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. 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 there are no duplicates and to split up the costs.

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First apartment essentials

Kitchen essentials

1. Keurig coffee maker (Target)

Keurig mini

If you love coffee, you want to buy a coffee maker. In 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. Keurig makes one that is very narrow and is available in six great colors. Don’t forget to bring some cute mugs along, too. 

2. 12-piece dishware set (Target)

You will need to buy dishes for your first college apartment. I recommend unbreakable ones if you live with a group of people and don’t want to worry about anything too fragile. This set of 12 plates and bowls is microwavable and dishwasher-safe and is available in four colors. 

BTW, you might even want to buy a few extra bowls as you will eat and heat more things in a bowl than you can imagine. 

3.  Cuisinart stainless steel cookware set (Target)

Pots and pans are necessary for preparing meals now that you will no longer eat at the dining hall. How will you make mac and cheese, pasta, or your favorite omelet without pots and pans? This Cusinart stainless steel cookware set is very well-priced and includes an 8″ Non-stick Skillet, 10″ Skillet, 1.5qt & 2.5qt Saucepans w/ Covers, 3qt Sauté Pan w/ Cover, 6qt Stockpot w/ Cover and Steamer Insert

4. Amazon Basics 20-piece flatware (Amazon)

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

5. Brita water pitcher (Amazon)

A Brita water filter is essential to avoid 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. This one is a slim model and is only 4 inches wide.

6. Hamilton Beach toaster oven (Amazon)

Using a toaster oven is sometimes more convenient than a larger oven if just heating something small. This one won’t take up too much room when countertop space is at a premium.The New York Times Wirecutter product reviewers gave this toaster oven top reviews for their budget pick. 

7. Gadgets and basic supplies (Amazon)

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

8. Cleaning supplies (Amazon)

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

Living Room essentials 

9. Roku 32″ Select Series 720p HD Smart (Amazon)

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. This Roku TV gets excellent reviews in the smaller size category by The New York Times Wirecutter Reviewers.  

10. Serta couch (Amazon)

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

11. Coffee table (Amazon)

A coffee table is a convenient place to serve snacks while watching TV, bringing the living room together. 

12. Rug (Pottery Barn)

Area rugs are an easy way to add color to the living room and can often brighten the room. Most apartments are painted in neutral colors, so find a rug in colors you like. Washable ones can be a smart pick if small enough to fit in a washing machine.

13. Floor lamp (Target)

Having extra lighting is very useful for the living room. A floor lamp is a great alternative to brighten the space if no window is nearby. 

14. Black & Decker cordless stick vacuum (Amazon)

A vacuum cleaner is essential for cleaning up your apartment’s dirt, food crumbs, and dust. Especially if you live with other people, apartments tend to get dirty much faster than expected, so having a vacuum cleaner is a must-have. 

Bedroom essentials

15. Mattress and bed frame (Amazon)

A bed frame and mattress are 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 shipped in a box right to the apartment. Their bed frames work well, too.

16. Bedding (Pottery Barn)

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

This bedding is 100% cotton, available in three colors, and washable.

17. Vera Wang blanket (Amazon)

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

18. Desk (Pottery Barn)

You 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. This one is a collaboration with West Elm and is available in three finishes.

19. Desk lamp (The Container Store)

Extra lighting is often needed in college apartment bedrooms, and a task lamp helps read textbooks while studying at your desk. This slim, energy-efficient charging lamp is ideal for a desk or bedside table. It even includes three brightness settings. Don’t forget extra light bulbs.

20. Hon desk chair (Amazon)

Having a comfortable desk chair is so important. Especially if you plan to study at a desk, you want to feel snug. The New York Times Wirecutter gives this one their top ratings for the ergonomic design, adjustable options and comfort. 

21. Drying rack (The Container Store)

A drying rack is an excellent 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 significant for leggings and sweaters that might get messed up in the dryer. This drying rack collapses flat when not in use. The thick aluminum rods give 18 feet of drying space and include six soft-touch garment clips to secure small items and delicates.

22. Nightstand (Pottery Barn)

A nightstand is convenient for keeping things besides your bed within arm’s reach. I usually kept a water bottle, lotion, chapstick, and tissues on my nightstand. This is also part of the collaboration with West Elm.

23. Umbra mini trash can (Amazon)

A mini trash can in a bedroom is nice because it lets you throw out more minor things without leaving your room. 

24. Full-length mirror (Amazon)

You want a full-length mirror in your bedroom to see your entire outfit. 

25. Hangers (Amazon)

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

26. Storage ottoman (The Container Store)

Storage ottomans are super convenient for storing smaller items. This one can also be used as a lovely stool. Available in three pretty colors. 

27. Under-bed storage (Amazon)

Under-bed storage helps organize things in a college apartment. Under my bed, I stored many items that were not used daily, such as a hairdryer, medicines, or extra sheets and towels. 

28. Tapestries (Pottery Barn)

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 (Pottery Barn)

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. Anker Surge Protector (Amazon)

Many college apartments don’t have many outlets, so extension cords or power strips/surge protectors are crucial. A surge protector with space for both plugs and USB ports is convenient for charging your phone and computer in bed or at your desk. It is also a much safer way to protect your expensive electronics than a flimsy extension cord.

Bathroom Essentials

31. Over-the-door hooks (Amazon)

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

32. Eagle Creek toiletries bag (Amazon)

toiletries bag

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

33. Shower curtain (Amazon)

Make sure to buy shower curtains for your bathroom. I forgot to buy this before moving in and had to buy it after arriving at the apartment.  

34. Simplehuman wastebasket (Amazon)

Having a small trash can in your bathroom is necessary. The simplehuman trashcans are my favorite.

35. Towels (Target)

Several bath towels and hand towels are handy because you can alternate without doing laundry. You’ll need to have a bath mat in the bathroom, too. These Room Essentials towels from Target are well-priced and come in five pretty colors.

36. Toilet paper holder (Amazon)

Many older apartments do not have a toilet paper dispenser attached to the wall. If so, many toilet paper holders are available on Amazon. 

37. Laundry hamper (Amazon)

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. First aid supplies (Amazon)

first aid kit

Having a first aid kit with disinfectant, bandaids, and other basic first aid supplies is a good idea.  

Other Essentials

39. Cartman toolkit (Amazon)

tool kit

A toolkit with a hammer, screwdriver, and nails for hanging pictures will be handy. This one has 39 pieces, covering almost all basic repairs and assembly projects.

40. Maglite flashlight and extra batteries (Amazon)

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

Living in an apartment will be 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 place for the first time. Good luck with moving!

You Might Also Want to Read:

10 Kitchen Essentials

About Madeleine Korn

Madeleine Korn is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After graduating, she worked in marketing for a cybersecurity company for a year and a half. For the past year, she has been traveling the world while volunteering in hostels. Some of the countries she has visited include Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Albania, Cyprus, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and more. You can follow along with her travels on TikTok and Instagram. She loves writing and creating videos and really enjoys working for Grown and Flown!

Read more posts by Madeleine

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