Here’s a crazy stat: 80 percent of couples live together before getting married, and 50 percent of couples have been dating for more than three years, according to the 2016 Brides American Wedding Study. Read between the lines and here’s what that means: You and your roomie have a lot of crap that’s accumulated over many years, and he probably complains weekly about not having enough space in the closet. (To which your response is, obviously, #sorrynotsorry.)
Whether moving in together is a new challenge or one you’ve already deftly mastered, with “I do” comes the real melding of households — and stuff. But fear not; living with your fiancé or hubs is one of the most fun adventures you can have as a couple. Thankfully, there are easy ways to make your (likely teeny-tiny) apartment feel like home — one that’s cute, stylish and maximizes limited storage space. From kitchen essentials to décor and barware, here’s our must-register-for guide to your perfect first home as newlyweds.
A Next-Gen Painting Service
There’s nothing worse than moving into a new apartment only to find yourselves surrounded by bare white walls (so un-homey). To make your interiors pop, try Paintzen, an on-demand painting service that’s 1,000 times easier than hours spent reviewing paint samples at ACE Hardware. Just fill out the online form with the dimensions of your room (home, office or even residential exterior) and you'll receive a quote in minutes. Select whether you want the paint sent to you to DIY — or schedule professional painters (vetted and insured by Paintzen) — choose from more than 3,000 Benjamin Moore colors, and voila! You’ve got custom walls. You can even hire a project manager to oversee the pros, who can also hand-paint rooms, install wallpaper, add faux finishes, moldings, baseboards and more.
A Does-It-For-You Vacuum
Registering for a vacuum may seem like the least sexy building block to a happy marriage, but think about it: Do you actually enjoy spending an hour picking up endless amounts of dust? Do you think he’ll ever volunteer to do so? (If the answer is yes, congratulations, because you’ve won the marital jackpot.) All this stress is easily solved by your new best friend: the iRobot Roomba vacuuming robot. (I affectionately nicknamed my Roomba 980 “Roombie,” and I may love her more than my human roommate.) The robot comes in four versions — from the compact 650 ($374.99) to the souped-up 980 ($899.99). Higher-quality models have more advanced features, like a companion app (to pre-program cleaning times) and carpet boost technology (to increase power when the machine detects it’s on a carpeted surface). No matter which you choose, the peace of mind that comes with pressing the “Clean” button and letting Roombie do her thing — while you get dressed in the morning or Netflix and chill on the couch — is worth every penny. (Side note: iRobot recently launched the Braava jet mopping robot, so we recommend registering for both for maximum cleaning efficiency.)
A Barista-Worthy Espresso Machine
It’s easier than ever to transform your kitchen into a bona fide Starbucks with one of Nespresso’s myriad espresso and coffee devices. The Prodigio espresso maker ($199) is one of the most compact machines, with an optional built-in milk frother to whip up a delish cappuccino, latte or macchiato in just a few seconds. You can also pre-program automatic brewing for your morning joe through the Nespresso app (which also tells you when to order more of your favorite espresso capsules). On the higher end is the Latissima Touch ($399), which has an integrated milk frother and six one-touch buttons for instant brewing of your favorite caffeinated recipes. You can thank Nespresso for your new, romantic Sunday coffee-in-bed ritual.
Chic Framed Wall Art
Dream of creating a super-chic living room gallery wall? Don’t go it alone; instead, call on the experts at Framebridge, a next-gen digital framing service that lets you mail in or upload images to create custom framed photos, delivered straight to your door (starts at $39; free shipping). The company offers a complimentary “Designer’s Choice” consultation option, which pairs you with one of the team’s in-house designers to help you select the perfect matte, frame and size for your image. The extra set of eyes and affordable prices make this a perfect option for hanging those wedding photos soon after the big day — because if you don’t do it soon, chances are you never will.
Barware for Everyday Use
There are a few extra-special investments we recommend lining up before your first year of marriage — one, a great bed with amazingly soft linens; the other, a well-stocked bar you can use every day. And when it comes to bars, nothing beats the arsenal of products by Rabbit. First essential: the Automatic Electric Corkscrew, which is straight up magic at popping bottles and totally worth the $50 investment, or the Aero Wine Opener ($74.95), which uses a needle and air pressure to open the bottle rather than a conventional corkscrew. Second essential: the Electric Wine Preserver ($40), for those (few and far between) nights when you don’t split an entire bottle of Cab and want to ensure your vino stays fresh.
If you’re more of a margarita gal, be sure to pick up the Shaker 33 ($29.95), a chic cocktail mixer that comes in an array of finishes (we prefer clear plastic), has an easy-to-open lid and removable sieve for perfectly smooth pours, and is leak-proof and dishwasher-friendly (but avoid high-heat dry functions, which in rare cases may cause the plastic to shrink).
A Foolproof Slow Cooker
Let’s face it: the secret to wedded bliss is a hubby with a full stomach. Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or Julia Child incarnate, every time-strapped wife needs a crockpot. The All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker with Cast-Aluminum Insert, 4 Qt. ($199.95) was designed for smaller kitchens and has a nonstick cast-aluminum insert you can place on the stovetop to brown ingredients before transferring it to the base for slow cooking (so there's no need for extra pans you’ll later have to wash). Simply pick your recipe, throw in the ingredients, allow them to simmer for four to eight hours (depending on the level of heat you choose), and return home to a ready-to-serve meal. The best part: your deftly-executed turkey chili or fork-tender pot roast can be individually portioned out to eat throughout the rest of the week.
Durable, High-Quality Pots and Pans
If you prefer not to break the bank on super expensive kitchenware, look no further than the infallible T-fal ProGrade 10-piece Non-stick Cookware Set ($108.99). (If you prefer stainless steel finish, they also make a 14-piece, non-stick stainless version.) Not only are the pots, pans and saucepans made from durable aluminum, but they’re also dishwasher and oven-safe (even the glass lids, up to 350°F). They’re also outfitted with an induction-compatible base — which is a fancy way of saying that heat is evenly distributed throughout the pan, so any burnt food is purely the result of human error. We tested them thoroughly and everything from veggies to chicken cooked thoroughly and evenly — except for when the forgetful hubby was on chef duty for the night.