Apartment Essentials: 40 Things to Make Your Apartment Feel Like Home

Moving into your first college apartment is such an exciting time! Especially after living in a dorm, the apartment gives you so much more space and the convenience of a kitchen, and more. If you are moving into a new apartment, there are many things you will need that you might not typically think of. Also, if you are living with a group of people, it can be a good idea to agree on who is bringing which items so that there are no duplicates and to split up the costs.

Here is a first apartment checklist of essentials.

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Apartment essentials checklist for college and beyond

Kitchen essentials

1. Coffee maker 

If you are a coffee lover, you definitely will want to buy a coffee maker. My freshman year I got all of my coffee from the dining hall, but after freshman year, I used the same coffee maker for the next three years of college. You won’t have to go to the coffee shop if you have a coffee craving, saving you time and money. This one is very narrow and is available in five great colors. Don’t forget to bring some cute mugs along, too. 

Keurig mini

2. Dishes 

You will need to buy dishes for your first college apartment. I recommend sturdy dishes if you are living with a group of people and don’t want to worry about things breaking. This set of 20 dishes are microwave and dishwasher safe! BTW, you might want to even buy a few extra bowls as you will eat and heat up more things in a bowl than you can imagine. 

3. Pots and pans

Pots and pans are a necessity for preparing meals now that you no longer will be eating at the dining hall. How are you going to make mac and cheese or your favorite omelet without pots and pans? 

4. Flatware

Flatware is another kitchen essential for a college apartment. You will need flatware for almost every meal and can reuse it for years to come. If you are getting a small set for 4 people, for instance, pick up extra spoons as I run out of clean spoons more than other utensils. 

5. Brita water pitcher

A Brita water filter is very important so that you do not have to keep buying bottled water. When I first moved into my apartment, I tried using jugs of water, but a Brita is much more convenient and better for the environment. 

6. Small Appliances

While not essential, having a toaster oven and a blender can make meals more varied as toaster ovens can do so much more than make toast. Blenders are wonderful, especially if you like making smoothies. A kettle to heat water is very useful for making a cup of tea.

7. Gadgets and basic supplies

Outfitting your kitchen with essential gadgets will make a big difference when you are cooking. Oven mitts, dish towels, can opener, a spatula, corkscrew, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, spices (especially salt and pepper).

8. Cleaning supplies

Cleaning supplies are always handy to have! Especially if you are living with other people, having cleaning supplies in the kitchen is so helpful so people can clean up after themselves. Some things you want to include are paper towels, trash bags, a mop, a broom, an all purpose cleaner, Lysol wipes, sponges, hand soap, and dish soap. 

Living Room essentials 

9. Television

Having a TV makes living in an apartment more cohesive. My housemates and I tried to do a movie night at least once a month where everyone was there and with lots of snacks too! This 4K VIZIO smart TV has loads of features.

10. Couch 

For your apartment, you don’t need a super expensive couch, just something that is comfortable and seats multiple people. You can also find cheap couches if your college has a Free and For Sale page on Facebook. 

11. Coffee table

A coffee table is convenient for setting down snacks while watching TV and really brings the living room together. 

12. Rug

Area rugs are an easy way to add color to the living room and can often brighten up the room. Most apartments are painted in neutral colors, so find a rug in colors you like.

13. Floor lamp

Having extra lighting is very useful for the living room. If there is not a window nearby, having a floor lamp is a great alternative to brighten up the room. 

14. Vacuum 

A vacuum cleaner can be handy for your apartment for cleaning up dirt, food crumbs, and dust. Especially if you live with other people, apartments tend to get dirty much faster than you would expect, which is why having a vacuum cleaner is so important. 

Bedroom Must-haves 

15. Mattress and bed frame

A bed frame and mattress are absolutely essential for your apartment! The good news is that you will probably reuse these for the next three years. Zinus has well-priced and top rated mattresses that are shipped in a box right to the apartment. Their bed frames work well, too.

16. Bedding

Bedding is a great way to brighten up your bedroom! You can choose your favorite colors or a cool pattern and add accent pillows. If you have room in your apartment for a queen-size bed, the linens you get for your new home can last you for many years to come—unlike the Twin XL you might have bought for the freshman dorm. This bedding is 100% cotton, available in several colors, and is washable.

17. Blanket

Depending on the climate where you live, you might need to have an extra blanket for your bed. I love these 100% cotton waffle weave blankets from Vera Wang.

