A Shopping Guide To Stylish Starter Apartment Essentials

·5-min read

The desire to create a cozy-chic environment that's perfect for unwinding is a common sign that you're an adult. That matching bedding set and playroom-like furniture from your college years are still functional, but maybe you're starting to reconsider the duo in your first grown-up living situation. After hustling out in the real world, all you want to do is collapse on the couch and channel Olivia Pope with wine and popcorn in hand. You deserve to come home to a space that looks just as sophisticated as you now feel.

Whether you're moving into a first apartment or thinking of revamping your current interior for the fall, we crafted a shopping guide filled with essential homewares suited for your grown-ass self. Knowing that not all beginner apartment dwellers want to drop entire paychecks on single home items, we threw some budget-friendly sets and bundles into the mix too. Ahead, the key pieces from smaller basics to larger anchor-pieces that will make a starter apartment look and feel more like a refined home.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

<h2>Towels<br></h2><br><h3>Great Bay Home 100% Cotton Towel Set </h3><br>Towels are an essential in any home. Instead of going with a mismatched jumble of past-their-prime rags from your college days, invest in a matching set that gives you the biggest bang for your buck — and decor style.<br><br><em>Shop <a href="https://amzn.to/3Fae3fe" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>Amazon</strong></a></em><br><br><strong>Great Bay Home</strong> 6-Piece 100% Cotton Towel Set, $, available at <a href="https://amzn.to/2ZDSK5l" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a>

Towels


Great Bay Home 100% Cotton Towel Set


Towels are an essential in any home. Instead of going with a mismatched jumble of past-their-prime rags from your college days, invest in a matching set that gives you the biggest bang for your buck — and decor style.

Shop Amazon

Great Bay Home 6-Piece 100% Cotton Towel Set, $, available at Amazon
<h2>Wine Glasses<br></h2><br><h3>Snowe Stemless Wine Glasses </h3><br>The biggest difference between a sophisticated renter and an aspiring adult? Owning stemware that doesn't solely consist of stolen bar mugs. Try picking up a chic set that can serve as both water, juice, and table wine glasses.<br><br><em>Shop</em> <a href="https://snowehome.com/products/stemless-wine-glasses" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Snowe" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong><em>Snowe</em></strong></a><br><br><strong>Snowe</strong> Stemless Wine Glasses (Set of 4), $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fsnowehome.com%2Fproducts%2Fstemless-wine-glasses" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Snowe" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Snowe</a>

Wine Glasses


Snowe Stemless Wine Glasses


The biggest difference between a sophisticated renter and an aspiring adult? Owning stemware that doesn't solely consist of stolen bar mugs. Try picking up a chic set that can serve as both water, juice, and table wine glasses.

Shop Snowe

Snowe Stemless Wine Glasses (Set of 4), $, available at Snowe
<h2>Mattresses</h2><br><h3>Avocado Green Mattress<br></h3><br>Yes, Avocado mattresses are all-natural — and no, they're not too expensive. These extra cushy mattresses are made with totally organic materials and feel as luxurious as their far-pricier competitors. Plus they're good for your conscience, which we hear helps with sleep.<br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="https://www.avocadogreenmattress.com/products/green-natural-organic-mattress?variant=twin" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Avocado" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Avocado</a></em></strong> <strong><em><a href="https://www.avocadogreenmattress.com/products/green-natural-organic-mattress?variant=twin" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Mattress" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Mattress</a></em></strong><br><br><br><strong>Avocado</strong> Avocado Green Mattress, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.avocadogreenmattress.com%2Fshop%2Favocado-mattress%2F%3Fvariant%3Dfull" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Avocado" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Avocado</a>

Mattresses


Avocado Green Mattress


Yes, Avocado mattresses are all-natural — and no, they're not too expensive. These extra cushy mattresses are made with totally organic materials and feel as luxurious as their far-pricier competitors. Plus they're good for your conscience, which we hear helps with sleep.

