Equipping the First Apartment

Everything You'll Need, From Couch to Toilet Paper

Interior of bedroom with decor on wall
Eric Hernandez/Getty Images

A young adult's first apartment is typically furnished with hand-me-downs, supplemented by a few key purchases at Ikea and the big box stores. But even after junior has ransacked your ​kitchen cabinets and garage, he’ll still be in for a rude shock when he goes to buy pantry and cleaning supplies. Expect to spend several hundred dollars on all the stuff you take for granted: the most basic condiments, cleaning supplies and boring, but absolutely essential supplies for daily living, including toilet paper, toothpaste and garbage bags.

Here's a shopping list to get you both started:

Furniture — New, Used or Lovingly Handed Down

  • A bed, including the mattress, pillows and bedding
  • A chest of drawers
  • A nightstand
  • A couch and chairs
  • A coffee table
  • Bookshelves and any entertainment media
  • Dining table and chairs

The Bathroom

  • A shower curtain and bath mat
  • Toilet paper, tissues
  • Towels
  • Waste basket
  • Toiletries, first aid kit

The Starter Kitchen

  • Two saucepans, one small and one large enough to cook a batch of pasta
  • Two skillets, one small nonstick for cooking eggs, one large
  • A cookie sheet and a 9x13 baking pan
  • Oven mitts
  • Measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients
  • Utensils, including a wooden spoon, whisk, spatula, tongs and a large slotted spoon
  • Two knives, one large for slicing and chopping, and one paring knife
  • A cutting board
  • A cheese grater
  • An ice cream scoop
  • A serving bowl that can be used for salad or pasta
  • Flatware, plates, bowls, cups, glassware, and napkins
  • Dish soap, sponges, dish towels, paper towels, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, trash can
  • Basic seasonings: salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, garlic powder, chili powder or taco seasoning, oregano or Italian seasoning
  • Basic condiments: oil, olive oil, vinegar, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise
  • Cookbooks and perhaps a beautifully bound, DIY cookbook of Mom's best recipes
  • And an adorable apron, such as this DIY ruffled apron, made with college-print fabric


  • Cleaning supplies, including Soft Scrub, 409 and Windex-type products (or eco-friendly white vinegar, lemons and baking soda), rags, sponges, a mop, a bucket and a toilet scrub brush
  • Garbage bags, trash cans
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • Laundry detergent, laundry baskets, and fabric softener