Decorator’s Toolkit: The 5 Essentials

Woman measuring the wallWhen moving into your first place, a basic toolkit is pretty important for decorating and other little jobs around the apartment. Every decorator, newbie or extraordinaire, should consider investing in the list below to make apartment decorating easy. Without the necessary tools, hanging pictures or other art can become a huge mess. Avoid the frustration by creating your own decorator’s toolkit. And don’t forget to throw some masking tape into the cart, while you are tool shopping.


This is way more important than you think it is, I promise. I was the queen of “eyeballing it” until I realized all of my hanging decor was crooked. Not only are levels extremely useful, but they are also stupidly easy to use. Set the level on a surface (i.e. the top of a picture frame you’re hanging), adjust the frame until the bubble falls in the center of the yellow water. Two steps!


Check this pocket level out on Amazon for just around $5. A longer one would be a little more precise, but costs a little more as well.

Measuring Tape

Again, same comment about how “eyeballing it” really doesn’t work in the real world! Get a good, long measuring tape to make projects a breeze. Whether it’s building something, hanging frames next to each other, or any number of home-improvement activities, this will become your best friend. 2016-05-25_15-58-25

Found it on Amazon for $6.


This is a basic as well! Hammers and nails are the only way you’re going to get things hung properly in your first place. I tried using Command Strips (even the expensive kind!) and was jolted awake multiple times to my picture frames and artwork crashing to the ground in the middle of the night when the adhesive couldn’t take it any longer. I’m a huge fan of Command Strips, but for hanging decor, you are WAY safer going with the basics. And, nails are much less expensive! Just make sure you measure well (with your new measuring tape!) before hammering in.


Here’s one for just $9!

Drill OR Screwdriver

Depending on how home-improvey you are, decide to save (screwdriver) or splurge (drill). You’re going to need one of these (much like the hammer) for more than you’d imagine! We bought a drill (which was a major time-saver, although a quasi-expensive one) and it made hanging our curtains a breeze. Screws are great when you need it to be just a bit sturdier (i.e. curtains, anything hanging over your TV, shelving, etc.) because they grab into the drywall much tighter than nails do and leave you with a stronger hold.


Here’s a screwdriver with multiple tips (for different kinds of screws) for only $5. The drill (plus “bits” aka tips) comes in around $50.

Stud Finder

I know what you’re thinking…I’m not a home-improvement expert, I don’t need a stud-finder!

…But oh are you wrong. Having one of these will save you HOURS of frustrations (and massive holes in your walls…trust me on this one). Apartment walls have studs (or heavy beams) that hold them up behind the drywall. The good thing? They keep your house from falling down around you. Another good thing? You can hammer, screw, or drill into them safely to hang heavy items, such as shelving. If you anchor shelves only to drywall, you risk a massive drywall hole when they crash down. The Stud Finder will alert you to where the beams are (and are not) so you know where it is best to hang items.


The pricing ranges on these. This one’s just under $15 and should get the job done.

For a more extensive, all-purpose toolkit items list click here.


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Author My First Apartment

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Sarah is a dog lover and advocate for conversation & laughing at your own jokes. Since finishing her college career in communications, she began working (and living) in Atlanta. After living in a few different apartments over the last few years, she's ready to share experiences. Stay tuned for adventures, tips and advice!

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