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Hello! If you’re reading this, the chances are that you’ve gotten past the stage of buying in bulk for uni. Maybe you’re in your second flat? Or maybe all the crap you bought five years ago has died and you’re ready to upgrade?
In which case, let me help you with that! I’ve scoured the internet for the highest-rated, best-value products that will upgrade your living sitch.
For each product, I’ve given two options: one for a more limited budget and one that’s a little more expensive. Where possible, I’ve also recommended products that I’ve used personally.
1. Swap flat and lifeless pillows for luxurious new ones.
When it comes to pillows, choose whatever feels good to you. I really rate these Silent Night Pillows, £12 on Amazon. They’re not too soft, and they’re machine-washable (so important! Wash your pillows!).
If you want to spend a bit more, the Snug Memory Foam Pillow is £29 on Amazon and has a machine-washable cover.
2. Stop drying your clothes on the heater and get a decent drying rack.
Maybe you own this already, in which case, you may be excluded from this narrative. If you don’t, then this rack is highly rated and £30.99 on Amazon.
But everyone can stand to step up their game a little – so if you’ve got a little more to spend, people RAVE about the Lakeland Heated Airer, £110 on Amazon.
3. Bring some joy into your life with a bin that doesn’t annoy you.
Hear me out. For years I had the most perfunctory bin in the world – it was essentially a bucket with a lid. Then I bought a push-lid bin and suddenly putting rubbish in the bin was not annoying anymore. Anyway, my thrilling life aside, it’s worth investing in this item you will use every day.
Here are two options, depending on the space you have:
This smaller white bin, £11.99 on Amazon. This tall silver bin, £17.99 on Amazon.
4. Swap out faded and tatty sheets for bedtime luxury instead.
Everyone has a set of bedsheets that they bought when they first moved out. Salute those sheets. They did you well. But now it’s time for them to go and for new ones to come in. Look for sheets with a high cotton percentage (these will stay soft wash after wash). Don’t bother with Egyptian cotton (it’s nice, but it’s ££££ and wrinkles like crazy). I love this sleek, 100% cotton ASDA set, £16 for a double.
If you want to spend a bit more, this striped set is delightful and £39.50 for a double from Marks and Spencer.
5. Commit to a low-key fancy life with a user-friendly ice tray.
Every freezer comes with that one horrid, plasticky ice-tray. You know, the one that clings to its ice cubes like a dragon on its gold. So say yes to life and get a damn silicone one. This pro-cook tray is plenty big and £4 on Amazon.
Wanna have a bit more fun with your cubes? I love these shark-fin ice cube moulds, £6 on Amazon.
6. Inspect your kettle for limescale, and sub in a new one instead.
If you live in a hard water area, chances are there’s limescale build up on your kettle (little white flakes in your cup of tea). You can break it down with limescale tablets, but you’ll need to replace it eventually. This nifty Russell Hobbs kettle is £29 on Amazon and comes with an inbuilt water filter.
Spending a bit more? I love this Morphy Richards kettle, £39 on Amazon that has the retro appeal of a stovetop with none of the hassle.
7. Let Netflix load quicker with a Wi-Fi extender.
There are lots of different options, but I personally own the TP-Link, £14.95 on Amazon. It boosts the signal so that the internet stretches from the router in the living room, all the way down the hall, through the kitchen, to my boyfriend’s desktop computer. Well worth the money – especially if you’re in a house share.
8. Invest in a sharp pair of kitchen scissors to make cutting a cinch.
I use my kitchen scissors for everything from cutting pizza slices to chopping bacon straight into a pan. You don’t need to spend megabucks on them – just make sure they’re sturdy, dishwasher-friendly, and sharp. Oxo is a reliably good brand, and these scissors are £11.85 on Amazon.
If you’d like another option, these Victorinox scissors are £10.99 on Amazon and have a lifetime guarantee.
9. Cover up a grubby sofa with a fresh new throw or blanket.
I own a couple of these recycled wool blankets, £11.50 from Amazon, and I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re warm and durable, and you can wash them easily. They’re my default housewarming gift to friends, and I am happy for you all to copy me.
If you want something a lil’ fancier, I also own this herringbone wool throw (right), £59 from Not on the High Street – hey, I like blankets, who doesn’t? – and it is a delight.
