First Apartment Essentials

College graduation means goodbye dorms, hello apartment. But with a new home comes new responsibilities. For the first time ever you (and maybe a roommate or two) are in charge of tricking out an entire living space. Furniture is a given, but what about all those little items you've always taken for granted? Skip stocking up on these first apartment essentials and you'll end up wishing you were back on campus.

Plan For The First Night

The first night in a new place is always a little daunting. You're sleeping on an inflatable mattress waiting for your bed to arrive, while you watch Netflix on your iPhone because the cable hasn't been installed. While that's nowhere near the pioneer version of roughing it, you can quickly achieve "Survivor"-like status if you forget to purchase the big four: toilet paper, a pillow, sheets and a blanket.

Plan on christening your new shower? Unless you want to air dry, you'll need a towel or two. Also add a shower curtain, liner and bath mat (along with your favorite soap and shampoo) to your initial list.

The First Week

Once you've made it through your first night, it's time to hit the store for that second level of all-important essentials. This includes:

1. Mess Busters. Garbage cans, garbage bags and paper towels should be at the top of your list -- how else will you clean up after take out? Speaking of cleaning, make your mother proud by investing in a broom, mop, bucket, sponges, dish soap and a nice variety of sprays and scrubs. They keep your new pad sparkling from ceiling to floor. It might not be as exciting as new furniture, but spend some of your new-apartment-budget on a vacuum. Whether you have wood floors or carpet, it's the quickest and most effective way to nix dust and dirt.

2. Clothing Cleaners. Whether you're lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in-house, or have to hit the neighborhood laundromat, you'll need a hamper and detergent, right away. Also add hangers, an iron and ironing board to your list -- you won't ace that job interview looking like a wrinkled, shrunken mess. Worried about the ironing board taking up too much room in your tiny digs? Try a tabletop, over-the-door, or roll-up ironing board for minimal space invading.

3. Dining Essentials. No dining hall means you need your own plates, cups and utensils – your guests won’t enjoy eating off of paper products and neither will you. While many apartments come with a microwave, they don't provide a coffee maker, tea kettle or a toaster oven, so add those to your list as well. (And if you're planning on margaritas and daiquiris, you'll want a blender, too.) Even if your kitchen skills sway toward heating rather than actual cooking, purchase a few pots and pans -- you never know when you'll want to fry an egg or bake a cake. Pick up a few dish towels for spills and a pair of oven mitts and you officially have the basics covered.

Kick it Up a Notch

Just because you recently finished being a college student, doesn't mean you have to live like one. Elevate the sophistication of your surroundings to serious independent living status by putting posters in frames, rather than taping them to the wall, purchasing sets of dishes and utensils, rather than singular pieces, and skipping furniture and accessories made of plastic. Yes that means ditching the blowup chair, but you can toast to its memory with a set of wine glasses.