A GOOD SET OF SHARP KNIVES by Wüsthof, including a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a slicing knife, and a bread knife
ALL-CLAD POTS: small and large sauté pans, small and large lidded pots, and a large stockpot
ONE LARGE ALL-CLAD ROASTING PAN. You can make something small in a big one, but you can’t make something big in a small one.
One medium and one large LE CREUSET ROUND DUTCH OVEN
I cannot imagine not having my KITCHENAID MIXER K45
Ditto my CUISINART PRO CUSTOM 11 FOOD PROCESSOR, with its slightly bigger bowl
A set of STAINLESS-STEEL MIXING BOWLS (try a restaurant supply house). I also have a set of 10 clear glass bowls that you can get at Williams-Sonoma for about $38 — the best value in the world.
On the counter, I have a big pot of WOODEN SPOONS AND RUBBER SPATULAS
I have another pot with WHISKS AND MEASURING SPOONS. All available from a restaurant supply place — they shouldn’t be fancy.
A CHEF’S CHOICE ELECTRIC KNIFE SHARPENER
A BOOS BUTCHER BLOCK CUTTING BOARD
A MEAT THERMOMETER
For potholders, I use BLACK OVEN MITTS
A stack of HALF SHEET PANS. They’re about 13″ x 18″ each with a one-inch rim. I use them for roasting vegetables, baking cookies and brownies, and lots of other tasks.
FIRST AID KIT
ONE OR TWO PEOPLE WHO KNOW CPR
ROPE LADDER with wooden steps, to get out of a second-story window in an emergency
BOTTLED WATER, CANDLES, AND CANNED FOOD, in case of a power outage
GUEST ROOM ESSENTIALS
TOM SCHEERER, interior designer
BATH AND HAND TOWELS, WASHCLOTHS
BATH OIL OR FOAM
UNISEX XL TERRY ROBE
REFILLABLE WATER VESSEL and a glass
PAD AND PENCIL
A RANGE OF MAGAZINES
A RANGE OF HANGERS
BEDSIDE NOSEGAY or a single blossom
AN ORANGE OR AN APPLE
POWDER ROOM ESSENTIALS
MEG BRAFF, interior designer
If there’s a window, SHEER CAFÉ CURTAINS, with a tiny gimp on the bottom, to add privacy and style but maximize natural light
A TALL MIRROR, to make ceilings seem higher and give the space grander proportions
A BOWL WITH FRESH, SIMPLE FLOWERS
HAND SOAP. If it’s liquid, be sure it’s clear!
DISPOSABLE WHITE OR IVORY HAND TOWELS. Personalize them with a monogram in the color of the room.
VINTAGE HAND TOWELS add a personal touch
LUXURY HAND CREAM in chic packaging
A CHARLOTTE MOSS “LEFT BANK” CANDLE
A beautiful SILVER OR LUCITE TRAY to put everything on
GARMENT CARE ESSENTIALS
JERRY POZNIA, managing director of the dry cleaner Jeeves New York
COLOR-SAFE BLEACH, such as Clorox 2, for washing clothes
BEESWAX OR CANDLE WAX. Great for lubricating balky zippers.
GOO GONE CITRUS CLEANER. Great for removing gum and wax from clothing.
SWEATER DRYING RACK. If you handwash sweaters, you must dry them flat on a rack.
SAFETY PINS. These will save the day when your hem has fallen and you’re out of time.
SPRAY SIZING (preferably Magic brand) adds body and a crisp look when you iron at home. But spray lightly!
IRON & IRONING BOARD. I like the Rowenta continuous-steam models, but they are pricey.
PRESS CLOTH. Always use a press cloth between your iron and all dark fabrics and wools to prevent fabric shine.
PROPER HANGERS. Invest in good wood or plastic hangers. Use the correct hanger for the type of garment you are hanging. Never use a wire hanger on knits.
