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The Guy's Home Guide for Your 20s

6 essentials to live better

By Jennifer Hunter | Last Updated: Feb 1 2018

Leveling up doesn’t begin and end with the clothes you wear. Find the basics you need to upgrade your home in your twentiesthirtiesforties, and fifties

If you’re just starting out on your own, you’re probably feeling a strange and thrilling combo of “This is amazing!” mixed with “Holy #%*& what do I do?” Don’t worry, that’s normal. Time to practice the old “fake it ’till you make it”  mentality (still a frequently played track in my repertoire, even now that I don’t have a 2 in front of my age anymore).

But there’s no need to do tons of trial and error with your home decor. Sure, there’s always room for experimentation and upgrades after you nail down some basic essentials that you need now (as in tonight!) and will serve you for years to come. Start out with this stuff; you won’t regret it.

The essential home guide for your 20s:

A good bed

Here’s the thing about investment pieces: the sooner you get one, the longer you can enjoy it (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? You’ll probably wind up spending roughly the same amount in either way, so if you can swing it, get the good one now and save yourself the hassle. 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.

Lovely linens

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 300 (a higher number means a finer fabric but don’t go crazy, after 800 or so, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference). Little things really do make a difference when you’re using them every single day and go a long way toward making your feel like a real life grown up. Trust!


Pro tip: The benefits of white bedding.


The right kitchen gear

Even if cooking is not your thing, 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. 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? Win win!

Tools

Man or woman, everyone needs some basic tools to get stuff done around the house (after a friend caught me trying to hammer a nail into the wall with a dictionary, I knew it was time to invest here). Having the right tool for the right job is not only safer, 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” or 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 so you can start using them. Not sure what you need? Start 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

Art doesn’t necessarily mean an oil painting over the fireplacelike 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. That includes your taste in decor so take a risk here. Whether it’s a vintage Van Halen poster (in a frame please, you’ve graduated from your dorm days) 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. When you find a piece of decor (or something that can become decor, don’t get boxed in) 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 you instincts. Then decorate.

The right light

Does your home have two options: pitch black or glaringly bright? Every room looks better (and cleaner fyi) with great lighting so if you’re lacking in that area it’s time to put some effort into getting a glow. Here’s how to do it: mix up the types and heights of the light sources in your room. See if you can get away with never using that ugly overhead at all. 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 cover any questionable smells, hint hint). 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.

Tell us:

How do you personalize your home decor?

Editor’s note: This SG home guide originally ran on Primer