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We do a lot of writing about products on this website. We try to tell you a lot of shit—like what sofa, bed frame, accent chair, desk, and mattress to buy. I mean, talking about sofa and mattresses, we give you a rundown of it all: leather sofa to linen sofa, soft mattress to firm mattress. One thing we don't often do, though, is tell you how to put all this stuff together. How to design a home.
The best piece of advice we can give is this: Slow down. You build up a home over time, and there's no reason to try and buy everything at once. But, if you are furnishing a spot for the first time, you'll need to get a chunk of it. And while Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace were fine in college, you're an adult now. You need to buy from proper furniture stores. Here's how to go about it.
First, think about your design dreams. Spend some time on the internet or with some interior design books. Figure out what periods you like, what materials you prefer, and the colors you want to go for.
Think about all the rooms you need to furnish. Simple, no? But, just make sure you know the big things for each room. Couch in the living room. Dresser and bed in the bedroom. Desk and bed in the spare. Sorry I had to lay it out like that, but truly, I just meet a man who thought the linen closet for was jeans, so just making sure.
Think about your budget. I mean, this is obvious. If you run through this list product for product, you're looking at over $10,000. No one—at least in my circle—has got that sort of cash ready to go. Like I said, avoid the shit on Craigslist and Facebook. Instead, look into antique malls and estate sales near you or online. There's so much great furniture already out there.
Once you've got all that down, if you still need help, turn to the professionals here at Esquire dot com. We are your on-call interior decorators. Whether its furniture or mattresses, we've tested it all, and can attest to looks and quality. Here is our one-stop list for all of it.
Jonathan Leather Side Chaise Sofa
Before you think about anything, think about your sofa. It's where you'll spend most waking hours of your time at home, especially if you've got a smaller space.
And maybe toxic masculinity goes deeper in me than I think, because I really just love a leather sofa. Even if it's a more affordable faux leather option from Amazon, something about a leather sofa just feels the best. It'll last longer than any fabric, and it'll look better as it gets older. Although, I love a lot of the colorful velvets, I just don't think there's any reason to switch it up like that. Get a leather sofa and be done with it.
This one from Castlery tones things down a bit with a more modern shape. It's not the cigar lounge vibe of a chesterfield sofa, but it has that same elegance.
After your sofa, think about an accent chair, if you have the space. It's somewhere to read, take your coffee, and sit more politely. You won't spend as much time here, so you don't have to think about comfort and durability as much. You can buy based solely on looks. While you might think a brand like The Citizenry is expensive, you're investing in hand-made quality pieces from artisans all around the world. This is how you shop for long-lasting products.
Index Wall Shelf
The common conception here is to think about what the sofa is facing, and typically speaking that's a TV. But honestly, I don't see any reason to be picky about a TV console. Get something good looking, obviously, but don't fret over it. TVs are all ugly anyway, Samsung's Frame being the exception.
What you should care more about is a few nice bookshelves, which are much more difficult to come by. You can do your homework and hunt for a vintage piece, or you could keep it simple with something direct to consumer.
Burrow's index wall shelf is an incredible buy. I'm fond of the oak finish, because the light wood gives it a touch of Japanese minimalism, but the walnut and white look just as good in the right context. Anchor it to the wall, and load it up with books that show your good taste.
Bayamo Dark Blue Wood Bar Cabinet
The other thing I find necessary is a bar cabinet. Within that realm, I like to go art deco or mid-century inspired, since those are the two greatest periods of alcoholic design. As for brands, CB2 does art deco and mid-century revival better than anyone.
And let me say: You don't have to be a drinker to make use of a bar cabinet. It's convenient for anyone to have a piece of furniture that serves as a slight extension of the kitchen, where you can prepare something without leaving the conversation. Use it as a caffeine cabinet—somewhere to store your tea collection, kettle cups, and saucers. Get an espresso maker and make it a coffee station. If you don't drink alcohol or coffee (what's your problem?) they can function as an apartment sized credenzas.
Fortification Area Rug
Rugs, rugs, rugs! This is one spot where my fellow men always fall short. Rugs aren't just design accessories, they protect your floors. If you're an owner, it's in your best interest to cover your square footage with some. If you're a renter, your landlord might contractually require you to do so.
