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Tools: The Basic Essentials You Need for Your Home

By: Liz Harrell
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Tools: The Basic Essentials You Need for Your Home

By: Liz Harrell
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There are many people in this world who are pros at home repair. They can patch drywall, repair leaky pipes, and cut their own backsplash tile. This is not the article for them.

This article is for the rest of us. It’s for those of us who somehow made it to our middle-aged years without owning a toolbox. This article is for some of us who are starting over in life for one reason or another and need tools for our homes. (And by we, I mean me.)

Several months ago, I was in this boat, and I had some good guidance when making my “buy all the tools” trip to the hardware store. Since then, I’ve used these tools on multiple occasions, and frankly, it’s been life-changing. These aren’t complicated gadgets, and while they don’t make me a professional in any way, it certainly feels good to hang heavy things on the wall without fear of them falling. It feels good to put together my own furniture, hang curtain rods, and repair cabinet doors that get ripped off by my small baby Hulk son. 

Here is my list of must-haves basic, but essential, tools (in no particular order). 


I’m sure this one makes some folks chuckle, but there are plenty of us who have tried our best to use the sole of a sturdy shoe to hang a picture nail and hook. The bottom line is, get you a hammer asap.

Rubber Mallet 

While hammers are essential, I’ve found so many uses for these handy rubber mallets. They’re specifically for tasks where you need a softer impact than a hammer and don’t want to leave marks. I’ve put together large kid toys with these, as well as installing a small plastic garden fence into the ground (using a regular hammer would have split the plastic).

Ratcheting Screwdriver Set

Anyone who has ever put together a piece of furniture or installed a curtain rod knows the value of a good screwdriver. But a ratcheting set is a step up when it comes to convenience and saving your wrist from the aches and pains of a million turns of the screw. The beauty of this tool isn’t just about having all the possible size screwdriver attachments. It has a mechanism that allows the tool to apply turning force in one direction while moving smoothly in the other direction. This little jewel saves immeasurable time and effort in any project, big or small.


Some people in this world can squint one eye, place their thumb in front of them, and miraculously hang and install wall items perfectly. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. Yet, with its handy dandy floating bubble of air, this tool has never steered me wrong when I’m trying to hang art or keep things plumb/level. The “squint and thumb” method, however, has.

Stud Finder

I could make a funny joke about this tool’s name, but I won’t because being able to hang things on the wall without the tragedy of a crashing mirror or missing chunk of drywall is too serious to joke about. Simply scan the wall with one of these, and it will beep when you pass over a stud, and you’ll never have to wonder if your wall hanging is secure.

Nail & Screw Organizer 

Toolboxes are important, sure, but nothing soothes my inner OCD like one of these large organizer boxes with a sturdy latch (I’ve turned this thing sideways and upside down, and it never pops open). All of my nails, screws, and hanger accessories are contained and organized, just as God intended.


This is the ultimate gateway tool. This tool is where you transcend from “minor” house stuff to “big” house stuff like hanging your flat screen on the wall or building a fence. Once I bought one of these and began using it, the world of home projects opened up in ways I hadn’t considered. 

I wish I’d taken the metaphorical tool-reigns years ago. But now that I’ve tackled these beginners’ tools, I find myself considering bigger projects like laying tilework or building more raised garden beds. I can now see why tools take over garages or need their own sheds and workbenches. Tools are what we need to make our homes better, happier, and prettier. Today it’s the basics. Tomorrow it’s tilework.

Meet the author

A little about Liz Harrell

Elizabeth Harrell is an author, freelance writer, and lives in Conway. Her book, My (not so) Storybook Life, was published in 2011. Her blog projects and articles have been featured in At Home Arkansas, Apartment Therapy, Better Homes and Gardens, Design Sponge, and here on Only in Arkansas. Visit her at https://elizabeth-harrell.com

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