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Is Your House Ready for Holiday Guests?

Category: Finance,Real Estate

Simple fixes, she said, can hide many imperfections: Candles can make a room in need of a paint job look moody instead of drab. A colorful throw blanket can hide blemishes on a sofa. But more than a pretty room, guests want tasty food, good music and plenty to drink. Ultimately, a party comes down to the quality of the guest list, not the décor.

And yet, 67 percent of homeowners worry that friends and family will judge their homes when they visit, according to a survey by Chubb, a home insurance company. The collective anxiety might explain why 58 percent of respondents said they planned to renovate over the next 12 months.

And maybe they’re right. Maybe other people are judging our homes.

Maggie Kadziolka and her husband, Frank Giambolvo, were so anxious about what friends would think of the three-bedroom fixer-upper they bought in Bloomfield, N.J., in 2014, that they waited over a year to throw a housewarming party. “It was almost embarrassing to have people over,” said Ms. Kadziolka, 35, a lawyer. The house was in such rough shape when they bought it that they felt the only passable room was the basement, and even that needed work.

When they finally threw that party, on a snowy night in February 2015, friends (most of whom had bought turnkey houses) didn’t entirely mask their skepticism. “What we heard was, ‘We’re so excited to see the final product,’ which is code to me for, ‘Your place is O.K., but what are you going to do with it?’” Ms. Kadziolka said.

Now that the house is fully renovated, with a new kitchen and bathrooms, they host regularly.

A party is meant to be a celebration, and presumably friends and family do not walk into the living room and start checking for stains on the throw pillows — and if they do, maybe it’s time for new friends. And yet, you see all your home’s flaws, so why wouldn’t your guests?

A home “is a sacred place and when you invite someone in, you realize how much of yourself is exposed,” said Faith Roberson, a Manhattan home organizer. “So it’s understandable that there is a level of anxiety before you let people in.”

Sometimes, your home isn’t ready for prime time. So if the unease is unshakable, it may be a sign that you need to step back. If you’re in the midst of a renovation, or reorganizing rooms, Ms. Roberson suggests holding off on the party and focusing your attention on transforming your space into what you envision. “Think about a caterpillar,” she said. “When a caterpillar is turning into a butterfly, no one is in that cocoon with it. It’s just evolving.”

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