Congratulations. You’ve somehow managed to navigate your way through
college sleeping through 8:00 AM lectures and binge drinking while doing the bare minimum required to graduate. You’ve probably even landed an entry-level job. Maybe you’re a first year teacher (God have mercy on your poor, poor soul). Maybe you’re an utter fuck up who has disappointed your parents and loved ones by deciding to move to New York City to focus on writing the next Great American Novel but you’re actually just a bartender. Either way…
Welcome to “adulthood” mis amigos (that’s Spanish for “my amigos”). It sucks here, but the only thing to look forward to in the forseeable future (ie, the rest of your life) is retirement, so try to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.
Somehow, somewhere along the line, people in your life will (wrongfully) assume you sort of have your shit together. You probably don’t, because, here’s a secret: nobody actually does, it’s just that some people are better at faking it than others.
There are certain times in life when being the token disaster is advantageous. For yours truly, those times are every second of every day, but I’m a rare breed, much like a majestic unicorn or a leprechaun (I also lost my virginity nine times). If you’re like the rest of the world, there are times when it’s necessary to look like a functioning, contributing member of adult society. Whether these times be when your parents come to visit, or when you have a potential future ex-lover to your place of residence for the first time, it’s important to create the illusion that you are a legitimate human being.
You can definitely use your apartment to trick people into thinking you’re an adult; you just have to realize a few key components of doing so. Interior decorating is the key to transforming your basic low-budget living space into a dwelling of a semi-successful “adult:”
I don’t know why, but domestic vegetation is instrumental in tricking people into thinking you’re not a total fucking mess. Yes, that Venus Fly trap is really cool, but nothing says, “No, I definitely have not used my Sallie Mae letters as rolling papers” like a sensible impatiens. If you can’t keep a Beta fish alive but are into low-maintenance decorations, plants bring a new edge to your pseudo-adult home. Sure, you might forget to water the ficus for three weeks, but you definitely tried to nurture something. And let’s face it, bonsai trees are basically the decorative replacement for the empty liquor bottles we were all so fond of during college.
Obviously, you’re literate, unless you’re reading this from one of those Helen Keller computers. But, you have to prove you’re an adult by throwing it in everyone’s face JUST HOW LITERATE YOU ARE. You don’t exactly need a library of the classics, but a well-stocked bookshelf is more for show than operational purposes anyway. My roommates and I have QUITE the impressive display of reading material on our Ikea bookshelf. Granted, the Harry Potter series might comprise a good portion of it, but still, WE HAVE BOOKS AND WE ARE SMART. Coffee table books are also an incredible investment. Photography books are the best, largely because they still deliver the realness with the blatant “nobody is actually reading this” edge.
PICTURES AND WALL ART
Yes, everybody loved the posters you put up with thumb tacks and that weird 9M pull off white tape in your college dorm room, but nothing screams sophistication and class like having actual art and pictures in real frames on your walls and throughout your apartment. Investing in a few simple (but chic) frames to put pictures in suddenly makes even the trashiest of spring break pictures seem like acceptable memories on display. Basic posters of prints in frames are also a great way to make people believe you know how to decorate.
Don’t ask me why, but a good floor covering can remedy even the most dismal of living situations. I live in Brooklyn, and most of the apartments are pre-war or refurbished warehouse scenarios with a lot of exposed brick and cheap “wood” floors involved. An area rug is a major game changer when you’re trying to make your over-priced living space look more home-y and domestic. “Look Mom and Dad, I’m fully aware there is a heroin den within walking distance, BUT HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THIS WEST ELM RUG?! TAKE YOUR SOCKS OFF, I DARE YOU!” Seriously kids. Rugs. Get into them.
I mean, yes, everyone can still get into their candle and incense phase, but appropriate lighting is another way of making your apartment look more “career-oriented adult” and less “hungover disaster who wall paper-ed the walls with empty pizza boxes (which I’ve seen done, but that’s an entirely different issue).” Floor lamps, softer light bulbs, and the totally unnecessary but somehow simultaneously quintessential KITCHY TABLE LAMP are all items needed to create an ambient, well lit (I think) atmosphere to foster your burgeoning adulthood.
After college, the only time it’s acceptable to drink out of a Red Solo cup is if you’re either at a barbeque, at the beach, or doing so ironically at a HUGE house rager. I’ll always maintain one of the best purchases since I’ve lived on my own has been a nice sensible set of glassware. A typical set consists of water glasses, red and white wine glasses, and beer pint glasses. You can go crazy by adding in the sparkling wine glasses, juice glasses, margarita glasses, cosmo glasses, whatever. Either way, you give your humble abode a very sophisticated and simple flair by coordinating all of the glasses you irresponsibly consume alcohol out of. I never said you had to drink responsibly. You just should look as if you do. And while we’re talking about drinking: COASTERS. I don’t know why, but coasters are another incredible indicator that you’re not completely fucking up the adult game.
Best of luck! Also, take all of this with a grain of salt (and a shot of tequila) because my apartment literally has a life size cutout of Beyonce and Jay Z in the living room and one night my roommates got wicked drunk and “expressed themselves” by painting abstract designs on the walls with an assortment of neon colors. So like, good luck, fellow not-adults.