Landing a gig and finding an apartment were great first steps. But if you want to prove to your parents that you’ve made the transition from beer-bonging college kid to full-fledged adult, you need a pad that doesn’t resemble a college dorm room, says Mikel Welch, an interior designer who helps celebrities like Steve Harvey assemble stylish and sophisticated spaces.
Here, Welch and other design experts offer their best apartment upgrades to wow your parents. (Even if you don’t care what your ’rents think of your place, these improvements will impress any women you’re trying to woo.)
COVER YOUR FLOORS
You probably have furniture and a bed. But a lot of young guys never think about adding rugs, Welch says. “Stick with simple—like a hide or jute rug,” he says. Another good option: FLOR carpet tiles. “These are square carpet tiles that you link together,” he says. “If you spill wine or something on it, you can just toss and replace that one tile.”
BUY SOME PLANTS
“Plants are a fantastic way to prove your adulthood to any guests, and especially to parents,” says Jaime Derringer, founder of Design Milk. Plants make a place feel homier. “The fact that you’re able to keep a plant alive and healthy shows that you’re responsible and ready to tackle life on your own,” Derringer says. Welch agrees, and suggests succulents, cacti, and aloe plants as low-maintenance options that you probably couldn’t kill if you tried.
PAINT YOUR WALLS
Plain white walls are a hallmark of cheap rentals. If you can do it without violating your lease, paint the walls a light gray. “Pale gray or blue shades really upgrade the look and feel of a space,” Welch says.
OUTFIT YOUR WINDOWS
Naked windows scream “dorm room,” Derringer says. “Curtains or draperies are a fantastic way to finish off a room and instantly make it feel homier and more adult-like.” Stick with neutral colors like white or gray, Welch adds. “Ikea and Bed, Bath & Beyond offer inexpensive pre-packaged drapes,” he says.
BUY AN ENTERTAINMENT CENTER
If bare windows scream “dorm room,” having your TV, cable box, gaming console, and streaming devices scattered on a table and surrounded by cords shouts “immature dude.” You don’t need a massive blocky piece, Welch says. But you need something with a drawer or compartment to hold or conceal all your entertainment accessories.
DITCH YOUR POSTERS—AT LEAST SOME OF THEM
Obviously that poster of Belushi wearing the “college” sweatshirt needs to go. While you can keep one or two of your favorite posters (stick them in your bedroom), you want your main living space to have at least one mirror and one actual piece of framed art—either an original work or a print, Welch says.
A single overhead light is appropriate for an operating room, not a home. Every room in your place needs at least one lamp. And when it comes to your main living space, you want three. “If you’re looking at the room from overhead, you want the lamps positioned in the shape of a triangle,” Welch says. Consider getting one floor lamp and two smaller side-table lamps. “And make sure they don’t’ match,” he adds.