Five Subtle Marks of a Distinguished Home

Keeping the small stuff in mind will help your pad feel more thoughtful, refined, and grown-up.

When someone new enters your home, there are a few things they should be able to tell about you from just a quick look around: your aesthetic values, what you enjoy doing during your free time, and how you like to present yourself. If those aren't evidence at first glance, you’re missing a key opportunity to decorate your space in a way that best suits your personality – and conveys it to whoever walks in your front door.

That's obviously not the only way to go when you’re thinking of ways to outfit your living space, but it's definitely a great place to start. And to put it into practice, you'll need a few details that nail a sense of maturity, class, and refinement.

A Well-Stocked Bar

A well-kept home bar is a must even if booze isn’t your vice of choice – it shows that you know how to treat your guests properly. Offering to fix a drink for whoever's stopped over will always be a classy move, and more importantly, you can mix a good cocktail for yourself whenever you feel like it.

If you don’t have anything of the sort and think it’s a worthy addition to your home, start by finding a clear surface where a few lined-up bottles wouldn’t cause too much clutter. A small table or nightstand in the corner of your living room is usually a good choice.

To start stocking, pick out a bottle or two you know you'll enjoy drinking. Whether you’re a whiskey, vodka, tequila, or brandy guy, one higher end pick to have on-hand for special occasions plus one wallet-friendly option you don't mind sharing will serve you well.

Prioritize your favorite varieties of liquor, but make sure to keep all the major bases covered, too – so even if you're usually sticking to whiskey on the rocks, you should pick up some mid-range vodka and tequila, too, so you can offer 'em to guests if that's their preference. Having a recipe book with blueprints for a few tried-and-true cocktails, along with the right mixing tools perched nearby won’t hurt either.

If the hard stuff isn’t for you, keeping a few bottles of good wine or beer that can stand up to aging (like barrel-aged stouts or boozy Belgian ales) stacked neatly can add a refined touch, too.

Plenty of Plants

There aren’t many home additions quite as striking as a plant collection done right, and it doesn’t take an experienced gardener to introduce a little greenery into your surroundings.

So if you’ve got a few empty corners of living space at your disposal, populate 'em with large plants and see your room’s ambiance transform. A tall snake plant, a bushy philodendron, a groomed jade tree, some delicate orchids, bamboo shoots, or absolutely any kind of palm tree hanging over a few bare feet of floorspace can add the perfect amount of personality to your interior, and won’t interrupt the minimal vibe of a sparsely decorated place.

Even if you’re tight on space, you’ve still got options. If a barren windowsill is all you can spare, you can give it some life by heading to your nearest florist and picking up a few small, potted succulents to place across it. They hardly need any water, and do well in direct sunlight.

Framed Artwork

For art, quality rules over quantity every time. Going overboard and putting up every poster and picture that you've collected since college can be tempting, but a better strategy is to choose just a few high-quality pieces that contribute to and blend with your home’s theme and color palette. Spend a few days thinking over which of your favorite pieces would work best, and maybe even print a small copy and pin it to the wall so you can be sure you’ll like the way it looks.

If you can’t recall the last time you visited an art museum, you’ve still got options. A few smaller prints by the same artist, or with a similar visual theme, framed simply and hung in a straight line is a surefire method of outfitting a bare wall if you’re not the most art-savvy type. Just try to select artwork that matches your place’s tone and color scheme for a put-together, thoughtfully arranged look.

A Full Bookshelf

Even if you’re not the most literary guy around, a well-curated book collection says a lot about who you are and what you think is important. Displaying your favorites in a well-organized way is a simple way to make your living space appear more grown-up, even if you prefer to use an e-reader.

If you’re not well-versed in the classics, it doesn’t cost much to buy a few entries from a few big names in American literature to brush up on and then keep around your place. Vonnegut, Hemingway, Woolf, Fitzgerald, Morrison, Austen, Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Plath – you get the idea. For something a little more visual, having an interesting coffee table book or two – something that offers some artistic or photographic inspiration – is always a good move.

Hobby Items

While keeping your personal stuff organized and out of sight might seem like a great move, we say display 'em proudly and thoughtfully if they speak to who you are and what you enjoy most. The idea is to take pride in the stuff you like doing, and make it visible in a way that’ll work as conversation starter and source of inspiration.

If you’re a musician, rest your instrument in a corner rather than keeping it tucked away in a closet. Or if you're an audiophile, having a display shelf of your favorite records can add a personal touch to your space. If you’re a sports fan, pick up a piece of vintage-inspired gear to toss around while you're relaxing on the couch. If your prized possession is your commuter bike, hang it up on a wall somewhere. You get the idea.

With those guidelines in mind, creating a thoughtful mood for your space – one that both shows off your personality and encourages you to keep your place looking handsome – should be simple. And when you’re satisfied with the way your place looks, entertaining guests is all the more rewarding, which means good times will be a permanent in-home fixture.

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