Like any good twenty-something moving into her first apartment, I’m prioritizing the basic essentials as I pull together my new place. By “essentials,” do I mean a single item of furniture besides a mattress? Absolutely not. I will be eating my dinner on a cardboard box that I have converted into a chair and working standing up at my kitchen island for the foreseeable future. No, I’m focusing my attention on the little things: the first apartment essentials that are going to get me through my first few months living alone, working a big-girl job, and having my Mary Tyler Moore moment in a big city all by myself.
From decor to plants to bathroom essentials to the household basics that I cannot believe I have never owned for myself until this moment in my life (I’ve apparently been mooching cutting boards off my parents and roommates for the past 22 years), these are all the items I’m buying to make my first-ever studio apartment feel like a real home. Though I may not have a desk at which to type this article—or to order these items, for that matter—what I do have is a space to call entirely my own for the very first time and the opportunity to fill it with things that bring me joy. Here are all the little essentials that I’m buying to make my first apartment work for me:
Ok, so a Smeg toaster might not be in my budget just yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get an adorable colored one that makes me excited to make my avocado toast every morning. This pink color perfectly matches the light-pink mini waffle maker that I’ve had since college.
4 colors available
Bakeware was one of those things that I (rather embarrassingly) have been relying on roommates for during the past several years of my adult life. But all that is about to change because I’m investing in this gorgeous set from Williams Sonoma that I know is going to last me a lifetime.
The medium size of this cutting board fits perfectly on the small slice of counter space directly next to my oven. I love that one side has the super-practical “juice groove” and the other has a phone slot for reading recipes.
3 sizes available
The days of my plastic-handled spatulas melting against the edges of my pots and pans need to be over immediately. I can already see myself scrambling eggs with these soft spatulas and scooping soup with that ladle.
To be honest, I already have this pan, but only because I asked for it for Christmas last year in anticipation of moving into my first apartment this summer. It is worth every bit of the hype and super practical for cooking for one.
10+ colors available
When I tell you I have been thinking about how I want to organize my fridge since before I even knew what city I was going to be living in at this stage of my life, I am not kidding. Something about a well-stocked, organized fridge makes my little heart sing.
My kitchen has minimal counter space but tons of cabinets. Enter: this gorgeous cabinet organization system that will help me keep essential items close by but out of sight.
Once upon a time in a college apartment, my silverware drawer became woefully stuck due to the fact that the organizer was too big for the drawer itself. I’ll never make the same mistake again: this time, I’m investing in a small-space cutlery organizer.
2 colors available
I know that the aesthetic Amazon spice drawers are trending right now, but honestly, ya girl doesn’t have time to sift her spices into labeled glass containers. A cute and functional spice rack is much more important to me.
Nothing screams “this girl is a sucker for Our Place’s incredible marketing” like purchasing the Wonder Oven just a few weeks after its launch. Do I have space for this on my countertop? No. Will I make it work? Absolutely.
4 colors available
In my former living situation, I stored my kitchen utensils in what was clearly a vase intended for flowers, not whisks. Needless to say, times are changing, and this textured stoneware utensil holder will last me for years to come.
A big-girl apartment calls for a big-girl vase, and I know I'll hang onto this white ceramic one well into the future. I can already see myself filling it with flowers from the farmer’s market and putting it in the center of my kitchen island.
TikTok got me with this one: I am officially afraid of my own showerhead. In theory, I know that I need a dining table more than I need a filtered showerhead, but in practice? This feels like a must-buy.
5 finishes available
I cannot even express the glee with which I tossed my old concealer-coated "clear" makeup drawers upon moving. The black version of this practical holder from Etsy is going to look perfect against my black bathroom counter, and it will be much easier to clean.
2 colors available
Gone are my days of lusting after brightly-patterned Urban Outfitters shower curtains: I want the vibe for my first-apartment bathroom to be calming and spa-like, which is why I think this simple white shower curtain will be perfect.
Floating shower shelves have held free real estate in my mind for ages—for some reason, I just find them so fun. I love how spacious this caddy is, and since I chronically drop things in the shower, I appreciate the little fence on the outside.
You might be wondering, Emma, why on earth would you spend $50 on a bathroom trash can? This is a question that I have been asking myself repeatedly as well, but my favorite TikTok page has been raving about it for months, and I have no self-control.
I have lucked out in that my apartment has a ton of closet space, and due to the fact that this is my first studio, I’m not looking to invest in a big dresser to potentially lug around in the future. These shelves are lightweight and can be easily hidden in my closets.
I am a girl who is proud to say that she is unafraid to lug her dirty clothes down the halls instead of paying for a unit with a washer and dryer. This adorable rollable laundry basket is lightweight and fits perfectly in my closet.
For those who are unaware, I record the occasional intro on The Everygirl Podcast. The most sound-proof place in my apartment? My coat closet. If you listen to the pod, please picture me recording on the floor of my coat closet, sitting on this velvet floor pillow.
5 colors available
I had major success with peel-and-stick wallpaper in my last place, and this year, I’m ready to step it up to a pattern. I want to put this gorgeous pattern on the inside of my coat closet when I convert it into a mini podcast studio.
Living Room Accessories
As much as I can appreciate the low-maintenance nature of faux plants, I have to admit that I am a die-hard real plant girlie. In my limited plant mommy experience, I've found that ZZ plants are nearly impossible to kill, which is why I’m eyeing this tall one for my studio.
Quite frankly, I find most desk lamps to be generally cumbersome and usually unattractive. My dining table (that far-off idea) will be doubling as my desk, so I like the idea of being able to pull out this little battery-powered lamp whenever I need it and then easily put it away.
4 colors available
I’m lucky that my bathroom has a large mirror that is adequate for half fit-checks for the time being, but in the long run, I need a larger mirror that will both look great in Instagram stories and make my space appear bigger than it is. Plus, let’s be honest, what girl can resist the Anthro-inspired look?!
Sadly, no matter where you live, decent air quality is no longer a guarantee, which is why I’m purchasing this air purifier ASAP. It may take up precious space in my studio apartment, but safety is much more important to me.
As a kid, when I pictured growing up and living in my own apartment, I always envisioned hosting. Though I may not have enough space to host a TikTok-worthy dinner soirée, I do have enough space to make a small dinner special with these hammered gold candle holders.
Behold, the taper candles to go in said candle holders! Like most of us, I would consider myself to be in my Barbie era, which is why I’m obsessed with the raspberry shade of these taper candles.
I’m not from D.C., but it was the last city that I moved to and fell in love with, and I’m homesick for it every single day. As I start my new life in Chicago, having this candle to remind me of all of my favorite D.C. memories is an absolute essential.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will most likely have Halloween decor in my apartment before I have a single chair. I have fallen in love with these teeny tiny ghosts from our Halloween decor roundup. I do consider them essential, and I will take no further questions.