Grown-Up Goals: Home Stuff Everyone Needs to Know
No more excuses. Here are the basics.
One of the biggest milestones of transitioning from college life to the real world is having your own space. It's something to be proud of, yet many young adults feel lost when it comes to taking care of their home, hosting a real party or even knowing basic etiquette. If you're just starting out and need some adulting help, here's our starter kit.
Intimidated by blank walls or all the beige in your new space? One of the most common struggles young adults have is not knowing how to decorate. YouTube star and DIYer Mr. Kate recently helped us with some design basics in our new series, Grown-Up Goals. Here's how to decorate a living room for the first time and get a high-end look from thrift-store items.
Grown-Up Living Room 02:24
One of the most popular questions we get from urban adults is how to make the most out of a small apartment. If you live in a one-bedroom studio, it can be tough dedicating space to a home office, so Mr. Kate came up with a great mobile work station you can set up and store when not in use. Turn any part of your flat into a work area.
Creating a Workspace Anywhere 02:36
Stock Up on Basics
Walking through a homewares store can be overwhelming. Here are the essentials you need to stock your kitchen with so you can prep any meal and entertain friends.
Stocking Kitchen Essentials 01:00
The kitchen pantry isn't the only place you need to stock up on things. It's so important to keep common medicines, bandages and ointments at the ready. Avoid a trip to the pharmacy, especially when you feel bad. At the minimum, here's what you need.
No matter where you live, at some point in the year, there’s probably something that blooms outside, or kicks up indoors that will set off a storm of sneezing. If you have seasonal allergies, stock up on a once a day allergy medicine. If it’s once in a while thing, it’s still a good idea to have some antihistamine on hand for those random one-off occurrences of allergic reaction.
Sometimes the cold wasn't bad, but the lingering cough is a bear. Rather than relying on cold medicines that cover everything, try taking only the medicine you need. A good cough syrup will keep that cough from keeping you awake all night, without loading you down with a decongestant and painkillers, too.
Keep It Clean + Organized
Sure, you sweep once a week and wipe down the bathroom, but that's just the beginning of cleaning. There are several items that need replacing on a regular basis. Do you know the last time you changed your air filter? Think about what you're breathing in. A clean space is a healthy space.
When the air in your house is being circulated through an air conditioner, it pays to clean out the filter regularly. If it’s been a while, brace yourself, these hardworking filters can accumulate quite a coating of dust, pollen and debris. For HVAC units, change the filter every three months. Two months if you have pets. And every 30 days if you have allergies. For window units, shake out dust and wash the filter. Allow the filter to dry completely before placing back in the air conditioner so it doesn't mold.
It's gross to think about but you share your pillow with dust, dirt, oil, dead skin cells, and dust mites. Pillows should replaced every three years or as often as every six months for allergy sufferers. Pillows should be washed every three months. Down alternative pillows can go into the washing machine, while down feather pillows need to be dry cleaned. Looking to extend the life of your pillow? Buy a zippered cover and wash every three weeks.
Batteries in Safety Equipment
If you’re waiting for the smoke/carbon monoxide detector to beep before you change the batteries, you may be putting yourself and your family at risk. Set an alarm on your phone, put it on the family calendar, or pick a holiday as the yearly reminder to change those critically important batteries.
Who knew your favorite mascara had such a short shelf life? Only three months. The same goes for liquid or gel eyeliners, too. As for the life of other cosmetics, you’ll get a year out of lipsticks, lip liners, concealers, oil-free foundations, cream shadows and cream blushes. Sturdier makeup like pencil eyeliner, lip gloss, and powders (blushes, bronzers and shadows) will last two years. Once an item has hit its lifetime max, ditch them so you don’t end up with icky (and infection causing) germs on your face.
If your sponge has an odor or feels slimy, bad news. It’s likely that sponge is harboring E.coli, salmonella, yeast and mold due to the warm, moist environment that’s so welcoming to those nasty germs. To reduce the germs, wash the sponge, then microwave while wet for two minutes, or run it through the dishwater. But remember, you may be able to reduce the number of bad bugs, but washing probably won’t eliminate them. That’s why sponges should be replaced every week. Or make the switch to a dish brush.
If your range hood filter is stainless, chances are it has collected an impressive amount of cooking grease. Remove the filter and soak it in a solution of boiling water, baking soda and dish soap before scrubbing with a dish brush. Rinse and replace. Filter too far gone? You can get replacements at most home improvement stores.
