Apartment Essentials: The Ultimate Guide

Ultimate Guide To Apartment Essentials

It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of buying your first apartment or condo and purchasing lots of stuff, but it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money. Plus, it can save you space and prevent clutter if you focus on the apartment essentials, like pieces of apartment size furniture.

This is furniture that’s smaller than regular sized items. Apartment size furniture helps you to find more space for all the items you need, so that it will fit into your home and look good in it. 

Here’s a guide to choosing the right apartment essentials that you really need for every room in your place, with a focus on apartment size items.

Let’s start with choosing the most essential items and furniture for your bedroom, which is obviously one of the most important areas in your home because it’s your sanctuary.


Bedroom Apartments

The most important thing you need in your bedroom is – of course – your bed!

Make sure that you’ve measured out enough space for your bed so that it doesn’t take up too much floor space in the bedroom.

There should also be enough room for a few other items around the bed, such as bedside tables. You want to be able to move around the bed to get into and out of it with ease instead of bumping into walls or other furniture.

The mattress you choose for your bed should be small enough to fit in your space. Some of the best mattresses that achieve this goal are twin mattresses.

These have dimensions of 39 inches (width) by 74 inches (height), so they’re perfect for apartment living. If you’re a couple, a full twin can accommodate you and your partner, as it’s 16 inches wider than a regular twin.

A standard measurement for this mattress is 55 inches (width) by 74 inches (height), as The Sleep Judge states.

Pro tip

To help you save money, consider a futon instead of a regular bed. You can get one for under $100 and they can be used as a sofa, too, which can help if you’re battling to fit in living room furniture. 

Bed aside, the most essential things to have in your bedroom include your bedding, nightstand, a lamp, and curtains. Closet space is also important, but you might not have a big enough wardrobe for your clothes.

In this case, storing your clothing and bedding on shelves and your shoes under the bed can help, or bring in a dresser to give you extra space for your items. This can also double up as a flat surface for books, lamps, candles, and other items you want on display in your bedroom.

You don’t have to purchase everything for your bedroom brand new. You can be creative with some items. For example, a nightstand can be a suitcase, boxes, or even a pile of books that you already have. This is also a clever way to create a bit more storage if your bedroom is tiny.


Bedroom Apartments

Your bathroom really doesn’t need a lot. In fact, it can be one of the easiest rooms in your apartment to design.

You should focus on minimal items to put in your bathroom to avoid clutter in the small space. A shower curtain is a must, along with a toothbrush holder, toilet paper, toilet plunger, air freshener, a rack or hook for towels, and a bath mat to prevent injuries when you step out of the shower.

When it comes to the shower, designers recommend that a standard shower should measure at least 36 inches square. But what if your space for it is really small?

You can get away with a shower that’s a minimum of 30 inches square, but don’t make it any smaller, as Better Homes & Gardens reports.

Pro tip

The bathroom can be one of the areas in your home that can increase your storage space.

For example, use a hook behind the door to hang items, or place some baskets underneath the basin or above bathroom cabinets. You could even use the windowsill for items you need to store away.


Lounge Apartment

It’s common to want a sofa and coffee table in your lounge area, but these can take up a lot of space.

This is why it’s good to choose apartment size furniture.

A regular three-seat sofa usually measures approximately 84 inches wide. On the other hand, an apartment size sofa will be around 70 inches wide, as Club Furniture reports.

A standard coffee table tends to be around 48 inches in length, the site goes on to state. This is quite different from an apartment size coffee table that can be just 24 inches long.

This size difference is very beneficial if you live in a small apartment because your lounge might actually be part of a combination room, such as the kitchen or bedroom, so you don’t want a coffee table to take up too much space.

There are also alternatives to coffee tables that you should consider, such as ottomans. These are perfect for lounges and living rooms, mainly because they don’t use up a lot of space.

But, they can also double up as sofa side tables or coffee tables, while offering you sneaky storage options inside them.

Choose a small-scale armchair. If you like the idea of armchairs instead of a sofa, make sure you don’t bring anything too large into your apartment.

Not only will this take up space but it will look strange if all your other furniture is on the small side. Consider armchairs that don’t have arms to save space.

Pro tip: Make use of large pillows on the floor to add extra seating options in your living room. These can also work to create a cozy, stylish home when placed next to furniture and other decor items.


