I originally created this article for Oak Furniture Land’s blog but I thought it’d be fun to share it (with a few updates) here on Swoon Worthy!

I may now be in well into my 40’s but I can still remember my first ‘grown-up’ place in my early 20s. It was a little apartment above the garage of my parent’s friends, just down the road from their own home. The open plan living room and kitchen were decorated in a bold wallpaper border in burgundy and green florals and I bought a white slipcover for the leather sofa that was already there. Everything else was hand-me-downs from older relatives or little trinkets friends had brought to help me fill the place. The bathroom was a vision in peach (it was the 90s after all) and I remember the dark green towels I’d bought that I thought worked beautifully with the colour. Ahhh… memories.

How about you? Can you remember your first ‘grown-up’ place? I imagine, if like me, you were in your 20s as well, you might have had your Auntie’s hand-me-down sofa and those plates your mum gave you. Maybe you managed to splurge on lots of IKEA furniture but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t great, right? Just having your own space was enough to make the place feel like home and not having to worry about answering to your parents was a novelty in and of itself.

10 Decorating Lessons You Learn in Your 30s

But you might be well past your 20’s now and starting to really think about how to create a home now that you’ve entered into proper ADULTING territory. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I finally discovered who I truly was and started accepting myself for the person I was growing up to be. How about you? Do you feel that way too? And more importantly, does your home reflect this new outlook? If it doesn’t, isn’t it time it did?

I’m sure you’ve learned a few things over the years and today I’m sharing 10 different style rules you should probably know by now to make sure your home is ‘glowing up’ just like you are. If not, don’t fret, I’m here to guide you through this time of discovery and make sure your home reflects that fabulous person you always knew you’d grow up to be!

Lesson #1 – Art should go in frames

framed print above vintage chest of drawers in bedroom

A bit of blue tack was great for holding up posters in your teenage bedroom and maybe a bit of washi tape looked cute a few years ago but it’s time to ditch the cheap frames and start to look at getting your art properly framed. You don’t have to spend a huge amount of money on professional framing unless you want to but a nice frame and an added mat add an air of sophistication to any room. If you fancy a gallery wall, having similar or coordinated frames will give you a much more pulled-together (read ‘grown-up’) look. The only time this wouldn’t apply is if you purchase paintings on a wrapped canvas in which case, they can remain frameless. Anything else – a frame is a must!

Here’s how I turned some free postcards into quite chic little art pieces that I still have up in my home!

Lesson #2 – You’ve finally invested in proper storage

black wardrobes in bedroom

No more milk crates for you! It’s time to invest in some great storage pieces that will stand the test of time. So whether it’s a sideboard in the dining room to house the decent set of plates (you do have a great matching set now, right?) or a proper wardrobe in the bedroom to keep your clothing tidy, these pieces will last a long time so be sure to get the best quality you can afford.

Lesson #3 – You need a good quality dining room set

dining room with faux chippendale bamboo chairs

The after party has now graduated to a night of cooking for friends at dinner parties and so that means you need more than just that folding table and the garden chairs to make your guests feel at ease. A good dining set is just what you need to create ambiance in your home and spending a bit extra for quality is always worth it.

I had my table custom-made bespoke for me and it wasn’t as expensive or crazy as you might think. You can read about that here.

Lesson #4 – You realise you shouldn’t use the television stand that came with your TV

Gold TV stand with french style mirror above fireplace

Let’s face it. Those metal and glass monstrosities should be left at the appliance store. They go with nothing else in your home and look terribly out of place with wires and all sorts being fully visible from every angle. No, it’s time to either hang the TV on the wall (pay someone to make sure those wires are hidden in the wall if you can’t do it yourself!) or purchase a much nicer piece of furniture to put your television on.

Lesson #5 – You know nothing beats a good quality set of bed linens

Bengal cat on pink bedding

Sure, you can get away with buying a set of sheets and a duvet cover at the supermarket. But purchase the highest quality thread count linens that you can afford and you’ll never go back to those cheap sheets again. You’ve stayed at a few nice hotels by now and you know that you just can’t sleep as well with a scratchy duvet. You finally understand the meaning behind the Miles Redd quote, “Buy the best and you’ll only cry once.”

I’m obsessed with my linen bedding. You can read more about that here.

Lesson #6 – You’ve added personality to your home with items from your travels

Coffee table styling with vintage cabinet in the background

You’ve lived a little, you’ve visited some far away lands, you’ve gained a bit of culture. Now it’s time to make your home reflect the varied life you’ve lived. So the rug you bargained mercilessly for from that market trader in Marrakesh or the tea set you picked up for a few yen in the Far East or the hand made mugs you splurged on from that little gem of a shop in Prague all deserve to be seen. Adding these personal touches to a home makes your home unique and not like every other 30 something out there.

Struggling with styling all those gorgeous bits and pieces? I offer a styling service that might help.

Lesson #7 – The sofa (or floor!) is no longer adequate for overnight guests

When Mum and Dad come to visit or you have guests staying overnight, you realise that throwing a duvet on the floor is not as acceptable as it once was when you were in your 20’s. It’s time to spoil your guests a little whether with a decent sofa bed or a dedicated guest bedroom. And you actually have a separate set of bedding clean and ready when they arrive.

Here are my top tips for creating a glorious guest bedroom (warning: they may not want to leave)!

Lesson #8 – You’ve finally cracked your black thumb

Black and white kitchen with gold tap

You may have thought that all your plants were committing mass suicide in your 20’s but you are finally realising that with a little extra research and attention, your plants are finally starting to thrive. Sure, it takes a bit more effort but you realise how much beauty and life they add to your home. You might actually have a few herbs in the kitchen as well for all the cooking you’re doing now or started paying more attention to the garden. It’s not time wasted any more, it’s actually satisfying!

All my best tips for keeping your plant babies alive are in this blog post.

Lesson #9 – You realise the value of a good sofa

olive green velvet sofa in boho glam living room

While the cheap and cheerful sofa from that Scandinavian superstore may have been good enough in your 20’s, you realise now that buying well is much better than compromising on style and comfort. Sinking into your sofa to watch your favourite Netflix series is so much more satisfying, not only when it looks great and marries well with your room scheme but when it’s oh so comfy as well.

Here are 5 things you need to consider when deciding on which sofa to buy.

Lesson #10 – You’re finally owning your own style

Vanity area with shelving styled with shoes and bags

Sure, you will still be inspired by magazines, Instagram, Pinterest and the trends of the day but you realise your own style doesn’t necessarily need to come out of the pages of a magazine. You know it’s time to figure out what your style really is and you are starting to understand when something works and when it just doesn’t. You’re starting to dress your home the way you dress yourself – as an extension of yourself. Your 30’s are a great time to decide what kind of home you want to have and how your personality will be reflected in your surroundings.

Here’s how to use Pinterest to discover your own personal style.

So of course, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek and everyone will be different but I’d love to know how many of these lessons have you learned by now? Do you remember your first place? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!

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