Josh and I have called a lot of places home. We’ve lived in many dorm rooms, we each had an apartment in DC our last year of college and we basically lived in L’Auberge Espagnole when we moved to Argentina. We’ve returned to our parent’s homes for short stints over and over again. Before the year 2010 we had never stayed anywhere for longer than a year and a half, and like many nomadic people of our generation, we bought and let go of many rounds of house wares .
Then we landed in Philadelphia where we lived in a two bedroom third floor walk up for four years. We had no idea how long we would stay and we had very little cash flow. As a result we bought the cheapest of everything. By the time we moved out of that apartment, many of our belongings were in some state of decay. The Ikea dressers were falling apart. The trash can and toilet paper holder in the bathroom were rusted over. The shower caddy required a tetanus shot to even look at, and the drying rack for the dishes was unsavable.
Suffice it to say that we threw a lot out when we moved. The rest we sold on Craigslist. When shopping for our new home, I wanted to invest in products when it was worth it, and save big when it wasn’t. We’ve been reading customer reviews, scouring the internet for deals and keeping the US economy alive. H&H receives no sponsorship, and we get nothing out of these recommendations besides the good feeling that comes from sharing many hours of research. And so I present, to the tune of “Work It” by my girl Missy, IS IT WORTH IT?
NOT WORTH IT
Light fixtures: I did a lot of research on pendants. I spent hours scouring the internet. I had a false start which will hopefully result in a future project. And my opinion is that you DO NOT need to break the bank on light fixtures. One of the keys to finding a bargain online is to learn the right language to use. Words like pendant, barn, industrial, and the color of your choice were really helpful when looking for an industrial style light. In the end I found these on Ebay and they shipped right from China for $45 each. They even came with Edison lightbulbs!
For the bathroom we were on our contractors budget so we went with these Archie lights from Home Depot. They aren’t my favorite but they keep with the theme of our house, and while they may not add a whole lot, they certainly aren’t taking anything away either.
Vanities: This was a BIG issue for us. Our budget was around $200 per vanity. For a long time, it seemed like we either needed to spend at least $500 or go with some very flimsy looking situations. We went and looked in person, and there was just no way. I toyed with the idea of making my own from an old dresser, but since we weren’t the ones doing the work this seemed risky and a little crazy for us to execute. Finally, Ikea showed us the light. The Silveran works perfectly in our powder/laundry room. The Hemnes works just fine upstairs and will look even better once I do something about those knobs. We love them and didn’t need to go over budget!
Powertools: I been toolin’, I been toolin…I get filthy when that sander get into to it…oh hey there. You’re still with me! Right…So we recently invested in some new power tools. We spent an absurd amount of time at Home Depot on a Saturday night, and consulted with a wise x-contractor. There is a pretty big difference between prices when it comes to brands, but apparently not in performance. Even though all
cool kids contractors go Dewalt, we went with the much more affordable Ryobi. No regrets!
Pots and Pans: We got a fancy set of All Clad for our wedding that we were saving until we moved. Now that we have more space to store them, we sold the old Wolfgang Puck set and made way for the fancy shiz. I obviously love my All Clad set, but there is truly no difference in the cooking. Also, for a clumsy cook like me, the All Clad set is a bit stressful. You have to be careful you don’t scratch it, and you need to dry it right away…I’m not giving it away or anything, and we mostly use the ol’ cast iron anyway, but I’d say in the long run, not worth it unless you are SUPER into aesthetics.
Glassware: This one is pure opinion, but I truly believe in only buying used glassware from flea markets, ebay, or antique stores. I did get a beautiful set of new glasses for my wedding from the old C&B, but in the future I am sticking to buying my glassware on the cheap and used for several reasons. One: glassware breaks, and I don’t need my heart to be broken every time someone smashes my $10 high ball glass. Two: the old stuff seems to be much better made, and way more durable for clumsies like me. Three: it often looks way cooler. Four: budgets people…budgets.
