When Scott Roewer, founder of the Organizing Agency, finished his master’s in education in 2000, his parents asked him what he wanted as a graduation gift.

His response: real silverware.

“I wanted to feel like an adult, so I asked for really nice silverware,” he said. “Not actual silver, but I wanted nice utensils, and I wanted nice plates and I wanted real dishes. I didn’t want something pieced together.”

His parents got him Dansk utensils from Pottery Barn. Roewer, now 45, still uses the same set. High-quality flatware, he said — a set that doesn’t require polishing and has a sturdy feel and tips that don’t bend — is one of those investments that can make a person feel more grown up.

We asked Roewer and other experts for more ways to upgrade to a bona fide adult home. Here are their top picks.

A home bar (and the ability to mix a cocktail)

Vodka and cranberry juice may have cut it in college, but party hosts should learn to make “a proper cocktail,” said Jaye Langmaid, 33, owner of the D.C. design firm and home store Hudson & Crane. The basic tools to start — which include a muddler, shaker, jigger, mixing glass and bar spoon — are a great foundation, he wrote in an email.

Roewer also recommended buying a set of wine glasses that aren’t made of thin glass.

“Go take a wine-tasting class [and] understand how wine should taste,” Roewer said. “And then enjoy a nice set of wine glasses that are either for red or for white. And then find a really good-quality bottle opener that you’re going to enjoy.”

A good-quality mattress

You spend practically half your life on your mattress, so it’s something you should spend real money on (and buy brand new).

“If you are on the same mattress that you’ve had since you left home for college, it’s time to upgrade,” Langmaid said. “It’s time to get the piece that is made for you, that you sleep well on. ... Everybody needs a great mattress.”

Go to a store, rather than shop online, so you can try them out. Avoid a cheap mattress. You want something that will last at least 10 years. To ease the financial burden, opt for a financing or payment plan.

Hardwood furniture

It’s wise to invest in furniture made of hardwood rather than particle board, Roewer said. If hardwood isn’t an option, solid wood veneers are better than laminate.

"If you're trying to 'adult,' that means we're going to be a little bit more established while putting roots down," he said. "And we want to have things that are going to last us for a period of time in our new space."

Make sure drawers extend fully and glide smoothly, he said. You can also look for drawers with dovetail construction, because corners bound by staples or glue can come undone after time.

Voice-activated smart speakers are all the rage.
Voice-activated smart speakers are all the rage.

Wireless speakers

Everybody streams music these days, but not everybody has good speakers to play that music, Roewer said.

He loves the Sonos brand of wireless speakers and has them throughout his home; sometimes he'll group them together in one space if he has guests over. They can all be controlled with one remote.

“I have Scissor Sisters playing in every room” while cleaning, he said.

Clothes organizing tools

“When you’re in your 30s and you have people over and they open your drawer and it’s a hot mess, it kind of is a reflection I think on just you in general — how you keep your home,” says Meg Biram, 35, a D.C.-based lifestyle blogger. She recommends investing in containers to organize your closets and drawers.

“If you have everything piled into one closet, but it’s not well-organized with containers and hangers and dividers, then it can just be a nightmare every day trying to find stuff,” she said.


“You need to spend at least $100 on a vacuum that suits your needs,” Langmaid said. “And you need to use it regularly.”

The Dyson Animal Stick Vac V8 is a hefty investment at $350 but worth every penny, Biram said. When she and her husband married several years ago, they got a $70 vacuum from their wedding registry. It lasted about a year before they replaced it with another vacuum for less than $100.

“We realized that buying vacuums under $100 was the problem — that we need to invest in something really good,” she said.