Kitchen Apartments

The most important piece of furniture you’ll need in your kitchen is a table where you’ll eat meals. It can also double up as extra counter space when cooking, which you’ll probably crave in a small apartment.

Instead of filling up the kitchen area with a large table, consider a bistro table instead with some chairs around it.

A bistro table usually has a diameter of 24 to 36 inches and a height of up to 42 inches, so you can find one that meets your specific height requirements.

You can make your bistro table look more visually appealing by choosing a pretty tablecloth.

Once you’ve got your kitchen table sorted, you need to think about the appliances you’ll need in your kitchen.

Appliances can take up a lot of space, which is why you need to focus on apartment size essentials. These should include the following items:


The narrowest kitchen stove is just 20 inches wide, as SFGate reports, so you can find a really small one if you live in a state where landlords aren’t required to provide appliances to tenants, without the stress of trying to fit a standard size stove in your apartment that has a width of 30 inches.


Forget a standard fridge because it’s too big – a mini fridge can save a lot of space in your kitchen. The smallest mini fridge is 17 inches wide, 20 inches tall, and almost 19 inches deep, as Good Housekeeping reports.

This is a big difference from the dimensions of a standard fridge that is 35 inches in width and 71 inches in height.


While a standard dishwasher will be around 24 inches in width you can find compact dishwashers that are only around 18 inches in width.

That’s a saving of six inches! Consider buying a countertop compact dishwasher to save floor space.

Washing machine

A small washing machine can be around 35 inches high and 21 inches in width, and they’re designed to fit in with most cabinets.

In comparison, a standard washing machine is 27 inches wide and can be up to 43 inches in height! Your cabinet space is always an important consideration when thinking about how to plan your kitchen because you don’t want it to be too cluttered.


While you might not want to depend on your microwave when whipping up meals, there’s no doubt that a microwave can come in very handy at times. However, you might not consider having one in your new apartment due to its bulky size.

The good news is that you can find compact microwaves that are approximately 15 inches wide and 15 inches in height.

In comparison, most conventional microwaves have a width of 29 inches and a height of 16 inches, so compact microwaves will help you find space for them in your small apartment kitchen.

Other essential appliances for your apartment include a kettle and toaster.

If you’re really short on space or wall outlets, consider a stove top kettle that you don’t have to worry to plug in and find counter space for.

Be Smart About Appliances

To save you space, choose combo appliances whenever you can. A prime example is a dishwasher and dryer in one unit.

These usually measure 24 inches in width – which is a saving of three inches when compared to the standard model’s 27 inches – and they have a 2.2 cubic feet load capacity.

Combination appliances are great for apartment living because they prevent you from having to find space for two appliances in your kitchen.

Before signing a lease for your apartment, check what amenities are offered.

If there’s a laundry room available in the building that you’re paying for in your rental income, you shouldn’t have to purchase a washing machine and dryer for your apartment.

You can rather make use of the facilities that are available to you as this makes the most sense and saves you money.

Notes For Designing Your Kitchen

Make sure you have enough space around a kitchen table for easy movement.

Remember that the kitchen is often the busiest room in one’s living space. In addition, if you’re using the kitchen as a dining room too, then it’s even more important to get the space right.

You should focus on having at least 35 inches between your dining table and wall or counter, depending on how your kitchen is laid out. If this isn’t possible, consider a smaller table.

Choosing a table that doesn’t have hard edges and lines can also help to make it easier to get around, so an example would be to choose a table that’s round or has a different shape but soft edges.

When it comes to the kitchen chairs you’ll need to add to the space, if there’s not enough room for people to sit comfortably and with enough space between them, consider using bar stools instead.

The bonus of using stools is that they can be used in other areas of the home because they’re portable. In addition, when they’re not being used for seating, they can be used to display ornaments or pot plants.

Home Office

Study Rooms

You might not have a lot of space for your home office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create an area in your apartment for your work or study requirements.

Here are apartment essentials for a quick and easy home office.


Here’s where you can be creative.

If you have an open-plan apartment that has a large table, such as in the kitchen, you can use this for the extra function of being a spot where you can work.

When you use this table in the kitchen, you’ll throw a tablecloth over it.

When you need it for work, you’ll remove the tablecloth. A table on wheels can be handy in this way, especially if your home office area isn’t the same area you use for your kitchen.


