I think that on the whole, Wednesday generally feels like a sturdy, non-sexy weekday. It lacks the promise of a Monday, the productivity of a Tuesday, the building excitement of a Thursday, or the exuberance of a Friday. For that reason – and to celebrate this lovely, average Wednesday – I wanted to do a quick deep dive into one of my favorite topics: practical home essentials.
So look…while my team is great at pulling together roundups with the best furniture at the best prices, sometimes a gal (or guy, or person) has just gotta focus on the basics – like a cutting board that will go the distance, or the best smart lightbulb, or a window AC unit that won’t burn your eyes, or a grout scrubber that’ll save your forearms. That’s my goal today: to highlight the tiny, basic things that every home could use.
Almost every item here is under $50 and while a couple of them are surprisingly design-minded (I see you, $30 marble toilet brush), the overwhelming majority are practical and un-sexy – so basically, perfect for a Wednesday – but also EHD-tested and well-loved. These tiny basics keep our homes in order and keep our clutter body at bay, so we hope they can be of service to you, too. Let’s start out with the kitchen, yeah?
1. Extreme Scrub Scour Pad: Jess swears by these for her stainless steel cookware.
2. Everyday Cutting Board: We love a wooden cutting board for styling purposes, but this $27 option is Em’s go-to choice for daily meal prep.
3. Drawer/Shelf Liner: Quick aside with big news: my mom just got the first shot of her Covid vaccine and I’m eagerly awaiting a counter offer on a new place (burying the real intel in these posts!). Naturally, my mom’s first comment after her shot was, “if you get it, maybe I’ll be able to come out and help you line the cabinets”…so like, yeah, that’s where I get this obsession with basic essentials from. Anyway – the clear is great for seeing crumbs and the ribbing increases air circulation. I’m a ride-or-die for this liner.
4. Knife and Cutlery Cleaner: This is a game-changer if you’re also scared of washing your knives. It’s also WAY easier to wash a fork by hand with one of these compared to the average sponge.
5. Brass Trivets: These are a splurge but WOW, they’re showstoppers, right? (“Actually, my other trivets are like 60 years old AND I can actually leave these out all the time, so this is probably a steal” – me, justifying this purchase. If these go on sale for President’s Day, I’ll flag them for y’all.)
6. Pot & Pan Brush: I don’t have a dishwasher, have been known to let things sit in the sink for too long so things get dried on and annoying, and this is my go-to daily dishwashing tool. A ringing endorsement!
7. Walnut Scouring Pad: You get 4 of these pads for $4, so they’ve replaced my Scrub Mommy. Honestly, they take the tiniest bit longer BUT they also aren’t neon, so they’re worth the tradeoff in my book.
8. Sink Caddy: Like, sure, yeah, it’d be beautiful to have decanted soaps and wooden cleaning supplies…but this does a good job of corralling the things you actually DO have while making them look a little bit more intentional and designed.
9. Wire Dividers: $5 or $6 to never hear the cacophony of cookie sheets, pot lids, or casserole dishes clanging around in the cabinet again is $5 or $6 well spent.
10. Sponge Cloths: These are super absorbent, reusable, washable, compostable, and they’ve completely replaced paper towels for Emily and me.
11. Countertop Dish Rack: This rack, with a drip tray and separate utensil compartment, is minimalist and beautiful. It wouldn’t look out of place in the Mountain House kitchen, which is the highest honor that I’m allowed to bestow, I think.
12. Airtight Silicone Lids: There are a bunch of uses for these (keeping food warm, storing leftovers, etc.) but the absolute best one is using them in the microwave. No more splatters! Jess also has them and LOVES them.
13. Over-the-Sink Drying Rack: No counter space? No problem. Roll this out, let your dishes and utensils dry, and shove it back in a drawer. (Fun fact: I had a lunch with the Food52 designer behind this product pre-pandemic and I gasped and then yelled when they showed me this design. I pre-ordered it that night. It’s GOOD.)
14. Studio McGee Paper Towel Holder: Blonde wood, brass accents, leather, AND practicality? This packs a big, California cool-meets-refined style punch for $20.
15. Swedish Dishcloths: Ryann loves these Swedish dishcloths, which live in the same world as the aforementioned sponge cloths. These are a little more affordable and come in a slew of bright colors – perfect for dipping your toe into the reusable product waters for the first time.
1. Wool Dryer Balls: I am so passionate about these that I haul them – in their own separate bag – alongside heaping bags of clothing and hands/pockets packed with quarters on my walk to the laundromat. Spritz a little essential oil on them (if you want – you can also leave them as-is), throw them in the dryer, and your laundry will be coming out faster and fluffier.
2. Squeegee: There was a lot of chatter about glass shower enclosures after Brian’s recent post. If you also love the look of glass but hate the maintenance, hitting doors/walls with a quick squeegee after bathing is (a.) fun and (b.) good for preventing streaks, buildup, and spots.
3. All-Purpose Bleach Alternative: You can use this with laundry, but it’s also safe for general house surface cleaning. Additional Bonus: it’s non-toxic and unscented so you won’t feel like you’re inhaling ammonia fumes.
4. Bathroom Spray: This is a $9 natural cleaner and odor eliminator that actually works and smells like a healthy breakfast of sugared grapefruit.
