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Millennials: Here's How to Decorate Your Parents' Basement
June 29, 2021

Millennials: Here's How to Decorate Your Parents' Basement

by The CE Shop Team

You Don’t Have to Give Up Personal Style to Move Back In With Your Parents

While some millennials may be purchasing multi-million dollar mansions in luxe ski towns, the fact is that far more just so happen to be moving back in with their parents. In 2018, Zillow reported that more millennials were living at home then than at any other time in the last decade. Then, the global COVID-19 pandemic seriously worsened the situation. As of July 2020, a whopping 52% of millennials had moved back home with mom, a significant 5% increase from pre-pandemic levels and 4% higher than the previous record high set in 1940. 

“In a very short space of time, we are now at levels last seen during the Great Depression,” said Richard Fry, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center. Plus, young adults are now graduating with severely limited job prospects and mounting student loan debt, though all the artisanal avocado toast on the market today no doubt continues to drain down payment savings.

The good news is that for whatever reason millennials may be moving home, there’s still ample opportunity to make the new digs their own. Whether you’re headed back to your childhood bedroom or taking up in the basement, employing just a few decor tricks can make the most of the situation. Here’s how to maximize your personal style on a budget so you can still spend big on avocado toast.

Millennials: Here's How to Decorate Your Parents' Basement

Dress Up Your Windows

If you’re literally living in your parents’ basement, you’ll want to do everything you can to let a little light in. After all, nearly half of all Americans are believed to be deficient in vitamin D, and regular sunshine is shown to boost serotonin, encourage better sleep, and improve your mood. So, whether your parents have never pried you from downstairs or you’re just moving in to save up for a down payment, start by thoroughly cleaning the windows, installing screens if necessary, and clearing the window wells of weeds and debris.

Then, you’ll want to spruce the windows up a bit. Any simple shades will do but, if you’re looking to infuse a little more personality into the space, consider a nice set of drapes. Curtain panels come in all patterns and materials, and they’re a quick and cost-effective way to make the room your own. The right window treatments will depend entirely on your desired level of exposure, the size of your windows, and your header style of choice. Whatever your preferences, you can find quality drapes for any budget, from $25 to $150. 

Pro tip: To hang your curtains like a pro, mount the rod four to six inches above the window frame, then choose curtains that fall to the floor. The vertical lines will draw the eye upward and make any space look taller, even your old childhood bedroom.

Create a Home Office

If you’re one of the 56% of Americans working from home, you may also want a designated workspace. A degree of separation can help make completing your work feel functional, efficient, and calming. In fact, according to interior designer Noz Nozawa, cordoning off your own workspace has been great for mental health amid the pandemic. “For me, establishing 'The Place Where I Do Work' has been incredibly important in making work and home coexist... It puts me in the zone of ‘when I’m here, I’m working,' it helps me not get distracted by the kitchen (snacks!!), and lets me mentally separate after the workday is done.”

To start, you’ll want to group all of your work equipment in one area. Then, consider using screens, doors, or room dividers to cordon off the space. Add some finishing touches with art, a small rug, decorative office supplies, and an ergonomic chair. You can likely find everything you need for a few hundred dollars, but a budget of $500-$800 may be a bit more realistic for many millennials.

Incorporate Some Family Heirlooms

One of the biggest benefits of living with your parents is digging through the treasure trove of keepsakes they may have stockpiled over the years so, as you’re finding furnishings, take a trip to the basement, garage, attic, or storage shed and see what you can dig up. Antique pieces are known to add texture, history, and character to a space, and they will certainly set you apart from your Ikea-fanatic friends. Keep an eye out for vintage records, area rugs, china, art, or any other fun antique finds that could otherwise spruce up your room.

In fact, adding antique pieces is a popular method among professional interior designers. “I look for weird, wonderful, and unique objects and furniture,” said Claire Staszak of Centered By Design. “It's lovely if they come with a brand name or historical significance, but that's not always necessary. It's really about if it will look right in your design... My advice for styling is, mix and match — it's so much more interesting!" 

Another benefit of shopping at mom and pop’s shop is the affordable price tag. If you’re lucky, they might let you have the storied decor for free — or maybe just in exchange for the completion of a few chores. And you thought you were done weeding your mom’s hydrangea gardens!

Add a Kitchenette

If you’re up for a minor remodel and your parents sign off, consider adding a kitchenette to the basement. A kitchen area can make your new digs feel more like your own designated space and less like an extension of your parents’ house. Plus, between cabinets, backsplash, and kitchen decor, your style is sure to shine through.

As the second kitchen space in the home, you’ll likely have minor storage and counter space needs. This means you can save by getting just a few quality cabinets and smaller appliances. “Cabinets are a product that you will use every day and are difficult to replace down the line (unless you want to completely re-renovate your kitchen),” said interior designer Amanda Amato. “I recommend purchasing the best quality cabinet that suits your budget.” If you’re on a serious budget, consider trading the upper cabinets for open shelving to add some modern flair. 

You can likely complete the addition for as little as $500 but, unless you’re simply installing a microwave and some Ikea shelving, you’ll want to approach the project with care. There may be bargains online but if you’re planning to stay for a while, or if your parents are considering converting the basement to a guest suite when you move out, ensure the prices you’re seeing aren’t too good to be true

Pro tip: Add a mobile island and stools so you can enjoy a designated dining space as well as added prep area. Then, you can roll it out of the way when you entertain.

Make the Space Your Own

Whether you opt to paint, hang art, add furniture, renovate completely, or otherwise make the space your own, living in your parents’ basement doesn’t have to diminish your personal style. A few quick, simple, and affordable home decor practices can help you create something truly special in your new space. So go ahead and invite your friends over to your mom’s basement — after your design touches, they’ll hardly suspect that you once threw a fashion show for your Beanie Babies where you now serve avocado toast (and plot the imminent destruction of various industries).

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