So you’ve moved into your own place. You finally smash up the last of the cardboard boxes and are ready to snuggle up with some wine and Netflix. Then, you gaze around at the bare walls and the stack of rock-n-roll posters and sports calendars that you used to decorate your college dorm. Hell, you can still look on the back and see remnants of the “paint safe putty” that still managed to rip half the wall off with it when you moved out of that sad, lonely freshman dorm. Suddenly, you find it very hard to enjoy your wine as you start looking over your new space and wonder what you can do to make it look like an adult lives there.

No need to call in the experts. No need to worry that setting out some knick-knacks will make it look like the scenic designer from “The Golden Girls” had a field-day in your room (seriously, we ALL remember Blanche’s Chinese vase). A few simple tricks can transform your space into one that no longer looks like the kind of place someone with a fake ID would still be sleeping.

1. Arts and Crafts.
Having something to look at hanging from the walls. This doesn’t have to be terribly expensive. It can be magazine covers, pictures you print off from the internet, or cheap street art. If you want to splurge, it’s a nice feeling to own a pricier painting. The point is, make sure that it is something you like and want to look at every day. Blowing up pictures isn’t too much money (we’ll cover what to do with them after) and can add a personal touch to your space. If you are artistically inclined, go out and buy a canvas and paint something yourself.

If you live in a small space, consider getting a mirror. Bigger mirrors placed around your apartment not only break up the monotony, but also make the space look bigger. If framed art isn’t your bag, go this route. It’s a deathless classic.
Invest in frames for whatever you hang up (unless it is a canvas or designed specifically not to be framed. Seriously. Vintage Led Zeppelin poster? Frame it. Frida Kahlo’s head on a deer? Black-and-white blow-up photo of the Brooklyn bridge? Collage of brochures you got while hiking the AT during that semester off? Pictures of Suki Waterhouse standing next to Bradley Cooper with your face crudely glued over hers (because we all can dream)? If you like it then you’d better put a frame on it. Frames make the space look more professional, tidier, and instantly puts your apartment in the adult category.

Get creative with this. Splurge on some shadow boxes at Michael’s. Go to the dollar stores/ Goodwills and see if you can find something in a frame that suits your fancy. Your art will thank you and you will feel classiness radiating off of your walls without busting out the big bucks for an original Manet.

2. Go green.

No, this doesn’t mean that cashed bowls and hookahs are going to make your place scream “working adult.” It means that investing in some plants (or at least imitation plants) that will give your space a fuller, more organic feeling. By no means should you feel pressured to keep a bunch of plants alive if you know you that it’s going to be a struggle. A low-stress potted plant in the corner that needs watering every other week or even a fake plant in a nice pot or vase will give your space a little bit of life. I’ve seen this pulled off effectively from a small tree growing in the living room corner to a glass jar filled with fake green leaves and dried cotton bowls. Get creative and bring your space to a new maturity level with a few plants.

3. Pay Close Attention to the Public Spaces.

Living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms are the most likely places your guests will see. Make sure that these spaces look neat, free of clutter, and don’t have the “college common room vibe.”

Living room must haves:
A rug (seriously).

A coffee table/chest (make sure that it’s color matches the wood/metal used in your other furniture) with some accessories (books, magazines, or candles), and MAKE SURE YOU HAVE COASTERS.
A good sofa. Your futon was a great friend. However, it has served its purpose and now needs to move on to a bedroom (a great place for overnight guests that also provides extra seating in the bedroom or to a donation center). A solid-colored couch (in a safe, neutral color) can be brought to life with a blanket and some loud pillows if you want to bring some color into your space.
Drapes: Having curtains brings the room together. Your neighbors will also thank you that they can’t look in through your windows anymore (see also: the naked man from “Friends”).
Light: The kind of lamp is up to you. Just make sure that everyone is able to see and that the lamps match with the decor.

Kitchens must have:

A set of dishes. Please, for the love of God, leave the souvenir cups and mismatched drinking glasses in the past. If you like something bigger, go with a larger tumbler or some mason jars. Otherwise, a set of simple glasses won’t break the bank. This doesn’t need to be the “Christmas and Thanksgiving only” China. Simple dish sets in whatever color you like will immediately make your kitchen look like something besides ramen is being cooked in it. Any red solo cups should be eliminated on sight.
A real table. This is one place where you can go second-hand if you need to. Just don’t ask people to take a seat at a card table with folding chairs unless it’s your poker night.
A place to store the booze. Bravo if you have a liquor cabinet/ table. If not, find a shelf or a cubby where you can store those unopened bottles of wine/ liquor. This doesn’t need to get fancy. Just make sure that the liquor and liquor accessories have a home.
This is not the elephant graveyard. If you can’t part with the bottle, peel the label off, paint it, and use it as a vase if you must. Ideally, though, just toss it out with the other recyclables.
Separate garbage bins for recycling. These can be baskets, buckets, or whatever other kind of container you use for the garbage. It’s responsible, good for the environment, and saves you all those trips to the garbage bin.


Good towels. Solid colors are the way to go. Make sure you get a full set that includes both body and hand towels in the same color.
Rugs: Your feet will feel better on them in the morning and no one will sue you because they slipped stepping out of the shower.
A cloth shower curtain. There is a shower liner and a shower curtain. Adults must learn the difference.
*Note: Make sure that these all match in color and make sure that the color goes with the paint on the bathroom walls.

As always, the most important thing is for YOU to feel happy and comfortable in your space. Do what feels right. It’s hard to go wrong when you feel at home.

Have any ideas of your own? Post them below.



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