Shopping·10 min read

Everything I Bought For My New Apartment (Thanks to My Interior Designer Mom)

Design: theSkimm | Photos: Material, West Elm, Brooklinen
October 18, 2023

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One thing about growing up with a mom who’s also an interior designer? You get dragged to a lot of places you don’t necessarily want to go: the fabric store, antique shops, and furniture showrooms. So I never cared much about home decor until this year, when I moved into an apartment of my own. Suddenly the design stores of my youth weren’t so boring. Today, I thought I’d spread the wealth. Ahead, find all the things my designer mom dubbed must-haves for a new home — from bath towels to kitchen accessories — and a few items for the wish list, as well. Welcome home.


A set of fresh bath towels…

Chances are, when you’re moving into a new place, you’re bringing your ratty old towels with you. A fresh start calls for new towels, and these are perfect. They’re large enough to wrap up in, get softer with every wash, and are super absorbent. They come in a set of two, so you may want to add two to your cart to keep your linen closet well-stocked. ($67.15, Brooklinen)

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A classic sheet set so your new bed is supremely comfortable…

For the same reason above, my mom recommended I store away my old, worn-in sheets and splurge on a new set. These stay so crisp even after I wash them and feel like luxurious hotel sheets (you know what I’m talking about). They’re also great for hot sleepers, since the percale material stays cool. ($118.15+, Brooklinen)

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A 44-piece kitchen set that Oprah loves…

Say no more. This is everything you could possibly need to replace your old dishes and get your new kitchen started. You’ll get four complete place settings, including glasses and utensils. This way you won’t be eating takeout with plastic forks for weeks after moving in. Psst…use code THESKIMM20 for 20% off your order of $100 or more. ($275, Leeway)

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The Sill

A snake plant to bring a bit of life into your new space…

According to my mom, adding a plant is a surefire way to make a space feel more homey. If you’re a novice with plants like me, the snake plant is a safe bet. It only has to be watered once a month and doesn’t need direct sunlight. I ordered mine from The Sill, and it came thriving and in perfect condition. Plus, they have cute planters you can add. ($98, The Sill)

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Hot pink candlesticks for a pop of color…

When I was in London, I bought bright pink tapered candles at Ceramica Blue in Notting Hill, and I knew I wanted to use them for decor year-round in my new apartment. These Etsy candles look just like mine. They come in plenty of other colors and a dip-dye version I’m losing it over. ($9.54+, KokosGiftShop via Etsy)

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West Elm

A candlestick holder made by a small business…

My mom said I needed a focal point for my new desk (I got this one) and a way to display my hot pink candles, so a candlestick holder was the obvious choice. This one is part of West Elm Local, which supports small businesses, and I knew I would never get tired of it. The design is whimsical and almost cartoon-like, and it holds three candles. I got the white, but the black is just as cool. ($90, West Elm)

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A set of kitchen tools if you’re starting over…

This set features 10 pieces that’ll provide you with everything you need to start cooking in your new home. You’ll get three knives, tongs, spoons, a spatula, and a whisk, plus a sturdy wooden base. It looks pretty sitting on my countertop and comes in two wood colors and knife handle options. ($285, Material)

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A throw that’s perfect for the end of the bed…

Take it from me, this throw feels just as good as it looks. My mom suggested I find something to keep on my bed and pull up when nights start to get chilly, and this is exactly right. The eyelash fabric is so soft and not scratchy at all, and it’s just the right thickness to keep me comfortable. You can’t go wrong with any of the five available colors. ($98, Anthropologie)

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Porte & Hall

A doormat that goes inside your door…

Yes, you read that right. This mat is thin enough to go right inside your entryway without keeping the door from fully swinging open. It’s great for catching any dust or dirt and is slip- and water-resistant. It comes in 17 patterns. ($64, Porte & Hall)

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A cult-status toaster…

IYKYK. This Smeg toaster is incredibly functional; it toasts to perfection to different levels and has an automatic stop button. It also has a removable crumb tray for quick and easy clean-up. But the real draw is how cute it looks in my kitchen. It comes in 10 retro-chic colors, like pale blue and pastel pink. ($199.95+, Nordstrom)

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A silver-plated tray for displaying your skincare products…

If you’ve been blessed with a lot of counter space in your bathroom, a great way to keep your serums, lotions, and potions organized is leaving them out on a pretty tray. This one looks elegant and lends a vintage feel to your bathroom. It’s footed, so any water splashed won’t sit underneath it, and it’s tarnish-free, so you don’t have to polish it. ($91, Wayfair)

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Glass grapes for 1960s vibes…

I’ve written about these before, but they’re worth telling you about again. When I spotted glass grapes in a design store, I knew they had to be part of my decor. They’re a conversation starter, they’re fun anywhere in your home, and, trust me, they’ll make you smile. Mine are champagne-colored, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the vintage options on Etsy. (Prices vary, Etsy)

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A foo dog lamp that looks good in any room…

One thing my mom and I share is our love of foo dogs. They’re Chinese guardian lions and are symbols of protection. They were in my house growing up, and I wanted to make sure I had one in my new place. I love how expressive this one is, and the lamp looks great on my nightstand. It would also work on a desk or side table in the living room. If you want to go down a vintage foo dog rabbit hole, Etsy is a great place to look. You’re welcome. ($161.25, Horchow)

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A floor mirror that looks way more expensive than it is…

A full-length mirror is nonnegotiable. I picked up this one from Target and was instantly impressed with how good it looks. You can lean it up against a wall or hang it, and I like the look of the natural pine wood frame. The arched top makes it unique, too. ($120, Target)

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Cavern New York

A candle to remind me of where I used to live…

One thing I can’t recommend enough is buying a candle you used to burn in your old place to make your new one feel like home. This candle is that for me. It’s handmade in New York and has the most delicious woodsy scent for fall. I even bought the matching perfume oil and people often mistake it for the popular (and pricey) Mojave Ghost. ($34, Cavern New York)

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A multipurpose burl wood tray…

Prior to moving into my apartment, I knew neither what burl was (it’s the type of wood), nor the use for a tray like this. Now, it’s what I set my drink on when I watch my favorite shows. It looks great sitting on my ottoman with its lovely honey-colored wood and gold handles. It would also look great on a bar cart or displaying items in the middle of an island. Thanks, Mom. ($85, Wayfair)

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