Ask Maxwell: What’s the Single Best Thing You Bought for Your Home Recently?

published Feb 14, 2022
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Credit: Maxwell Ryan
A quick self portrait taken with my vintage SX-70 Land camera. Full pitch down below, but this old way of taking pics is beautiful and like shopping at Home Goods... it's a treasure hunt! :)

What was the single best thing you bought for your home recently?


Dear Tara,

I’m a shopaholic and LOVE to constantly upgrade and improve my home, so I’m going to give a short list of TEN THINGS I’ve purchased recently that I really, really love:

1. KnifeAid – I’ve discovered an easy way to keep my knives sharp (since I never ever sharpened them before and they are always dull), but sending them in the mail to Knife Aid. They sharpen them beautifully and send them right back. The round trip is very fast and under two weeks!

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

2. A Gurgle Pot – Rediscovered at an old friend’s house over the holidays, I remembered these as a kid in the 70’s and just had to get one for my house because it makes everyone laugh (particularly kids). I have not idea where this idea came from, but its’ a classic and with it always full, we drink more water.

3. Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera – I have two of these and recently bought one for my brother. These vintage cameras are newly available – fully refurbished – at a great company called Retrospekt. Why is this a great home purchase? At every dinner party for the past year I’ve brought out the SX-70 during dessert and passed it around for each person to take a portrait of another. We now have a lovely record of each meal and I send an iPhone snap of them the following day to all the guests. The Polaroids are always funky with so much style and feeling. They are not simply pictures, but almost paintings of the time together.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

4. Washed Soft Linen Tablecloths – I found this great little Lithuanian company on Etsy – Wonder Linen – and recently bought two new tablecloths as my old ones have been basically destroyed (by the same dinner parties that I took pictures at :)) – actually mainly by my candles dripping too much. I use tablecloths every week for weeknight dinners as well since they protect the table and feel good, so I was really really happy to have two fresh new workhorses in the house!

5. OVOPUR Water Purifier – This big beautiful egg water purifier I’ve actually had for years, but I just purchased a new wooden stand for it after it recently broke. I LOVE this thing and we pull water from it so constantly that the big reservoir gets refilled every day. Yes, it’s expensive, but I’ve had mine since 2013 and it only requires three filters a year. This is the gold standard in my opinion.

6. Kelly Bronze Turkey – I not only love cooking a turkey at Thanksgiving, but I also like it at Christmas and New Years and for special occasions in the winter. This turkey source is the best one I’ve found and I just cooked one up a few weeks ago during New Years. Easy to cook, delicious to eat and quickly delivered, these turkeys are primo.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

7. SnapBox Canvas Prints – I love taking good iPhone shots of friends and family and getting them printed by these folks. I usually take a photo, do a little editing and filter adding to it (usually on Instagram) and then send it as a jpg file to SnapBox. They will send me back the piece within a week or so and I give it as a gift. All of Ursula’s first days of school in elementary – all eight – are printed and framed like this. Lovely and cheesy. I just sent the one above to my friends with new twins.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

8. Bloomingville Oil Cruet – One of my friends gave me this a few months ago because he thought I’d appreciate how pretty it was. Because I’m so picky, I rarely want to make room for home gifts like this in my house, BUT this one was a WINNER. We use a ton of olive oil and this stainless steel cruet carries a nice amount and makes it super simple to pour quickly when needed – no taking a cap off a bottle.

9. Pineapple Collaborative Organic Olive Oil – At the same time I was gifted the olive oil cruet, I subscribed on a whim to this great new olive oil provider: Pineapple Collaborative. What has happened (and this was not a conscious plan) is that I receive a steady stream of really good olive oil and no longer run out or have to bring heavy bottles home from the store. Again, we use so much this really makes cooking a pleasure.

10. Darn Tough Socks – In my house we were all hard on our socks and we tended to let them go too long and spring holes in them before restocking. I recently solved that problem when I found Darn Tough. Made of merino wool so they’re not only warm, they’re so indestructible Darn Tough will guarantee them for life! I give them every Christmas to Ursula, myself and family, but I wouldn’t wait til then. Got a bunch of old, mismatched hole-y socks? These will solve that problem. Done.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

PS. Just one more… I TOLD YOU that I’m a shopaholic… THE BEST PANCAKE MIX EVER: Simple Mills Almond Flour Pancake Mix… this is made of Almond Flour so it’s not dry and cakey, but moist, rich and actually has some protein in it! I just found this over the holidays and stocked up as we love to cook pancakes on the weekends.

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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