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Equipping a home with the basics

An informal poll of men lists what they consider the "essentials" in setting up a place they can call home. Here are some of their suggestions: Living room-dining area: A sofa or chairs, a sound system, television, low table, bookcase, and lamps can furnish a living room nicely.

One man who has lived on his own for four years recommends a solid dining table. "Tray tables just don't make it," he says.

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Kitchen: The basics include plates, cutlery, dish drainer, glasses, container for food storage, mugs, dish towels, a pitcher, and a large trash container.

More men are selecting patterned dinnerware and stoneware rather than plain dishes or hand-me-downs, says Carol Sapoznik of Crate and Barrel. "And they just buy four place settings rather than six or more, so the purchase is not that serious."

Men who are interested in more than frozen dinners will want a set of knives, serving bowls, measuring spoons and cups, a colander, toaster or toaster oven, cooking utensils (preferably wooden), and a blender. Pots and pans will vary for different cooking. Essentials include a heavy pot, a casserole dish, saucepans, and a frying pan. Most men stick with "fundamental" kitchen equipment rather than quiche or omelet pans.

"It's amazing how important cooking utensils are, and how limited one's culinary activities are without them," one man says.

Another was surprised when his girlfriend brought him cloth napkins and place mats, which he claims he wouldn't have thought of on his own.

"They are particularly good for entertaining," he says. The same man has also discovered the importance of a trivet for hot pans.

Another veteran of city apartments warns newcomers of an ever-present pest.

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"Make sure you get roach poison," he says.

Bathroom: Necessary purchases include towels, a bath mat, shower curtains, a wastepaper basket, toilet plunger and scrub brush, and other cleaning items. Some bathrooms, particularly in city apartments, might require shelving.

Bedroom: Although many men prefer plain white sheets and pillowcases, many buy patterned bedding.

"We always carry a sheet pattern that men like," says Carol Sapoznik, pointing to a blue and white combstripe Marimekko design.

Men also mention a closet organizer, dresser, night stand, lamps, bookshelves , desk, and alarm clock or clock-radio.

Other miscellaneous items help round out a home.Men like to have pictures or prints, plants, throw rugs, curtains or shades, and extra shelf space.

And there is always a need for a broom or vacuum.

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