Have you wanted to make small improvements around the house but were overruled by procrastination and stagnation? Has time sped by so fast that you’re now just realizing that the holidays are around the corner — and you’re hosting a party? Whether a big Thanksgiving spread or an intimate neighborhood cocktail gathering, you know it’s my job to tell you that it’s not too late to do a little sprucing here and there.

Given the limited time, I have five strict rules for you to follow:

— Focus.

— Determine a style.

— Make a shopping list.

— Enlist a helping hand.

— Order up a double espresso.

Let’s start with the powder room or guest bathroom (whichever your holiday guests will use). Remove anything that is not useful or attractive. Stand back and assess the space. Could it use fresh paint or even wallpaper? Could an accent wall add a little drama or personality? Are the plumbing fixtures dated? How about replacing your ho-hum light fixture and/or mirror for something extraordinary? Punctuate with new towels and fancy soap. Follow my rules and this makeover could be done in less than a week.

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Since all guests seem to gather in the kitchen, it’s another likely spruce-up candidate. Although bigger than a powder room, some changes still apply such as painting and switching out the faucet. Edit extraneous accessories and countertop appliances to make your kitchen seem bigger and cleaner — and so that attention can be paid to the culinary delights you’ve prepared. Don’t light scented candles in the kitchen or dining room. Their fragrance can overwhelm and detract from the natural aromas emanating from your delectables.

If you’re having overnight guests and your bedding looks a little frumpy, there are inexpensive coverlets and shams available from many online sources. I like natural cotton mattelasse coverlets (similar to a quilt but thinner) because they work with any design style and they can be washed and dried in your own machines.

Again, fresh paint might be a good idea. Maybe a new rug or new lamps for your nightstands. Don’t clutter the dresser but do add a vase of fresh flowers and a couple of timely magazines or a nice hardback about the Napa Valley.

Do you have any large, lonely bare walls? Since I believe art should be chosen when it speaks to you, I don’t recommend buying it with haste. As an alternative, you can frame fabric. One large frame or a series of smaller ones. I like using batik fabric because of its bold colors and defined patterns. For instance, if your wall is in a contemporary room with a beige color scheme, black-and-white batik with geometric designs, framed in black, white or metal frames may be the perfect solution. Or, if you have a Country French decor, framing toile would accentuate this style. Fabric-framing can work in all sorts of scenarios and can tie any room together.

The clock is ticking. Follow my rules and I know you can work wonders.

Patti L Cowger is a Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net. Demystifying Design appears every other Saturday.