How to Adultify Your Living Space

As you gaze around at the random furniture and knickknacks around your place, you might be wondering how it all came to this. After all, you’re a responsible adult now. You pay taxes. Buy your own toilet paper. Your living space should reflect your impressively grown-up status, so here are a few ideas to get you thinking.

Stick to a theme

Image credit: West Elm
Image credit: West Elm

When you were putting together your home for the first time, picking an interior design scheme probably wasn’t at the front of your mind. In fact, we’re willing to bet that you were more motivated by the state of your wallet than any big design plans. So whether you’ve been picking up free furniture from the side of the road or just taking whatever hand-me-down items your friends and family members are done with, it’s easy to end up with a home full of mismatched items that don’t necessarily work together.

However, if you want your space to look less like a uni sharehouse and more like a proper grown-up home, you should pick a theme and stick to it. Maintaining the style throughout the whole house will create a clean, unified look. The tribal trend is going to be hot in 2017 – but don’t let that limit you. The theme can be anything that appeals to your particular sense of style – from beachy chic, with lots of blues and whites and bleached wood, to industrial, with exposed lighting and plenty of metal accents.

Once you’ve picked an overall theme, find complementary furniture that works within the space. Of course you can still grab a freebie if the opportunity arises (after all, who doesn’t love that kind of bargain?) but only if it matches your design scheme. So if you’re going for a beach theme and you see a white linen couch, grab it. But if it’s plush purple velvet with button detailing, leave that treasure for someone else – it’s not going to work for you.

Accessorising is also important. From rugs and cushions to knickknacks and artworks, picking the right items can complete your styling – particularly if your walls and furniture generally lean towards the basic. Consider colour, material and texture, and choose pieces that will accentuate your chosen theme. You can use books, framed photos, paintings, baskets, boxes, sculptural objects, plants and vases – and so much more. Just use your imagination! A couple of subtle starfish might finish off a beachy room, while some metal lamps will help bring an industrial look together.

Accessorise

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We’ve already mentioned that accessories are important to creating the theme of your home – and when you use them right, they really give the impression of a full-realised, adult living space. But how do you style them correctly?

Whether you’ve got a bookshelf, built-in shelving or a coffee table to work with, there are some basic rules to help you arrange your accessories on flat surfaces. First of all, start by placing all the bigger items in place. Then create groupings of smaller items around them, playing with heights so you’re layering small, medium and large items together. The bigger items will draw the eye and anchor the smaller items so they don’t look lost, and using different heights will create visual interest.

When you’re creating the groupings, ensure they have something in common. Random items should be associated by either colour, theme or texture or they’ll look disjointed and chaotic. Once you think you’re done, take a step back and look at the overall effect. Are there too many accessories? Too many competing materials? Is it too symmetrical, or not symmetrical enough? Edit as necessary, until you are happy with the overall balance.

If you don’t have anywhere to place accessories in your home, you can go all-out and install shelving with the help of an expert like Brisbane Shelving. But if that all sounds a bit complicated, go back to the basics. You can easily add flair to your home with a couple of cushions for the couch (oversized is on-trend and super comfy), a nice rug on the floor and some fun curtains for the windows.

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You can even add a bit of artwork to the walls, along with a few house plants – succulents are really easy to take care of, and come in loads of varieties to suit all homes. For more information, check out our tips how to make your home look like a million bucks on a budget. Just don’t go overboard. Think of accessories like your home’s jewellery – you don’t want to wear too much of it at once.

Invest in matching kitchenware

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Stroll into the kitchen and take a look through your cupboards. If you’re greeted with the sight of an ’84 Snoopy plate, a decorative SeaWorld glass, and a Tower of London coffee mug your parents brought back from holiday when you were eight, it’s probably time for an upgrade. New crockery, cutlery and glasses ­– matching sets, even – will say to all your guests, “I’m a grown-up now”.

