20 helpful products we’ve bought for our apartments

 

dyson v11 outsize vacuum review

  • Your home has a big impact on your quality of life, and mitigating those small daily annoyances you experience around the house can vastly improve your time spent there.
  • I asked my Insider Reviews colleagues for the best purchases they ever made for their apartments. 
  • Read more: 30 handy cooking tools we rely on in our own kitchens

Whether it sounds hyperbolic or superficial, your home has a drastic impact on your quality of life. The little inconveniences and annoyances you learn to live around become a fixture from day to day, and, over time, become too much a part of your life.

That's why we're all so willing to spend the money on exorbitant rents, resilient plants, and smart home features to make our spaces be as peaceful, comforting, and useful as they can be

In my own self-interest, I crowdsourced from my colleagues on the Insider Reviews team for the best purchases they ever made for their own apartments. Below, you'll find the 20 we'd call the best and most important home purchases we've yet made, in case any might help you too:

Below are 20 of the best apartment purchases we ever made:

Inexpensive, but solid furniture

Zinus Furniture

For anyone who wants sturdy furniture that doesn't look cheap or cost too much, I'd recommend anything from Zinus. I have four pieces from the brand — a king-sized bed frame with headboardcoffee tablemedia table, and hallway table — and everything's still solid after two moves and more than four years of daily use. Each item came with all the proper tools and assembly only took about 15-20 minutes. Read our full review. — Jada Wong, senior editor  

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Smart lights

Philips Hue White Ambiance Smart Bulb Starter Kit

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I'm a pretty low-maintenance person, but the one luxury I'd buy over and over again is this set of smart bulbs. They have over 50,000 shades of white light to play with for the perfect atmosphere, and they work with a pre-set schedule, timers, and smart assistants like Amazon's Alexa. I always have the ideal light for whatever I want to do and enjoy at home (reading, relaxing, movie-watching, etc.). I wake up to warm, pseudo-natural light naturally every morning before my alarm, and fall asleep naturally before my bedtime because I've timed the lights to decrease from bright to mellow half an hour before I'd like to fall asleep. They may be the best and most unexpected improvement to my quality of life at home that I've ever made.

And even though they're expensive upfront, you're mostly paying for the smart bridge which can control up to 50 smart lights. Replacements are comparatively much cheaper. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter



A cordless vac

Dyson V11 Outsize Cordless Vacuum

I tested this vac for a review, so I technically didn't purchase it, but I would in a heartbeat. This is an expensive appliance, but one that I reach for every week to deep clean my hardwood floors and various carpets with ease. The vacuum head adjusts to the different types of flooring you may have in your apartment and the cordless design means you'll never trip over anything. It's a little heavy, especially if you'll be vacuuming for long stretches, but that also means you'll have to empty out the dustbin less often. I'm equal parts disgusted and impressed by the amounts of dust, dirt, pet hair, and more that's picked up. Read our full review. — Jada Wong, senior editor

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A streaming stick

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

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Whether they're all your own or you're mooching off a friend or family member, having access to a handful of streaming services is the norm nowadays. The Fire TV Stick provides an easy-to-navigate "home base" for your Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming accounts. As a small device, it's easy to take it on the go, too, so you can continue enjoying shows and movies on big screens wherever you have a TV. — Connie Chen, senior reporter



A ladder bookshelf

VASAGLE Industrial Ladder Shelf

I bought this ladder bookshelf to match my apartment's rustic industrial look, and it's one of my favorite pieces in my living room. The open shelving made the space look more open and gave my vining pothos plant a place to wrap around. I also use it to hold video and board games, books, and smaller plants. The build is solid and assembly was around 20-30 minutes as you have to put the legs and shelves in a specific order. — Jada Wong, senior editor

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Product Name: Vasagle Industrial Ladder Shelf
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Vacuum storage bags

SpaceSaver Premium Reusable Vacuum Storage Bags

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I've said it before, but these cheap vacuum bags are the best space-saving hack I've figured out yet for a small apartment. I fill the bags with seasonal or sentimental clothes (like big puffy jackets or nostalgic college T-shirts) and use a vacuum to suck out the air to a fraction of their typical size. They can be stacked inside empty suitcases to maximize your storage even more (or even used to travel if you're checking luggage and don't mind more weight). — Mara Leighton, senior reporter



A really nice trash can

simplehuman Dual Compartment Step Trash Can

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The trash can, for better or worse, is the first thing people see when they enter my apartment, and my rose gold one from simplehuman makes a great first impression. It's stylish (can I say that about a trash can?), surprisingly compact given the amount of garbage it holds, and it has a convenient liner pocket that dispenses trash bags one by one from inside the can for a faster liner change. This is hands down the most well-designed trash can I've ever seen, and for me, it's been worth the high price. Here's our full review. — Ellen Hoffman, executive editor



An affordable interior design service

Modsy

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I don't have the eye for interior design. Instead of spending way longer than necessary measuring and sketching out floor plans, I asked Modsy — a digital service where interior designers make a 3D replica of your space and fill it with shoppable items — to do the heavy lifting for me. This way, I already had layouts and design options to mull over before I moved in, and I got to actually see them in my new space using the digital Modsy program — which went a long way for me as someone who would otherwise have trouble conceptualizing it all together. It made moving and making the most of my space as stress-free as it's ever been. I recommend this to everyone. Here's our full review. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter



