11 Home and Houseware Upgrades That Prove You're Finally a Grownup


Your home says a lot about you. Are you still in an adolescent phase, barely keeping things together with take-out containers all over your futon, or are you ready for some real adulting? Impress your friends and prove to your parents that you're a grownup with these easy and affordable home decor upgrades.

1. A quality chef's knife

You know you're a grownup when you have a knife you love so much, you're willing to get it sharpened in order to keep it in tip-top shape. When you've cooked enough at home, you know having a quality chef's knife is a must.

Don't worry, a quality knife doesn't have to put you in the poorhouse. Yes, the Wüsthofs and Shuns of the world may be the ultimate standard, but the truly savvy adult knows that top quality can be had from slightly less pricey brands, such as Victorinox, or less-expensive lines from the top brands, such as the Wüsthof Pro line. (See also: 31 Essential Kitchen Tools All Frugal Cooks Need)

2. Blackout curtains

Sure, when you were in your college days, any old thing that could keep the light out when you were sleeping off last night's … study session … was fine. A sheet tacked up over the window was plenty for your needs. But now that you're a bill-paying adult, it's time to get some nicer window dressings.

You can pay a pretty penny for quality blackout curtains, but you can get some surprisingly luxurious and grownup looking ones from places like Target, World Market, IKEA, and Amazon. And instead of paying through the nose for custom lined curtains, clip some blackout lining to the back using curtain clips and rings. After all, you need your beauty sleep for all the adulting you'll be doing early in the morning.

3. A table centerpiece

Nothing says you've made it to adulthood like a centerpiece for your table. A nice vase, or a tray with some candles on it tells the world that you've settled into your home.

The cheapest place to get vases and knick-knacks is the thrift store, where you can find an abundance of pitchers, vases, baskets, and trays for a couple bucks each.

4. Framed prints

Throw away those music festival posters, or at least frame them so they look like art. Framed prints make a home look so much more put together.

And if you want to go with custom framing, you should know it's a bit of a splurge. If you must custom frame something, make use of coupons at craft stores or promo codes for online custom framing retailers like Framebridge. Cheaper alternatives include shopping for already-framed art at discount stores like TJMaxx, or framing your own art with ready-made frames — IKEA has some lovely inexpensive options.

5. Houseplants

It takes some real adult skill to keep a houseplant alive. I should know, I've killed plenty. That's why I now invest in succulents and air plants.

The clearance section of the Home Depot garden center is where I've found a lot of my succulents and plants. I've also gotten a lot of cuttings from a friend for free, and actually had success propagating some of them. (See also: 6 Surprising Ways a Houseplant Can Save You Money)

6. Supportive pillows

You know you're getting older when you buy a pillow specifically for its neck or back support. The most important thing about a pillow is that it holds your head in a neutral position. Side sleepers need a thicker, firmer pillow (such as memory foam pillows), whereas back sleepers need a pillow that supports their head without disrupting the natural curve of the neck.

It can be hard to find the perfect pillow for you, and I honestly think this is one purchase that is worth the investment. Look for pillows that have a money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free, as it takes a few nights to determine if a pillow is a good fit.

7. Multiple sources of lighting

A ceiling light can do the job of illuminating a room, but decorators agree that multiple sources of lighting are more soothing and pleasing to the eye. One upgrade that can make your home feel much cozier is buying a few floor and table lamps to diversify your lighting.

Discount stores like TJMaxx are great for finding affordable lighting. If you'd like to save a little more, you can also look at architectural salvage stores like the Habitat for Humanity Restore, or thrift shops.

8. A proper filing system

It might seem boring, but it's so essential to keep track of bills, medical records, receipts, tax returns, and other important documents. After a while, throwing them all in a drawer (or piling them on the dining table) and hoping they'll sort themselves out just doesn't cut it anymore.

IKEA has some sleek looking file cabinets for under $100, and check online on Overstock and Amazon for some basic options. (See also: 11 Essential Documents You Should Keep in Your Safe)

9. Guest-friendly bathroom amenities

When your friends come over, is there enough toilet paper? How about a place to dry their hands that isn't the bath towel you used this morning? Put a little thought into what guests might need if they use your bathroom.

You don't need much, just a few hand towels, a soap dispenser, and a toilet paper holder. There are endless budget-friendly options at home decor or major department stores. Make sure you tuck your toiletries out of sight and bam! You've got a grownup bathroom.

10. Matching dishes

Having matching dishes on the table is definitely a step towards being an adult. White dishes are always practical and can always be accessorized with other colors.

You can dish out a lot for matching dinnerware at department stores, but go to Amazon, IKEA, or Target and you can get a serviceable set of matching plates and bowls for a super affordable price. A set of eight will usually be enough for dinner parties and guests.

11. A slow cooker

Whether it's a basic slow-cooker, or one of the uber-popular electric pressure cookers, having an appliance that cooks your dinner for you while you do other stuff is one of the marks of a busy adult.

For the cult-favorite Instant Pot or other appliances, put a price alert on the Amazon listing using Camel Camel Camel so you'll be notified when they have their periodic sales, which are the cheapest way to get one of these appliances (unless you lucked out by finding a brand-new Instant Pot at the thrift store, like I did).

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