The Best Home Essentials Products Tested in 2022
Assembling, installing, cooking, and washing—we tested hundreds of home essentials to compile a list of all the best options.
Home is where the heart is—and where your stuff is! We spent nearly 300 hours testing the 129 products that make up each of our home essentials guides. After living with and using all those kitchen faucets, cooling blankets, thermal curtains, and surround-sound systems, we can confidently say this list of 15 items includes only the top options we’d choose to keep using.
Skip the frustration of installing under-cabinet lightning only to find that the glare is too harsh. Never mind fussing with a vacuum sealer that simply isn’t going to suck out all the air. And there’s no need to risk slipping on a rug that isn’t held in place by a reliable rug pad. All that work is done so homeowners can get to the business of loving living in their homes.
For impressively realistic surround sound and a very loud low-rumbling home-theater experience, the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4-Channel Surround System delivers the goods for those who have the space. While placing all the speakers took some time, the system connected easily and sounded fantastic. Nakamichi’s excellent Spatial Surround Elevation technology does a great job of creating a large 3D soundstage full of audible motion.
A backlit remote control chooses the soundbar’s many audio sources; controls volume for the subwoofers, surround speakers, and the overall system; and selects sound modes such as Movie, Game, and Clear Voice, which adjusts the audio mix to make dialogue prominent. Without Clear Voice, dialogue always sounded clear to us, even at loud volumes.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Wireless Surround-Sound Systems guide.
The Litever under-cabinet lighting system produces 2,000 lumens of brightness—more than enough for kitchen tasks. The light is diffused so that the brightness is uniform, and its warm white color is flattering to anything it illuminates.
Our testing found that the dimmer switch offers flexibility in static lighting versus dimmable lighting, depending on the placement of the switch. This can be quite helpful in creating targeted lighting for tasks as well as dimmable lighting for atmosphere.
Though it’s a low-voltage system at just 12 volts, it offers the flexibility of two different power cables. Choose between a simple, straightforward installation or wiring directly into the electrical system to hide the cords.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Under-Cabinet Lighting guide.
Get the Litever under-cabinet lighting at Amazon.
The FoodSaver V4400 is a versatile two-in-one device. The retractable handheld sealer can be used to seal zipper bags, canisters, and other containers. Built-in roll storage and a bag cutter allow the creation of custom-size bags, while a dishwasher-safe removable drip tray makes cleanup a breeze.
In testing, however, we didn’t find the process to be entirely intuitive, especially when making custom bags and getting the best seal on both sides. It takes some experimentation to figure out where to place the bags for the machine to grip and seal them properly. The handheld device is easier to use on premade vacuum-seal bags; it sucks the air out of the bags within seconds.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Vacuum Sealers guide.
While the PowerXL Smokeless Grill doesn’t duplicate the feel of an outdoor grill, it comes close, making it a worthy choice for those looking for an indoor grill experience that mimics their backyard barbecue.
The grill’s recessed-grate design helps it generate ample heat for searing a brown char on meat while also creating space for heat circulation. The clear glass lid allows cooks to monitor the food without having to crack the lid, which is helpful for trapping aromas when cooking food like fish.
The grill is large enough to cook three steaks or a half dozen burgers while remaining small enough to store in a kitchen cabinet. Two cooking surfaces—a griddle and grill grate—add versatility, making the PowerXL ideal for families.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Smokeless Indoor Grills guide.
This high-velocity floor fan boasts a powerful motor, durable steel construction, and metal blades. It has sufficient power for use in a large garage or a workshop, yet its classic silver design is attractive enough to use in living spaces.
We tested this fan in a shop to see how well it circulated the air in a large room. We ran each of the three speed settings, and even on low, it circulated air very well. The built-in rubber pads protect floors and also add stability, and the pivoting head is adjustable to control the airflow up, down, and in between. In testing, we did find the fan to be on the noisy side, so conversation volumes will have to rise over it to be heard.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Floor Fans guide.
Quiet operation and the ability to quickly heat rooms as large as 200 square feet make this GiveBest model a wise choice for warming up. This unassuming space heater doesn’t have the flashiest design—however, features like the two heat settings, the fan, and the built-in thermostat make it a pleasure to use.
In testing, this ceramic space heater heated a 200-square-foot home office without a problem. When temps were cold, we bumped it up to the high-heat setting, but most of the time, the low setting kept it comfortable.
This model has an adjustable thermostat as well as both overheat shutoff and tip-over shutoff for safety. It will work in most small spaces plus provide portability if needed elsewhere.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Space Heaters guide.
Get the GiveBest space heater at Amazon.
This top kitchen faucet pick combines traditional style and modern features. It includes a pull-down spout, gooseneck style, smudge-proof brushed finish option, single-handle function for water control, and touch-on activation for minimal contact operation.
During testing, the Touch2O touch-on technology added a few steps to the installation process, but they were not difficult. However, Delta’s plastic water supply lines are stiffer than the braided type that other manufacturers use, which made the process slightly more complicated. Water pressure was good, there were no drips, and the shield-spray feature eliminated 80 percent of overspray.
There’s an LED light that signals water temperature and three different spray modes. There are three other finishes to choose from, including chrome, arctic stainless, and Venetian bronze.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Kitchen Faucets guide.
This Speakman high-pressure shower head is a quality choice for new construction or as a replacement wall-mounted shower head. Speakman’s patented Anystream system evenly distributes water as it smoothly transitions through intense, massage, and combination settings. Our testing found that the ring to adjust the various settings moved easily, but not so easily that the shower head can slip from one setting to another without the user adjusting the setting.
Its proprietary plunger system controls the spread of water and is self-cleaning to resist hard-water buildup and sediment. Installation is as easy as it gets: Simply remove the old shower head and screw this one into place. The Speakman’s clean lines and sleek, simple design will enhance and complement any modern bathroom.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best High-Pressure Shower Heads guide.
Out of the box, Grohe’s Euphoria 260 rain shower head feels durable and looks attractive. We loved its adjustable spray settings and found it perfect for those who like a gentle rain shower but still want some added pressure at times.
The shower head features three concentric circles serving as varying spray zones. The innermost circle offers a powerful, directed jet spray that delivers on comfortable pressure. The second ring features the company’s SmartRain Spray, which offers the rain shower experience while saving water. When the outermost ring is turned on, users get a full 2.5 gallons per minute for more body coverage with an even, comfortable spray. Speed Clean nozzles are integrated into the head, allowing the user to wipe away limescale for easy maintenance.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Rain Shower Heads guide.
The simple design of this floor lamp features high-quality wood and an elegant linen lampshade that fits well in many home decor styles. The lamp gives off plenty of light, and the linen shade transforms the light into a soft warm glow.
As much as we love the looks and quality of this lamp, we found putting it together to be quite challenging. There are many screws and parts of the tripod base that have to be assembled and attached to the light fixture. In comparison to putting the lampshade together, the base is relatively easy. Assembly time took nearly 30 minutes, but the results were worth the wait.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Floor Lamps guide.
The West Elm Flourish rug features muted colors with light distressing for a modern take on traditional Persian-style florals. We tested it in a few locations, and it made every room feel cozy. It was softer to the touch and more comfortable underfoot than expected with such a low pile. We also love that the Flourish rug is handcrafted with sustainable materials such as recycled cotton backing.
This rug had a good weight and laid flat right away. We noticed very minimal shedding, and it stayed in place for vacuuming. Our spill test required only a bit of scrubbing with a mild detergent; however, the company recommends professional cleaning for deeper stains.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Area Rugs guide.
Get the West Elm area rug at West Elm.
The 100 percent recycled felt of Mohawk’s dual-surface rug pad cushions steps, while a latex rubber bottom provides an excellent grip. The pad felt comfortable and stayed in place when used with both low- and high-pile rugs. It is also available in a ⅜-inch version for those seeking extra cushioning.
Mohawk’s rug pad is suitable for use with various types of flooring, including carpeting, vinyl, and engineered hardwood. We found it difficult to trim, so we recommend choosing the rug first and then opting for one of the 27 available sizes, which include multiple round options. It holds a Green Label Plus certification by the Carpet & Rug Institute for low-chemical emissions.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Rug Pads guide.
This Slumber Cloud comforter feels cool to the touch the second buyers pull it out of the packaging. One of our testers overheats very easily, even in winter. She tested the comforter with and without a duvet cover and either way, it did an excellent job of wicking moisture and was highly breathable. It has a nice weight and warmth, but it prevents users from waking up with a sticky, wet feeling.
This comforter has a 300-thread-count cover with corner loops. The quilt boxing did well to keep the fill evenly dispersed during use and while washing. The materials are Oeko-Tex 100 Standard certified, so it’s free of more than 400 potentially harmful chemicals.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Cooling Blankets guide.
With its high insulating and light-blocking qualities, this thermal curtain from Best Home Fashion adds that extra layer to windows while contributing to the room’s aesthetics. We tested the extra-wide curtain panel in burgundy, and the dark, rich color kept nearly all light out while the thick fabric insulated and draped well.
These machine-washable panels come in various sizes and 18 color options, each featuring attractive antique bronze grommets. They feature triple-weave polyester construction that includes a layer of black yarn, keeping out up to 99 percent of light—the darker colors are most effective—and 100 percent of ultraviolet rays, helping to keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Thermal Curtains guide.
15. The Plant Club
The Plant Club is our top plant subscription pick for plant lovers at any level of expertise. The kits have all the elements of a premium subscription service and everything needed to pot a plant and display it immediately. Plant information is detailed clearly on a hand-illustrated pamphlet, and all of the extra treats make the whole box feel like a luxurious gift. The plant selection and quality were top-notch; planters were attractive and ceramic pots have saucers or stands.
Each box includes a customized potting mixture and fun little extras such as stickers, candy, magnets, or pins. The company’s customer service team is available to assess photos of sickly plants and make recommendations on how to revive them, completely free of charge.
(Editor’s Note: At the time of testing, The Plant Club operated through its own website. The Plant Club is now a part of the My Garden Box website as an individual subscription.)
Learn about how we tested and reviewed more top picks in our Best Plant Subscription Boxes guide.
Get The Plant Club plant subscription box at My Garden Box.