Couch: We did it. We finally did it. At the ages of 28 & 29 we finally bought a couch. We went with the Aidan from C&B, and it is beautiful. More importantly, if my research is correct, this couch was worth it because it will stand the test of time. A fancy couch that is expensive because it is well made will have seat cushions that hold up for years, it will be made of lovely fabric, and its bones will be made from quality materials that keep the couch sturdy no matter what happens on it. Unfortunately it didn’t come with an anti-wine force field. We didn’t end up using this company, but its worth a share. Cococo makes Restoration Style couches for less and in the US. I’m all about that.
Shower Caddy: We really wrung our hands about this one. More than $100 for a shower caddy? No way! That’s crazy! we said. But the more research we did, the more we decided that it was worth it if we never had to buy another one again. You can get crafty with the cheap ones once they rust over, but if you are investing and don’t want to worry about your caddy ever again, just pull the trigger and go with OXO Good Grips four level magnum of a corner lift and lock shower caddy. It will arrive at your job in an enormous box, you will be embarrassed, and then it will be totally WORTH IT. They really thought of everything – even a mechanism for keeping your almost empty bottles upside down:
Bathroom Garbage Can: We have had this fancy Simple Human trash can that we got for our wedding four years ago and it has held up really well. I’d be just as happy with a plastic one under the sink. BUT! A trashcan in a bathroom is a horse of a different color. The bathroom trashcan must withstand water being splashed on it, humidity from showers, and in my opinion, it MUST have a lid. Our old trashcan looked really gross when we moved. I know that you could invest in a plastic one that could be easily cleaned, but since it is kept out, I really think the Simple Human bathroom trash can brings a certain style to a bathroom and is worth spending $25 dollars on.
Elfa: I really could go on about how much I love Elfa for a long time. But I won’t. This organizing system is amazing and absolutely worth the price unless you are a crafty mother-fucker and can truly design your own space maximizing closet and install your own shelves. BUT! There is a but: I would only recommend getting Elfa during their annual sale which begins right after Christmas and goes until some time in February. Their product is amazing and WORTH IT but for us it was only feasible when it was 30% off.
Kitchen Drawers: We had to add a bit extra onto our mortgage as a result of this upgrade (why pay out of pocket when you can pay later with interest? It’s the American way!), but having kitchen drawers instead of lower cabinets is AMAZING!!!! It’s a major upgrade from our last place where we lost things in the backs of cabinets for years. (I am not exaggerating). If you ever have the chance to make this decision, just go for it. It is so much more functional. If not, consider using bins you can slide out of your cabinets so it easier to reach the stuff in the back. These are obviously sold at The Container Store.
Soda Stream: If you drink A LOT of carbonated water, like me, then this gadget will save you money in the long run. If you care about how much you contribute to the giant plastic island in the Pacific , this apparatus will majorly decrease your waste. However, an even better, and way more selfish reason why this contraption is WORTH IT is that it means you never have to run out of soda water and you never have to throw out flat soda or tonic water AGAIN. If you are into cocktails, having a reliable source of soda water is MAJOR. I just got up and made a bottle so I could have some soda water right now. It was so worth it.
Having read this post through several times, I feel the need to acknowledge the fact that being able to spend money on the WORTH IT items is a privilege and a luxury, as is owning your own home. I really never thought I would spend money on hangers and made fun of my sister for doing so. But once you go non-slip its hard to go back. Our drinking habits have mirrored the this slow move to upgrade our belongings, and while none of it is necessary, it really does improve your quality of life.
The Perfect Gin and Tonic
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. thinks they have invented something that has perfected the Gin & Tonic. We don’t disagree. At $16 a bottle for their tonic syrup, this cocktail ingredient wins a major WORTH IT. Its so simple, but so much better than any G & T you could make with store bought tonic water.
- 2 oz of your favorite gin
- .75 oz of Jack Rudy tonic
- 4 oz of soda water
Combine the ingredients in the order listed in a collins glass. Stir and drink.