5. Toilet Brush: SHEESH, Y’ALL. CB2 is crushing the whole bathroom accessories game. If black marble isn’t your thing, they have a ton of great options (really into the brass and fluted collections) that aren’t obscenely expensive.
6. Pumice Stone Toilet Bowl Cleaner: If you’re stuck with a stubborn ring around the waterline of your toilet despite your best cleaning efforts, this will remove it ASAP.
1. Smart Light Bulb: There are SO MANY smart light bulbs out there and shopping for them is confusing and hard. This is the best one. DONE.
2. Cordless Power Drill: For reasons unknown, this is currently 51% off, which is an insane deal. And like, sure, you can use this to mount shelving or…make things? Attach cabinets to walls? I’m honestly not really sure why we need drills in everyday life, but the real value here is that it will speed up your furniture assembly process by a million percent. Assemble flat packed pieces with ease and without tears!
3. Humidifier: Humidifiers for kids are cute and often shaped like animals. Humidifiers for adults look horrifying plastic aquarium/ant farm combos. WHY? This teardrop-shaped one, though, gets the job done while being aesthetically pleasing.
4. Felt Furniture Pads: I know they’re boring. But I also know that if you don’t make a conscious effort to put them on ASAP, you’ll end up accidentally scratching your nearly-100-year-old floors while rearranging furniture solo. $5 now will save you an entire security deposit in the future. (Someone, please, learn from my mistakes.)
5. Queen-Sized Air Mattress: I loaned this to a friend in late 2019 and they are still sleeping on it, so I’m pretty sure it’s amazing. Plus, you can’t beat the $99 price tag. You can test it out while dreaming of hosting guests in the future.
6. Battery Organizer with Tester: Well first off, ew, I’m so sorry for recommending something named “Battery Daddy,” but I HAD TO. This has a tester attached and it holds all your batteries in one place where you can stow them away safely so your friends won’t come over and say, “hey, why do you keep batteries in the fridge? That’s definitely not normal.” (Please leave a comment if you also put your batteries in the fridge – we can commiserate.)
7. Cleaning Caddy: It’s two caddies in one, it’s under $10, and it’s not garish. Win/win/win. Michael Scott would be proud!
8. Electronics Cleaning Brush: This double-ended brush removes all the gunk between the buttons on your electronics like keyboards, phones, or remotes.
9. All Purpose Spray: This spray is $9, non-toxic, biodegradable, safe for all types of counters, and it smells like figs (i.e. very luxe). Jess was influenced by Shavonda and is VERY happy she was.
10. Power Scrubber: An electric toothbrush for your grout and caulk crannies!!! Save those elbows!!! Carpal tunnel, be gone!!! I’m very excited about this product!!! (It’s not just me, though – hundreds of 5-star reviews can’t be wrong.)
11. 6-Pack of Flashlights: Not to be too much of an overbearing mom, but have you checked your flashlights recently? You don’t even need to buy these (though they are probably as cute as flashlights can be!), but this is your gentle nudge to make sure you have your essentials ready for an emergency.
12. July A/C: It feels weird to recommend an A/C unit as I prepare for another nor’easter, but this is truly the only not-hideous window unit that has ever existed. There are different front options for different decor styles and honestly, it’s super fairly priced (especially with this free shipping). I recommend.
13. Cordless Dyson: I mean…once you go cordless, it’s tough to go back. Plus, this one is specially-made to handle pet hair. That said, I’d hold off on this one til the weekend – I’ll share the best President’s Day deal once we get the intel.
14. Pull-Out Cabinet Drawers: Don’t invest in new cabinets or closets before trying these! They add a whole new level of easy-to-use functionality to existing built-in storage.
15. Lobby Broom: I promise that you will be more incentivized to clean with a lobby broom – it’s so much easier than bending to use a tiny pan. Also great for folks with mobility changes (i.e. me)!
16. Reusable Latex Gloves: Grab two packs and use one pair for pet hair cleanup (pet hair hack – rub affected areas with latex gloves and it’ll gather all the fur for easy removal!), one pair for the bathroom, one for the kitchen, and stash one for miscellaneous emergencies.
17. Pet Hair Roller: LIFE. CHANGING. If you have a pet who sheds, this is the answer. We have one of these on set at most EHD shoots (you know, if a pet lives in the house) and it’s the reason you don’t see tiny hairs or fluffs in every shot.
18. Cleaning Brush Set: I swear by the tiniest end of the smaller brush for cleaning around/into my sink and shower drains. Most folks probably don’t need to go THIS niche with their cleaning supplies, but if you really want to go all the way with your deep clean, this set will take you over the finish line.
That’s it from me on this sturdy, practical, homely Wednesday morning. In the interim, I’d love to learn about the cleaning or organizational products that keep your home in order – y’all consistently have the best recommendations. (You were actually the folks who introduced me to the sink caddy and knife cleaner, both of which I now love deeply!)
I’m particularly super interested in learning more about your favorite corded vacuums (a new frontier for me!) and your most-used cleaning sprays – I fell in love with the Murchison Home all-purpose spray linked above when my go-to name brands sold out during the early rona-onset, but now I’m excited to try out more cleaning products from small businesses. Also, open to discuss battery storage with my fellow fridge weirdos. Let’s chat, please???
Opening Image Credits: Design by Jess and Tyler Marés | Photos by Jess Marés | From: A DIY Kitchen Renovation In Two Parts (Plus A Reno Pep Talk)