10 products I've bought during the pandemic to make my home more livable

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online shopping Melissa Petro’s quarantine shopping has been a combination of impulse buys and practical home improvement.

  • Melissa Petro is a freelance writer based in New York where she lives with her husband and two small children. 
  • Petro says she was never a big shopper before the pandemic, but during lockdown, she’s discovered that shopping online and receiving deliveries can create something to look forward to in an otherwise monotonous day.
  • Petro has invested in reusable glass jars, a portable carpet cleaner, colorful woven baskets, and an outdoor porch swing.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Happiness is simple: All it takes — the saying goes — is something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. I’ve got the first two covered thanks to my family, but that last one is sometimes tough, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.

Enter online shopping. Now, I’ve never been one of those women that stakes an identity around shopping. I’ve never had the time or money, and after I had kids it became less of a fun way to spend an afternoon, and more of a chore. But lockdown has led to us having a little extra to spend each month, as well as more time for me thanks to my husband helping more around the house, and so — like a lot of people, apparently — I’ve developed something of a habit.

Sometimes, receiving a delivery is the most excitement I get all week. I feel like my toddler when I open a “present,” even if it’s just a 12-pack of toilet paper. It’s exceptionally fun when I’m receiving something more out of the ordinary than household paper products — but even ordinary items, I’ve learned, can feel life-changing.

Below are the 10 best purchases I’ve made since the start of our sheltering in place. While “life-changing” may be a bit of an overstatement, these simple and mostly inexpensive products have made my home neater, cleaner, nicer, and generally more livable over the past four months. 

1. Jars, jars, and more jars jars. Melissa Petro Glass jars are useful for holding everything from knick knacks to sourdough starter.



When the pandemic first hit, like everyone else, fear fueled a need to buy bulk. That said, I’ve always wanted a Pinterest-worthy pantry, and so I took it as the opportunity to invest in some eco-friendly storage ware. Jars keep everything on hand and free of pests. You can always reuse empty glass jars, but purchasing at least a handful that are identical (like these) will give you a more unified look.

2. Lots of baskets baskets. Melissa Petro Baskets are a colorful way to collect clutter around the house.



My husband makes fun of me because I am constantly buying baskets. I tell him to make fun all he wants, but you can never have too many baskets. I order baskets with no intended purpose and — sure as rain — they all find a use. When it comes to storing toys, big woven baskets are a beautiful alternative to plastic bins, and make cleaning up that sea of plastic so easy that even a toddler can do it (not that he or she necessarily will). If you want to splurge, Wayfair has some pretty options.

3. Pegboards, for a place to hang everything pegboard Melissa Petro Wall storage is a great way to keep household items organized and in reach.



In addition to our disagreements over baskets, my husband and I have differing views on what needs to be done around the house and in what order. I’m an “out of sight out of mind” kind of person, whereas his bugbear is the basement. My husband wants it clean and organized, so he installed pegboards along the walls leading down the stairs to the basement. Turns out, his idea was a good one. A formerly dead-to-me wall has become one of my favorite spaces in the house.  

4. The impulse buy — canvas storage bags melissa petro cushions Large canvas storage bags can house extra blankets or pillows.



Like everyone, I’ve made more than a couple risky and impulsive purchases this quarantine. When a Facebook ad popped up in my feed advertising these enormous canvas storage bags in bright and modern patterns I couldn’t resist. Some months later — unlike the hand-embroidered mask I’d purchased at least two weeks earlier — the bags actually arrived. The material is a little thinner than I expected, but the zippers are sturdy, and the bags are even roomier than I anticipated — perfect for the extra blankets that were piled in a corner on the floor in the family room.

5. An outdoor haven porch swing Melissa Petro A porch swing can add comfortable outdoor seating.



One bulk trash day last summer, I saw the potential in a hideous wooden love seat and dragged it home. After fresh coats of paint and a couple new cushions, and we’ve literally added an extra room to our home — priceless when you’ve got two kids and you’re working from home. With the money we saved, I splurged on this sweet little porch swing. Perfect for when the workday is over and it’s time for “date night”!

6. A brand new sofa (not really, but it feels that way) sofa Melissa Petro Sometimes a deep cleaning can make an old sofa feel brand new.



Sure, sex is good, but have you ever steam cleaned a sofa? Watching the Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner efficiently suck up nearly two years of pet hair, baby spit up, and toddler tracks gave me the same feeling I imagine some people get from watching pimple popping videos. Steam cleaning is my new go-to activity when I want to “flow.”

7. Ikea curtains curtains Melissa Petro Light-colored curtains will allow in natural light while maintaining privacy.



Public health and economic crisis looming just outside the windows? Block it all out with panels of fabric! But seriously, curtains make a room look spacious and stylish — and when you’re stuck at home for an indefinite period of time, it’s best to enjoy the view. For those of us that go for the generic farmhouse linen-like look, all the bloggers recommended good old Ikea. I went with the Lenda in bleached white.

8. A $12 duvet cover duvet Melissa Petro A new duvet can be an affordable option to update old bedding.



While I was placing my Ikea order I threw in one completely unnecessary item — just kidding, I threw in at least a dozen unnecessary items (including more than a few awesome baskets), but the item most worth writing about is this $12 duvet. The pattern was even prettier in person, and as the nights heat up, it’s the perfect weight.  

9. Fresh produce delivered to my door two bird Melissa Petro Ordering fresh groceries can help support local farmers during the pandemic.



When our grocery store closed down due to COVID-19, we found ourselves living in a food desert and without any means of transportation. Thankfully, our neighbors at Two Birds in Cold Spring, New York had our back. It’s a little pricier than C-Town, but the produce is fresher so it lasts longer, and the money we save on eating out covers the difference. Some months later, our grocery store is back up and running, but I’m still ordering local produce and somehow making meals from beet greens and garlic scapes.

10. This $900 oil painting painting Melissa Petro



My husband and I had been eyeing this painting since we first bought our home, but could never (under normal circumstances) justify making such a luxurious purchase. For the past four months, we are fortunate that we can both work remotely — and his income has not been affected — and so when our stimulus arrived, we put it towards supporting a local business we loved. The Coop in Peekskill, New York sells vintage furnishings, antiques, and unique gifts. Their brick and mortar unfortunately didn’t survive the pandemic, but you can still peruse their shop online.  

This article was originally published on Business Insider June 21, 2020.

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