When you move into your first apartment, or decorate your freshmen year dorm room, it can feel "done" the moment you tape a poster to the wall. But as you get older, and your tastes start to change, you might start looking for ways to make your apartment better and feel more grown up.
Do you want to move into a new phase of life? Or are you simply tired of coming home to a place that doesn't feel "done"? Whatever the case may be, you're in luck. "No matter how tight your budget is, you can transform your space in as little time as a day or two," Rhianna Miller, a home and garden improvement expert, tells Bustle. And the best place to start is with a little spring cleaning. "The easiest and cheapest way to make your apartment feel more grown up is simple: declutter all rooms, especially the bathroom, and maintain a daily cleaning schedule. Always make your bed in the morning, and keep dirty laundry out of sight."
From there, you can update your space with a few design tricks and affordable decorations that can really make your place feel like the home of a bonafide adult. Here are a few ways expert say you can easily make your apartment feel more grown up.
1. Frame Your Art
If you'd like to hang onto your posters, consider peeling them off the wall and putting them in actual frames. "Frames [don't] have to be flashy," Miller says. A simple black frame from Target can do the trick.
But, for extra points, consider getting some real art. You can hang photos or drawings from your friends, invest in a painting you love, or hit up your local thrift store for some cool old prints. As Miller says, "Having these on your wall helps define your identity and shows guests what is important to you." That, and a wall of art can help a room look more put together.
2. Organize Your Alcohol
If you have wine bottles clustered up on your counter, consider getting a wine rack to display them properly — and free up your precious counter space. "They range from simple wall shelves to kitchen islands and intricate wall art," says Miller. "If you [don't] mind having something bulkier than a rack, there are also wine refrigerators with glass window doors. That way your wine is kept chilled and ready to drink." And really, what could be better than that?
3. Fill Your Space With Plants
Nothing updates a space quicker than a few cute succulents, fig trees, cacti, or monsteras. "There are a number of different types and sizes for every living situation," Miller says. And bonus, "they purify the air, boost your mood, and reduce stress and anxiety. Some houseplants, like aloe, can be used for medicinal purposes as well." So pop off to your nearest plant store, and stock up.
4. Decorate With Books
You probably have a ton of books lying around, so go ahead and use them to your advantage — instead of shoving them under your bed, or letting them gather dust in the corner.
"Decorating with books is one of the most affordable ways to design, and a 'go to' designer trick," interior designer Cathy Hobbs tells Bustle. Consider piling them next to your couch, displaying a few of the greats on your coffee table, or stacking them sideways on your shelves. It'll help add interest and texture to your space, and show that you're well-read.
5. Get Yourself One Quality Item
One great statement piece can really dress up a room, and make you your place feel more complete. So, if you can afford it, "try to buy one or two high quality pieces that you intend to own for years, if not decades to come," Hobbs says. "Some ideas of where to start include ... armoires or dressers, beds, and sofas."
And, don't be afraid to check in thrift stores for something that's lovely, but only a couple of bucks. You might strike it big with a gorgeous wooden table for your kitchen, a stylish old bookcase, or a cool velvet sofa.
6. Update Your Lighting
Do yourself a favor and do away with tiny plastic lamps, and those paper things you had in high school. As home staging professional Amy Bly tells Bustle, "Make sure lamps are to scale, as well. No tiny lamps on end tables or nightstands." Get something that makes a statement, and fills your space with light.
7. Stock Your Bathroom
While you're at it, make sure your bathroom is clean, updated, and well-stocked. Think along the lines of matching towels, hand soap, and maybe even a candle — if you're feelin' super fancy.
And "always have toilet paper and a box of tissues, and remember to place the toilet paper on the toilet paper dispenser," Marty Basher, home organization and design expert for Modular Closets, tells Bustle. Your friends and dates will be all sorts of impressed.
8. Pick Up Some White Sheets
Follow the lead of hotels everywhere, and buy yourself some white sheets. "If you walk into the bedrooms of your friends, you'll notice immediately: beds with white sheets feel 'adult,' beds with colored sheets don't," Rick Chen, co-founder the e-commerce brand Hush Home, tells Bustle. "I definitely notice it myself: a ... friend who bought white sheets immediately after college seemed like she had her life together." And when you think about it, it makes sense why that is. White sheets seem clean and classic, while linens with designs and images can seem a bit childish.
9. Paint A Wall, Any Wall
Check your lease, and if it's OK for you to paint a wall or two, have at it. "Nothing says ‘young apartment’ more than the standard apartment-yellow wall color," Justin Kingry, owner and chief designer at Fourth Interiors, tells Bustle. "A can of good neutral-gray paint and a few hours of labor can transform a space instantly into something that feels more sophisticated and grown up for around $25."
10. Layer Rugs
Rugs can update your space, and add a coziness factor like you wouldn't believe. "Layering in a rug adds a huge amount of warmth and comfort to a room, and transforms the space into an area your friends will find cozy and want to hang out in for hours," says Kingry. "Even if your room has carpet, it’s totally OK to layer a rug over your carpet. Sounds weird, but trust us, it works."
11. Actually Hang Curtains
If your windows are bare and sad and empty, get curtains ASAP. "Dressing up your windows adds a put-together touch to your room over bare windows," Kingry says. "You don’t have to buy the most expensive drapes at the store, but don’t buy the cheapest either. Pick a fabric that feels weighty and high-end, and go for the 96” length. Hang your drapes so they puddle slightly on the floor." Instant adulthood.
12. Accessorize With Intention
Putting some thought into what you display in your apartment can take things from "kid in a basement" to grown up and chic, pretty much instantly. "If you have a lot of random small things lying around your apartment, it might be time to figure out what things actually look the best in your space," interior decorator Ashley Rose Marino tells Bustle. "Instead of having one candle here and one vase there, group your items together to make your space feel more put together."
13. Get Your Bed Off The Floor
Get your bed off the floor, and onto a frame where it belongs. And go for a larger bed, when possible. "Use at least a queen size bed that is not on or low to the floor," says Bly. Get a frame, a box spring and mattress, or a mattress only if it's a platform bed.
This will take your bedroom from looking like you're staying temporarily, to looking like a real bedroom, fit for an adult. And it doesn't have to be expensive. There are so many affordable bedding options out there for millennials, so do some research and see what you can find.
Once you do one, two, or all of the above, you'll be taking your apartment to the next level, showing off your style, and creating a home that'll feel good to be in. And really, that's what decorating an apartment is all about.