Smart plugs

Amazon Smart Plug

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I can control all the lights and appliances in my home — whether they're smart or not — using just my voice and Amazon's Alexa. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter



A hanging pot rack

Cuisinart Chef's Classic 36-Inch Rectangular Wall-Mount Bookshelf Rack

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Product Name: Cuisinart Chef's Classic Wall-Mount Bookshelf Rack
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I'd say my kitchen has above-average countertop space and cabinet storage for a New York City apartment, but it's still not enough to store all my pots and pans. I got this hanging pot rack from Cuisinart to free up some room and make my most used cookware easier to access. It requires power tools to install, but don't let that deter you — it's worth the effort. — Ellen Hoffman, executive editor



A rechargeable candle lighter

Ronxs Rechargeable Candle Lighter

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I've wasted countless matches trying to light them up. After throwing away another pile of bad matches, I discovered the magic of rechargeable candle lighters, which are flame-less and use electricity to light your candle. It's efficient and less wasteful, and the long neck, which can be rotated 360 degrees, is perfect for reaching into candles and fireplaces without hurting yourself. Now, you'd be hard-pressed not to find a lit candle when you visit my apartment. — Connie Chen, senior reporter



The Echo Dot

Echo Dot

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I put off buying an Echo for a long time, so I'm sure I could live without it, but now that I have one, I definitely wouldn't want to. It's one of the few tech accessories I use every day, for one reason or another. It's the most convenient way for me to get news updates and check the weather before I leave for work in the morning. It has even allowed me to use devices like my robot vacuum and air purifier at their full potential. The same way I need to have my phone when I leave home, I need to have an Echo Dot when I'm at home. — Amir Ismael, reporter



A surge protector

Belkin 12-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector

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After hearing that the Dyson heater I got to thaw my apartment this winter kept shorting out my electricity, a colleague recommended that I spend $20 on the Belkin surge protector. Now I can enjoy heat and all my living room gadgets without wincing every time I turn on a switch.  — Mara Leighton, senior reporter



A pop-up storage coffee table

West Elm Industrial Storage Pop-Up Coffee Table

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This is my favorite piece of furniture in my apartment. It kills three birds with one stone: It looks great and fits the space well, it has hidden storage for random books, games, and blankets, and the pop-up top doubles as a makeshift workspace and my dinner table! — Ellen Hoffman, executive editor



An affordable floor lamp

Rivet Modern Floor Lamp

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The quality of Amazon's private-label furniture is surprisingly comparable to my higher-end pieces from West Elm and CB2. This floor lamp is beautiful in person with its matte black and brass contrast, and it's very functional. It has two multi-directional shades — each with its own on/off switch — that let me adjust the amount of light and point it in multiple directions. And it only took five minutes to assemble. — Ellen Hoffman, executive editor 



Shelving units

AmazonBasics 4-Tier Shelving Unit

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I have a lot of shoes — all in boxes — and they take up a substantial amount of space in my bedroom. Before buying two AmazonBasics four-tier racks, I had stacks of shoes along the walls in my bedroom and it was a huge mess. Pulling one box from the middle or bottom of a stack almost guaranteed to cause boxes to topple over. With the racks, I can store most of my shoes without having to play Tetris every time I want to take a box down or put one away. As simple as they may be, these racks really helped me transform my room into a more organized and livable space. — Amir Ismael, reporter



A robovac

Eufy Robovac 11S

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I'll admit that this robot vacuum isn't one I bought. It was sent to me for testing purposes when we were reviewing affordable robot vacuums. But after having lived with it for a few months, I can safely say I'll be buying it again if it ever dies. It clears all the ledges in my apartment, picks up incredible amounts of cat hair, and gives me back the five hours a week I used to spend vacuuming. Read our full review here. — Sally Kaplan, senior editor



A simple, no-tools-needed bathroom shelf

Orimade Bathroom Shelf

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Having exhausted the tiny space under my sink, I turned to the walls to create extra storage space for all my skincare products. This sturdy stainless steel shelf looks pretty standard as far as shelves go, but what I really loved is that it didn't require any tools to mount. It attaches securely to your wall with just adhesives and can hold a lot of weight. The shelf helped me instantly declutter the mess in my bathroom. Read our full review here. — Connie Chen, senior reporter



A Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link heater

Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link

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My apartment doesn't seem to have any of the insulation that makes most living spaces habitable. Last winter, our electricity bill skyrocketed with the alternatives we were using to compensate. This tiny but effective heater was still a cringe-worthy $549 then, but it saved us more over time by taking on the bulk of the work in our little two-bedroom. Just be careful to buy from an authorized seller rather than a third-party so your warranty works. Read our full review here. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter 



A photo display

Umbra Hangit Photo Display

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When I first moved into my apartment, I went a few months without putting anything up on my walls. I finally got around to printing out photos of my friends, family, and travels, but didn't want to go through the trouble and work of individually mounting them, so I got two of these wooden hanging displays instead. It's light and easy to mount (I believe I just used Command strips on the backs), and can hold a ton of photos. Surrounding my space with my favorite pictures also makes the room feel more like home, and this display was an attractive way to make it happen. — Connie Chen, senior reporter