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The Ultimate Minimalist Apartment Checklist

Decorating a new apartment can be an extremely daunting task, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Even shopping at budget-friendly retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon can lead to bills upwards of hundreds (even thousands) of dollars if you don’t keep a watchful eye on your cart. Good news: we are here for you.That’s why we’ve made the ultimate minimalist apartment checklist to help!

While most of your apartment essentials are necessary in order to maintain a functional home, it’s critical to make sure you don’t overdo it when it comes to decorating your new space. It might be nice to go the extra mile and find items like decorative pillows for your couch or custom chinaware for your kitchen – but be warned: the extras cost extra, take up extra space, and are oftentimes extra unnecessary. You don’t always need stuff to make your new home feel, well, like home. That’s the great thing about minimalist living.

To keep you on task and on track, we’ve created the ultimate minimalist apartment checklist to create the practical, functional, and minimalist apartment of your dreams. You may not necessarily follow the minimalist lifestyle, and you don’t have to, but when you have a small apartment, less is more, especially with space and storage.

Download the free checklist here!

The Ultimate Minimalist Apartment Checklist

Follow our ultimate minimalist apartment checklist to decorate the apartment of your dreams!

The Kitchen

The kitchen is likely one room in your apartment that you’re bound to spend a lot of time in. Assuming you’re into meal prepping and cooking at home to save precious dollars, odds are high that you need a kitchen that’ll suit your needs. Here are a few of the kitchen essentials and must-haves you’ll want to invest in:

A dinnerware set
Oftentimes, this will automatically include dinner plates, salad plates, cereal bowls, and even coffee/tea mugs all in one set. It’s economical because so many different items are included in one purchase and it’s practical because everything matches! An average set may cost you around $50, but can certainly be much higher depending on how big the set is, what the materials are made of (e.g. glass, ceramic, plastic, etc.), and so on. Check out our non-toxic dinnerware guide here.

Pro-tip: to be extra minimal, invest in a set of four so that you have enough plates, bowls, cups, etc. to get by if your sink is full of dirty dishes but not too many that you’ll take up a bunch of cabinet space. You don’t need a set of eight or more unless you plan on hosting dinners regularly!

A cutlery set
Next up? Forks, spoons, and knives! Of course, you’ll need cutlery to actually eat the food you’re putting in or on said plates, bowls, etc.

Start off with a basic cutlery set that has different sizes of forks, spoons, and knives – including steak knives. Even though you’re aiming to have a minimalist apartment, having a set with some steak knives is practical for cutting meat and other tougher foods that butter knives can’t cut through. You can buy a starter cutlery set for a mere $20!

A cookware set
I hate to break it to you but your kitchen will not likely come with pots and pans, so you’ll need to invest in your own set. This is an area where things can get very out of hand if you’re not careful.

Consider investing in a simple starter set that contains a little bit of everything, like a couple of pots for boiling water/sauces/soups, a few pans for cooking, a water strainer, and a variety of spatulas and stirring spoons. Amazon has a great 18-piece nonstick set for only $50! A set like this will cover your bases and fit neatly in your kitchen.

A trash can
This one is probably self-explanatory. Grab a recycling bin, too, if your state is big on recycling plastics, paper, cans, bottles, etc. It’s wise to separate trash from recycling so you can bag everything easily.

Pro-tip: Pay attention to the size trash can you buy so you can find trash bags that fit!

Download the free checklist here!

A small table and chair set
It’s tricky to put a price tag on this item because tables and chairs can go for a couple of hundred bucks or higher depending on how fancy your taste is, how large of a dining table you want, and what material the table is made out of.

Maybe you only need a modest two-person table for a mere $100; maybe you’re happy to spend three times the price for a six-person set. Consider how often you’ll use this furniture and how many people, on average, will enjoy it too, to find the right fit.

Kitchen cleaning products
This is sort of a general category. Basically, get a starter set of cleaning products like a dish detergent, a sponge, a couple of dish towels, and some sort of kitchen-safe surface cleaner to wipe down things like the stovetop, counters, etc. You don’t need a bunch of products – just a few to get started.

Pro-tip: If your apartment does not have a dishwasher, you’ll want to invest in a drying rack to dry your dishes on after washing them. It’ll be $20 well spent!

The Living Room

Your living room should ideally be a zen place to hang out, relax, and unwind. Whether you enjoy reading, watching television, playing video games, or exercising, it’s a good idea to have your living room be functional and practical set-up, but it’s also probably the one space where it’s okay to splurge a bit. Here are the essentials and some fun extras:

A couch
Furnishing your minimalist living room with a couch is probably going to be one of your larger investments, especially if you want something sizeable. If you’re comfortable with second-hand furniture, consider exploring resources like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc. for couches being sold in gently used or like-new condition. If you’d prefer a new couch (hey, I get it!), be prepared to spend $400+.

A table
You’ll probably want a table of some sort to go along with your couch. You certainly don’t need anything fancy, but it’s nice to have a table to prop your feet up on while watching a movie, or to write on if you’re working from home, or simply to store things on or in. If your apartment size doesn’t allow for a rectangular coffee table, you can get a side table or even two smaller side tables that are square or cube-shaped that you can move around your space.

It will cost you $100 or so, but a coffee table with built-in storage is so great to organize books, magazines, TV remotes, etc. to keep your space organized.

Download the free checklist here!

A television
In some way, shape, or form you likely use a TV. If you don’t own one of your own, you’ll definitely want to invest in one – ideally a smart TV so you can use apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. to stream shows, movies, exercise videos, and more.

