50 must-have items for a new home

50 must-have items for a new home

You’ve taken the exciting step of buying or renting your first home — congratulations! Now that the stress of finding the place is over, have you thought about all the stuff you’ll need to actually live there? Here’s a basic list to start you off.

Print this post as a checklist.

Cleaning

Although it may not be the sexiest category of products to buy, being well-stocked with cleaning supplies is key to keeping a safe and healthy home. Tenants or previous owners are generally supposed to leave a place in a broom-swept condition when they leave, but you’ll probably want to do some cleaning of your own before you start putting your things away. Plus, being in a pandemic gives starting with a clean slate a whole new level of importance.

For starters, you’ll need a vacuum to get rid of any dust bunnies or pet hair that may be left behind. There are tons of small-format vacuums with features that are great for condos. Once the floors are dust-free, give ’em a wash. Floor cleaning tools have come a long way from the basic mop and bucket, with plenty of higher-tech options. Plus, for quick and easy upkeep, a small brush and dustpan set is a lifesaver for when (not if) you spill rice or cereal all over the floor.

With your floors clean, you can tackle high-touch surfaces like countertops, cabinet handles, and appliance doors with antibacterial spray or wipes. You’ll probably also want to give the fridge a good wipe down before loading any food in it. Pro tip (especially for renters): once you clean a drawer or shelf, line it with shelf paper. When you move out, just peel off the paper and the drawers will look new.

When it’s time to tackle the bathroom (everyone’s favourite job, we know), a little bleach cleaner goes a long way. (Just be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind ruining — an accidental bleach splash will wreck your favourite shirt in a flash.) To keep things spic and span, pick up a toilet brush. You can go super-basic (dollar store), fancy or funky, depending on your budget and style. And don’t forget a plunger...when you need one of those, you really need one.

Healthy cooking

Cooking

Whether you’re a gourmet chef, just learning to cook, or you’re all about ordering in, these kitchen essentials are a must-have regardless of culinary ability.

Start with some nice dishware. Mix and match vintage pieces from a local antique or charity shop, or pick up a cheap and cheerful set that comes with four of everything (plates, bowls, mugs, etc.). We love dishes from this Toronto ceramics studio, and you also can’t go wrong with this starter set from Ikea. Don’t forget glassware or cups for water, coffee, wine, cocktails, etc. Then, pick up cutlery, which you can buy individually or in a bundled pack (this is also an opportunity to mix in vintage pieces.) An unexpected place for great-looking flatware is actually the Great Canadian Superstore — they have modern designs that are budget-friendly and will hold up to years of use, and you can easily pick them up on your next grocery run.

For food prep, you’ll need a cutting board (it protects your countertops and your knives), a few good knives, and basic cooking utensils like wooden spoons and a spatula. Don’t worry about stocking up on every utensil and gadget right away; once you start cooking, you can pick things up as your recipes call for them. You’ll also need pots and pans. If you’re just testing the waters with the whole cooking thing, a pot for boiling water and a non-stick pan are a great place to start, or you can go to town with a full boxed set.

If you’re a caffeine addict, you’ll need a great coffee maker. Overwhelmed by the number of options out there? Read up on different models here. And if tea is more your thing, make sure you have a kettle.

If you’re not into eating at a counter at every meal, include a small table and chairs on your list. (It can double as a desk.) But even if the kitchen counter is where you want to sit, you’ll need seating...this Toronto furniture store has a great selection of counter-height stools.

And when it comes to post-meal cleanup, a sponge, dishcloths and a dish drying rack will always come in handy, even if you have a dishwasher.

Bathing

Bathrooms don’t get as much love as the kitchen, but you still spend time in there, so warming up your space with a few nice touches is always a good idea. A shower curtain with a fun pattern is a great way to make an impact in a small space, and don’t forget hooks and a liner. You’ll also need towels, face cloths and a bath mat. Being all matchy-matchy can help unify the space, but it isn’t essential.

Living room

Living

This is the spot where you’ll probably spend most of your time (the hours you’re awake, anyway), so picking items you really like will enhance your enjoyment of the space. Since this is your first home, chances are you may be furnishing your new digs with some secondhand stuff. Whether it comes from family, a yard sale or Value Village, you can pretty it up with paint and some strategically placed cushions and throws.

Whatever furniture you choose, keep that in mind that you’ll most likely be moving again, if you pick versatile pieces that can be used in multiple configurations now, your life will be much easier later.

The anchor of any living room is the couch and since you’re going to be spending a lot of time on it (especially these days), make sure it’s comfortable and will stand up to a lot of use.

Related info: Tips for buying a great sofa

If you have space, a coffee table to rest your drinks (or feet) on is a great piece to invest in. Just make sure you also get coasters if it’s susceptible to staining. We love these cool coasters that are made locally and feature photos of Toronto subway stations. And don’t forget a nice floor lamp: good lighting adds warmth and comfort to your space (and makes curling up with a good book a lot more appealing).

Working

Having a designated workspace that isn’t your bed can make you much more productive (and it’s easier on your body). It doesn’t have to be in a separate room: installing a small wall desk in your bedroom or living room can give you a dedicated work area that makes a big difference in productivity. A good chair is also a must — if you’re going to be sitting a lot, invest in something adjustable and ergonomically-friendly. Your body will thank you.

Related info: How to make a small home office work for you

Don’t forget to get your internet sorted before you move in. If you pre-schedule delivery, you’ll have a seamless transition.

Comfortable bed

Sleeping

Set yourself up for sweet dreams with a comfy sheet set, pillows, and comforter, quilt, or duvet for your bed. You’ll clearly also need a mattress, but a bed frame is actually optional: to save space, you can use a simple mattress platform and a headboard to create the same effect.

For easy setup, there are numerous mattress-in-a-box options you can choose from, like Endy, Casper, and Douglas. They’ll deliver directly to your new place, and if you don’t love it, most have a 100+ night trial period. Check out this helpful comparison of four popular mattresses.

Organizing

Pick up some plastic bins and shelf dividers or use shoe boxes or other storage containers, get them all organized with a label maker (you know you want one), then put away your stuff and voila! You’ll be able to find it later and your home won’t look cluttered. Need more tips on organizing? Check out the experts at The Home Edit, and binge-watch their show, Get Organized, on Netflix.

Home decor

Decor

The sky’s the limit here, whether you’re a minimalist or a lover of full-on kitsch. You do you. But a few pieces that can come in handy are a cute dish or tray to drop your keys in when you come in the door, and a nice entryway mirror to double-check your look on the way out. The rest is up to you: add personal photos of your family and friends, mementos from trips, or you can even hang your musical instruments on the walls — whatever makes your space feel like home to you.

You can also incorporate art, even if you’re on a budget. Plus, every space can benefit from the addition of some greenery, and plants make great housewarming gifts (hint, hint, Aunt Dolores).

Knowledge

Of all the things on the list, however, knowledge is the biggest must-have! Whether you’re a renter or an owner, keeping up to date on the condo market is the best way to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Explore condos.ca to look at listings, stay up to date on the market, and connect with a Condo Pro for the info and insights you need when you decide to move again

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