Shop Avocado Mattress


Avocado Avocado Green Mattress, $, available at Avocado
<h2>Throw Blankets<br></h2><br><h3><h3>FINEGRID Large Turkish Blanket</h3></h3><br>A simple throw blanket makes your couch feel that much comfier <em>and</em> look that much more sophisticated.<br><br><em>Shop <a href="https://www.etsy.com/shop/FINEGRID?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=754101835" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:FINEGRID" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>FINEGRID</strong></a></em><br><br><strong>FINEGRID</strong> Large Turkish Blanket, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F754101835%2Flarge-turkish-blanket-black-striped%3F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Etsy" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Etsy</a>

Throw Blankets


FINEGRID Large Turkish Blanket


A simple throw blanket makes your couch feel that much comfier and look that much more sophisticated.

Shop FINEGRID

FINEGRID Large Turkish Blanket, $, available at Etsy
<h2>Big Bowls<br></h2><br><h3><strong>H&M Ceramic Bowl</strong></h3><br>Bowls are the do-it-all dinnerware — you can safely eat everything from popcorn to oatmeal, pasta, homemade stews, and more from the comfort of your couch in them. This chic ceramic bowl (we suggest adding a set of four to your cart) is the perfect versatile addition to a new kitchen. <br><br><em>Shop <a href="https://www2.hm.com/en_us/productpage.0932162001.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:H&M" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>H&M</strong></a></em><br><br><strong>H&M</strong> Ceramic Bowl, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww2.hm.com%2Fen_us%2Fproductpage.0932162001.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:H&M" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">H&M</a>

Big Bowls


H&M Ceramic Bowl


Bowls are the do-it-all dinnerware — you can safely eat everything from popcorn to oatmeal, pasta, homemade stews, and more from the comfort of your couch in them. This chic ceramic bowl (we suggest adding a set of four to your cart) is the perfect versatile addition to a new kitchen.

Shop H&M

H&M Ceramic Bowl, $, available at H&M
<h2>Console Tables<br></h2><br><h3>Project 62 Hillside Console Table </h3><br>Instead of trying to budget out a living-space lineup with multiple bookshelves, side tables, and entertainment consoles, invest in one piece that can pull triple-duty while streamlining all your grown-up <em>stuff</em>.<br><br><em>Shop <a href="https://goto.target.com/DVeV32" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Target" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>Target</strong></a></em><br><br><strong>Project 62</strong> Hillside Console Table Espresso Brown, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgoto.target.com%2FDVeV32" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Target" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Target</a>

Console Tables


Project 62 Hillside Console Table


Instead of trying to budget out a living-space lineup with multiple bookshelves, side tables, and entertainment consoles, invest in one piece that can pull triple-duty while streamlining all your grown-up stuff.

Shop Target

Project 62 Hillside Console Table Espresso Brown, $, available at Target
<h2>Hand Soaps<br></h2><br><h3>Muse Bath Apothecary Hand Ritual Soap </h3><br>A little bottle of premium hand soap goes a long way when it comes to elevating a space. This two-bottle pack filled with aloe, eucalyptus, and lavender essential oils does the luxe trick for under $20. If you want, you can refill its minimalist-chic bottle with the generic store-brand stuff after it runs out (we won't tell).<br><br><em>Shop <strong><a href="https://amzn.to/3l0ju8x" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a></strong></em><br><br><strong>Muse Bath Apothecary</strong> Hand Ritual Soap, 16 oz (2 Pack), $, available at <a href="https://amzn.to/3l0ju8x" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a>

Hand Soaps


Muse Bath Apothecary Hand Ritual Soap


A little bottle of premium hand soap goes a long way when it comes to elevating a space. This two-bottle pack filled with aloe, eucalyptus, and lavender essential oils does the luxe trick for under $20. If you want, you can refill its minimalist-chic bottle with the generic store-brand stuff after it runs out (we won't tell).

