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#MINIMALISM: 20 Things To Buy For Your Home & Have for Life

Excerpt via NYMag.com
By Ming Thompson 


HAY About A Chair AAC22 - White

Ming Thompson is an architect and principal at Atelier Cho Thompson, a San Francisco– and New Haven–based design firm with a portfolio that includes offices, university spaces, and private homes. NY Magazine spoke to her about the 20 things — some cheap, some not, but all investment-worthy — to buy for that first home in your 20s and hold on to forever.

When I was 20, I decided I loved Hans Wegner wishbone chairs, so I bought one pair that anchored my dining table, and had a mix of thrift-store chairs, too. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve bought new pairs, and now I have a big old-wood farm table with eight chairs. Right now, I’m loving the Hay AAC chair, the Normann form chair, and the Thonet Era chair. Find statement chairs that you love, and grow your set over time.

1. HAY About A Chair AAC22 – White

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2. Normann Copenhagen Form Chair — Oak — White

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3. Era Armchair – Designed by Michael Thonet

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

4. Aalto Stool 60 – Designed by Alvar Aalto

Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
These stools, designed by architect Alvar Aalto, are stackable, fun pops of color, and can be used a million ways. Ours moved from office to living room to baby room.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

5. JOHN BOOS Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board

The big one, 24 inches by 18 inches, moves with us from house to house, and makes any of our terrible kitchens into great places to cook. It’s the centerpiece of every dinner party, loaded with pizzas or cheese spreads, and we do all of our food prep on this.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

6. IITTALA Kartio Set of Two Glass Tumblers

After breaking dozens of paper-thin glasses, I invested in these timeless and durable glasses in the colors of the sea and sky. They feel just right in your hand, with a heavy bottom and a comfortable shape.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

7. SHUN VB0741 Sora Ultimate Utility Knife, 6-Inch

You might have a chef’s knife, a cleaver, a paring knife, and a knife set, but this is about to become your most-used knife. For morning and lunchtime meal prep, I grab this knife and chop fruits, vegetables, bread, and cheese. And sandwiches! I bet you didn’t even realize how much you needed a knife that cuts through a crusty baguette and layers of fillings in one chop. My father, a professional chef, gave this to me after grad school, and he always knows best.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

8.HAY ‘Cap’ Bottle Opener

It’s a necessity; it really spruces up a bar set or dinner spread

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

9. SKULTUNA Barbara Bottle Opener

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

10. MODERNICA Case Study Cylinder With Wood Stand

This thing elevates your plants, both physically and aesthetically. A $10 Home Depot palm looks like a million bucks.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

11. YAMAZAKI HOME Tosca Storage Basket

Growing up, my mom always told me, “Everything has a home,” meaning that all the objects in your house should have an assigned and sensible place. I finally figured out that I need nice-looking storage boxes to help me stay organized all around the house.

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12. YAMAZAKI HOM Tosca Tool Box

Growing up, my mom always told me, “Everything has a home,” meaning that all the objects in your house should have an assigned and sensible place. I finally figured out that I need nice-looking storage boxes to help me stay organized all around the house.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

13. OPINEL Carbon Blade No. 8 Folding Knife

These are a ubiquitous knife in France, and for good reason: It’s a simple and well-designed tool that will come in handy for years. The handle is perfectly shaped to your hand, a simple locking ring holds the blade in the open position, and it will last you forever, with a bit of sharpening once in a while. I’ve tried a few, and the No. 8 is just the right size for slicing an apple, opening boxes, and cutting flowers.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

14. FALCON Mugs

A drink of cold milk from an enamel mug is a pretty perfect experience. Enamelware is so durable that you’ll pass this mug onto your grandchildren one day. You’ll use it for breakfast at home, camping, and dinner-party desserts. Falcon, a British enamelware company, makes the most beautiful shades of gray and green pieces.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

15. HEM DESIGN STUDIO Bon Pouf Round

A pouf works as a table, a footstool, and a seat for dinner parties. While you’ll likely have a neutral-colored couch, you should pick a colorful pouf as an accent piece.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

16. MADREX Beer Table Bench Set Folding Wooden Top Picnic Table Patio Garden

I often see vintage biergarten benches, imported from Germany, for $50 or less at flea markets across the Northeast. The combination of light wood and painted steel is classic, and their simple design shows the beauty of good engineering. They fold up, are great for parties, and will make appearances in your home over the years in the entryway, the dining room, and the deck.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

17. STAUB 5 Quart Round Cocotte

This is one of the most expensive items on this list, but if you like cooking in the least, you’ll use this all the time. I have many Dutch ovens in my kitchen, but this size and shape gets the most use — it’s the perfect size for chili, soup, and pulled pork. In black, it’s stylish, easy to clean, and will be a kitchen workhorse.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

18. PENDLETON National Park Blanket$219, Amazon

This has been one of the most useful gifts I’ve received. It’s incredibly warm, durable, and great for movie nights, picnics, and guest beds. I’d recommend a dark color, as you’ll use it so much that it’s hard to keep clean.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

19. NOTRE MONDE Rectangular Tray Table

It’s a laptop table, a nightstand, or a side table for your antique lamp. It’s steel and lasts forever. It will scratch up over time, but that’s part of the natural beauty.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

20. SKULTANA Bon Bon Mini Vases – Set of 3

Update your home with this set of three Bon Bon mini vases from Skultuna. Made using the old production method of metal spinning, each vase is crafted from sheet metal and has a chic polished finish. Skultuna is a royal warrant holder by appointment to HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

21. NEWGATE CLOCKS Brixton Clock – Black

It’s a relief to not always be looking at my phone to check the time, and this clock looks good in both home and office.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

22. LSA Utility Pitcher with Coaster

Add Scandinavian charm to any dining or party setting with this Utility jug and coaster set from LSA International. Made from pale ash wood which is FSC certified, the coaster has a high rimmed edge which fits the jug perfectly. The jug is delicate yet angular in shape and has been crafted from the finest mouth-blown glass. Presented in a chic Utility gift box, this set is a wonderful gift idea for any occasion and there are more items available in the range from LSA International.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

23. L.L. BEAN Boat and Tote, Open-Top

You might think this is a bag, but you’d be mistaken. It’s a laundry bag, a picnic basket, a way to schlep all your things across town. I own eight of these, and at this moment, they are all in use.

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Aalto Stool 60 - Designed by Alvar Aalto

23. GORILLA LADDERS 3-Step Aluminum Step Stool Ladder

One marker of adulthood is that you finally need to own a ladder. I’ve climbed a lot of ladders over the years, and I never thought one would bring me joy. But this one is a real gem — it folds down to only three inches and weighs seven pounds, so it’s easy for me to cart around while I work on crazy projects.

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