The List

I promised a list of suggested items to have for your first place. Well, here it is!

Let’s start with the bedroom, “where all the magic happens.” Really, I’m starting here because some people will only be renting a bedroom, or living in a dorm.

*Bed (this is pretty obvious, right?) A futon or daybed can be a good option for a dorm, room, or efficiency because it serves as seating when you’re not asleep.

*2 sets of sheets- one fitted, one flat, pillowcases for each pillow.

*A light blanket and/or heavy comforter, depending on the weather where you live and your comfort level.

*A nightstand- simple works, you can repurpose a small table, file cabinet, even a stack of crates or boxes, if you’re on a budget. Another option is to find an unfinished table at a craft store, or something with a good shape at a resale store and paint it however you want.

*An alarm clock. Oh yes, you need one of these! Maybe more than one.


*Clothing storage. You could use a dresser, shelves with baskets, hanging closet organizers, etc. You know how much you have and how much space you need for it.

Bathroom needs (these can be easily overlooked by a first timer):

*Shower curtain, if you don’t have a glass door. You might need a rod, too, check on this in advance.

*Towels- 3 to 4 bath towels and 2 hand towels will be a good start.

*Organizers or baskets to help you organize toiletries and cosmetics. You can skip these if you have a lot of drawers, though.

*Laundry baskets and probably a bag, unless you have a washer and dryer in your room/apartment (lucky you!)

*Water safe caddy with holes to help water drain off and dry quickly, if you’re sharing a bathroom and want to keep your soaps and things elsewhere.

These are the basics. If you’re renting only a room, dorm, or efficiency, you’ll probably need a work surface of some sort, too. A desk is the obvious choice, but there are other options. In my first apartment, I had a board set on top of some storage bins. It worked very well, actually. I had a workspace and storage, for super cheap. A bookshelf is a great thing to have, too, especially if you’re going off to college.

If you’re getting a whole apartment and will need to furnish a living room, I suggest:

*Couch or futon, even a couple of chairs for seating.

*An end table. Same basic suggestions as the night stand.

*Lamp, either for the table or a floor lamp. I love this lamp I got at Target that’s sort of a slim, tall table with a light in the top. Very functional!

*TV stand and TV are optional, but most people want to have this. Be sure your stand/table/cabinet is strong and sturdy. It would really suck to have your TV fall and break! If you’re on a tight budget, this is a great thing to find at a resale store and re-finish. I am also quite a fan of the Ikea Expedit series. They’re very strong and functional, and affordable.

*Coffee table or ottoman, also optional, but will make your life easier. You’re on your own for the first time, eat in front of the TV once in a while and put your feet up! A basket on the coffee table or ottoman is highly recommended to be a home for your remotes.

For an eating area, you’ll need a table and chairs or if you have a bar or island, you can manage with just some barstools.

Kitchen basics:

*Dishes (plates, bowls, glasses) and silverware are obvious, but easily overlooked until mealtime.

*Microwave, if it’s not included.

*Other appliances, based on your lifestyle- toaster, blender, coffee maker. You can find cheap ones, but if you can swing it, do some research and buy the better brands, they’re usually worth it.

*Basic kitchen utensils- a spoon or 2 for mixing and serving, a ladel, spatula, can opener, corkscrew (for those over 21 who enjoy wine), and a set of tongs. These are the ones that get used most often. There are many other gadgets out there, you’ll end up adding as time goes by. I recently bought an avocado slicer that Id passed up about a hundred times. Life’s little pleasures!

*Measuring cups and spoons. Even if you just make Easy Mac 5 days a week, you’ll need to measure the water.

*A few MICROWAVE SAFE bowls for mixing and heating things. These can doulbe for serving.

*2 or more hand towels, sponges, a scrubby pad of some sort (Brillo, steel wool), and a scrub brush. (The brushes that you can put dish soap in are fantastic.)

*Pots and pans- probably a frying pan, a small sauce pan, and a medium-large (3 quart or so) sause pan are good starts. Again, quality is well worth the money here. Look for non-stick coatings and heat-resistant handles. I have to say, Ikea’s impressed me. I bought some a few years ago to replace some cheap ones that broke (I’m trying to spare you from making my mistakes!). I intended for them to be more temporary until I bought a good set, but they’ve lasted years. Can you tell I’m a bit of an Ikea fan? They have some good stuff for really good prices.

*Storage containers. If you’re on a budget, you can rinse and re-use tubs from butter, cream cheese, etc.

*A good knife or 2 for cutting meats or larger frutis and vegetables. You won’t get a steak knife through a watermelon without some serious (and dangerous) struggling!

Curtains or blinds are essential for privacy, if they didn’t come pre-installed.

Once you have your place set up, you’ll want to stock the fridge, pantry, and pick up a few cleaning supplies.

After you have the basics, you can add things like picture frames, art, vases, decorative accessories, etc.

Feel free to add suggestions in the comments!