Turning the big 3-0 comes with an almost palpable set of pressures. Unlike earlier milestone birthdays, the start of the third decade has traditionally symbolized a goal-post of adulthood, where careers and relationships and finances converge to either showcase success or hint at failure. There are plenty of arguments to the contrary, of course, especially since everyone's path is different. But even if you agree that this age shouldn't be filled with so many expectations, it's tough to shake the feeling that it should mean something.
So, instead of confronting the traditional pressures of 30, why not consider the more casual ways in which this new decade can feel like a fresh start? Updating furniture is one of the quickest and most fulfilling options since you likely have at least some control over which furnishings come and go in your home. We asked two top designers, Jesse DeSanti and Katie Hodges, for their advice on which items to reconsider—for instance, a college futon and a ripped poster of Breakfast at Tiffany's—and what to replace them with as you move past this birthday milestone.
Not only will this particular change in scenery make you feel like an "adult," but it'll also prove what this third decade should really be about: Embracing the person you are at this stage of life.
Jesse DeSanti, Creative Director and Owner of Jette Creative
"There are so many reasons to update your home, but I think the main reason is so that your spaces age with you and not against you," DeSanti says. "Your home is a reflection of who you are and how you want to feel. You'll inevitably feel different as you get older and your needs change. I got married at 29, had a child at 30, and now recently bought a house at 35. Each of these is the reason I've had to or wanted to, update and invest in furnishings."
Items to replace:
Any temporary, cheap, and inherited items. "This is the moment to get things that will last a long time and hopefully grow with you," she says. "By purchasing a few key pieces and tossing out the old ones, you'll feel that your space is more representative of your current life versus your college dorm, your mom's old sofa, or your torn sheets."
An old mattress. "As you get older, your bed is more and more your friend," DeSanti adds.
Anything that's falling apart. "I love vintage and antique pieces and highly recommend them, but if they're falling apart it will bring your space down," she says.
What to invest in instead:
Communal pieces that make you happy. "A large sectional sofa might be it for some, while a large dining table might be it for others," DeSanti says. "These are the permanent items you can and should grow old with: Wood can be refinished if necessary, and a great sofa can be recovered. Invest in these items and you will enjoy your space more."
A solid mattress and comfortable bedding. "Gone are the days that you can pass out anywhere at any time and get a good night's sleep," she notes. "You spend so much of your time in bed that you should really enjoy it. It's also something my younger self had a hard time spending money on and now I'm happy to do it."
Cheap art. "Get rid of the posters and invest in some quality artwork," DeSanti says. "It will tell your story and brighten your space."
Katie Hodges, Principal of Katie Hodges Design
"Entering your 30s is a new life chapter that's about living more intentionally," Hodges says. "These are often the years of job promotions, more meaningful relationships, and steering toward lofty future goals. Our home's surroundings affect so much of how we feel throughout the day. I've heard countless times how my clients' lives have improved after redecorating because, from the moment they wake up, their environment supports their lives. Thus, during this formative chapter of 'the 30s,' it's important to invest in things that make you feel good, rather than accepting what's free or cheap, just for the sake of it. It's empowering to make changes in your life, and these decisions often have a domino effect of positive results."
Items to replace:
Old upholstery. "Breakup with that hand-me-down sofa that has likely seen you through more than most of your friends," Hodges says. "It's at the end of its life-cycle and is dragging you down with it. Nothing you purchase can revive this dinosaur, and it's time to invest in yourself and think about what you like, versus what's free."
Futons. "Sure, they seemed impressively functional to have around at a certain place and time in your life, but there's nothing more outdated, or uncomfortable than a futon in a living or guest room," she continues. "If you have a studio space that can't accommodate both a bed and a sofa, opt for a pull out sofa that will look more tailored and sleek."
Kitschy picture frames. "Frames with adornments, quotes, and caricatures feel juvenile," Hodges says. "If you absolutely cannot get rid of your sorority rush stud-embossed picture frame, then at least keep it out of the main living area."
What to invest in instead:
Matching towels. "Time to invest in a matching set, which will instantly elevate the look of your bathroom," Hodges notes.
A bed frame. "A mattress on the ground, or on box springs, is no longer acceptable in your 30s," she says. "The frame doesn't need to be expensive or fancy, but just that extra attention to detail will create a more sophisticated bedroom."
Matching silverware and dishes. "Stores like IKEA offer great matching sets that won't break the bank," Hodges says. "Opt for white plates and cutlery with simple, modern silhouettes—they make food look and taste so much better."