While I love coming home to a clean house, opening the door after I've had the cleaning lady in feels extra special. She kicks it up a notch in a way I never seem to match; my house literally sparkles and my mood brightens. Here are some other ways to pamper your home and, by extension, yourself.A full and organized refrigerator: Busy lives often mean barren fridges and takeout. There's something about a fully stocked fridge that feels comforting. Take the time to toss out old condiments and wipe down the shelves with vanilla before filling it up with foods you love. Get the good coffee, indulge in a box of fresh raspberries.
The smell of something bubbling away on the stove or baking in the oven: A quiet weekend at home or a sudden night without plans is the perfect time to try a new recipe or bake up an old favorite. Invite friends over to share it with you if you'd like.
Fresh flowers: We're a big advocate of fresh flowers here on Apartment Therapy. There's a simple joy that comes from seeing their bright pop of color. Try them in unexpected places — the kitchen, the bathroom — or wake up to them next to the bed.
A made up bed: This is one of those chores with a big pay-off. While I resisted for years, now that I've taught myself to make the bed first thing in the morning, silly as it may sound, there's a sense of accomplishment that carries me through the day. And it's nice to jump into a plumped up bed at night!
Freshly ironed sheets: I love crisp, ironed sheets, but I do not love ironing. Sometimes I treat myself by having my bedding washed and ironed at the dry cleaner.
An organized clothing closet: Organizing your closet by kind and color not only makes getting dressed in the morning that much faster and easier, it's nice to open up the door on a space that's visually appealing. Ask a friend or a professional to help you out if you can't do it yourself. You may not only get a nice looking closet but a new look to boot.
An organized medicine cabinet: Do you use it every day? If the answer is no, find another place for it. Toss old medicines, splurge on a nice toothpaste or a new toothbrush (your dentist will thank you), wipe down the shelves, get rid of that lipstick you've had since high school, tuck in a silly toy or favorite photo amongst the deodorant and face wash.
Send the laundry out: I don't know why, but laundry is one of those tasks I avoid. When I just can't face it, I send it out. Sometimes it's worth it to have someone else take care of it.
Nice soap: Even an upgrade of something that you use every day can make you feel indulgent. And not just in the bathroom. Try a new scent for your dish soap. I'm loving Mrs. Meyer's basil scented dishwashing liquid.
Candles: Dinner by candlelight is not just for romantic evenings, it can make even a plain bowl of pasta feel special. If you don't normally use a scented candle in your home, try one.
(Image: Tara Belluci from Brian and Kerry's Brewery Loft House)