I do have some general rules with rugs though: Don't buy in a big box store. Don't buy online. That first one I always stay true to. There are so many places to buy handmade rugs at there; don't shop for them at Target. That second rule, I break for Beni Rugs, that make rugs to order in Morocco. If you don't have a good rug dealer nearby, this is a great second option.
Queen Platform Bed
Furnishing an apartment from scratch is about picking and choosing your battles. Truthfully, it's a process that will happen over years. You use a hand-me-down couch for years until you find a new one, your college nightstand until you get a cool vintage one etc. One place you can save some money to start is the bed frame.
Anyone, with any sort of design vision, can make use of a simple wood platform bed. Get a comforter with a good-looking duvet cover, and no one is going to see your low to the ground platform bed anyway.
If you want it to look a bit more put together, get a separate headboard, or find a landscape piece of art to hang over the bed. Just don't feel like you have to spend big on a bed frame.
If you're wary of spending less than $200 on a bed frame (you're loss) you can get a real wood one from Thuma. Still relatively cheap, this one can get classed up with a headboard and cushion. Hey, it's a bestseller for a reason. It's really good.
Three Unit Dresser
One of the best things to come out of the mid-century modern movement was an eye towards modular furniture—things that work in several different ways. Floyd's wildly popular—meaning often sold out—dresser is a great example.
The dresser system can be customized on the website to make something that is unique to your home. For something that'll work for pretty much anyone, the three unit dresser in a simple 3x3 setup is a classic, but there are a bunch of other combinations that look just as good.
Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk
Most people are going to have some sort of desk at home, but if you're part of the WFH workforce, you need a seriously good desk. This one from Herman Miller is the best option, especially since anyone with a desk job should be using an under desk treadmill—keeps you from having chronic pain.
Sure, it's more function over form, but it doesn't look bad. If you've got space for a desk, it'll be a lot better than your kitchen table.
If you really care about the look of your place, you need to get a properly designed desk. This one from Artifox looks good, but it's got optional accessories that make it especially practical.
If you want something that just looks really good, you can find all sorts of vintage and antique desks out there.
Like I said, everyone who has the space shoule look into some sort of under desk treadmill. It's a lovely thing to have. And, if you have it, you don't need to spend thousands of dollars on an office chair. This one on Amazon will do the trick for most people.
GreenPan by Stanley Tucci
Is this furniture? Not exactly. But please, don't stop at furniture when thinking of home design.
Once you get a real job and a real solo apartment, you've got the money to buy a nice cookware set. It doesn't have to be this Stanley Tucci set, even though it'll last the rest of your life. Just make sure it's a decent quality cookware set and it all matches. That's enough.
The Place Setting
And, you should get some good-looking table settings. That means! Bowls that aren't from IKEA. Plates that match those bowls, and (get ready) appetizer plates to match the other plates that match the bowls.
Normally, it's tough to do on a budget. The only plates that look great are from small batch ceramicists. If you live in certain areas of the country—Brooklyn, Oakland, Santa Fe—there are ceramicists on every block. Elsewhere (like Manhattan), not so much. If you want that handmade feel without commissioning someone via Instagram DM, Material makes a beautiful set of plates.
Laguiole 24-Piece Flatware Set
Silverware is the easiest thing on this list. Just buy a set of Laguiole flatware.
You don't have to be an in-the-know foodie for this one. Go to any restaurant, order one of the grilled specials, and chances are there's going to be a Laguiole knife on your right. It's the best looking cutlery out there, protected by the French government, and widely accessible.
Straight Red Wine Glass
Wine glasses! If you drink, you need them. If you don't... sparkling water looks nice in them too. There's a lot that goes into wine glasses. Oenophiles will say you need several different types of glasses, but that's annoying.
All you need is this: red wine glasses, white wine glasses, and (maybe) Champagne glasses. For my money, Atrio makes the best looking wine glasses on Earth—functional, beautiful, but not overly fussy.
Start with these straight red wine glasses. They'll emphasize the body of your bigger wines, but no one will care if you drink white wine out of them. Once you're ready to level up, get matching white wine glasses. Then, you can round it out with Champagne flutes or coupes, whichever you prefer.
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