Your 20s are a time of transformation. Whether you’re transitioning out of dorm life, moving to a new city or out of your childhood home, or moving in with a roommate or partner, one of the most significant changes you’ll make is your living space. And part of the journey of discovery you go through in your 20s is realizing that how you live is equally as important as where you live.
It’s like going on vacation and you skip vetting your hotel because you figure you’ll never be in the room anyway. Always a big mistake. The same goes for underestimating the impact of your home on your overall happiness. This doesn’t mean splurging on a high rise you can’t afford or spending an exorbitant amount on rent. It just means taking some pride in your home.
Your home should reflect your tastes, your life, and your mood. It should be an inspiring place to start your mornings and a relaxing place to unwind in your evenings. And — depending on your social calendar and your personality type — it should be an inviting place to host guests or a refuge that acts as a self-care oasis.
But curating the ideal moods can seem impossible on a budget.
So you scramble to find what you can stand — and afford — on Facebook Marketplace or Offerup. There’s no shame in the game. But your home is a lifelong project, even as you may move from home to home.
As you navigate your 20s, your tastes change, and as you start earning more money, you’ll eventually create a space that really reflects you — not just what was in your wallet at the time you signed a lease.
Living through these changes, cringing at former aesthetics that you’re now beyond, then repeating the cycle is the best way to discover what you truly like. But through trial and a ton of error, you’ll assemble a few lifelong pieces and begin to discern what your interior approach actually is.
Lucky for you, some handy tips will help make your pursuit of good taste and a guest-ready home much easier.
Discover the items our experts advise you to invest in to make all your temporary 20s-era spaces feel like a home:
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Never skimp on anything to do with your bed. Trade out the cheap, dorm-room-like fabrics for an adult fabric like linen. It’s worth the cost because you’ll sink into it every night and luxuriate in its softness.
While you’re at it, upgrade your curtains. Try blackout curtains or long, dramatic drapes. They will instantly tie together the overall look of your space.
A Capacious Bed
Leave the twin-sized bed back in your dorm room. You deserve a full-sized bed at the very least. If you can spring for a queen, spring for a queen. Designer tip: always buy your duvets one size bigger than your bed. So if you have a queen-sized mattress, buy king-sized bedding. It just looks better — and more adult.
A Functional Frame
As you enhance your bedroom decor and mattress size, you’ll need to switch out that bed frame. So, don’t invest in a small frame you’ll merely have to replace in a few years. Choose functionality — whether it’s an Amazon frame with under-the-bed storage — or a Floyd bed frame that can grow with you
A Full-Length Mirror
The entire world had those over-the-door mirrors in their childhood bedroom and then their dorm room. But now, it’s time for a bigger-n-better, full-length mirror. Whether you choose an ornate, vintage-inspired floor piece or a sleek minimalist mirror, you can’t go wrong. Plus, mirrors make small spaces look bigger.
Whether it’s a dutch oven or a non-stick set that won’t disintegrate in the dishwasher, fine cookware makes all the difference and will make you proud of those delish dishes you whip up.
Ditch the cheap glassware and take the opportunity to put some personality in every meal. Glassware is something you’ll keep forever. Accumulating little sets of unique vessels is one of the most wholesome joys in life.
A Luxe Throw Blanket
The Hermes throw blanket may be — at this point — pretty gauche. But it’s a testament to the power of an investment throw. They can truly make all the difference. And while you don’t have to splurge on Hermes, a high-quality throw is a classy way to add some layering and texture to a room. Don’t get rid of your generic, college-era cozy blanket. Just move it to storage and only bring it out when you need it.
A Fine Rug
Don’t underestimate the power of a fine rug. It coalesces your entire space, instantly adds color, texture, and personality. It boosts warmth and cohesion to any room making it wonderfully inviting to come home to.
A Dining Set
As you grow older, you’ll want to host more friends at your own home. So, you’ll eventually switch out your mismatched chairs and flimsy dining table for an actual dining set. But you don’t have to pick a cookie-cutter all-in-one set. Start collecting some complimentary chairs and choose a dining table where your friends will gather for lively nights Sunday brunches.
If you’ve been on Interior Decor TikTok, you know the golden rule: “Don’t turn on the big light!” Instead, judiciously add lamps and intriguing lighting moments.
Versatile Storage Solutions
Ditch those cheap plastic organizers from your college years long before you move into your own space. Storage benches, bins, and baskets are your new best friends.
A Timeless Couch
When shopping for home decor, couches are undoubtedly a gigantic expenses. So don’t place too much pressure when purchasing your first couch — Or your second — Or even your third. Even if it’s not your dream couch, choose one that’s both comfy and functional. And since you’ll have it for a while, don’t fall victim to trends with a sofa thatyou’ll get sick of in a year.
Candles - Lots of Them
I pretty much always have a candle burning. For the vibe. And while I save my nice scented candles for specific moments, I’ve tons of colorful beeswax candles that give an inviting ambiance. Place them on your mantle or drop them inside teacups or wine glasses for a romantic, eclectic mood-booster.
Coffee Table Books
I’ll say this now: skip the Tom Ford book. But apart from that, coffee table books reveal your personality. They also add length and dimension to your tablescape.
With each move - One more quality piece of furniture
A rule of thumb is to add one investment piece to each new space you move into. That way, with each move you grow more sophisticated. This also encourages you to spend your money on pieces you will actually keep.
Start Collecting Art
Whether you scour vintage flea markets for unique prints or invest in art from artist-friends, or people you follow online, collecting art is a lifelong pursuit that will make your home feel like yours.
Something you love
To keep your home from looking like an IKEA showroom or like you simply replicated an influencer’s abode piece for piece, don’t be afraid to fill it with things you love. Delicate decorative moments that reflect your interests will add flare to your home (think the snails in Emma Chamberlain's bathroom. Random, but cool).
Something that reminds you of “home”
Your 20s are defined by nostalgia — reminiscing about that childhood oh so long ago. As you build your new life, keep small reminders of home in every place you go and stay connected your roots.
As much as you need reminders of where you’re from, also fill your home with tokens of who you want to be. I don’t mean inspirational posters, but more like little signifiers of your goals, your values, and even the aesthetic you’ll one day embody when you’re no longer 20 years old and broke.