Make sure the gunk you’re removing from the toilet doesn’t end up hanging out and festering on the brush bristles and in the cup. After cleaning the toilet, sandwich the toilet brush between the toilet rim and seat, so that the brush head is suspended over the bowl. Spray with a disinfecting cleaning spray and allow to sit for a few minutes. Rinse with hot water and allow to sit until dry. The key is not putting this bad boy back dirty or wet, trapping any germs in the holder. Replace every six months.
It's so hard to keep clutter under control, especially in open-space lofts where there are no closets and everything is visable. Mail is the worst. It piles up and takes over countertops and tables. It's tempting to toss out a pile of papers, but some things should be saved. Here's what you should hold onto and where to put it.
Did you know you’re supposed to keep seven years of tax filings? Yep, that’s right. Seven Years. Keep things organized and in the right place by using accordion folders to store each year’s tax return, along with supporting documents. As each year goes by, shred the return from eight years ago, and put the current year’s return in the accordion folder. A document box in a closet is a great place to store these, since you only touch them once a year.
Paperwork that needs to be filed once a year can be tricky. What month was it you renew your pet permit with the city? When are the car tags up for renewal? When does the renter's insurance expire? Keep those papers in a specific folder so you can always refer to them, and put the renew date on your calendar, including a reminder on your phone two weeks out so you can get that paperwork completed and mailed out on time.
Keep Precious Items Safe From Fire
Now that you have legit “official documents,” it’s time to enter the world of fireproof document storage. Protect birth certificates, passports, deeds, heirloom jewelry, social security cards and so on in a fireproof chest, which you can find at big box stores or online. As a bonus, having all of those documents safely stored in once place eliminates that paralyzing moment of panic where you can’t remember where you stored your passport the night before a trip.
Set Up A Folder System
Know what’s less fun than doing taxes? Sorting through a shoebox of receipts. Do yourself a favor and create a system to store each type of receipt you get, so you can get the max number of tax deductions at the end of the year. Even better, each month, add them up and include the total in a spreadsheet, so all you have to do at the end of the year is add up twelve months of subtotals, instead of 365 days worth of jumbled receipts.
Prevent Paying the Bills Late
Paid the power bill late last month? Late payments can affect your credit score! Create a mini binder to store bills and keep track of due dates. Divide the binder into five weekly sections and as soon as a bill comes in, stick it in the week when you need to send it out. Each Sunday, gather the bills that need to be paid that week and send them out.
Keep Outgoing Bills Close to the Door
OK, so you gathered up your checkbook and stamps, created a binder to know when to pay each bill, but if the stamped envelopes never make it to the mailbox, all of your effort was wasted. Make sure those suckers make it out on time by clipping them together and hanging them on the same hook as your keys. That way, you can’t get out the door without grabbing the bills, too.
Gone are the days of college keggers. Being a good host or hostess takes planning and prep time. Here's how to impress your friends and throw down as an adult.
Entertaining Without a Keg 02:30
What Goes Where
Everyone wants to set a gorgeous table when guests are coming over. And most of us have a general idea of what needs to be on the table for a casual dinner, but when it’s a special occasion, do you know if you have what you need to dress up your dinner table? We’re going to spell it out, step by step.
It’s always tempting to go with napkins that have fun colors, patterns or textures. But you (and your wallet) will appreciate the ability to throw them in a hot wash with some bleach. It's the easiest way to remove all traces of stains. In our book, white cotton is the way to go. Dress up the simplicity of white linens with a napkin ring or vintage brooch. You can find great costume jewelry at the thrift store.
Thank-you notes are still very relevant. It's your chance to make a lasting impression after a job interview, brighten someone's day and so much more. Keep a stack of stationery and stamps on hand.
When: After Receiving A Gift
You probaby already knew this one from every single birthday when you had to go down the list and write thank you notes to your family members for the gift they sent. But even as an adult, even when everything is digital, a proper thank you note will set you apart from your peers and show off your class and poise.
When: After A Job Interview
This. Is. Critical. Send it by mail (stick it in the mail within an hour of your interview to be sure it arrives the next day) or by email, but within 24 hours of an interview. You need to send a note thanking your interviewer for their time, mentioning one or two specific points from the interview that you enjoyed or were thought-provoking, and a subtle, but positive affirmation of why you’re the ideal candidate for the position, based on something you learned in the interview that wasn’t in the job posting.
When: After Attending A Party
It’s no easy feat to be a party host. From all of the prep work to the expense of the food, decor, and drinks, it’s a massive amount of work. Show your appreciation to your host by sending a note detailing why the party was the highlight of your social calendar for the month.
When: After Leaving A Job
This one often gets overlooked in the chaos of getting situated in a new position. But where you land next is always about who you know. Keeping in contact with colleagues and bosses from previous jobs will serve you well throughout your career. A short note about why you enjoyed working with that person and what they taught you will be appreciated and will cement a positive lasting impression of you.
