5 Simple Ways to Make Your Apartment Look More Adult

Apartment with large art pieces.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

When decorating, it’s key that your space reflects the current you—and because you’re an adult who’s no longer living in a dorm room, you’ll want to ensure that your space is adult-friendly and elevated.

If you need help making your apartment look a little more grown-up, we have you covered. While finally parting with that bean bag chair from college may be a bit painful, the results will be worth it—we promise.

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Hang and Frame Your Artwork

Art in gold frame next to small bust statue.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

Any elevated home is going to feature artwork—bare walls suggest a lack of regard for one’s surroundings and add an unwanted “temporary” feel to space. Take the time to hone in on your art style and determine the types of pieces that make you happy. Once you begin to develop a collection, resist the urge to simply hang everything on the walls with painter's tape or thumbtacks.

Now that you’re done with college, the days of pinning posters and other pieces to the wall are long gone—your art collection deserves some love. Maybe you’re willing to make a bit of investment by bringing your beloved pieces to a professional framer, or perhaps you’d rather just pick up some sleek frames at the craft store and go the DIY route. Either way, you’ll be so happy that you gave your artwork some TLC.

Your pieces will last much longer when placed in proper frames—this will ensure that your fave works remain free of damage in the form of small tears, dirty fingerprints, or you name it.

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Opt for Neutrals

Apartment with large art pieces.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

Neutral pieces always look so sophisticated and timeless, which is exactly the vibe you’ll want to create in your grown-up-looking apartment. The most obvious way to do this is to say goodbye to that brightly-hued accent chair from your dorm room days and opt for something in a classic cream or gray hue instead.

If new furniture pieces aren’t in your budget, fear not—you can easily incorporate neutrals in other ways, such as through artwork, textiles, rugs, and more. In my own space, I placed a stone and white lamp on a stack of coffee table books in neutral hues and then hung artwork rooted in blacks, whites, and grays above this vignette.

The overall setup brings me so much joy every time I look at it, and it’s a far cry from the “pink and gold everything” look that was present throughout my first post-grad abode.

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Eliminate Clutter, but Get Personal

Wooden dresser with gold bowl on top.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

I love holding onto memorabilia from various periods of my life as much as the next person, but rather than covering my walls and shelves with photobooth strips, cards from friends, and the like, I prefer to keep such items in a small decorative box, which I store in my living room. This setup makes it easy to take a walk down memory lane whenever I please, but these pieces are out of sight and preserved for safekeeping on a day-to-day basis.

Personal touches are a key component of any adult apartment—the key is to showcase them elegantly.

If there is a special card or photo that you wish to admire every day, consider popping it into a special frame to make it look a bit more elevated and stylish. After all, personal touches are a key component of any adult apartment—the key is to showcase them elegantly.

No longer should your décor consist solely of generic items from big-box stores. Instead, collect meaningful pieces as you travel, frequent small businesses to source items that are off the beaten path, and honor your personal history by placing your grandmother’s favorite teacup on your bar cart.

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Upgrade Your Kitchenware

Now that you’re living on your own, you’ll want to ensure that you have all of the basics on hand and are ready to host friends at a moment's notice. This means purchasing a set of wine glasses, as the days of plastic cups are behind you, along with coffee mugs (say goodbye to those conference freebies and pick up a few sleek ceramic pieces) and other entertaining essentials that you won’t be embarrassed to reach for next time you host girls’ night or invite a date over for dinner.

Pick up items that will make your day-to-day life easier, too. Love to host happy hour? Purchase a cheese board so that you can easily whip up charcuterie for the crew, and grab cute canisters to hold coffee grounds and tea bags to keep your counters looking a bit chicer. These simple steps will go a long way in making both you and your space look super put-together.

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Incorporate Accent Lighting

Accent lamp on burl wood side table.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

What’s one thing that will immediately make a house feel more like a home? Proper lighting. Don’t rely solely on your apartment’s overhead fixtures—table lamps are your friend. With so many beautiful styles on the market, it will be easy to select a few that you love. I like to place one table lamp on my entryway console in the living room, another on my bar cart, and a floor lamp next to the sofa.

In the bedroom, you’ll of course want table lamps for each nightstand and possibly another for your dresser, depending on the size of your space. Little lamps are also having a major moment in the kitchen, so if your countertops are large enough, go right ahead and set a petite lamp in there, too.

Switching out generic overhead light fixtures and replacing them with more aesthetically pleasing options is another swap that will make your apartment look much more grown-up in just an afternoon.

This is something that renters and homeowners alike can easily tackle with the help of a skilled electrician, and it can make such a difference in transforming a space.