Recently, watching TV at my boyfriend’s apartment, I asked for a glass of water while he was up. He returned to hand me the plastic measuring container that came with my immersion blender, filled with lukewarm tap water. I could see from the useful markings on the outside that it was just about 700 milliliters. This vessel is used for pulverizing pesto, hummus, marinades, and the like. It’s not a glass. (Note to lazy boys and hippies everywhere: A jar is not a glass, either.)
The following weekend, I bought him a “present” at Bed, Bath, and Beyond: 12 very plain, tall water glasses, which cost me a whopping $10. I then rounded up his various drinking devices of the past (weightless plastic “tumblers,” novelty mugs, and chipped water glasses), put them on the curb, and reclaimed my appliance. When you hit 25—even if you’re a man—it’s time for your apartment to stop looking like the place where you happen to be crashing for a few weeks.
Over the years, I’ve made several key purchases for the betterment of his lifestyle. But significant home improvements are rare and reserved for my own place, so these contributions must be kept at minimum cost. I know that there aren’t going to be potted plants everywhere or matching forks in the kitchen drawer until I move in. For now, I’m settling for the basics. For the kitchen, that means one good chef’s knife (six or eight inches), a salad spinner, a wooden spoon, a cheese grater, one pasta pot, a colander, and one cast iron skillet, which is easily found at The Chelsea Flea Market for about five bucks. To season it, scrub it with course kosher salt, coat it in olive oil, and put it in a hot oven for about six hours. (Better to wait for fall for this project).
In this day and age, it’s remarkably possible to meet a straight man who gets jazzed about thread-count and paint tones, and aspires to own real napkins someday. But some of us still love the old-fashioned, messy-haired, unshaven, shruggingly clueless kind of man. When you first go home to his apartment, you might see the sheets in a messy pile, revealing barf-toned paisley sheets (obvious hand-me-downs from the ’80s), paired with well-worn pastel-colored pillowcases in an Aztec motif. In the beginning, you can ignore this, and many other things, but eventually, it’s time for a Martha Stewart intervention—literally.
At Kmart, her bedding is available at four thread-count levels, though the highest, “5-star bedding,” is not that luxurious at 250 threads-per-inch. The main lesson in the bedding department is to avoid patterns and have plenty (so he can change them more than once a month). Whether it’s dorky flowers or GI Joe, it’s dangerous when you’ll need to count on these for the next decade. I went for plenty of solid white, some robin’s egg blue (cool colors are the most relaxing), and some creamy taupe fitted sheets. These will all be mixed at random, inevitably, so choose colors that all go together.
It’s amazing what a difference just a hundred dollars can make in transforming a bachelor pad into a girl’s home away from home. And I like to think my boyfriend feels better, too, on some level.