Fifteen Essentials for a Stylish Home

lindor truffles, kettle, candle, blanket, dinnerware, tall stem wine glasses, tassimo, kitchenaid, flowers, whiskey, olives, pots, spices, cat

My August move happened rather quickly; and since it was the first time I was living alone in an unfurnished home, I had to purchase everything, from furniture to kitchen essentials to decor items, and that on a budget. As for many things, I learned a lot from hands-on experience and some trial-and-error, and while I plan to cover this in deeper detail in future articles and an entire section of my upcoming e-book, I want to share with you fifteen essential decor, food, cookware and other items that I believe are necessary for a stylish home.

1. Lindt chocolate truffles (or squares).
 They're always nice to have with tea or coffee, or to offer to guest. And having some in your cupboard may teach you self-restraint if you have an uncontrollable sweet tooth. Or not. Even if you do, dark chocolate is good for you.

2. A kettle
Obvious for tea addicts like me, but I still recommend it, as there are multitudes of way hot water can be used (French press coffee, oatmeal, hot water bottle, etc), and a classic, colourful kettle from Le Creuset looks much better and is much easier to clean.

I've professed my love for candles several times, but this type is my newest discovery, and what I love the most is the sound the wick makes as it burns: it evokes the loud, happy purring of a cat, and will do until I adopt a fur-baby, (or should I say purr-baby?), which hopefully will be very soon.  

It is the perfect decorative accent for your couch, and there's this almost-instant quality that comes with crocheted items. And there's the snuggle-on-cold-nights-with-tea-and-a-novel factor. Alternatively, if you know crochet (I encourage you to learn, it's easy and so relaxing!) you can make your own, like I did; quality wool is relatively inexpensive at your craft store or online.

A necessity for entertaining, since serving food on mismatched, scratched dishes is only so-and-so, but also when you're eating alone; it does make a difference and encourages you to appreciate the meal you've prepared (or, well, ordered). I'm not saying that nothing but antique bone china will do, but pick something nice that will complement the food you serve on it. I absolutely love this set from Target.

Yes, the very same prized by Olivia Pope in Scandal. You can buy sixty regular wine glasses from Ikea for the price of six of these, but they're terribly elegant, and add instant style, which makes them worth the investment, and (based on my own experience) make an average bottle of red taste much better, but I digress. While you're at it, be sure to always have a bottle of wine and/or champagne, for impromptu company, unexpected celebrations, or just because.

Being a more frequent tea-drinker, I wasn't planning to buy a coffee machine when I moved into my current apartment, but just rely on the occasional coffee-shop cappuccino or latte. A relative offered me the Bosch Tassimo machine as a housewarming gift, and I absolutely love it. It may be less widespread than the Keurig brewers, and you can't always find pods in shops (I order mine online), but it makes espresso as well as regular coffee, which Keurig doesn't, and the drinks are slightly more expensive, but worth the price as they taste much better (the brewers from both brands start at around $100). The coffee machine at my workplace is a Keurig, so I've had the chance to compare both, and definitely recommend the Tassimo brewer. 
You'll find a more detailed comparison of both brewing systems here.

I've been using one for a year now, and purchased my own when I moved in August. It is beyond useful to make a huge variety of foods, including breads, pizza dough (hence a few epic make-your-own pizza parties with friends), all sorts of cake batters, pasta, ice-cream, and more. (Here's a list of KitchenAid tips.) 

9. Fresh flowers.
I've been trying to vanquish my childhood fear of flowers (mostly dead or torn petals) for two reasons: the first is that I cannot find decent artificial flowers anywhere; I guess this will have to wait for my next trip to France. The second is that fresh flowers truly brighten up any room. I find some arrangement tacky, and prefer simple bunches of roses and hydrangeas, from the grocery store or the farmer's market. They last about a week or two after I trim the stems diagonally and add a mixture of sugar and vodka in the water, which I change each day.

If you appreciate spirits (I have a fondness for Cutty Sark and Jack Daniels), you'll find it a necessity. There's no need to spend a fortune on these; you can find a quality set like I did at a department or outlet store. Even better, look around consignment, thrift stores, and antique shops; you might find a vintage set of quality glasses that will gain even more value as time goes by.

11. Olives.
The list of what to have in case someone drops by for drinks is hardly exhaustive (I like to have cheese, crackers, French saucisson, pickles, and frozen hors-d'oeuvres), but I find olives make both a delicious, refined and low-calorie nibble. I like to get mine from Trader Joe's or the olive bar at Giant.

As of now, I'm certain you've noticed that I stick to red kitchen accessories. I prefer a whole set instead of separate pots and pans for several reasons: quality items are less expensive than buying them individually; also you're certain of getting the same quality and even cooking since they're made the same way, and they look the same, which makes your kitchen more elegant and streamlined. Of course, if there's an item that doesn't come in the set, like a wok or a stovetop grill, then by all mean, get it separately. But if you're buying pots and pans for the first time or replacing old ones, a whole set is the best way to go.

It's the same idea than for the pots and pans; it's better to start with a whole set of spices. You'll avoid the confusion at the grocery store spice aisle and instead purchase more eventually as you need them. They're a necessity because at times where you haven't done any significant grocery shopping, they can bring any dish from bland to delicious. Got some canned tomato sauce or concentrate? Make soup, and season it with basil, chives or chili peppers. Rice? Cook it Persian-style with saffron, herbes de Provence, and onion flakes. Pasta? Cook it, drain it, and toss it in the hot pan with two tablespoons of butter, chives, parsley, and oregano. And not to mention, it will make your instant Ramen fabulous in seconds.

14. Clean sheets and towels reserved for for guests.
That goes without saying. And you cannot tell yourself that you'll use them and wash them later, unless you want to deal with the embarrassment of an impromptu sleepover and having to tell your guest that you have no clean linens for them.

Because they're simply the best, they will provide you with company, 24/7 entertainment, the purring helps soothe stress and depression, which every young woman can struggle with; also they're furry, cute, adorable, awesome, aaaaah I want one now!!!... À suivre!

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