18. Desk

You definitely want to have a desk in your bedroom for studying. I also used my desk for eating meals if I didn’t feel like eating in the kitchen. 

19. Desk lamp

Extra lighting is often needed in college apartment bedrooms and a task lamp is helpful for reading textbooks while studying at your desk. Also, a desk lamp will keep your desk lit during late-night study sessions. Don’t forget extra light bulbs. 

tao tronics lamp

20. Desk chair

Having a comfortable desk chair is so important. Especially if you plan to do most of your studying at a desk, you want to feel snug. 

21. Drying Rack

A drying rack is a great idea if you don’t like putting delicate clothes in the dryer. I used my drying rack every time I did laundry, and it was particularly great for leggings and sweaters that might get messed up in the dryer. 

drying rack

22. Nightstand 

A nightstand is convenient for keeping things next to your bed within arm’s reach. I usually kept a water bottle, lotion, chapstick, and tissues on my nightstand. 

23. Mini trash can

A mini trash can in a bedroom is nice because it allows you to throw out smaller things without having to leave your room. 

24. Full-length mirror

You definitely want to have a full-length mirror in your bedroom to be able to see your full outfit. 

25. Hangers

You will need hangers for your closet! I ended up hanging up the majority of my clothes in my apartment because there was not enough space for a full dresser. 

26. Storage ottoman 

Storage ottomans are super convenient for storing smaller items. This one can also be used as a stool which is nice. 

27. Under-bed storage

Having under-bed storage is so useful for keeping things organized in a college apartment. Under my bed, I stored many things that were not used on a daily basis, such as a hairdryer, medicines, or extra sheets and towels. 

28. Tapestries

Tapestries are an easy way to decorate a wall in your bedroom. Pottery Barn has some of the cutest tapestries with some super unique designs. 

29. String lights

Another way to add personality to your room is to have decorative lights. String lights are great for movie nights or late-night studying. 

30. Power strips and extension cords 

A lot of college apartments don’t have many outlets, which is why extension cords or power strips are so crucial. A power strip that has space for both plugs and USB ports comes in very handy to charge your phone and computer while you are in bed or at your desk. 

surge protector

Bathroom Essentials

31. Over-the-door hooks

There might be wall hooks in your bathroom but there are never enough especially if you are sharing with a roommate. Over-the-door hooks are perfect for hanging up towels or robes after showering.

32. Toiletries

If you have your own bathroom, you might have enough room for your basic toiletries in a cabinet or under the sink. Having enough counter space for your toothbrush holder and toothpaste is optimal but, if not, you may have to use a shower caddy to cosmetics bag to store things in your bedroom instead of the bathroom.   

33. Shower curtain

Make sure to buy shower curtains for your bathroom. This is something I forgot to buy before moving in and had to go buy after arriving at the apartment.  

34. Bathroom wastebasket 

Having a small trash can in your bathroom is definitely necessary. 

35. Towels

You want to have a towel set for your bathroom. Having several bath towels and hand towels is handy because you can alternate without having to do laundry. 

36. Toilet paper holder

Many older apartments do not have a toilet paper dispenser attached to the wall. If this is the case, there are many toilet paper holders available on Amazon to purchase. 

37. Laundry hamper

It’s so nice to have room in the bathroom for a laundry bag or hamper for dirty clothes. Otherwise, you will have to find a spot in your bedroom. 

38. Supplies

You will want to have toilet bowl cleaner, toilet brush and a plunger, too, just in case. It’s also a good idea to have a first aid kit with disinfectant, bandaids, and other basic first aid supplies.  

Other Essentials

39. Toolkit

Having a toolkit with things like a hammer, screwdriver, nails for hanging pictures will come in handy. Make sure you have a flashlight and extra batteries, too. 

tool kit

40. Flashlight and extra batteries

While you can use your phone as a flashlight, you will want to have a real flashlight with extra batteries in case of a true emergency.

Living in an apartment will be such a fun experience and moving is much easier if you have a list of items you need. These are some of the main essentials needed when living in your own place for the first time. Good luck with moving!

You Might Also Want to Read:

10 Kitchen Essentials

About Madeleine Korn

Madeleine Korn will be a senior communication student at UC Santa Barbara. She was an intern for United Airlines in both 2018 and 2019, where she was involved in projects to improve the customer experience. This past year she was advertising director for The Bottom Line newspaper at UC Santa Barbara. She loves writing and creating videos and is very excited about being an intern at Grown and Flown.

Read more posts by Madeleine

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