repaint the outside of your house—if only you could find colors that you'll still like a year from now and a spare weekend to do it all in.

You Settle for: Hanging a for-all-seasons boxwood wreath on the door and calling it a day.

Next Time, Try: Decorating your own doormat. You can test out the colors you're considering for your house and create a cheerful entrance in less than an hour. Be sure to use porch paint or latex paint, since it tends to be the most durable, says Chapman. For extra protection, coat it with a waterproofing spray. (You can also do this to create your own kitchen rugs, like the one pictured here.)

Photos courtesy of A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home, copyright © 2014 by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Janae Hardy. Published by Potter Style, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Throw pillows

Photo: AKA Design, Shannon Acheson

Allow for More Casual (Yet Comfortable) Seating

What You Wish You Could Do: Find chairs that are as cushy as a La-Z-Boy and as stylish as an Eames—and enough of them for every person you invite over (yet somehow never crowding the room).

You Settle for: Carting every chair you own into the living room and praying you're the only one who sits on the creaky one.

Next Time, Try: Making a few no-sew floor pillows that people can sit on. It's inevitable that people will plop down on the floor at parties, and these ensure that they're comfortable. Plus, you can store them in wicker baskets under a console table or in the closet, so they don't take up as much space as traditional chairs. AKA Design has a full tutorial for making your own.
Upgrade Your Coat Check

What You Wish You Could Do: Keep your coat closet gloriously sparse, so it's always ready to hold people's jackets, scarves and hats.

You Settle for: Clearing off your bed and letting people toss everything there.

Next Time, Try: Building your own DIY coat rack out of a few steel pipes and connectors, says Abby Larson, founder of Style Me Pretty Living. All of the materials can be found at a hardware store, and it's as easy as screwing the pieces in place (and coating it with gold spray-paint, for an of-the-moment touch). If you're not the DIY type, companies like Amazon also sell collapsible racks that you can tuck under the bed when they're not in use.