16 weird but useful things we've bought for our homes

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When outfitting your home, you know the basics you need to address: cookware, cleaning supplies, a seemingly never-ending stream of paper towels, and some nice bedding.

But it’s not until you really live in a space that you become acquainted with all the quirks of your life there, and you begin to think of a whole new, peculiar list of things you’d like to buy that didn’t make the first.

If you live many, many flights of stairs above the laundry room (or many flights of stairs and then some city blocks away) you’re going to get sick of schlepping your laundry bag around. You’ll begin to want an alternative.

If your patio is beautiful — and both you and the pigeons agree — you might invest in a little scarecrow owl with a rotating head.

You might realise your outlets are pretty inconveniently spaced out and do some extensive online searching to make sure you don’t wake up to a dead phone again tomorrow.

No matter what your particular battles are with your living space, the ingenuity used to solve them is something a lot of us could benefit from hearing, so I asked my colleagues to divulge the weird — but very useful — purchases that they have made for their homes.

Unless noted, everything can be found on Amazon.

Below you’ll find the 16 unusual purchases we’re glad we made for our homes:

An over-the-faucet shelf


I live in a small NYC apartment and this product been a real space-saver. It sits right over my bathroom sink and helps me keep handy the things I use most often. My built-in medicine cabinet is small and shallow, so this provides additional storage for my tiny bathroom!

Over-the-Faucet Shelf, $A9.16

A step ladder


The benefits of having a sturdy step ladder on hand cannot be overstated when you're 5'3'. This one's easy to store, too.

Cosco Signature 2-Step Stool, $A31.11

Swiffer dusters


It's amazing/shocking how much dust collects in my apartment over a short period of time (I really think living in NYC has something to do with it!). These Swiffer dusters make dusting so easy.

Swiffer 180 Dusters Starter Kit Unscented scent, 5 Count, available on Amazon and Jet, starting at $A6.38

A laundry bag that you can wear as a backpack


I live in an apartment building with a lot of stairs between me and the laundry room... this helps.

Laundry Bag Backpack, $A21.82

A vegetable scrubber


I just bought this and am so excited to use it. I love vegetables, but they often don't feel as clean as I want them to, and when I eat cucumbers with the skin on I can often tell all the gross wax they travelled to my apartment coated in hasn't really been taken off under warm water alone. This is going to help me enjoy those foods without worrying what things I'm unintentionally eating.

OXO Good Grips Vegetable Brush, $A6.41

Blackout curtains

Bed Bath & Beyond

There's something about being able to sleep in complete darkness in the middle of the day if I wanted to that's very exciting and luxuriant to me.

Quinn Grommet Top 100% Blackout Window Curtain Panel, available at Bed Bath & Beyond, from $A42.36

Decorative storage


I got this woven basket at Target a few weekends ago, and it's the perfect size for storing extra throw pillows and blankets in the living room. It looks really nice, too.

Project 62, Round Woven Basket, available at Target, from $A26

An adventure fund piggy bank


I constantly lose my change at the bottom of my bag. This travel fund jar is part of the reason why I'm now en route to Bali, Indonesia.... it literally paid off.

Travel Money Adventure Fund Jar, available on Etsy, from $A32

Airtight glass jars


Something most folks don't realise or think about is how useful jars can be. They hold stuff and are see-through, so you can easily keep track of what's inside and how much is left. I'm an avid cook and baker, so I've started relying on jars heavily over the past few months to store my ingredients. When it makes sense, I buy in bulk, which leads me to the purchase of this huge 2.5-gallon glass jar. Where else would I store 10lb of flour?

Space is limited in my apartment, and this has made keeping one of my most used ingredients on hand and ready. Plus, it looks a lot better than a normal container.

Anchor Hocking Montana Glass Jar with Airtight Lid, Brushed Metal, 2.5 Gallon, $A25.67

A magnetic spice rack for the fridge

A shelving unit for that awkward amount of closet space you're not using as well as you could be


Have an awkward amount of space in a closet or hallway you don't know what to do with? There's probably a shelving unit you can buy for it ... take measurements of the area you have to work with and put that poorly used space to use. I got this AmazonBasics' shelving unit for the closet that houses my washer and dryer. Now the space beside these units acts as storage for cleaning supplies, tools, and extra bath towels. I've added so much storage space to my place by buying this cheap shelving unit that I now have the room to stock up on pantry items and toiletries.

AmazonBasics 4-Shelf Shelving Unit, $A62.61

A better kitchen sponge


Your kitchen sponge is likely disgusting (likely more so than your toilet seat), and since I live with three roommates and limited dinnerware, we often clean our utensils and plates and bowls in the sink and throw them on the drying rack. This is a cleaner alternative that lasts way longer and doesn't get that moldy smell. It makes me feel better knowing I'm not dunking my knives and forks into bacteria and warm, sudsy water anymore.

Antimicrobial Silicone Scrubber by Peachy Clean, 3-count, $A12.78

A drain cleaning tool


These are a lifesaver if you have hair. Way better than a plunger... drain clearing chemicals... or calling a plumber. Great for kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, and shower/tub drains.

Cobra Products Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool, $A7.45

The one I actually own: Zip-It Bath and Sink Hair Snare, available at Home Depot, $A3.18

Magic Erasers


I use Magic Erasers to remove scuff marks from the white walls in my apartment all the time. They really are magic.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads, 8-Count Box, $A8.96

A non-slip area rug pad


If you don't want your area rug to constantly being moving all over the place, buy a non-slip rug pad for it and solve that problem for good.

Gorilla Grip 8x10-Feet Non-Slip Area Rug Pad for Hard Floors, $A42.36

A scarecrow


The one thing I couldn't stand about my apartment? The uninvited pigeons that would perch on my balcony. I bought an owl scarecrow a year ago and am pleased to report my balcony has been pigeon-free ever since. The bobblehead design's lifelike movements are supposed to scare any unwanted guests.

This scarecrow occasionally gives me the creeps, but if you have outdoor space, I'd highly recommend picking up one.

Natural Enemy Scarecrow Rotating Head Owl, $A27.94

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