Shop Amazon

Muse Bath Apothecary Hand Ritual Soap, 16 oz (2 Pack), $, available at Amazon
<h2>Cookware Sets<br></h2><br><h3>Goldilocks Cookware Set </h3><br>Don't struggle in the kitchen trying to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner with just one sad skillet. Investing in a quality cookware doesn't have to blow up your budget. This seven-piece set (three lids, four pans) from Potluck is crafted with tri-ply stainless steel and will cover all your daily meal needs in sophisticated style.<br><br><em>Shop <strong><a href="https://cookgoldilocks.com/products/cookware-set" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Goldilocks" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Goldilocks</a></strong></em><br><br><strong>Goldilocks</strong> Cookware Set, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcookgoldilocks.com%2Fproducts%2Fcookware-set" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Goldilocks" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Goldilocks</a>

Cookware Sets


Goldilocks Cookware Set


Don't struggle in the kitchen trying to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner with just one sad skillet. Investing in a quality cookware doesn't have to blow up your budget. This seven-piece set (three lids, four pans) from Potluck is crafted with tri-ply stainless steel and will cover all your daily meal needs in sophisticated style.

Shop Goldilocks

Goldilocks Cookware Set, $, available at Goldilocks
<h2>Sheet Sets<br></h2><br><h3>Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set </h3><br>You spend <a href="http://www.technologist.eu/why-do-we-sleep-one-third-of-our-time/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:1/3 of your life sleeping" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">1/3 of your life sleeping</a>, so you better make sure your bedding is butter soft. These top-rated sheets are crafted from durable, long-staple cotton in a rich "buttery-smooth" 480-thread-count weave.<br><br><em>Shop <a href="https://www.brooklinen.com/products/luxe-core-sheet-set" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Brooklinen" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>Brooklinen</strong></a></em><br><br><strong>Brooklinen</strong> Luxe Core Sheet Set, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.brooklinen.com%2Fproducts%2Fluxe-core-sheet-set" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Brooklinen" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Brooklinen</a>

Sheet Sets


Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set


You spend 1/3 of your life sleeping, so you better make sure your bedding is butter soft. These top-rated sheets are crafted from durable, long-staple cotton in a rich "buttery-smooth" 480-thread-count weave.

Shop Brooklinen

Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set, $, available at Brooklinen
<h2>Mellanni Brushed Microfibre Bed Sheet Set</h2><br>If you're interested in a more affordable option, Mellanni's best-selling sheets will give you a great night's sleep for less than $50. (Seriously, our Lifestyle Writer, Alexandra Polk, <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/amazon-mellanni-sheet-set-review" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:gave them a try" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">gave them a try</a> and it was love at first snooze.)<br><br><em>Shop</em> <a href="https://amzn.to/3A0uI18" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong><em>Amazon</em></strong></a><br><br><strong>Mellanni</strong> Brushed Microfibre Bed Sheet Set, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.ca%2FMellanni-Bed-Sheet-Set-Microfiber%2Fdp%2FB07RBZ1MYN%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a>

Mellanni Brushed Microfibre Bed Sheet Set


If you're interested in a more affordable option, Mellanni's best-selling sheets will give you a great night's sleep for less than $50. (Seriously, our Lifestyle Writer, Alexandra Polk, gave them a try and it was love at first snooze.)

Shop Amazon

Mellanni Brushed Microfibre Bed Sheet Set, $, available at Amazon
<h2>Coffee Tables<br></h2><br><h3>Urban Outfitters Kirby Pop-Up Coffee Table</h3><br>Coffee tables may be <em>the</em> furniture benchmark for adulthood. For a piece that you'll be using every day, they are essential and therefore worth saving up to splurge on a quality one — like this top-rated wood style with a pop-up top and bonus interior storage.<br><br><em>Shop <a href="https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/kirby-pop-up-coffee-table" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Urban Outfitters" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>Urban Outfitters</strong></a></em><br><br><strong>Urban Outfitters</strong> Kirby Pop-Up Coffee Table, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.urbanoutfitters.com%2Fshop%2Fkirby-pop-up-coffee-table" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Urban Outfitters" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Urban Outfitters</a>

Coffee Tables


Urban Outfitters Kirby Pop-Up Coffee Table


Coffee tables may be the furniture benchmark for adulthood. For a piece that you'll be using every day, they are essential and therefore worth saving up to splurge on a quality one — like this top-rated wood style with a pop-up top and bonus interior storage.

