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It's time to start adulting, and we're here to help. Check out these 3 easy ways to upgrade your space without sacrificing your style and breaking the bank.

You did it. You are moving into your first “real” apartment. You are adulting.

You scoured Craigslist everyday, you posted annoying Facebook statuses soliciting new roommates and you finally threw away the rusted stop sign your best friend convinced you to steal that one night your sophomore year. (Note to self: Never drink Four Loko again.)

Since a coveted collection of empty tequila bottles is no longer an acceptable way to decorate your place, what happens now?

A quick walk around HomeGoods or any other decor store is sure to give you sticker shock. “$350 dollars for that?” you’ll be thinking. “I could’ve painted that.” (Which is technically true) We won’t even start to get into the challenges of navigating around swarms of housewives chattering about window treatments and Yankee candles.

Fear not, fledgling adults. Here are three cool ways to create a swanky space without forking over the paychecks you haven’t even earned yet or sacrificing your style.

rug decorate your first adult apartment

1. Rugged vibes

There’s a good chance there’s less than ideal flooring in your first adult place.

Cover up dingy carpet or scratched tile with a colorful area run. Aim for vibrant colors and simple patterns that serve as a stylish foundation for the rest of the room.

You can easily swap it out whenever you get bored (or whenever your new puppy completely destroys it).

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2. Glass photos

It’s tacky to stick photo prints to the wall, but still healthy and beautiful to decorate with your photos, so have your photos printed on glass instead.

Fracture allows you to turn any photo into a lasting piece of art for your wall. The process is done completely online you don’t have to waste time in the aforementioned decor store or arguing with the clerk at CVS about why your prints all look like they were taken inside of a dark cave.

Starting at only $15, they are a cost-effective way to give your space a streamlined, but cozy feel. You can do a bunch of artsy glass Instagrams for a wall collage or large glass landscape for a statement living room piece.

P.S. These are absolute lifesavers if you move into a place where you aren’t allowed (or are too lazy) to paint the walls.

decorate your first adult apartment

3. Fancy reads

Nothing says “adult” like books.

Find a few visually striking books to display on your coffee table. (No, your high school yearbook does not count.)

It’s a great way to show off that you have more interests than “Game of Thrones” and late night pizza and makes a place feel lived-in. (It’s okay if you never actually read the book.)

You can place one book as a focal point of the table or stack several along with a well-positioned candle to create a dynamic look.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can choose books that casually fit the theme of your place. If you’re using a lot of cool colors and going for a beachy look, for example, opt for a travel book of the Caribbean islands.

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Moving out of the vortex of college living and into your own space is a stressful, but liberating experience. Accept the fact that your place won’t morph into a sophisticated bungalow overnight and make small, stylish changes over time.

Buy some Fractures, a rug and a book and you’ll be on MTV cribs before you know it. Or at the very least, your Tinder date won’t be embarrassed when they come over.

How are you decorating your first adult apartment? Let us know below!

The Author

Drew Allen

Drew Allen

Director of Content Marketing. Managing Editor. Drummer. Husband. Father. Lover of good stories and great design.