CEDAR BLOCKS. Put these around your sweaters and other wools when you put them away for the season. Cedar, when aromatic, is a natural moth repellent. Always clean your garments before you store them for the season. If you put your garments away soiled, the cedar will not protect them from moth damage.
SWEATER DE-PILLER. I love the Restora Fuzz Removal Comb, but an electric sweater shaver will do the trick, too. Makes sweaters look new again.
MARSHALL WATSON, interior designer
A GOOD TASK LIGHT. On my desk I have a 36-inch-tall silver antique lamp with two 75-watt bulbs. I’m left-handed and like to move it around where I need it.
A BEAUTIFUL MEASURING TAPE. It’s a great desktop accessory because there are beautiful measuring tapes to be had. (There was a famous sterling silver one that belonged to Jacqueline Kennedy, which went for about $50,000. A New York decorator bought it.)
A VASE OF FLOWERS. It makes your day lighter, and it’s inexpensive. Freesias and lilacs, especially, are gorgeously scented.
A PENCIL HOLDER. I have an onyx cylinder vase, and I like black pencils and black pens. You might use a silver mint julep cup, which looks great with a silver lamp.
A PRETTY DISH OR LIDDED BOX for paper clips and bulldog clips
A GOOD-LOOKING MAGNIFYING GLASS. You’ll be surprised how often you use it.
A MOUSE PAD. You can customize it with a photo at most photo shops, and it doesn’t have to look like a psychedelic mess. eBay has a great selection, too.
A FLAT-SCREEN COMPUTER OR LAPTOP. We drill our desks so we can drop all the cords through and not have chaos.
A LETTER CADDY
A TRIPLE TRAY OR STACKABLE IN-OUT BOX. Mine is mahogany.
A TELEPHONE. There are lots of sleek, gorgeous telephones, like the ones by Bang & Olufsen.
POST-IT NOTES with a dispenser
SCOTCH TAPE DISPENSER. I have my mother’s old one.
A TRAY. A black lacquer or woven rattan one to contain all the objects so the desktop doesn’t look cluttered.
A PICTURE FRAME. You must have a picture frame with someone you love in it. Look at it at least once a day!
HOME FIRST AID KIT ESSENTIALS
WENDY SMALL, school nurse at Grace Church School, NYC
ADULT’S AND CHILDREN’S TYLENOL AND MOTRIN
LIQUID BENADRYL for any allergic reaction
FIRST AID TAPE
ALCOHOL to clean the thermometer
HOT WATER BOTTLE for a stomachache
EPSOM SALTS dissolve in a bath for sore muscles
A LIST OF EMERGENCY NUMBERS: poison control center, police, fire department, ambulance, hospital, doctor, neighbor
BOBBI BROWN, makeup artist
CONCEALER. It’s the secret of the universe. No matter how I’m feeling, a creamy, yellow-toned concealer instantly makes me look fresh and well-rested.
A good set of MAKEUP BRUSHES
MOISTURIZING BALM. I love how rich, really dense balms give skin a smooth, plumped-up look.
GOODY OUCHLESS HAIR ELASTICS. I like to tie my hair back when I’m working, and on bad hair days.
BLUSH. A pop of pink on the apples of the cheeks instantly brightens the face.
CUSTOMIZABLE MAKEUP PALETTE. These make it easy to streamline my makeup routine without sacrificing my options. I’ve filled my palette with my favorite eye, lip, and cheek colors.
A FLATTERING LIGHT SOURCE AND WHITE LIGHTBULBS. If it’s not possible to position a vanity near natural light (the ideal for applying makeup), the next best thing is to use white bulbs.
PICTURES OF MY FAMILY
PERI WOLFMAN, style author
If I were outfitting my dining table from scratch, I would buy a couple more of each piece than I thought I needed. I think I can seat a maximum of 12, but somehow there is often the 13th guest, the friend of a friend! Here is a list of everything you need to set the table for every meal in a clean, contemporary look that could easily accommodate anything you buy in the future: antique, modern, or anything in between. Glass is the most breakable and the most used of all tableware, so limit yourself to just a few shapes and have a lot of each so you can have a cocktail party!
