boxes stacked up next to a couch

You did it! You’ve taken the big step of purchasing your first home! Now all you have to do is fill it with all the stuff you need the most. Since you’re new to homeownership, I want to share some advice from real homeowners.

Whether you don’t have much in your home to start with or you’re trying to trim down your belongings from your rental days, here are some valuable pointers that will help you out.

I recently chatted with interior design expert CoCo Peterson to get some professional insight.

“Before you move a single item in, do an inventory of everything you own and that you’d actually like to move into your new home,” says Peterson, who is the director of merchandise at DEQOR.com. “Everything else, get rid of before moving day. If you’re furnishing your new home with items you are ordering online, keep shipping times in mind, too.”

Consider your budget for furnishings and decorations while also evaluating the layout of your home. This will help you understand the scope of your furnishing task. Do you have a large foyer? Is your basement finished? And what about the outside living spaces, like a deck or an oversized porch? Of course, your home needs the basics, including a bed, a place to sit for meals and a sofa. But you should also assess which furnishings and items will add functionality and convenience to everyday living.

“It comes down to what they keep, what they need and what they want. I don’t use a must-have checklist per se because the lifestyle needs are different for every first-time homebuyer,” Peterson explains. “For example, some people may need a full bedroom set, while another person may have closets with amazing built-in storage solutions. So for them, finding a dresser would be unnecessary or a lower priority.”

When I think back to my first home, which was a two-story bungalow from the late 1970s, I know Peterson is on the right track. Due to the low ceilings, I was very limited on what large furniture I could buy for my basement. In addition, my first home had tiny bathrooms, so I didn’t have many options when it came to decorating those two rooms.

Although most of the new homeowners she works with want decorative accents, you have to prioritize so you don’t get overwhelmed and spend too much money.

“Choose three rooms in your new home that are the most important to you, then focus your budget and decorating energy on those first,” Peterson explains. “Accessorizing a room can be a life-long project as you find pieces you fall in love with or mementos in your travels.”

Six Must-Haves

Below are suggestions for six items you may not want to live without.

Swiffer WetJet Mop

Joe Young of Southfield, Mich., said that he and his wife are huge fans of the Swiffer product line. The handy lightweight Swiffer WetJet Mop helps them keep their home clean and is very affordable, too.

Why: “Our home has hardwood floors throughout, so we are constantly pulling out our Swiffer to dust,” Young says. “The dry Swiffers are great for cleaning the edges and corners, while the wet Swiffers are great to shine hardwoods. They also give off a fresh scent and don’t damage the floors!”

Trash Cans

Peterson says that while trash cans are a staple of any home, having a sufficient number of cans and garbage bags to go with them is often overlooked when you first move in. Be sure that you have enough on each level of your home and that the cans are the proper size based on the volume you’re throwing away.

Why: “Keep these items in places where they are easy to access when moving in,” Peterson instructs. “Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.”

Lamps

Be sure you have enough lamps and built-in lighting in every room. Poor lighting causes you to strain your eyes, and it can impact the ambiance in your home. This was one of the first lessons I learned after moving in.

Why: Since my first home was older, it had very few ceiling and built-in lights, so I had to buy at least two lamps for each room and relied heavily on them to avoid feeling like it was nighttime all day long. Don’t skimp on lamps – they can literally brighten your life!

Air Conditioning Unit

If you don’t have central air, then you’ll need to stay cool and comfortable in another way. Portable air conditioning units are an efficient way to cool a larger area of your home.

Why: “We recently moved into our first home, and we had to buy an air conditioning unit for our master bedroom,” says John Allasio, about his three-bedroom home in Farmington Hills, Mich. “We were all right with the fact that the house didn’t have central air because it had a lot of other aspects we wanted. Air conditioning is the type of thing that you don’t realize you need until the heat hits you.”

Wi-Fi Signal Boosters

In an increasingly wireless world, Wi-Fi signal boosters greatly improve your internet access and the range of your home wireless network, allowing you to connect successfully from anywhere in your house. These days, very few of us can live without internet!

Why: “What these plug-in devices do is strengthen the signal in parts of the house that are far away from the main modem and router. They ensure you have just as strong of a wireless signal on different floors,” Young says. “These boosters are easy to set up and are great to have in order to take advantage of all the internet costs we pay for each month!”

Comfy Couch

Naturally, you need a place for your guests to sit, and if it can also double as a spare bed when necessary, so much the better. A couch isn’t just where you sit – it’s a relaxation area where you’ll make lifelong memories with your family.

Why: “I think that a comfortable sofa that is made from quality materials is the most versatile piece of furniture you can buy,” explains Peterson. “It’s one of those pieces that’s worth splurging on.”

So there you have it! Furnishing a home isn’t cheap, but when you invest in the right items, you can often keep them for many years to come. For some, deciding what to buy for your home first is like being a kid in a candy store—you want to buy everything at once! Hopefully you now have a little insight into the things that I and others have found to be most valuable. If you’d like to share the items in your home that you couldn’t live without, please leave a comment below.

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