10. Be ruthless with cracked glassware and buy a handful of matching glasses.
I’m not saying it’s time to buy six champagne saucers, but it is time to throw out the ancient Guinness pint glasses. This six-pack of Picardie glasses, £12 on Amazon, can double as wineglasses as well as water glasses. They stack easily as well, which means they’ll take up less space in your kitchen.
If you’re feeling fancy, I naturally love these monogrammed glasses from Anthropologie, £12 each.
11. Throw away excess plastic and invest in a water bottle.
The most important thing when it comes to a reusable water bottle is how easy it is to wash. I was given a fancy glass bottle and it is an absolute nightmare to clean. So, I think this Bobble bottle is perfect. It’s £6 on Amazon, it comes in a range of colours, and it’s very easy to clean.
If you want a stainless steel bottle, then I’ve heard good things about Your Bottle, £16.99 on Amazon.
12. Say NO to mould and swap out your shower curtain.
Even if you’re in rented accommodation, it’s worth buying a new anti-mould shower curtain. (Check with your landlord first, but I’ve bought a new shower curtain several times and binned the old one.) This one has a nice relaxed pattern and is only £10.99.
13. Throw away your rusted frying pan and invest in a new one.
Before we get into this: Cast-iron frying pan fans (that’s a tongue twister) tend to be besotted with their pans. Yes, they’re great, and yes they don’t stick, but they’re also very heavy, and the handles get really hot. So I appreciate it’s not for everyone. In which case, here are two options, one cast-iron, one not:
This Morphy Richards stainless steel pan, £29.99 at TK Maxx, is tremendous value. (TK Maxx online is brilliant for home goods, btw.)
This Lodge cast-iron pan, £29.99 on Amazon, comes preseasoned to boot.
14. Show no mercy to old underwear, and level up with new ones.
Open up your underwear drawer and throw out any old, grody knickers. Faded elastic? Bin it! Then go to M&S and buy some multipacks (five pairs for £8).
If you want to spend a bit more money on your underwear, then TK Maxx has silk pants from £13.
15. Turn off the harsh overhead lights and get snuggly with some cosy lamps.
A handful of well-placed lamps make even the drabbest room look cosy. This Scandi-style lamp is a neat Anglepoise dupe and is only £34.99 on Amazon.
If you want to splash out, I do think an Anglepoise is worth it. I own two (I bought them secondhand), and they extend really high and last forever. Buy a new one on Amazon for £122.50.
16. Throw out your threadbare towels and go for plush new ones in a dark colour.
Towels don’t have to be expensive! This set has great reviews, and comes with two bath towels, two hand towels and four flannels.
Get it for £14.99 on Amazon.
If you want to spend a little more, I think the bath towels from Asda Home are really worth it. They start at £8 for a large bath towel, but wash really well and stay fluffy. Buy them here.
17. Make food prep a breeze with sharp kitchen knives.
I think sets of knives are a false economy – you may have bought a multipack when you were starting out (maybe these ones?). But really, when are you going to use a filleting knife? Better to buy three sharp stainless steel knives and look after them. If you also buy a knife sharpener, you can save money on the knives themselves – it doesn’t matter how expensive the blade is if it’s dulled.
It depends what you’re going to be cooking, but I think a good rule of thumb is to invest in a bread knife, a paring knife, and a utility knife.
This Zyliss set is £10.05 on Amazon and really good value. Add in a (safe!) sharpener for £13 on Amazon. If you want to spend a bit more, this Sabatier set is £35 on Amazon.
18. Make the most of Spotify by boosting your speakers.
This portable bluetooth speaker by Anker (£29.99) has 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. It’s also got a 24-hour battery life.
If you want to spend a bit more, my brother has the Bose SoundLink Mini, £149 on Amazon, and he uses it to stream Netflix in 10/10 sound via a HDMI cable from the laptop to the TV.
19. Switch from pine-fresh toilet spray to a grown-up citrus.
There’s only so much scent that a post-poop candle can hide. So spring £8 on Amazon and buy a toilet spray that does that hard work for you.
If you want to spend more, the Aesop Post Poo Drops, £38 on Amazon, have a cult following.
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