CLASSIC RIMMED WHITE PORCELAIN DINNERWARE. Pottery Barn’s Great White is the perfect size and weight.
12 12″ BUFFET PLATES
12 10″ SALAD PLATES
12 9 1/2″ RIMMED SOUP/PASTA BOWLS
12 CEREAL BOWLS
18 6 1/2″ SQUARE DESSERT PLATES for appetizers, desserts, or cocktails
2 LONG RECTANGULAR SERVING PLATTERS
2 OVAL PLATTERS, one medium and one large
12 22″ LINEN MONOGRAMMED NAPKINS. They come in many colors, but start with white — it’s easy to bleach out lipstick and food.
12 15″ ROUND WOVEN PLACEMATS. They look chic under the dinner plate and are super-easy to wipe off. They come in over 25 colors from Deborah Rhodes at Sue Fisher King, San Francisco.
12 5-PIECE FLATWARE PLACE SETTINGS. Oneida’s Baguette pattern in stainless or silver plate is a classic.
18 STEMLESS RIEDEL WINEGLASSES are the great splurge here. But the Cabernet/Merlot style, which you can use as an all-purpose wineglass or for cocktails, is such a treat to hold.
18 STEMMED ALL-PURPOSE WINEGLASSES. Crate & Barrel and CB2 have good selections at reasonable prices.
18 HIGHBALL GLASSES. CB2’s Marta glasses are very thin but not fragile and very inexpensive.
LOTS OF VOTIVES to sprinkle around the table, at least 8 of each style. Dim the room lights for a romantic dinner for 2 or a cocktail party for 12.
DONNA SMALLIN, author of Cleaning Plain and Simple and The One-Minute Cleaner
MICROFIBER CLOTHS. These nonabrasive synthetics are often sold by the bag. They’re fabulous magnets for dirt and grease. Use them wet (squeeze them really hard to get most of the water out) or dry.
BROOM AND DUSTPAN. I like an angled-bristle broom (one longer end makes it easier to clean in corners) and a dustpan that clips to the broom, so they’re always together when you need them.
A TEN-GALLON BUCKET for mopping floors and window-washing. I’m a minimalist and I’ve always gotten away with having just one.
Big CELLULOSE SCRUB SPONGES in different colors for different jobs. I like knowing the one I use for the toilet is different from the one I use in the kitchen.
TUB AND TILE CLEANER
Disposable LEATHER CLEANING WIPES by Method, available at Target and methodhome.com. I only use disposable wipes if they’re biodegradable, and these are. They clean leather sofas and chairs, but they’re also great for leather books, coats, and boots.
Disposable WIPES by Method, for cleaning the bathroom sinks and kitchen countertops quickly between more thorough weekly cleanings. You’ll save time in the end by not letting soap scum, grime, and toothpaste sit too long.
MURPHY OIL SOAP for cleaning wood floors and furniture. I love the way it smells, and it does a good job.
AN ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER. Simple Green is a good, economical one. You dilute it in a spray bottle and use it on everything from countertops to tile floors. I even clean jewelry with it.
BIODEGRADABLE WASHING DETERGENT. If you buy the liquid kind, you can also use it as a stain pretreatment by pouring a little on the stain and letting it sit before throwing the garment in the wash.
MR. CLEAN MAGIC ERASER. This is a must. You always end up with scuff on the walls or moldings and dirty fingerprints on the doorknobs. The magic eraser is a special sponge — you wet it, squeeze it dry, and wipe off anything, including crayon on the wall. It is truly magic. There are times when I thought I would have to repaint, and this just cleaned it up.
VACUUM CLEANER. You have to examine your needs and then check all the major companies for models that do what you want them to do. If you have a lot of pet hair, you want to look for one well-rated for that. If you have allergies, get one with a HEPA filter. If you have to carry it up and down stairs, the weight will be an issue. If you have arthritis, look for an ergonomic design that’s easy on the wrists.