What to Say
We’ve all been there: Sitting over a blank notecard, paralyzed with writer’s block. The easiest and most authentic thing to write is an honest thank you. If you're writing about a gift, include a personalized observation of how the gift made you feel/cheered up your space/functioned while using it. Keep the note short and sweet and you’ll be done in no time.
Stock Up on Stationery
Having cards and stationery on hand will make it easier to jot down messages and send out thank you notes promptly. With so many gorgeous stationery choices, the only hard part with be picking which ones to buy. Shop handmade sets online or DIY your own with craft stamps or watercolors.
Addressing an envelope in an unexpected way will set the tone for a killer thank you note and leave the receiver blown away that you took the time to hand letter the envelope, instead of scratching it out illegibly. Show off your creative side. Use a brush pen and ink to create some brush stroke calligraphy, or space out the address block. Try adding decorative elements on the back like birthday candles or garland for the holidays.
Thank You Note Etiquette 01:00
We have more ways of communicating with each other than we've ever before, yet when a friend or family member goes through something bad, we're silent because we don't know what to say. Part of being an adult — and this is way more important than thank-you notes or making conversation at dinner parties — is being there for someone.
Send Care Packages
It’s so tough to be far away from a friend going through a tough time, but don’t let the distance discourage your support. Remember how amazing care packages were when you were a kid? Now’s the time to bring them back. Pack small things to cheer up your friend, like cheerful stationery, or nonperishable treats like a gourmet chocolate bar. Lightweight items like gift certificates can be slipped in to treat your friend to a massage or facial. A super soft pashmina is easily packed and might be just the thing for your friend to cozy up with after a long day.
Check In Frequently
If this is your first encounter with tragedy, grief, suffering, or struggle, it’s impossibly difficult to know what to say. But make the effort. Those going through a tough time are often isolated for exactly that reason: Friends don’t know what to say, so they stay silent. Maybe your friend doesn’t want to talk about their struggle. Your conversation about the funny thing your puppy did or where you found the most bonkers delicious tacos might actually be just the escape from reality your friend needs. No matter what, call, text, FaceTime, or email. Just check in often.
When times are tough, food can be the last thing on your friend’s mind. Dropping off easy to reheat meals is a thoughtful way to help unobtrusively. Even better, offer to drop the meal on the doorstep, so that if your friend isn’t up for guests or small talk, you can still lend a hand without causing stress.
Offer Heartfelt Words of Comfort
There is no circumstance ever, no matter what, in which cliches like those you hear repeated over and over are helpful. If you don’t know what to say, be there silently for your friend until you have something heartfelt to say. But avoid phrases like “everything happens for a reason” or “time heals all wounds.” At the very best, they’re empty platitudes. At the worst, they discount the very real pain your friend is experiencing.
Invite Your Friend For Dinner
Sometimes, returning to the normal routines of life can be daunting. That first time going out after something horrible happens can feel overwhelming. Offer a baby step to your friend by inviting them over for a low-key dinner, but don’t push if they refuse your invitation.
Offer Specific Acts of Service
It’s amazing when, in the midst of a crisis, your whole crew shows up to support you. But in those moments, it’s absolutely and crushingly overwhelming to try to answer the question, “What can I do for you?” Do your friend a favor by offering specific acts of service like, “I’m going to come over on Thursday and do your laundry/clean the house/make you dinner and do the dishes.” That lets him or her off the hook from making decisions.
Take Care of The Lawn
Sure, check in on your friend, but also make sure you keep an eye on helping out with things that may go untended while your friend heals. Mow the lawn, weed the flower beds, rake leaves, trim the shrubs, prep the house for winter, etc. Do the things your friend doesn’t have the strength to do right now.
Stock The Fridge and Pantry
When times are rough, it’s easy to turn to junk food. We all crave comfort, even in the form of food. But you want your friend to stay healthy and be in the best possible state. So avoid dropping by with junk food even those decadent seven layer bars your grandma taught you to make. Bring foods that are packed with protein, nutrients, fruits and veggies.
Keep Showing Up
Going through a struggle is a long process, whether it’s losing a loved one, the end of a relationship, or a health crisis. Often there’s a rush of support in the beginning and then everyone goes back to life as usual, leaving the grief-stricken person on their own. Show up in the beginning, but keep showing up as your friend takes weeks and months to get back on their feet.
We know there's more to adulting than the topics above. The real world comes with surprises, obstacles and letdowns. Sometimes you might not feel like an adult at all. But with these tips you can create a space that you can always come home to and that's always ready to welcome friends. And at least, at home, you know you've got it together.