You don’t want to skimp on your desk chair as it is very important.

It should be comfortable and preferably ergonomic, especially if you’ll be sitting at your desk for many hours at a time.

So, try not to use a chair from elsewhere in the apartment as it might not be comfortable.

The problem is that office chairs can be chunky and take up a lot of space. That’s why you have to think outside the box.

There are new desk chairs that are basically just look like a seat on a stool that you can comfortably sit on while working at your desk.

An example is MOGO that has a reversible seat so you can choose a hard or soft surface on which to sit. Another example is Tic Toc, a chair that has a padded cushion seat that swivels.

Since these essentially look like stools, they’ll take up much less space than conventional desk chairs.

Bar car

A bar cart comes to the rescue to help you achieve your goal for extra storage in the study or office.

You can fill it with all the items you need– stationery, files, books, post-its, and more – and then bring it out of storage when you want to use the table as a desk.

By making the bar cart look good, such as by painting it and keeping it tidy, you don’t even have to pack it away. It can rest against a wall.


If you have a small bookshelf, this can be very convenient to use as storage in your small apartment.

You can use it as a place for various items, and definitely not just books. The bookshelf should be in close proximity to your home office if you’re using it to store office supplies.

The clever thing about a bookshelf is that you can even use it as a room divider between the home office and other apartment areas.

Tips For Using Office Space Comfortably

One of the worst things you can do is feel cramped in your office chair, such as because there’s not enough space behind it.

When you pull out your chair, you should have at least 30 inches behind it.

Or, better yet, have your office in an open area of the home so that you aren’t in a corner or against the wall.

If you don’t have an actual space you can dedicate to a home office, consider setting up a shelf in your bedroom that can be used as a desk for your laptop or computer, and place a chair in front of it or use the bottom of your bed as a chair.

There’s always a way to create a clever nook for when you need to work!


Entry Ways

What do you see when you first enter your apartment?

While this space might be a bit cramped, the entryway shouldn’t go to waste. An example of an essential item that should be in your entryway is a bowl so that you can place items such as car keys and mail inside it as you enter your home.

Another idea is to have a few hooks on the wall so your guests can hang their coats or you could use them as bag holders. If you don’t want to put hooks into the wall as it might upset your landlord, consider removable adhesive hooks.

If you have a bit of extra space, a mirror on the wall and even a chair or stool can be a nice touch to add greater warmth to your entryway. For extra storage, consider baskets.

An entryway might seem like a luxury if you don’t have much space upon entering your home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make use of whatever little space is there.

At the very least, have some nice lighting in the entryway. A lighting sconce can help to illuminate the area nicely, which creates a sense of warmth and a positive feeling when you enter your apartment.


Apartment LED

One of the most essential things in your apartment is lighting.

The lighting you currently have in your apartment might not be enough. You might require extra lighting, such as for the balcony and your workspace.

Here are some tips to choose the right lighting for your apartment so that you save space.

  • Avoid lighting stands. These can take up a lot of space, even when they’re placed in the corner of a room. Plug-in light sconces are decorative and convenient, plus they save valuable floor space in your home that can be used for furniture. 
  • Choose table lamps. If you want extra light in a specific area of your apartment, consider the use of table lamps instead of lamp stands. These can be put on shelves, desks, or kitchen tables. Take a walk through your apartment to see where you’ll need light for various tasks.
  • Use mirrors. The clever positioning of mirrors in your home can help to reflect light, preventing you from having to install more lighting in the apartment. The bonus is that mirrors can also make your space seem a lot bigger.

Cleaning Appliances

Cleaning Appliance

To keep your home looking good, you’ll need to invest in some cleaning appliances.

The most essential appliances you’ll need include the following:

Vacuum cleaner

You might not have space for a regular-sized vacuum cleaner, so a smaller model can come in handy.

Better yet, consider using a hand-held vacuum cleaner. This will also be effective when you have to clean tight corners and small areas in your apartment.

If you want to get a bigger vacuum cleaner, always make sure that it’s cordless so that it’s much more portable.

Steam cleaner

While you might think a steam cleaner is an indulgence, it’s actually an item you really need in your apartment.

Steam cleaners disinfect materials with the use of heat, and you can use a steam cleaner on many things besides for your mattress, such as curtains, carpets, and even your fridge!

