The Bare Minimum: 10 Absolute Essentials for Every Home

published Aug 7, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

No two households are the same — it’s part of what make House Tours endlessly entertaining. Still, there are some universal truths to life at home. So whether you’re an avid cook living in an apartment, a raw vegan living in a rural tiny house, or a DIY aficionado living in a bungalow, your home will benefit from having these 10 essentials.

Most of the items on this list are practical, but a few lean toward comfort and aethestics. Why not? After all, your home should be as pleasant as it is functional.

  1. An emergency light source. Keep a flashlight, candles and matches, or a Candela easily accessible (and charged, as the case may be). I hope you never need this, but if you do, you’ll be greatly relieved to have it.
  2. Towels. You may be an extreme minimalist who showers at the gym, but everyone needs towels at home. At the very least, two bathroom towels and two kitchen towels.
  3. Basic utensils. A fork, a knife, a spoon. Even if you’ve never cooked in your life, you may hate the cheap knives that come with your delivery food or may forget a fork for your take-out salad.
  4. A small toolset. A hammer, a flat-head screwdriver, a phillips head screwdriver, and pliers will suffice. You may not believe me, but you’ll end up using it — to stop a running toilet, hang a picture, pry open a paint can, etc.
  5. Bedding. A necessity, of course. And, if you’re over the age of 20 and are still sleeping on your sheets from grade school, you need new bedding.
  6. A small cleaning kit. Spills and mistakes happen, even if you have a cleaning lady. Your kit may contain only Dr. Bronner’s and a sponge, but you’ll use it at some point (hopefully regularly, to keep your place nice and clean).
  7. An extra set of keys. Years ago, I gave a spare set of keys to my brother. I’ve only needed to call him for them once, but it was a huge relief. Alternately, if you’re forever misplacing things, you can keep an extra set by the door. Use it on days that you really can’t find your primary keys.
  8. Art. When we were dating, my husband lived for a year in an apartment with beige walls and no art anywhere. It was not cool and minimal — it was sad and depressing. (He now admits this himself.) Frame a sentimental postcard, buy a reprint of a favorite painting, browse Etsy or local art fairs — just get something on the walls to make your home more warm and personal.
  9. A comfy place to sit. Have one place you can cozy up for long phone calls, read books, have a good cry, or just stare at the wall. After all, your home is your sanctuary from the world.
  10. One thing you really love. A framed drawing by your niece. A vase from your sweetie. A memento from a favorite vacation. Display one item that brings you joy, no matter how often you see it.

(Image: Julie Harmsen/Apartment Therapy)