BEDSIDE TABLE ESSENTIALS
PHOEBE HOWARD, interior designer
SILVER TRAY containing a QUARTZ BATTERY ALARM CLOCK, a WATER CARAFE with glass, and a SMALL CATCHALL FOR JEWELRY. Corralling things in a tray makes the tables look less cluttered.
GOOD READING LIGHT (table lamp or swing-arm wall lamp)
SOMETHING TO READ
PAD OF PAPER AND A PENCIL, for writing things down in the middle of the night
SMALL MINT JULEP CUP WITH FRESH-CUT FLOWERS
LINEN CLOSET ESSENTIALS
ELISSA CULLMAN, interior designer
For each bed the basics are:
COTTON MATTRESS PAD
ZIPPERED PILLOWCASE COVERS
THREE SETS OF SHEETS. One on the bed, one in the wash, one in the closet. Each set includes a fitted bottom sheet and flat top sheet.
We prefer A BLANKET COVER rather than a bedspread. It’s thinner and you can fold pretty sheets over the top of it so they show. Tuck in the sides so the bedskirt shows.
Every bed needs a DUVET that is folded in thirds and rests at the foot of the bed.
For a king-size bed, THREE STANDARD PILLOWS across the bed rather than two extra-long king pillows, and THREE EUROPEAN SQUARE PILLOWS
For a queen-size bed, TWO STANDARD PILLOWS, TWO EUROPEAN SQUARE PILLOWS, AND TWO BOUDOIR OR NECK ROLL PILLOWS, or both. We generally use pillow shams rather than pillowcases because the design or embroidery goes all the way around, though some people prefer to sleep on pillowcases.
When you buy PILLOWS, buy the same shapes in the same fill so they look uniform on the bed. We suggest keeping at least one extra pillow of every size in the same fill in case you need to send one out for cleaning. You may also want to keep a few hypoallergenic, extra-soft, or extra-hard pillows for guests.
Three of every size TOWEL per person using the bathroom. So for a couple, the master bathroom has six towels of every size.
For a child’s bathroom, double or triple the HAND TOWELS, and also have an extra stack of WHITE WASHCLOTHS
AN INFLATABLE AEROBED, because you never know who’s staying over. I have three, with three sets of inexpensive, wrinkle-free, extra-cheerful sheets, pillows and blankets, and extra towels. I designed my linen closet with a large space on the bottom to store all the “sleepover stuff.” This way, it’s always in the same place, and kids know where to find them and where to put them away.
CANDLES make the closet smell nice. For more scent, try scented shelf liners.
MILES REDD, interior designer
This is my old-school list. It will allow you to make most any drink that’s worth drinking. I have a big console that I set it up on, with some things on a tray and others lined up like soldiers. It makes a pleasing display.
SWEET AND DRY VERMOUTH
One bottle each of RED WINE, WHITE WINE, AND CHAMPAGNE
A bag of KETTLE POTATO CHIPS and a can of SMOKED ALMONDS
MIXERS: soda, tonic, ginger ale, 7Up, Coke, Diet Coke, cranberry juice, Clamato juice, tomato juice, Campbell’s beef broth with the pullback tab
FRESH ICE, preferably chipped
A GOOD ICE BUCKET. Mine is glass. I find it easy to clean and I like the look of a sweating bucket.
AN ICE SCOOP. It works much better than a spoon.
A GLASS STIRRER
TWO COCKTAIL SHAKERS, one open and one closed. A closed one is good for frothy drinks; an open one is good for stirred drinks.
A BOTTLE OPENER
A STRAINER. Good for a poured drink
COCKTAIL NAPKINS. I prefer cloth to paper.
A VARIETY OF GLASSES. A good drink is also about a good glass. If you’re serving martinis, nothing tastes better than a chilled martini glass. The minimum is lowball and highball glasses; martini glasses; wineglasses; and champagne flutes. I like to drink beer out of the bottle.
