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What the Heck Do You Need for a House?!

I feel like life hands you opportunities backwards. At least, when it comes to dealing with buying your first home. I rented for the better part of a decade after college, gathering bits and pieces of kitchen items and furniture as I went along. Then before getting married, I drooled over all the dumb things we could add to a registry – from garlic presses to a zillion small spice bowls.

front door view house

Newsflash new home buyers – you don’t need all that crap. Or the three French presses currently sitting on my cabinet. But there is an artform to putting a home together and choosing the right things that will be stylish and useful. The best thing that happened to us was moving abroad, and we were able to get rid of everything while keeping the essentials.

Now some of this might seem obvious – but I was in a unique situation. Lots of things were put in storage we never used before moving to London, and besides that, I had to start from starch. Instead of accumulating random things over the year, I had the unique opportunity to truly research and invest in what was needed for each room. You got to keep organized with a project like this. Here’s some guidance!

Do the Purge

living room space

It happens, we all end up with three French presses or too many Tupperware containers from time to time. No worries, not all hope is lost.

Make a pact and a goal. Maybe you remove 10 items from the house, either to sell, donate or toss. Maybe 10 in each category. Or whatever works for you. To maintain, I plan to throw out or recycle an item every time an amazon box comes to the door. Hopefully this way I minimize the clutter.

Room-by-Room

Looking at basically a 900-square-foot blank canvas was enough to make me crazy. Instead of worrying about  the idea as a whole, I tried hard to make sure each space was completed to the best of my ability, room by room. Rooms like the living room, kitchen and bedroom came first, while sun-room, office and guest room were next.

My Favorite – The Kitchen

Although we barely have space for an island and new appliances, the kitchen still seems to be where I spend most of my time. I wanted to be fairly choosy about this space.

kitchen interiorEssentials

  • Fry pan – I think I use mine every day. The sturdy and sleek Diamond Lite Pro from Frieling works like a charm. I don’t mind roasting fish or veggies, but I still think a sauté tastes better. Even better, it goes perfectly with the mini mortar and pestle by Frieling to make special rubs and spices for our dishes.
  • Mixing bowl – none of those flimsy plastic ones. These from Küchenprofi are perfect because of the metal interior, but rubber base to make them non-slip while mixing.
  • Knives – Never will I waste time with a dull knife again. I’m still debating on a full set, a heavy chef’s knife works wonders for any prepping you can imagine.

Now if you are going to have a few fun things, make sure they’re worth your time and your money. Here’s some items we love in our new home that aren’t essential but have been fun to use.

crepe pan longCrepe Pan

I thought at first, no way. When would we make crepes?! But actually, ever since I joined a new food tracking and healthy eating program lately, this pan has been my jam. I can make super thin sweet and savory crepes, which hold all kind of proteins, fruits and veggies. It’s much lighter than a couple slices of bread or American-style pancakes. I like Fissler’s non-stick pan in a bold red that goes well with my kitchen style.

Sundries in the Pantry

Now that there’s a big beautiful space for things in the kitchen storage, I have been indulging in a few fun items I wouldn’t normally think about. As I transition into a healthier lifestyle and try to stay away from too much wine during the week, I look to making fun mocktails and trying new things. I’ve enjoyed some of the Floral Elixir Co.’s pretty and tasty syrups. They have an herbal, bouquet taste and with just a small splash, change any soda water or drink to something exotic and easy to drink.

floral elixirs with glass of champange

To fill up my pantry, I’ve been trying out a few delivery companies that offer items in bulk or high-end items I can’t get in local stores. Sadly, I was disappointed by Brandless – a lot of the food came completely crushed. The idea of a $3 flat fee for all items is interesting, but it also seems silly to pay the same for a couple ounces of beef jerky or a giant bag of flour.

I found Boxed to be more useful – discounts are obvious on the site and things arrive quickly. I can’t get enough of the Bubly soda water and strawberry Pocky.  Protip: Check out the candy section on Boxed to stock up for Halloween at much less than in stores. The kids are getting full-sized bars this year!

Living Room and Bedroom

My husband came up with a wild Thai-themed bedroom to celebrate one of our favorite trips abroad. This means more decoration in there than storage, so I had to be smart. We’re lucky to have two bedrooms, so he’s uses the guest one for getting ready in the morning.

Here’s some of the things needed in a living room to make it functional:

  • Comfortable couch to seat a few people at once
  • Shelving on the walls
  • Warm artwork
  • Mounted TV and storage space
  • Gentle lighting

bedrooom interior thai style

As for the bedroom, here’s what we included:

  • Large king size bed
  • Two bedside tables with drawers
  • Matching dresser
  • Framed prints by Japanese-American artist Audrey Kawasaki
  • Bits and pieces from our travels like a mini ceramic Buddha
  • Plenty of plants, like a money tree and aloe plant

Office, Sunroom and Backyard

While I was eager to get the office completed, I knew I had to be patient. There’s other places for me to try co-working in town and projects were put secondary anyway while I worked on the house. Finally, though it was time to think about the office space. Like the other rooms, I wanted it to be simple and clean so I only invested in the essentials. For instance, I chose a very large butcher block desk with architecture style legs to make sure a big desktop computer and any extras could fit.  Shelves will come soon, and I made sure to have the art prints I had been saving framed professionally so they last. I thought Michael’s did a good job with the framing, and the desk came from Ikea, with a few modifications like paint and sanding.

audrey kawasaki print

The backyard is the first space I’ve had outdoors! Next spring planting will happen with grass and hopefully an herb garden. For now, we use mostly just the space for grilling and maybe stepping outside for fresh air.

As for the sunroom, that’s the last step in this massive project. We haven’t done much to the space yet, but I hope to make this the sitting area as we don’t have a table anywhere else. I’m hoping my husband and I can be handy enough to build something, like bench seating, so we can entertain. The room has heating and plenty of space so I’m excited about the idea.

Have you ever tackled furnished and filling your home? Have you done it all at once? What was your strategy? How often do you move?

EileenCotterWright

Author EileenCotterWright

Eileen Cotter Wright is a Boston, MA expat living in London, UK. She is a freelance writer and owner of group travel site PureWander.com. Despite losing her passport the first day she left her home country, she's continued to roam the earth with gusto for about a decade. You can keep up with her hot mess adventures on Twitter @Crooked_Flight.

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