My friend has a great career where she travels around the world and at 30, she’s happy with what she’s accomplished in life. But her bedroom tells a different story. The mismatched sheets, overflowing dresser and mattress pushed against the wall may as well belong to a university student who just crammed all night to finish a paper.
When I used to think about what I’d be like when I was 30, I imagined I’d own a place like my parents. The reality is that I live in Toronto (Canada’s most expensive housing and rental market) and I’m not even close to homeownership. But with a few simple tricks, my rental looks like an adult lives there. Your living space can contribute to how adult you feel and how you present yourself to the world. If you’re moving into a new life phase or finally want your place to feel done, make sure your space has these 10 ‘grown-up’ essentials.
1. Clear surfaces.
Nothing brings your adulthood stock down more than having clutter all over your apartment. Surfaces and floors should be clear, with a home for everything and everything in its place. Sort your mail when you come through the door instead of leaving it out on the table, KonMari your wardrobe, and buy storage containers to keep unsightly things out of sight and out of mind.
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2. Framed art.
Art taped to the wall belongs in a dorm room, not in your grown-ass apartment. IKEA RIBBA frames do the trick. Before you hang them, make sure the art speaks to who you are now — swap the concert poster from that band you liked five years ago for an enlarged photo of your recent vacation or a printable art piece from Etsy.
3. A designated bar area.
Make your friends a cocktail and they’ll leave thinking, “Wow, they’re a real adult.” If you have no idea where to start, pick up a copy of The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles. Hundreds of Cocktails. A New Way to Drink. You can grow your liquor collection slowly and collect glassware at thrift stores (there are always amazing crystal rocks glasses on the shelves). Remove plastic cups from your cupboards, entirely. If you don’t want to invest in a bar cart, buy a nice tray to corral your collection.
4. A bed with a focal point.
If your mattress is currently chilling on the floor, give it a lift. On a budget? Look for a universal metal bed frame (like this option from Amazon for under $70). Next, adding a headboard will create a focal point. Again, you don’t need to drop hundreds on a tufted velvet headboard — try these 19 styling tips to make an impact on the wall behind your bed.
5. New bedding.
Is there a cohesive color story or are your sheets mismatched? Has the white fabric turned grey in the wash? Is your boxspring showing? Are there stains, rips and perpetual wrinkles? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, it’s time to buy a boxspring cover and new linens (try these 9 layered bedding ideas for a hotel-worthy bed).
6. End tables on either side of the bed.
The other day, my friend dropped the ultimate adulting decorating bomb: “I don’t need to get married or have kids to prove I’m an adult, I just want to be able to get into the bed from both sides.” If you have the space, consider moving your bed away from the wall and flank it with two matching end tables and lamps.
Because the best way to prove you’re an adult is to take care of something other than yourself.
8. A nice couch.
If you’re going to make one investment for your grown-ass apartment, it should be getting a nice couch. You can find great secondhand options on Kijiji, purchase the floor model at a furniture store for a steep discount, or splurge on a sofa from Article that will be delivered to your house in less than two weeks. It’s worth it.
9. Proper curtains.
This is the latest ‘adulting’ upgrade I made — I finally hung curtains instead of wrestling with the cheap, broken blinds my apartment came with. You don’t have to buy the most expensive drapes — there are great options at IKEA that have a weighty feel. The ideal length will just kiss the floor.
10. Elevated bathroom accessories.
The bathroom is where your guests go to secretly judge if you’re an adult or not. Keep it meticulously clean and purchase accessories with intention. Buy a couple matching bath towels, install a hand towel ring near the sink, purchase hand soap in a pretty container, invest in a nice shower curtain and bathmat. The details matter here.