SUNDRY HOME ESSENTIALS
IRA STATFELD, co-owner, East Hampton General Home Store, NY
TWO PERFECT WASTEBASKETS
FLASHLIGHTS everywhere. Pocket ones for every bedside; large ones in coat closet, laundry room
WOOL FELT COASTERS in all sizes — perfect for setting down drinking glasses, vases, and other objects
AN ALL-PURPOSE LIGHTER. Bic is fine, but for ultimate chic, a leather-wrapped one by Baobab.
GLASS VASES in various heights
LIQUID SOAP IN PUMP BOTTLES by Savon de Marseille
DYSON HANDHELD VACUUM
PAPER TOWEL HOLDER
GELPRO CHEF’S MAT for the kitchen and laundry room
GREAT PAIR OF SCISSORS
RECTANGULAR COTTON FLOOR MAT to put inside the front door in inclement weather
TOOL KIT ESSENTIALS
DAVID C. GRIFFIN, handyman, landscaper, and author, Minneapolis
VICEGRIPS (locking pliers)
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVERS (large, small, micro)
FLAT SCREWDRIVERS (large, small, micro)
12V RECHARGEABLE DRILL/DRIVER with cheap set of driver and drill bits. It’s shaped like a regular drill but it has a battery near the handle. Allows you to drill or remove any big screw at the press of a button.
HACKSAW for cutting through rusty bolts or any metal
TIN SNIPS for cutting thin sheet metal for flashing and other uses
MITER BOX WITH BACKSAW. Helps you make a perfect square cut or 45-degree angle cut to replace, say, a piece of trim on a door.
2″ AND 6″ PUTTY KNIVES to spackle holes in walls or scrape off old paint
UTILITY KNIFE WITH LOTS OF SPARE BLADES for cutting up cardboard boxes to recycle, cutting drywall, etc.
A set of SMALL, MEDIUM, AND LARGE CHISELS that can be struck with a hammer — for fixing a door hinge
TREE BOW SAW — cuts easily through green wood
BYPASS HAND-PRUNING SHEARS
ROUND NOSE SHOVEL
FLAT-NOSED EDGING SPADE
SCOOP SHOVEL (for gravel, mulch, snow)
LEAF RAKE to sweep leaves from grass and hard surfaces
SPRING RAKE. Like a leaf rake, but with steel tines for rougher terrain. Used mostly in flower beds.
IRON RAKE. A stiff rake for smoothing.
MATTOCK WITH AX BACK. Great for breaking up hard soil; it can cut through old roots.
A PHONE. Lots of extremely useful tools, from rototillers to vacuums that suck up unwanted mulch, can be rented. Usually it’s best to rent the operator of the tool as well.
CARSON KRESSLEY, fashion guru and designer of the QVC clothing line Perfect
A STEAMER. Rowenta makes an amazing handheld steamer that fires up in just a few seconds and takes care of any and all wrinkles.
A LINT ROLLER. Keeps pet hair in check, and now they even come in scented versions. Isn’t technology great!
CLOSET LIGHTS. You need to know what your clothes really look like before you put them on.
TOUPEE TAPE. A little trick from my stylist days. This wonder product is stronger than double-sided tape and will fix a hem in a pinch or prevent a “wardrobe malfunction.”
DETERGENT PEN. These little gems can remedy a stain and prevent an entire costume change.
HANGERS. Wire is the enemy. Use wood, padded satin, or at the very least plastic.
SHOE MITT. I stock up on these when I stay at nice hotels. Keep them in your closet and in your luggage.
CUTLERY OR OTHER KITCHEN ORGANIZERS. They make great catchalls for jewelry and are designed to fit into a drawer, whether in your vanity or dressing table.
BULLETIN BOARD. If you have the space, a bulletin board (perhaps covered in stripes or toile) is a great place to tack inspiring tear sheets found in your favorite magazines. Inspiration is where a great look comes from!