Turn Your Bachelor Pad Into a Home With These Men’s Apartment Essentials

“You spend most of your time going to work so you can pay for the biggest bill in your life, which, for most people, is housing. If you’re going to spend 10 hours a day at work, you should spend the other 14 hours feeling happy and comfortable in the space you’re in,” says Lauren Makk, Yelp’s home editor, interior design guru, and real estate expert who has offered her on the likes of TLC’s Trading Spaces, A&E’s Drill Team, and OWN’s Home Made Simple.

We agree. Whether you’re shopping for your first apartment, moving into a new apartment, or just bored with your current apartment, you need to think about what makes your place yours.

Don’t worry — we’re not suggesting a full HGTV-style overhaul. A change in domestic scenery can be remarkably simple. The hardest is knowing where to begin. For help, we asked Makk to outline the must-have apartment essentials.

apartment essentials living room media stand

What are the most important elements for each room or space in a modern man’s apartment?

LM: First and foremost, I always inspire men to purchase a nice sofa. That’s where the main focus tends to be for guys — it really sets the tone for the rest of the home. Consider your lifestyle when you pick a sofa. Find fabric, textures, and design that will work well within your environment. Think about where you live and what you’re doing on that sofa.

If you live in a hot climate, steer clear of high-pile upholstery fabric like suede or chenille. If you have a pet, especially a big dog, look for a sofa with fabric you can easily vacuum or wipe down. Don’t buy a black leather sofa! Avoid the Scarface look. For most guys, I advice getting a nice, comfortable sofa with a chaise lounge on it that provides more versatility. Also, make sure you look for a sofa with lower profile arms that let you relax on them. I once made the mistake of a high-armed sofa that looked fancy, but made it impossible to nap comfortably.

Make sure that you get a headboard — a bed frame is not enough. A nice headboard serves as the focal point of a bedroom, and really goes the extra mile with impressing overnight guests.

guest room ideas
Photo by Rhema Kallianpur

Curtains are an underrated touch that make a room feel more significant. Just make sure your curtains are longer than just the window. (Too-short curtains are the equivalent of wearing high-water pants.) If the room is 96 inches, purchase curtains that are 96 inches and hang them higher/wider than the window. Never hurts to have things look a little bigger than they are.

Rugs are an essential, especially if you have a pet or don’t take off your shoes in the house. Online and local stores often have great seasonal sales on rugs.

Pro tip: A great way to find affordable deals is to use Yelp’s new Request a Quote feature to find a great deal from a local curtain company in your area.

What apartment essentials are worth splurging on?

LM: Besides the sofa and the headboard, I recommend investing in nice towels for the bathroom. I hate walking into a man’s bathroom and seeing ragged towels … or worse, beach towels for their guests. Good towels will last longer and look more sophisticated.

bathroom towels

What apartment essentials can you budget around, and where do you recommend going for budget-friendly picks? 

A TV credenza. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but look for a good, solid console with doors. (The big box store furniture that you assemble yourself gets really dated really fast.) You can find some great TV consoles on secondhand websites, or even a Facebook garage sale group.

Cover your storage. No guest (especially a romantic guest) wants to see a bunch of Call of Duty boxes hanging out. Baskets, boxes and shelves keep your space looking polished and pulled together.

When I go to a man’s house and he has a matching set of actual dishes and flatware, I find that very impressive. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money — those are things you can find affordably around town.

apartment essentials kitchen dishes

Depending on where a person lives, they might find an amazing apartment with unconventional space issues — a loft, for example, or a railroad-style apartment. Any special tips for making these spaces accommodating and comfortable? 

Keep your color scheme or theme consistent, so that all the spaces read together.

Big, open bookcases can help create visual division in a loft.

If there’s a dark corner in your apartment, put a mirror directly across from the nearest window.

You can also trick the eye by putting a mirror up in a backsplash to open up a tiny kitchen.

How can you keep your apartment trendy and tasteful, without ending up having the exact same look as everyone else? 

Don’t shop at just one store. Visit IKEA for essentials, but then broaden your horizons — department stores, discount furniture warehouses, consignment shops, etc. Mix retail with resale. Check out a garage sale in your neighborhood before you go to any big major retailers.

Remix your items in your home. Flip your rug over and move it from the bedroom to the hallway. Don’t be afraid to paint. It’s affordable and easy way to personalize and brighten a space.

apartment essentials living dining room

Make it your own — showcase your colors, your pictures, the things you’re passionate about. However, maybe don’t showcase your memorabilia all over the place. Instead, find tasteful ways to mix it in. Say you love comic books — frame a few of your best issues and hang them on the walls. If you have posters you love, have them framed and matted so they look more sophisticated.

Consider your home a marathon, not a race. It’s going to take time to accumulate the things you love and that are reflective of who you are. If you make it about a collection instead of a catalogue cutout, it’s going to turn into a beautiful reflection of who you are. (But stay away from Scarface memorabilia. Seriously, just don’t.)

To recap, here Makk’s must-have apartment essentials for men:

  • Sofa
  • Headboard
  • Curtains
  • Rugs
  • Nice towels
  • TV credenza/media stand
  • Covered storage
  • Matching dishes