What You Really Need for Your First Apartment (From Bedroom to Broom Closet)

Interior boho minimalist apartment
credit: Paul Anderson

Welcome to your first apartment. Now what? This comprehensive list lays out the basics along with a few luxuries — think of this as an inventory of your need-to-haves and nice-to-haves.

BEDROOM

A good night's sleep can fix almost any problem, especially if your first adult bedroom is up to snuff.

Nice to Haves:

  • In-closet organization for your shoes, purses, and other accessories
  • Hangers that don't come from the dry cleaner

KITCHEN

You don't have to be a budding home chef, but you will have to cook for yourself at some point.

  • Chef's knife
  • Paring knife
  • Bread knife
  • Mixing bowls
  • Microplane or box grater
  • Measuring cups
  • Colander
  • Cutting boards, (2 or 3) (Nice to have at least one that's dedicated to raw meat.)
  • Small and large sauté pan
  • Small and large pot
  • Dutch oven
  • Sheet pans, (2 or 3)
  • Casserole pan, (13 inches by 9 inches)
  • Tongs, (2 sets)
  • Wooden spoons, 3 or 4)
  • Whisk, (1)
  • Spatulas, (2 or 4)
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Can opener
  • Wine opener
  • Thermometer
  • Kitchen towels
  • Potholders
  • Kitchen shears
  • Coffee contraption of your choice (Coffee maker or stove-top espresso.)
  • Teakettle
  • Toaster oven
  • Microwave (Truly, this is optional.)
  • Blender
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tupperware or other containers
  • Sandwich bags
  • Dish rack
  • Trash can and bags
  • Stepladder
  • Fire extinguisher

Nice to Haves:

  • Rice cooker
  • Food processor
  • Mixer
  • Instant Pot
  • A list of local restaurants that deliver (Trust us on this one.)

DINING ROOM

Even if you're not hosting Thanksgiving this year, you'll likely want to entertain at some point. Place settings for eight mean less frequent dishwashing, too. (At the very least, you need four.)

  • Dining table and as many chairs as you can fit around it. In a pinch, a card table will do!
  • Dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, and mugs
  • Silverware
  • Water glasses
  • Wine glasses
  • Salad bowl and tongs
  • A few nice-ish serving dishes
  • Placemats

Nice to Haves:

  • Cloth napkins
  • Candlesticks

BROOM CLOSET

Just the basics, for now.

  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Mop
  • Bucket
  • Duster
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Basic cleaning supplies (Bleach, all purpose cleaner, vinegar, baking soda, etc., as well as sponges, scrubbers, and cleaning rags.)
  • Paper goods (Toilet paper, paper towels.)

UTILITY DRAWER

Everything you need, aside from the number of your local handyman.

  • Basic tool kit (Hammer and nails, flathead and Phillips screwdrivers and screws, Allen wrenches, tape measure, etc.)
  • Box cutter
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Scissors
  • Light bulbs
  • Power cords and surge protectors
  • Spare keys

“OFFICE”

Your office doesn't have to be its own room, but it should be its own space.

  • Computer
  • File box or filing cabinet
  • Power cords
  • Desk
  • Desk chair
  • Task lighting
  • Office supplies
  • Wastebasket

LAUNDRY

Whether or not you're lucky enough to have laundry in your unit.

  • Hamper or laundry basket (Ideally two: one for darks, one for lights.)
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing kit

BATHROOM

Luckily, bathrooms come equipped with the basics.

  • Two full sets of towels (Bath towel, hand towel, and extra face cloths.)
  • Two or more bath mats or rugs
  • Soap dish
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Shower curtain and liner
  • Squeegee for glass shower stall
  • First aid kit and medicine cabinet basics (Painkillers, prescriptions, cold medicine, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, etc.)
  • Wastebasket
  • Toilet plunger
  • Toilet brush

Nice to Haves:

  • Shower and drawer organization

LIVING ROOM

To lounge on your own and to entertain others, you need a few creature comforts.

  • A couch or sofa (Again, it's worth investing; a decent couch can last up to 15 years.)
  • An accent chair or two (Ottomans or poufs can work double-duty.)
  • Coffee table (Side tables, too, if you have the room.)
  • Window treatments
  • Area rug
  • TV (And a TV stand if yours isn't mounted.)
  • Lighting (Professionals suggest layering light sources — task lighting, accent lighting, and then recessed or track lighting. Think in threes!)
  • Bookshelves, with real books (Kindle, you can stay in the nightstand.)

Nice to Haves:

OUTDOORS

OMG a balcony?! What a treat.

  • Café table and two chairs
  • Umbrella (Or some kind of shade.)
  • Portable BBQ with all the accessories

Nice to Haves:

  • Twinkle lights
  • Container herb garden or outdoor plants of your choosing

A note about being on a budget: Not everything here needs to be brand-spanking-new. Scour Craigslist, hit the thrift stores, borrow and barter. It will all come together in its own time.


Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle, design, and women's health.