Product Design

The First (Sentimental/Practical/Kooky) Purchase That Made My House Feel Like a Home

February 20, 2018

What purchase do you remember most fondly about your first home away from home? Did it involve telltale flat packs from a certain Swedish retailer? Huffing and puffing up a walk-up after scoring big on Craigslist? Beyond the physical items and keepsakes that you treasure, it's the stories of how they came about that will linger most in our memories—especially if it involves a fun(ny) story! Read on for some of our staff's first significant-to-them home purchases.

Amanda Hesser, Co-Founder

After college, I moved to Europe to cook, and while I was working in France, I went to the storied cookware store Dehillerin and stocked up. I spent a month's pay on a set of copper cookware, a rolling pin, baking sheets, copper canelé molds, financier molds, tartlet pans, a copper bowl, and wooden spoons. Because I didn't yet live on my own (I lived where I worked), I sent this box of precious goods to my mother's house, where they sat for more than three years until I moved to New York and got my first apartment.

At the time of this shopping spree, I remember my mother being cross with me not only for spending money on expensive cookware (her first cookware was Farberware) but for doing so when I didn't yet have a steady job or a home to speak of. Oh, and for then asking her to store it all! But I knew it was a good investment. The dollar was strong then and I figured I wouldn't get back to Paris that often. My mom is a savvy shopper, but I have to say that, 20+ years later, I was right. I still have everything I bought and many of the pieces have gained a beautiful sheen with age, not to mention they serve as a vivid reminder of my days in Europe. What seemed like a daring purchase then taught me an important lesson that has stuck with me—it's always better to spend money on great-quality products—you may have fewer things, but what you do have will mean more to you."

Kristen Miglore, Creative Director

My first big-girl apartment was sectioned off from what was allegedly a Victorian-era brothel in downtown Santa Barbara. My room was once the dining room, so the back of my closet was a door that opened to the kitchen and my built-in cabinets were part of a pass-through that was full of our dishes and cups instead of my clothes. Much of my "decor" matched the shabbiness of the place—a ratty vintage loveseat and a not-at-all-structural headboard made of plywood. None of it was worth packing up and moving to New York with me, except for one long curtain that I still love. I spent months hunting for the perfect subtle pattern and transparency, to let just enough light shine through but protect me from peeping neighbors, and found it in a discount fabric shop in Los Angeles, then my mom helped me sew it to the right length. It's hanging in my kitchen now, mingling with my plants, and makes the view to the brick building across the way a lot sunnier.

Kristen's well-loved curtain finds a new home in New York! Photo by Kristen Miglore

Lindsay-Jean Hard, Contributing Writer & Editor

The funky fish in this article is the first decorative/artwork-type piece that was nice enough that we slightly paused at the price. (It wasn't even that much, but we got it nearly 10 years ago and we were young enough that a couple of hundred dollars for something "non-functional" was a big decision!)

For something that hasn't been previously shared on the site, we just bought our first real dining room table this spring, and I am obsessed with it. It's not that we've been living eating on the floor for all of our years together, it's just that we went from eating on the couch to eating at bar stools at a countertop to converting a large desk to function as a dining room table, the latter of which worked just fine, but was still clearly a desk, so I am very very excited to have a proper dining room table for the first time! (With leaves! Never mind that you won't really be able to walk around the room once it's fully expanded...)

"What seemed like a daring purchase then taught me an important lesson that has stuck with me—it's always better to spend money on great-quality products—you may have fewer things, but what you do have will mean more to you."
Amanda Hesser

Jane Katz, Senior Account Executive

My first "real purchase" for my own apartment was a beautiful, soft leather couch. I'd wanted to invest in a good couch forever, but the prices were just crazy. Then, a stroke of luck or fate or furniture destiny crossed my path as I walked into the West Elm just a few blocks away. This sectional was on a floor sample sale for 50% (or was it 60%? 70%?) off! I can't remember a thing. I bought it right then and there, and have never looked back since.

Kaitlyn Baker, Senior Account Manager

This isn't the first thing I ordered, but I did just purchase drawer dividers for our dresser and kitchen utensil drawers. While no one sees inside your drawers (typically), it makes them SO pretty! Otherwise, after moving in with my boyfriend a couple of years ago, we bought a laundry organizer; it makes doing laundry so easy and he actually knows how to sort and help with laundry (instead of throwing a red sock in with white clothing, ha!). As you can tell, I like a very clean and organized home. :)

Katie Macdonald, Assistant Editor

Okay, so this one is funny, not cute, but my roommate and I bought a sofa off of Craigslist in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was a scratchy sofa bed from an old lady who had recently passed and the movers were trying to get rid of it. We spent $50, drove to pick it up in a shady area of town, then realized our car was too small to fit it in. Out of kindness, the movers (a not-so-young couple, themselves) drove the couch to our apartment and carried it up two flights of stairs. I thought they were going to have heart attacks. After they finished, my roommate and I sat on it in the middle of our living room and just looked as the sun set over the mountains.

Clare Slaughter, Director of Branded Content & Accounts

My first really memorable home purchase was DIY-y. As a frugal, empowered post-grad, I decided I would buy the cheapest bed frame IKEA had to offer, then cut, buy, and schlep pieces of wood from Home Depot to act as slats. They did the trick, though I definitely do not sleep on hand-fashioned slats anymore.

What are your most memorable home purchases? Share them with us below!

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