Any extra decor you desire
I personally feel that a living room is a place where you have a license to splurge a bit. Get a lamp for some ambiance. Buy some decorative throw pillows for your couch. Get a throw blanket, too. Solid colors as well as neutrals go well together and you can mix and match!

Hang pictures and/or paintings on the wall. Get some plants – artificial or live ones; whichever you prefer. A living room is usually the focal point of a home, so you want it to be cozy, cute, and comfortable. One of the important things to remember when planning for your minimalist home is that you can focus on the essential items and go from there to make your new place feel like you.

The Bathroom

Next up? The bathroom. This is probably the one room in the entire apartment where less is more.

Bathrooms in apartments aren’t often large, so you probably won’t have much space to work with. Keeping your products to a minimum in this space is likely wise and also practical. Here are a few must-haves:

A shower curtain (and rod)
Assuming your shower doesn’t have a glass door, you’ll need to hang a shower curtain, stat. Check first to see if your landlord already provided a rod in the shower stall or not.

In some apartments, they’re fixed to the wall. In others, you’ll need to supply your own.

A shower rug
You’ll want something to dry your feet off on once you step out of the shower, especially for safety reasons, so grab a cheap shower rug or bath mat. You can buy one for as economical as $10!

Bath towels
Depending on your personal preference, you’ll likely need a set of bath towels, hand towels, and face cloths. Towels can be pricey if you buy them individually, especially if you shop for organic materials or larger towels like bath sheets (instead of bath towels).

Start off with an eight-piece set like this $25 set on Amazon. You’ll get two bath towels, two hand towels, and four washcloths so that you have back-ups on laundry days.

Toilet essentials
Of course, you’ll need the toilet essentials, which at a minimum include toilet paper rolls, a plunger, and a toilet brush. You can buy a toilet brush and plunger combo caddy for $20 or more, depending on your preference. If you want to go the extra mile, consider getting a toilet paper holder, like this $18 deal, to organize your extra rolls.

Your personal hygiene products
It’s tricky to quantify the products you need when it comes to personal hygiene because everyone is different. Some people like an assortment of soaps and perfumes, others prefer a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner set.

Think about your personal hygiene and keep it to the basics. You likely only need one bottle of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and so on to be fully stocked. Keep it simple!

Download the free checklist here!

The Bedroom

Your bedroom is bound to be the room you spend the most amount of money decorating, especially if you are starting from scratch when it comes to furniture you’ll need. It’s also the one room you’ll want to really feel comfortable in and, as such, you’ll want it to reflect your taste and style, especially as it relates to colors, patterns, etc. Here are some must-haves:

A bed frame
While it’s true that you don’t have to have a bed frame, it’s suggested you do invest in one to ensure that your mattress is fully supported. For bed frames, you can certainly buy new but the price will vary greatly depending on the size of your bed and if the frame you select requires box springs or not.

To keep things simple, consider a frame that doesn’t need box springs and is as minimalistic as it gets, like this one for a mere $100. However, you can always shop at places like Goodwill, visit yard sales, or shop on Facebook Marketplace to see if sellers have gently used bed frames in stock second-hand. There are a lot of lighter frames that fit well in small spaces while still giving you the full bed experience.

A mattress
What you don’t want to get second-hand is a mattress. Get a brand new one for yourself for health and safety reasonsTo purchase one on a budget, consider shopping in places like “The Pit” at Bob’s Discount Furniture.

This is where my husband and I found our first king-sized mattress for under $500 when we were setting up our apartment for the first time! Items in “The Pit” are often significantly discounted because there is something “wrong” with them. Maybe a stitch is off on a mattress or a leather chair has a minor tear in it.

Since the staff can’t sell these items for new market value on the main store floor, they get moved to “The Pit” at a discount. This is a great way to save money and find a suitable new mattress and new furniture.

Of course, you’ll need a bedding set to properly dress your mattress. To keep things minimal, aim for a sheet and comforter set to get more bang for your buck.

For a modest $50 investment, you can buy a set with a comforter, fitted sheet, flat sheet, and pillowcases. Separately, you’ll need to buy a pillow or two, depending on your personal preference, but those can be a cheap $10 each!

A nightstand
You’ll probably want a nightstand next to your bed to charge your phone, hold your alarm clock, set your books on, and so on. Much like other types of furniture, nightstand prices will vary greatly depending on if you want one or a set, the type of material you’re buying, how many drawers and shelves it has, and what style it is. You can find nightstands as low as $30!

A dresser
If your bedroom has generous closet space, you may decide you can go without having a dresser at all. In which case, go you! However, not all bedrooms have closets or decently sized closets, so a dresser of some sort is a necessary storage space investment.

Assess how much space you have to work with and go from there. Dressers come in all sizes, types of wood, and prices. You could go for something simple like a $60 fabric dresser to a $250 dresser made from particleboard.

Any extra decor you desire
Your bedroom should be your safe haven. A place where you relax, meditate, read, reflect, and of course, sleep. Get anything else you need to make your simple space a place you enjoy.

From photos of your favorite memories, a lamp for ambiance, a throw blanket, artificial or live plants, curtains with your favorite colors and patterns on them to dress up your windows, and even a string of twinkly lights for above your bed are all reasonable ways to make your room feel like home in your minimalist apartment without adding too much work to getting your small space into the great place it has the potential to be.

Good luck with your new space!

Feel free to follow this first apartment checklist to help organize and decorate your new space on a reasonable budget with a minimalist apartment in mind. With this checklist in hand, you’ll have enough ideas to get you started and create the minimalist apartment of your dreams. Good luck!

Download the free checklist here!

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.