Whether you rent, recently moved into your first home, or just have a limited budget, high-end furnishings, and home accessories can be out of reach for many, especially if you're just starting out. But that doesn't mean your first place has to look like a dorm room.
There are several tips and tricks you can use to give your starter home or apartment more grown-u polish. Luckily, it's more about know-how than cash when it comes to adding some sophistication to your space!
Decorate and Fill Spaces with Plants : It's amazingly simple, but true. Just adding a living plant or two to will make any room feel more finished and home-y.
Put a low-maintenance plant such as a succulent, cactus or philodendron on a side table or nightstand and you'll give the impression you have your act together (Even if you're still working on it!). After all, you have to be responsible enough to keep it alive! And when you're ready to adopt a bigger or more leafy plant, consider a Monstera or Fiddle Leaf Fig!
Use a Tray on Your Coffee Table : Trays not only keep your clutter under control, they give a polished look to surfaces such as a coffee table. Fill a decorative tray with a short stack of hardback books, a box for your remote controls, a set of coasters and a pretty object or two for a grown-up, lived-in look. Plus, putting everything on a tray allows you to pick it all up and move it aside when you need the space for entertaining.
Style Your Bookcase : Even if the only books you have are paperbacks and old textbooks from college, you can still organize the whole lot so that it looks pulled-together.
Style your bookcase like a pro by arranging your books both horizontally and vertically, and mixing in accessories.
Upgrade Your Lighting : Torch lamps and string lights may have worked in a dorm room, but they lack insophistication. Trade adolescent lighting choices for a pair of inexpensive but chic table lamps.
Or, copy one of these DIY lighting fixtures to replace unsophisticated ceiling lights. Another budget-friendly idea for your first place is to look for lamps at thrift stores, then make them like new by spray painting their bases.
Coordinate Your Throw Pillows : One of the quickest ways to pull a room together is with decorative pillows. Strategic choices can help you camouflage an ugly couch, or add warmth, color and style to a boring room. Learn to mix and match patterned pillows like a pro, or go with a completely eclectic mix for a boho chic look.
Frame Your Art : After college, it's really no longer acceptable to hang unframed prints or posters on the wall with tape. You can, however, use unconventional methods for hanging art, such as on a grid of clipboards for a modern take on a gallery wall, or with wooden pants hangers for a vintage-industrial look.
Fortunately, there are several online sources offering affordable, original art prints. And there are lots of out-of-the-box ideas for wall art too, such as objects like plates, textiles and architectural salvage.
Hang Curtain Panels : This is one instant upgrade you don't want to skip! Trade those cheap vertical blinds or plastic roller shades for curtain panels to give your room a more grown-up look. Curtains not only pull a room together, they help cut your heating bill and add a layer of privacy.
Use Soap Dispensers : Leaving dish soap and hand soap in its original promotional packaging adds visual clutter to your counters and frankly, looks a little tacky. Give your kitchen and bathroom sinks more polish by decanting soap into pretty bottles or soap dispensers.
Matching Glasses and Coffee Mugs: Mismatched glasses and coffee mugs can have a kitschy-cool effect if they're collected and displayed intentionally. On the other hand, mugs with different logos on them and a hodgepodge of glass and plastic drinking glasses collected over time just looks messy.
Donate or toss the mismatched mess, and start fresh with a set of matching mugs and a set of drinking glasses. The dollar store is a great place to pick up inexpensive options.
Valerie Ott is a writer and editor
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