By getting your new apartment, you’ve officially entered the world of adulting like a boss. Does your new pad’s decor make you feel like you’re still living in your college dorm? If so, it’s time for an upgrade.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to get your new digs looking classy and grownup. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost an entire bankroll either, although it does pay to save up to buy certain quality items. Here’s how to make your new abode scream, “Mommy, wow — I’m a big kid now,” without going broke.
1. Get Your Bed up Off the Floor
A mattress lying on the floor is the calling card for any struggling young renter. If you want to avoid the trappings of the typical college student’s rental, a simple bed frame can do wonders for making your apartment look mature. You don’t have to pay hundreds for a four-poster canopy, either. Ikea has inexpensive bed frames for roughly $50.
Once you elevate your mattress game, think about whether you want your bedroom to resemble a tawdry no-tell motel or an elegant downtown highrise. The latter, right? Invest in some white bed sheets and a plain or lightly patterned comforter — this looks instantly classy.
2. Invest in Real Window Treatments
Are you still hanging bed sheets over your windows or maybe going bare? Decorating your windows is an excellent way to upgrade your apartment without a lot of expense. Whip out the measuring tape and measure for blinds. Even inexpensive white plastic options look better than towels. If you like to watch TV without a glare on the screen, Amazon has tons of blackout curtains in various colors for less than $50.
3. Hang Pictures and Posters in Frames
Posters stuck on the wall with gooey gunk make your home look like you’re crashing in your parents’ basement. Frames are cheap, and you can pick up inexpensive ones at Target for around $10. Sometimes, even local dollar stores have cute, basic options for pennies.
When shopping for frames, pick up some Command strips, too. This way, you can hang your fabulous new artwork without putting holes in your apartment walls and risking your security deposit. Are you craving some “real” art prints? Hit up Art.com, or better yet, purchase a local artist’s work to support both the local arts community and your apartment’s aesthetic.
4. Get Creative With Your Kitchen
Tenants don’t have a ton of options when it comes to customizing your rental kitchen. But one of the most crucial changes you can make is to level up your organization. If your kitchen isn’t quite big enough for all of one person to turn around comfortably, you might need to get creative with storage.
Head to your dollar store and invest in stackable racks and hanging cup hooks to make the most of cabinet space. Invest in sliding tracks for trash and recycling bins, and line drawers with dividers to keep spoons, knives and forks separate. These upgrades will help you keep clutter out of an already limited space.
Many apartments in a young renter’s price range have limited counter space, but there are ways to overcome that, too. Investing in a portable kitchen island can look classy and add a ton of function to a small kitchen. You can even roll it out of the way when you’re not cooking. For a less bulky alternative, look for sink or burner covers that allow you to convert valuable space into a usable surface.
5. Get Some Matching Stemware
Love wine? Who doesn’t? But if you want an adult apartment, it’s time to stop drinking it out of red plastic cups. Invest in some matching stemware. Despite what some sommeliers say, you don’t necessarily need different styles for each type of wine. A simple set of basic glasses lets most wines breathe fine.
Your friends will be charmed when you invite them over for a nightcap and are able to dish out a set of uniform wine glasses. It’s a simple way to feel more mature at home without having to do all the hard work of actually growing up.
6. Invest in Some Houseplants
Houseplants not only look classy, but they also help clean your indoor air by taking in carbon dioxide and emitting fresh oxygen. You can go with fake plants if you don’t have a green thumb, but keep them well dusted to keep them from looking cheesy.
Succulents are a trendy option for those who need low-maintenance greenery. For a creative touch, these hardy plants can find homes in vertical hangings, decorative mugs and other unique containers. They’ll look charming and demonstrate that your apartment is equipped to support life — an immediate sign of adulthood.
7. Show Personality With Neatly Organized Books
Bookworms likely struggle to control their collection, but you don’t have to stack your novels in messy piles. Tenants can ask landlords for permission to throw up temporary shelving and create a lovely wall display that reduces clutter. You can also find a bookshelf or two to neatly arrange your books and other trinkets.
Coffee table books let you show your personality, and you can find great ones on the cheap in the bargain bin section of your local bookstore. Get some with fun conversation starters to make your couch the friendliest place to hang out and chat.
8. Invest in a Real Couch
Are you still crashing Friday night on a used futon? Step it up a notch! You may need to save up to buy a quality couch, but it’s so worth it in the end. Bargain hunters can check out low-cost but more grown-up couches on sites like Amazon, or peruse Facebook Marketplace for used furniture at reduced prices.
9. Add a Touch of Refurbished Whimsy
Do you need some end tables or a dining set, but don’t have much cash? Hit up yard sales to find some bargains you can refinish on the cheap. You’ll need some sanding paper, furniture stain and a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease to transform inexpensive finds into beautiful pieces.
Creating a Grown-up Apartment
Now that your new pad looks amazing and all grown-up, it’s time to celebrate. Pop open champagne, invite some friends over and celebrate entering the world of adulthood. After all, you don’t have to break your budget to spruce up your living space to match your new stage of life.