Fresh Flowers– I really can’t recommend this highly enough but, oddly, am unable to explain quite why flowers have such an impact on the mood of a room and its occupants. As far as bang for your buck, my choice is always Lilies: they last 7-10 days and give off an incredible fragrance. However, you must pluck or cut the pollen pods from the inside once the flower opens, as they are messy and unsightly. If you aren’t thrilled with spending $10 a week on flowers, an Orchid can last up to 3 or 4 months if treated properly (in laymen’s terms that means avoid direct sunlight and leave the hell alone!) and there is always the gratis option of plucking a branch or two from a local blooming tree (something I have been known to do a time or two.)
Candles- If you’re aiming for ambience and elegance, I am sorry to say that candles from Target just won’t do the trick. Here’s the thing about spending a little more on a candle: they last a long time and become an accessory in the room. A beautiful Jo Malone or Calypso or Voluspa candle on a coffee table will enhance everything else around it, and you only need one. Keep the wick low by cutting it after every couple of uses and clean wax and ash off the glass with a windex wipe or wet paper towel.
Clutter- As in you should have none. As a general rule, at least half of every surface should be empty. If you simply have too many things of sentimental value, rotate them by thirds: 2/3 stored away, 1/3 out on display and switch them up seasonally. There is no point to having objects you love and value if they are obscured by everything else.