If you're moving into your first “nice” place as a full-fledged, no-doubt-about-it adult, you're probably experiencing a strange and thrilling combo of “This is amazing! Freedommmmm!” mixed with “Holy #%$*, what do I do now?” Don't worry, that's normal. Time to practice the ol’ “Fake it 'til you make it” mindset and start settling in for real. Trust us: Once the ladies waltzing through your front door see the super-stylish home you’ve created for yourself, you’ll be glad you did.
What’s even better? There's no need for tons of trial and error with your home decor. Sure, there's always room for experimentation and upgrades after nailing down the basic essentials that you need now (as in tonight!), but much of this stuff will serve you for years to come.
Start out with these six home essentials for a guy's first (grown-up) home:
A Good Bed
Here's the thing about investment pieces: The sooner you get one, the longer you can enjoy it. Because – Captain Obvious newsflash – they’re called investment pieces because they’re made to last. Yes, a good mattress will set you back a solid chunk of change, but look at it this way: Would you rather spend more upfront and sleep on a quality surface every night for years or buy the inferior version, be less comfy every single night and have to replace it two or three times to boot?
You'll probably wind up spending roughly the same amount either way, so if you can swing it, get the good one now and save yourself the hassle. Thankfully, new companies like Leesa, Casper, and Tuft & Needle are making well-made beds more affordable than ever (and less of a hassle to buy). Meaning? No excuses on where you rest your head at night.
And remember, a good mattress deserves a decent bed frame to support it because no one feels like a grown up sleeping on the floor.
Primer did a beautiful and super simple DIY headboard project that will really make your room feel “finished”.
The Right Kitchen Gear
If you’re whipping up a meal for a new love interest – or even if your definition of “cooking” means pulling up the Seamless app on your phone – every adult needs some basic kitchen tools.
Rule of thumb here: have enough gear in your kitchen cupboards to make and serve a simple meal. That means plates that aren't paper, real utensils, and wine glasses made out of, well, glass. Even if most of your meals come out of a plastic container, you'll never regret owning a good knife, a cutting board, mixing bowls and spoons and a large skillet. Crate & Barrel or your local Home Goods store make it easy to kit out your kitchen with gear that looks elegant at a bite-sized price.
Bonus: Once you own this stuff, it's far more likely that you'll start putting it to good use more often. Kicking your nightly takeout habit AND growing your kitchen skills? A classic win-win.
No one (ahem, no one) likes scratchy sheets or threadbare towels so it's worth the extra bucks to upgrade from the cheapest of the cheap to a version that feels good – not gritty – when you're drying off after a shower.
Look for sheets made from cotton or other natural materials (no polyester please, you want your body to breathe) with a thread count of at least 250 (a higher number means a finer fabric but don't go crazy, there's a lot of deceitful marketing out there regarding thread counts.).
We’re loving unique brands that boast well-made bedding at a price that won’t make your wallet cry. A husband and wife duo founded Authenticity 50 that sources U.S. manufacturing for production for luxury quality sheets at factory prices. Another favorite is men’s bedding company, Thread Ex, which was started by Justin Mikita (husband of actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and tailors their designs for guys. If you get a bit of sticker shock when leveling-up your linens, remember that you get what you pay for. Cool with scratchy sheets? You can hit up big box stores, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Little things really do make a difference when you're using them every single day and go a long way toward making you feel like a real life grown up.
Everyone – guy and girl – needs some basic tools to get stuff done around the house (personally, after a friend caught me trying to hammer a nail into the wall with a dictionary, I knew it was time to invest).
Having the right tool for the right job is not only the safest way to do DIY reno at home, but it nets you much better results. Sure, you could play that endless game of “Hang a picture frame, back up and see if it's straight, approach and adjust, repeat” or-r-r-r-r you could get a level and call it a day.
Just like the other investment items in your home, you will never not need to own tools, so get them early and start…I dunno, fixin’ stuff. Or planning your Al Borland Halloween costume. Up to you.
Not sure what you need? Begin with the basics: hammer, screwdriver set, wrench, and measuring tape. Those four will get you through most small tasks but if you find you need to do a job that you don't have the tools for, don't hesitate to add to your collection. Chances are if you're doing that job now, you'll need to do it many more times in many more homes.
Art doesn't necessarily mean an oil painting over the fireplace like your parents had. Think of art as anything you feel like putting on your walls that makes you happy when you look at it. Your 20's are a time to have fun, try new things and develop your taste – and that includes your taste in decor. Whether it's a vintage Van Halen poster (in a frame please, the whole point of investing in a grown up place is to stop living like you're in high school) or a wrecked guitar you found at a flea market, the best homes are the ones that really show off the personality of the person who lives there.
Another benefit of a cool conversation piece is just that: If you’re entertaining and need to break up a lull in banter, you can point out that interesting piece hanging on the wall and tell its story. And remember: When you find a piece of decor (or something that can become decor, don't get boxed in with labels here, people!) that you just can't stop thinking about – even if it's not what you'd usually choose – that's your personality shining through. Listen to your instincts. Then decorate.
Looking for more traditional inspiration? Sites like Artfully Walls, Minted, and 20×200 help you bring out your inner art aficionado. And of course, Primer's incredible Free Art Download series, where you can download art for free and print it on your own.
The Right Light
Does your home have two options: Pitch black or hospital-room glaring brightness? Every room looks better (and cleaner, wink wink) with great lighting so if you're lacking in that area it's time to put some effort into getting a glow. Companies like CB2, Target, and Ikea all have accessible options with impressive designs.
Here's how to do it: Mix up the types and heights of the light sources in your room. Try a floor lamp in a corner, table lamps next to your sofa or even a candle or two for extra mood lighting (candles can also do wonders to set the tone for any occasion). Have one of those multi-armed floor lamps from your college days? Try my favorite trick and repurpose it by aiming one or two of the heads up a wall. It will add a nice ambient glow without shining directly in your face. Challenge yourself to see if you can get away with rarely using that overhead at all.