You can use a steam cleaner to deep-clean your mattress to ensure that it’s hygienic, which is especially important if you’ve bought a second-hand mattress.

A hand-held dry steam cleaner can be used to clean your fridge and defrost your freezer.


Your apartment might not have enough heating to keep you warm and cozy during the cold months.

If this is the case, you will need to equip your apartment with additional heating options, such as a heater.

One of the best heaters to use in your small apartment is a space heater.

You can find portable models that heat up the room you’re in efficiently. In some cases, a space heater can even be better than central heating because you don’t waste heat by warming up other areas of your apartment that you’re not currently inside.


Sometimes you’ll need to cool down your apartment, such as during the warm months.

A simple fan can come to the rescue. To choose a model that’s apartment-friendly, avoid a fan on a stand as this can take up floor space.

Instead, you can get ceiling fans that are just 30 inches wide to effectively cool down small spaces in your apartment, such as the kitchen or bathroom.

When choosing a fan, whether a ceiling fan or table fan, you must always follow this size guide: be sure that there’s at least 24 inches between the tip of the fan’s blades and a wall or other furniture.

How To Design Your Small Apartment Essentials

Apartment Decorations

When it comes to deciding where to put furniture in your apartment, as well as how to decorate it, you need to follow some tips to make the space look its best.

Use Furniture To Define Rooms

If you have an open plan apartment, it’s easy for furniture to look cluttered. You want to define rooms in your place and you can do this with the clever use of various pieces.

For example, you can put a bookshelf between your bedroom and kitchen to create a boundary between the two, or a sofa between your bedroom and living room to make the spaces more defined.

Use Items Other Than Furniture To Define Areas In Your Home

If using furniture to define different areas in your home doesn’t work for you, or ends up looking out of place, you can easily make use of other items to define your space.

For example, placing a side table next to the sofa and a rug underneath some chairs highlights the area as a social zone.

On the other hand, the use of a chandelier or pendant lights above the kitchen table can upgrade it as a dining area, and hanging some curtains in front of your bed helps to create a clear boundary between your bedroom and the rest of your apartment, which tells guests that the bedroom is off limits.

Make Storage Items Work As Furniture

Items you’re trying to store out of sight can end up in boxes that take over the entire place.

To prevent this from happening, make storage seem like it fits in with your furniture, if you can’t choose furniture that doubles up as storage, that is.

For example, baskets for items you don’t use regularly can be placed on a bookshelf or a shelf above the door – they’re pretty and functional.

Hang pots and pans to prevent the need for storage from cluttering your kitchen.

Even large items you need storage space for in your apartment, like bicycles, can be used as wall art! These things also add more character and uniqueness to your space. 

Don’t Overthink It Too Much

Apartment Decoration

By designing your apartment essentials with an eye on defining your space a bit better and finding extra space for storage, you’ll bring your home to life.

However, bear in mind that you don’t have to overthink where to put your furniture and items. The best thing is to experiment with your living space.

One of the biggest benefits of having apartment size furniture and having a minimalist approach to your space is that you can move things around easily to discover where they look the best, taking your apartment layout, natural lighting, and space into consideration.

So, be patient and take your time with designing your home. It’s often only once you start living in it that you’ll see what it is you really need.


Furniture Too big for apartment

When you move into an apartment, furniture you’ve brought from a previous home might seem too large.

On the other hand, you might be purchasing your first apartment and not know how to go about choosing the right essentials for it that will fit properly.

By focusing on smaller pieces that are made to fit in small living spaces, you can prevent clutter as well as your apartment from looking out of proportion.

This guide looked at the most important apartment essentials you need, as well as offered tips on how to decorate your home so that it’s chic instead of cluttered.

Once you’ve got the essentials for your apartment, you can go about adding extras that will make your space feel like home.

Related Questions

Where can you find apartment size furniture?

There are many stores that sell smaller furniture that will fit into your apartment.

These include Pottery Barn, IKEA, West Elm, and more.

You can view a list of stores that offer smaller-sized furniture on Apartment Therapy.

How can you reduce the amount of items that you have?

Keep only what you use and focus on the most important things that serve a purpose while looking good.

Replace certain items for smaller ones that don’t take up a lot of room. For example, a sofa could be replaced with a chair, and a desk could be replaced with a more versatile table.

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