Having all-white plates is a classic for a reason – they’re timelessly elegant and will never go out of style. Plus, they’re easy to replace if one breaks. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more modern, organic tablewear may be for you. Featuring raw finishes, organic shapes, and natural textures and finishes, it’s a 2016 trend that’s sticking around for 2017. Unique flatwear is also all the rage right now, so put away your plain stainless steel knives and forks and opt instead for black, gold or brass.

Keep in mind that none of this has to cost a fortune. Keep an eye out for department store sales for bargains – places like Victoria’s Basement in Sydney have a range of fabulous kitchen items for really low prices. Thrift shops like Agnes Water Second Hand Store are also a treasure trove of dishware sets, and you never know what else you’re going to find. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something a bit more fancy, you can’t go past a good giftware or homewares shop like Allforms of Design in Yarrum.

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Learn to love light fittings

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Exposed ceiling light bulbs are the final frontier of the bachelor pad and the share house, so go forth and find yourself some inexpensive light fittings or shades. They are not just made for function; they are a design element in your space – so the lighting you pick will depend a lot on your existing décor. You need to consider the lighting’s style, shape, colour and size, and how it will fit in with your home. If you’re going for a luxe, extravagant feel, then one large statement chandelier might be for you. If your style leans towards the minimalist, hidden LED lighting is very sleek and modern.

Meanwhile, lamps come in all sorts of interesting shapes and colours, and should be thought of as an accessory your room. Find one in a matching colour and texture, and use them to add scale by mixing tall and short, little and bulky. A retailer like Lamp City in Ascot Vale will have loads of different styles for you to look at so you can find something that suits you.

Lighting can also be used to create a mood. Bright white light is great for kitchens and laundries, but for something softer in the bedrooms and living rooms, switch to warm-toned bulbs. They add a lovely air of sophistication.

When it comes to full lighting installation, though, make sure to leave it to the experts. As Tony from TSJ tells us, “It’s not uncommon for me to get a call to say ‘Can you please come over? My husband tried to change a light fitting and now half the lights in the house don’t work.’ Don’t ever attempt to touch electricity. It’s dangerous.” Tony’s a seasoned pro, so we’re inclined to agree with him! Check out electricians like McIntosh Electrical in Edgecliff for installation.

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Drink like a grown-up

Image credit: Good Housekeeping
Image credit: Good Housekeeping

Let’s be honest – having a well-stocked home bar is basically the epitome of being an adult. So it’s time to lose the six-packs of beer in the vegetable crisper, and class things up a bit. Add a home bar and impress your guests with your entertaining set-up – or if that’s a bit much, a chic drinks cart will achieve the same thing on a smaller scale. Buy some nice wine and cocktail glasses and a cocktail shaker, and learn how to mix together a couple of standard drinks.

You don’t need to fully stock your personal bar, but you should have some of the basics on hand. Gin, vodka, rum and whisky are good staples, along with mixers like soda water, cola and lemonade. Arrange the bottles according to size, or according to the type of liquor, and make sure the glasses are on hand. A drinks tray is a good way to keep things together if you don’t have much space.

Take advantage of storage space

Image credit: A southern belle with northern roots
Image credit: A southern belle with northern roots

There’s a reason your mum always made you put away your toys – she was trying to teach you a basic level of tidiness that all adults should possess. If you get into the habit of putting things away straight after you’re done with them, you’ll soon notice an improvement in the general upkeep of your home. To make things easier, give everything a ‘place’ in your home. For example, the cleaning products belong under the kitchen sink, and the suitcases belong on top of the wardrobe.

This is made easier with clever storage options. Think hidden drawers in tables, and flip-up couches and bed frames with storage underneath. A sliding spice rack can make the most of the gap between your fridge and the wall, and you can even build drawers into the sides of your staircase. There are all sorts of previously unused places in the home that you can turn into storage – just give an expert like Newman Creations a call and they’ll be able to help.

Woven baskets are all the rage right now, and are perfect for loose blankets, toys and clothes that would otherwise be scattered around the house. Meanwhile, upcycling is also popular for storage – and it has the advantage of being dirt cheap. Think vintage suitcases as make-shift storage boxes, wooden ladders as bookshelves and jam jars or painted tins for knickknacks.

Need help with storage options?

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