Whether it's a rented apartment or your first house, our homes speak volumes about us. The front door swings open and the world is able to instantly assess: Does a grownup live here?
Here are the top 10 things we think your abode should contain by the time you are 30.
1) A real couch.
Not an uncomfortable futon, not a misshapen hand-me-down and definitely not a pile of giant pillows. A couch is the hub of your social life, where friends gather to talk and hangout. It's where you spend most of your alone time when you are awake. Buying a real couch is an investment and one that shouldn't be rushed into lightly. Couches need to be tested for nap-ability, should be stain-resistant, and of course must fit the space. Couches shouldn't dominate but need to reflect personality -- yours. So are you a leather person or slipcovers with a matching ottoman? We happen to like thrift stores for a lot of things, but prefer our couches new. Yeah, the old bed bug thing. Plus every red wine stain has a story and we prefer the story to be ours.
2) Your Grandma's china.
Sure it has dainty little flowers on it, and you'd never in a million years have picked it out on your own to buy. But it's time to just hush up and take it before your sister stakes her claim. Grandma's china will grow on you. You will come to cherish it and the family connections it represents. You will value it and pass it along to your children and hopefully they will pass it along to theirs. Just package it up carefully, stash it away and reopen it in a decade. (You may delay thanking us for this advice until then.) The more enlightened among you will, of course, gush with gratitude that you were given such an incredible gift and use it regularly.
3) Both a Crock-Pot and a Dutch oven.
Crock-Pots are great for working people. You toss in the ingredients, plug it in and go off to work for the next 12 hours. Voila! You come home to a hot dinner that isn't take-out. Dutch ovens are what you live by when you have time to do actual cooking. And spring for the real ones, not the cheap rip-offs. After all, you are 30 now.
4) Everyday dishes that aren't plastic.
Paper plates were what you used in college. Then you graduated to the plastic ones. Friends, it's time.
5) Unless you have kids or pets, then plastic dishes.
Nobody in their right mind gets ceramic dishes and bowls when there are slippery hands or paws in the household. And the high-end plastic ones are not only durable, they are great-looking.
6) Candles that you actually burn.
Candles, for years, have been your go-to decorating tchotchke, right? And even when they got covered with dust you didn't burn them. Time to burn, baby, burn. The thing about candles is you can replace them with other (undusty) candles. Candles are cheap. Enjoy them.
7) A washer-dryer.
OK, we know this isn't always possible. But even an apartment-sized stack washer-dryer set is better than no washer-dryer. Going to the laundromat is a time suck, not to mention a money suck. The joyous convenience of being able to throw in a load of laundry while you cook dinner cannot be overstated. And 30-year-olds shouldn't be bringing it home to Mom any more.
8) Fresh flowers.
Buying yourself fresh flowers is an affirmation. (Especially in the dead of winter when, in many parts of the country, is an unending tundra of desolation.) Plus, friends always assume someone brought them to you and will never believe that your secret admirer is you.
9) Matching wine glasses.
It used to be that the only time someone had actual matching wine glasses was for about a week after their wedding. Then one would break. Now, we don't need to wait until our nuptials to just get a set. Matching wine glasses are a definite sign of growing up.
10) Matching towels.
See matching wine glasses: same principle. The thing about towels is that we only tend to replace them when we move. A new color scheme requires a couple of new towels. So by the time you are 30, chances are you have two tan towels, two brown towels, two towels in four shades of green -- none of them match and all of them have some life left in them. Just drop them off at a thrift store* on your way to Target, HomeGoods or wherever you find linen bliss.
*Editor's Note: Many animal shelters are also in need of (clean) old towels, blankets and linens.
Another sign of an "adult" home? Cleanliness. Here's how to get back on track.