Navigating your 20s can be challenging, to say the least. Your youthful spirit is suddenly weighed down by career choices and major life decisions, not to mention apprehension, anxiety, and a limited budget. The latter doesn't help much when it comes to decorating your first apartment, which is typically a mix of family hand-me-downs, thrift-store finds, and high-street pieces. But that's okay—your 20s are meant for exploration while you figure out your personal tastes.
By the time your 30s arrive, however, your palate has been refined (often along with your salary), and you'll likely have a new passion for crafting an intimate sanctuary at home—this is how your living room should look at every age. In the same way that your personal style has evolved to suit your grown-up personality, so too has your interior aesthetic. But this often means ditching a few things in the process. Well, at least it did in mine.
So to help you enter this new decade of your life in the grandest style, I've compiled a few of the things I tossed when I entered my 30s.
The futon is something we've all owned at least once in our lifetime, but especially in our 20s. It's a sofa that doubles as a bed—who wouldn't see the functional beauty in that? While traditional Japanese futons are built to last, the sofa kind isn't, and time really isn't kind to this furniture style. When your 30s come around, it's time to upgrade your living room to reflect your elevated aesthetic. It doesn't need to cost a fortune either—these affordable couches prove it.
While good bedding should be a priority at every age, we totally understand that quality linen can be costly. But once I hit my 30s, I really wanted to start treating myself better. So I got rid of any worn-out, stained, or ratty linens I still owned. There are plenty of affordable options out there too—these are some of our favorite Target bedding picks.
We believe original artwork is key to making a place feel like home, and while it's cool to have a few pieces of art hung up frameless or with tape, there's nothing quite like putting a favorite into a frame. If your excuse is that framing costs too much, think again. There are plenty of affordable online framing companies, from Framebridge to Simply Framed, but you can do it yourself really cheaply too. The IKEA Ribba frame is low cost yet adds a sophisticated, luxe touch to any piece of art. So your beloved movie poster, kids drawing, poetry, or flea market find can look polished and chic.
Don't get me wrong—hand-me-down furniture is a great cost saver, and who doesn't love an old vintage relic? But let's be honest: Sometimes you take that old side table, desk, or armchair out of necessity rather than want, and it can become a bit of a mishmash rather than a reflection of your taste. I say this because it happened to me. All of a sudden, I looked around my apartment and realized it didn't really feel like me at all because it was a combination of pieces I'd been gifted or had been generously passed onto me.
So it's time to let your unique point of view take center stage. I kept some of mine—such as the old timber side table with metal legs from my father-in-law (the patina is fantastic)—but others have truly lived out their life span or simply don't speak to where I'm at in my life. So take a look around and start putting together your dream space.
As our CEO, Katherine Power, says, "Rugs can set the tone for an entire room." For that reason, now's the time to invest in them. Cheap rugs are great—I love them too—but just be mindful of the fabrics you choose. Because unlike vintage wool rugs, polyester doesn't get better with age—this World Market one is cheap and looks great.
Woven Accents Creative Director Ginna Christensen recommends buying vintage or antique rugs because they're tough and will handle the stains. "Antique and vintage rugs, if they have been properly cared for, are the most durable because of the fabrics used (mostly wool) and the nature of how the rugs wear," she told MyDomaine.
"They are easier to clean and also hide dirt easily."
Wire Clothing Hangers
While it may not be on display for your guests to see, just like the lining of a beautiful coat makes the experience feel expensive, so too does the inside of your closet. Those wire hangers just didn't cut it in my newly elevated and organized wardrobe. These inexpensive hangers tend to bend easily, can also cause snags, and are really are quite cumbersome to use. Invest in wooden hangers instead. IKEA has stylish options that are really affordable. Your new wardrobe is worth it.
Yes, it served its purpose, and we're sure it has been handy, but eating off a ceramic or earthen dinner plate is so much nicer than a plastic one. Just like your flatware, formal dinnerware doesn't need to be expensive. CB2 has a plethora of chic and cheap options. The beauty of upgrading your cups and plates is being able to display them on open shelving, just like Lauren Conrad did in her Pacific Palisades home.
If there's one piece that can really date a home, it's a mirror. They have the ability to open up a space and add a beautiful accent to any room, but if they're badly framed, it can really offset the balance. So it's officially time to retire that old mirror in the bathroom that came with the apartment. Don't get me wrong—some of these styles, when paired with the right décor, can be a magical combination—but if it's dating your space, perhaps it's time to reconsider. And there are some really stylish and cool mirrors at Urban Outfitters that won't break the bank—plus, nearly everyone in our office bought this affordable Target mirror.
You'll notice the difference; trust me—you can see how it changed my L.A. apartment.
As you enter this new decade, your hosting skills are being honed, and the kitchen will really become your pride and joy—I've definitely swapped eating out for eating in with friends. It's where you can conjure up those delicious fall meals, experiment with new desserts, and perfect your morning routine. It's also where you'll prepare those wonderful dinner parties and a memorable Friendsgiving. So to make it a night to remember, invest in some flatware. It doesn't matter if it's mismatched, and it doesn't need to be expensive either.
These shiny copper sets from CB2 are affordable and will really elevate your tablescape.
This post was originally published on September 15, 2017, and has since been updated.