Six Easy and Affordable Ways to Upgrade Your Swagless Bachelor Pad

You deserve better than cheap furniture and a home that screams "frat dorm." Here's how to evolve your living area.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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If you’re reading the style section of this site, there’s a pretty good chance you care about how you put yourself together. You’ve thought about your style, evaluated your closet, and invested in the kind of wardrobe that says something about who you are as a person. 

There’s also a pretty good chance that your apartment, house, or other form of homestead (yurt?) doesn’t do that same job of reflecting your taste and personality. We’ve all been guilty of copping that grail piece instead of replacing that threadbare IKEA sofa. But unless you live like a hermit, you should consider the kind of statement your personal space is making when friends, family, and dates come over to hang out. 

Luckily, even if you’re not able to drop a few grand and redecorate the place wholesale, there are some easy, affordable ways to upgrade your home.

Put Some Art on the Walls

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“It really comes down to the details,” says Tariq Dixon, who founded men’s home site TRNK along with business partner Nick Nemechek. “Taking the effort to put some artwork up on the walls, or add some throw pillows—those sorts of things go a tremendously long way. It’s about not neglecting all those little details that compound to make a home what it is.”

“First I’d say art,” he continues, adding that you can easily find well-made prints for less than $50. “You don’t want a home full of bare walls.” For the commitment-phobic out there, he recommends an art ledge—basically a shelf where you can prop up framed pieces—or even leaning your art on the floor or on top of mantlepieces and bookshelves. “It’s a low investment in terms of time and it’s also noncommittal because it’s easy to swap out pieces.”

Invest in a Quality Mattress

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Get Your Sheets Together

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Greg Shugar, who launched men’s bedding company Thread Experiment with Justin Mikita and Greg Winner in May of this year (and also cofounded The Tie Bar), is definitely on board with the idea of investing in your sleeping space. He just doesn’t believe in over-investing in expensive, high-thread-count sheets. “We really stopped seeing a noticeable difference after a 300 thread count,” he says. As long as you’re using natural fibers like cotton or linen, you’ll be comfortable.

It’s not just about comfort, though. “Your bedding is your opportunity to present a powerful, bold pattern,” Shugar notes. “And it contributes to the color in your bedroom, too. The walls are usually a neutral color, so your bedding provides the pop in your bedroom.”

Get yourself three sets of sheets—“one for the bed, one for the closet, and one for the wash”—and not only will you save yourself some serious hassle next time you need to do the laundry, you’ll be able to change up the look of your bedroom as you see fit.

Learn to Lamp Like a Champ

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Oh, and while you’re in the bedroom, there’s the matter of light. The blue light that comes from your phone, computer, and high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs screws with melatonin levels, making it difficult to sleep. “So getting a good lamp that filters that out is important,” says Parikh. In terms of specifics, Dixon recommends halogen bulbs. “Halogen gives off a warmer glow,” he says. “Halogen bulbs work with a dimmer, too, so you can get a range of different lighting.”

From there, it’s time to step back out into your living room and think about things that you probably haven’t thought much about before: stuff like accent pillows and throw blankets, which will add some texture and color (even with that ratty old sofa). 

It’s not a matter of piling on. “Trimming down the number of things you have into fewer, nicer things instead of a bunch of cheap stuff is one of the biggest indicators of being a little bit more mature,” says Parikh. Adding just a few well-chosen textiles into the mix won’t overwhelm things, and they’ll add life to the space, as well. 

Consider Getting a Plant, Bookshelf—or Both

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Also good for a little extra life: plants. “Even one little plant in your room adds so much color,” says Parikh, “and it makes you feel alive.” Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are near-foolproof options. “The monstera plant is pretty easy to maintain,” Dixon offers. “Likewise with the pencil plant. It’s a succulent, and it’s pretty hard to kill a succulent.” 

If you’re the reading type, books can also prove quite useful. Whether you use a bookshelf to cover a blank wall (try making it yourself with brackets and wood from the hardware store), or simply stack a few on the nightstand or coffee table, they’ll bring extra color and visual interest to the otherwise unadorned surfaces in your home. 


Raise the Bar on Your Plates and Glassware

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Now that you’ve laid the foundation, just think about the final few extras you need when having people over. Plates (not paper). Napkins (also not paper). Matching glassware for drinks, bar tools like a shaker and strainer to make those drinks, and maybe a candle burning (go for scents like wood, tobacco, and leather if you’re unsure).  

Once you’re ready for company, you’re good to go. Well, nearly. Shugar offers one last piece of advice for upgrading your personal space: “Start with cleaning your damn apartment.” Sounds reasonable to us. 

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