Here’s the good news: You’ve got your first place. Cheers to you! Whether you’re post-college in a new city, post-gap year with a new roommate, a first time millennial homeowner, or moving in with your significant other you’ve made your first step into adulthood by getting your own place. Now the scary part: How are you going to fill it?
Regardless of who you are, where you settle or what you make, it’s still important to make your first adult space feel like home. Odds are that the apartment you picked out looks nothing like the boho havens you’ve seen on Pinterest, your budget doesn’t quite give you the freedom to invest in home decor projects and you’re getting ready to opt out of decorating all together in favor of grabbing a few hand-me-downs from Mom and Dad. Am I close?
I’ve been there. But, thankfully I had a mom who had a knack for making the most of small spaces and a small budget (thanks for looking out, mom)! My first adult apartment in D.C. was small, but we made the most of it with the help of some of the simple tips. So, before you start stressing that you maybe don’t have this whole #adulting thing under control, check out these 12 tips, tricks and DIYs for upgrading your first place and make it feel more mature in no time.
12 Tips for Making Your Place more Adult
Invest in Matching Dishes + Glasses: Mixing a beer stein with a red solo cup and mismatched plastic silverware is a big no. Nowadays, you can grab a dish set with service for 4 for just $24. Pair it with a set of six $15 wine glasses and simple water glasses to complete your full set. Even if you have nice dishes that don’t totally match, you can divide them up by colors and store them separately if needed.
Add a Wall Treatment: Boring paint making your first place seem drab and lifeless? Try sprucing up a wall or two with removable wallpaper. Washi tape is also a quick fix that makes a big statement if wallpaper stresses you out. (You can find our wallpaper reno here)
Break Up Furniture Sets: Did you get a dining room set from your parents that perfectly matches the coffee table? Break it up in different! Add unique chairs to a traditional table to give it a fresh vibe and share your own style.
Update Your Hardware: Rentals don’t often give you a lot of wiggle room when it comes to changing up a space. A quick, affordable and easy fix is to swap out the knobs and handles on your cabinets. A gold knob or chrome, sleek handle can go a long when when making your house feel a little more glam (I love these)! Just don’t forget to keep the old knobs and change them back when you move out!
Use Plants to Add Life: Does it really surprise you that plants are one of my tips? Getting flowers every week isn’t practical, so swap out your Trader Joe’s flower bunch and opt for an easy-to-care-for Pothos, Snake Plant or Monstera instead. After all, keeping a plant alive is a sign of maturity, right? (Plant care tips for beginners here)
Mix Accessories: Throw out the cookie cutter nature of a house entirely purchased and styled by Ikea. Opt for mixing high-quality pieces with big name brands and thrift store finds for a house that feels homey and lived in.
Invest in a rug: Whether you have wood floors or a carpet, an area rug can help add personality to a space. It’s also a great way to add texture and/or color without spending a ton of money.
Add Art + Frame Your Posters: Posters in high school and college are a right of passage, but putting them up in your new adult space doesn’t work. That said, if you’ve got some classic pieces you love, have them framed to class them up a bit. Or, invest in a few new pieces (here are some affordable options that I’ve loved in our home).
Stick to Neutrals: Get rid of the bright oranges, lime greens and hot pinks that likely colored your childhood walls and accents, and opt for neutral hues instead. Not only will neutral pieces fit in any house you purchase in the future, but they can serve as a base for almost and accent color going forward. Yes, a pink sofa sounds great BUT a grey sofa with pink pillows will stay with your style longer.
Upgrade your Lighting: Statement lighting is more than a pendent light you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest. It’s a llama light that perfectly compliments your bedroom, a gold floor lamp that adds a little glam or a chandelier that ties your living room together. Lighting gives your space personality (and, it goes with you when you move)!
Style Your Coffee Table: The telltale sign of an adult who’s winning at life is a perfectly styled coffee table. One part candle, One part Tray and a few books and you’re on your way to #Adulting.
Don’t Skimp On Towels: Say goodbye to the makeup stained towels and opt for bright white linens to spruce up your space. Or, go bold with a color you wouldn’t dare put elsewhere to add some color to a neutral space.