Shop Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters Kirby Pop-Up Coffee Table, $, available at Urban Outfitters
<h2>Dinnerware Sets<br></h2><h3>Siterra Painter's Palette 16 Piece Dinnerware Set, Service for 4<br></h3><br>A complete set of dinnerware guarantees that there will be no awkwardly mismatched plates when you invite your friends over for a made-by-you (or Seamless-ed) meal.<br><br><em>Shop <strong><a href="https://www.jossandmain.com/kitchen-tabletop/pdp/siterra-painters-palette-16-piece-dinnerware-set-service-for-4-oyg10040.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Joss & Main" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Joss & Main</a></strong></em><br><br><strong>Joss & Main</strong> Siterra Painter's Palette 16 Piece Dinnerware Set, Serv, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.jossandmain.com%2Fkitchen-tabletop%2Fpdp%2Fsiterra-painters-palette-16-piece-dinnerware-set-service-for-4-oyg10040.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Joss & Main" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Joss & Main</a>

Dinnerware Sets

Siterra Painter's Palette 16 Piece Dinnerware Set, Service for 4


A complete set of dinnerware guarantees that there will be no awkwardly mismatched plates when you invite your friends over for a made-by-you (or Seamless-ed) meal.

Shop Joss & Main

Joss & Main Siterra Painter's Palette 16 Piece Dinnerware Set, Serv, $, available at Joss & Main
<h2>Pillows<br></h2><br><h3>Ella Jayne Home Pillow Set </h3><br>We've heard that pillows should be thrown out every one and half to two years, meaning that restocking your sleep support lineup post new move-in may be a necessity. Do so more affordably by investing in a bundled set.<br><br><em>Shop <strong><a href="https://amzn.to/3mnbY7g" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a></strong></em><br><br><strong>Ella Jayne Home</strong> Soft Exquisite Hotel Pillows Luxury Plush Gel Pillows (, $, available at <a href="https://amzn.to/3iqjQnc" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a>

Pillows


Ella Jayne Home Pillow Set


We've heard that pillows should be thrown out every one and half to two years, meaning that restocking your sleep support lineup post new move-in may be a necessity. Do so more affordably by investing in a bundled set.

Shop Amazon

Ella Jayne Home Soft Exquisite Hotel Pillows Luxury Plush Gel Pillows (, $, available at Amazon
<h2>Rugs</h2><br><h3>Erin Gates By Momeni River Beacon Indoor-Outdoor Rug </h3><br>Your flooring takes up the most surface area in your home. If your apartment comes with less-than-ideal floors, owning a unique and durable area rug is crucial for styling things up — like this indoor-outdoor style from Erin Gates by Momeni with its artfully handwoven blue hues.<br><br><em>Shop</em> <a href="https://amzn.to/2Y8PpdI" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong><em>Amazon</em></strong></a><br><br><strong>Erin Gates by Momeni</strong> River Beacon Denim Indoor-Outdoor Rug (5' X 7'6"), $, available at <a href="https://amzn.to/3A5q9m2" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a>

Rugs


Erin Gates By Momeni River Beacon Indoor-Outdoor Rug


Your flooring takes up the most surface area in your home. If your apartment comes with less-than-ideal floors, owning a unique and durable area rug is crucial for styling things up — like this indoor-outdoor style from Erin Gates by Momeni with its artfully handwoven blue hues.

Shop Amazon

Erin Gates by Momeni River Beacon Denim Indoor-Outdoor Rug (5' X 7'6"), $, available at Amazon

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Furniture That Will Help Your Space Do It ALL

The Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers

The Top-Reviewed Loveseats For Small Spaces

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting