home basics

Where Interior Designers Get Their ‘Boring’ Basics

A toilet paper holder can be sexy.

In the well-designed world of interiors, much attention is paid to the flashy stuff. A statement rug, gallery walls, the stylish bar cart—there are numerous nooks and crannies to consider, each with their accompanying style moment. But what about the ordinary necessities? It's all too common to fixate on a snazzy purchase like a midcentury modern sofa or sculptural lamp, but forget about the items you use on a daily basis—also known as the 'boring' stuff. But you'd be remiss to neglect these simple staples; invest in the everyday and every day will feel more special.

From toilet paper holders to brooms, there are countless objects that you regularly interact with and they don't all have to come from Amazon or CVS. And funnily enough, interior designers need these items, too (everyone does, in fact). If you've ever been curious where experts turn to for things like hand towels or trash cans, continue ahead for a handful of useful insights.


If you've been holding onto the same rag tag mix of towels accumulated over the years and don't love the way they look on the bathroom hook, make a swap. "Towels are such a personal day-to-day piece, not just in their physical and tactile application, but by way of aesthetic expression," Kennedy Nolan Director of Architecture Adriana Hanna says. "BAINA towels strike a wonderful balance of calming tones and geometric play that harmoniously elevate my own bathroom spaces." Jessica Nicastro of Jessica Nicastro Design says a boring item she swears by is a black honeycomb towel from French US. "It adds texture and a gradient of color into a bathroom that cannot be beat."

Toilet Paper Holder

Unless you're gut renovating a home or starting from scratch, most people don't pay much attention to their toilet paper holders—that's about to change. "Every space should have an element that is completely unexpected and interesting," Ali Budd of Ali Budd Interiors says. "I'm obsessed with Katie Stout's sculptural toilet paper holder. It takes an item that is typically boring and ignored and creates a fun and edgy conversation piece." If you're open to a toilet paper upgrade but your style skews more minimal, Jenn Sharp knows the place. "Mi & Gei bath accessories add an unusual touch to any bathroom and their toilet paper holder is one of my favorites," the Senior Designer at JayJeffers Inc. says.

Toilet Paper Holder

Mi & Gei
$95 $86


Another everyday fixture that you may not even consider giving a refresh is the hardware throughout your home, such as drawer handles or doorknobs. “So many people consider hardware as an afterthought, but when considered properly, it can act as jewelry within a space,” Budd says. “Shayne Fox does a gorgeous pull that has just the right amount of drama.”


"There's nothing I love more than fancy hand soap, taking the mundane (and often) task of hand washing straight to luxurious heights," Courtney Sempliner of Courtney Sempliner Designs says. Her pick: the aromatic hand soaps from Aesop, which look beautiful on a bathroom shelf. Another hand soap that's catching designers' eyes at the moment is Kept. "I love Kept Home's hand soap, I rarely buy from anywhere else now," Hilary Matt of Hilary Matt Interiors shares. "I love the pretty, simple bottle and their signature No.1106 scent has notes of sandalwood."

Brooms & House Brushes

Cleaning is an unfortunate ongoing life responsibility, so why not opt for stylish tools? "I love the brooms and house brushes from Andrée Jardin," Lead Interior Designer & Art Director at Circa Interiors & Antiques Heather Smith says. "Useful, well-made, and beautiful—these objects have been manufactured in France since 1947. With three kids and a dog, I'm constantly sweeping and my broom lives out in the open." Emily Sanford of Sanford Collective also reaches for a well-designed broom. "I usually store away in my pantry closet this table and brush pan for cleaning up those countertop crumbs and bits that inevitably dust the countertop, and a larger broom and brush pan for floor clean-ups, but if they had to be out, I wouldn't mind looking at them."

Beech Table Brush & Pan

Connected Goods

Dog Bed

It’s understandable that you might not pay much attention to the sleeping quarters for your canine companion, but aside from giving them a cozy place to rest, it’s also—whether you like it or not—a decor element in your home. “Most dog beds are not very chic. Think: lumpy sacks in unfortunate fabrics. But this custom dog bed from Giobagnara looks good in any interior,” Sharp says. “We also have a custom cushion cover made to coordinate with the room (the photo is with Jay’s dogs!).”

Oscar Large Dog Bed


Trash Can

Yes, a trash can holds your…trash. But that doesn't mean it has to mirror its interiors. "Trash bins are an under-appreciated opportunity to add a stylish accent to a room," Sharp says. "Rather than the boring plastic can, look for something unusual, like Pinetti for a splurge or CB2 for chic on a budget." And if you're going the extra mile and composting, you'll be needing something for that as well. "If your garbage can isn't under a cabinet, opt for something that isn't too much of an eye sore like this old-school metal one. On the countertop next to the garbage can I also have my composter," Sanford says.

Glass Votive Candles

Designer candles get all the fame and glory, but if you don't feel like splurging on a swath of new candles to sustain a cozy glow in your home, Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design has a suggestion. "My go-to are glass votive candles from Amazon," she says. "I buy them in bulk and use them almost everyday. I hate overhead lighting and love the look of candle light at night."

Pen & Pencil Holders

Most people keep their pens and pencils in a drawer (or at the bottom of their purse)—and that's fine. But Interior Designer Nadia Watts recommends a stylish substitute to jazz things up. "I like to incorporate unique and unexpected desk accessories," she says. "I love things like a colored hand blown glass to hold pens and pencils next to a piece of antique china filled will paper clips. These pieces add brightest to the area around a computer and stack of paperwork."

Bath Accessories

A stylish toilet plunger? It's a thing. "At Stephanie Brown Inc., we have a couple of go-to collections from CB2 that easily fit into various bathroom design schemes," Stephanie Brown says. "I like the Elton Brushed Gold for a more glam look, or the black or white rubber-coated for crisp, modern bathrooms."


A doormat helps prevent dirt from finding its way onto your carpet, sure, but it also serves as a welcome message to your space. "The doorway is a perfect way to make an impression on a guest when they arrive at your home," Anna Franklin of Stone House Collective says. "I love this floor mat because it's practical and can also reflect the casual vibe of your home."

Bare Feet Welcome Doormat

Stone House Collective

Duvet Cover

Bedding doesn't necessarily fall under the 'boring' umbrella for some people, but if you're the kind of person who sticks with the basics, then Kate Lester of Kate Lester Interiors has a tip for an easy refresh. "I love a crisp, classic white duvet cover as it really makes it feel like you are sleeping in a hotel every night," she says. "My go to is always Parachute Home or Restoration Hardware—lots of texture options and all the sizes."

Drying Racks

If you're not blessed with a dishwasher, you know all too well how much real estate a drying rack can take up on your kitchen counter. "Say goodbye to bulky kitchen drying racks that take up more of your precious countertop space," Sanford says. "Food52's silicone drying rack rolls over the kitchen sink and is sturdy enough to hold my cast-iron pots. Best part is that it rolls up and tucks right into a drawer."

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