Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

5 Products That Make Our Lives Better

We are always on the lookout for products that do more, last longer and take up less space than their conventional counterparts. We’re not talking about things like a good laptop or phone, which might be indispensable, but will be outdated in six months. We’re talking about the products that won’t go out of date, whose utility proves itself through the years.

We’ve put together a short roundup of products we find ourselves unable to live without (not literally of course). It’s also a nice excuse to ask you what your list includes. What are the things that make your life or home work better–things that make life simpler and more streamlined? Let us know in our comments section below.

  1. Waffle-weave towels. We’ve talked about them before, but too much cannot be said about their merits. The longer we use them, the more they prove their superiority to terry cloth. We’ve been using Aquis microfiber towels and Gilden Tree cotton waffle towels. Both take up less storage and washing machine space, dry faster and avoid mold. If we were to choose one however, it’d be the Aquis; the synthetic material seems to grab moisture from your skin. It’s also softer than cotton. If you’re not into synthetic stuff, the Gilden Tree towels still work great and are available in more sizes and colors.
  2. Outlier pants. These things rock. They look like dress pants, feel like sweat pants, wick and repel moisture like mountaineering pants and wear like iron. Starting at $188, they are not cheap, but they will literally replace three pairs of conventional pants and outlast them as well. I have had several pairs for the last few years. My favorites are the 4 Season OG’s and Climbers, both of which have four-way stretch material (not all Outlier pants are as stretchy). Their shorts rule as well. Right now, they make one women’s variety.
  3. A cast iron skillet. Nonstick skillets are great, but they wear horribly and have a dubious safety record. Copper and stainless steel wear great, but are temperamental, scorching and staining easily. Cast iron, on the other hand, wears like, well…iron. It distributes high and low heat great. With a little bit of use–i.e. ‘seasoning’–it can be almost as nonstick as a Teflon pan, without all the plastic bits in your food. You can clean them without water. And while enameled iron pans are nice, the bare cast iron versions are less fussy and prone to marring. I use a beautifully designed 12″ iittala Hackman Dahlström Tools for almost everything (pictured at very top. Discontinued, but available at various stores), but most any cast iron skillet work equally great. Get a size that’s big enough for the amount of cooking you do, but not so big that it takes ages to heat.
  4. A comfy couch that you can sleep on. I was at IKEA a few weeks ago and they had a 375 sq ft mock-up apartment featuring a huge, overstuffed sectional couch. I thought it a waste of space until I sat it in. Few things demarcate home like a comfy couch. In the LifeEdited apartment, the Resource Furniture Swing couch is the most used piece of furniture. A great couch can be your guest room in a pinch, and while convertible sofa-beds are great, sometimes it’s better to get a longer couch than invest in a substandard sofa-bed, which are often pretty uncomfortable.
  5. A scanner. We thought scanner technology was stable enough that it could be included on this list. Scanners are simple, can last ages, don’t require stupid, overpriced toners and, most importantly, allow you to dump tons of paper by scanning receipts and important documents. Scanners eliminate the need for a fax. You can also scan old photographs for posterity and digital display.

What would you include on this list? What items streamline your home and your life more than most? Let us know in our comments section.

  • Marrena

    Thank you for the Outlier heads up. I’m too fat to wear their clothes, but I bought a beautiful winter scarf from them and it is hands down the best scarf I have ever owned. I just have to make sure to keep the moth away from it during the summer! Could you have tips on storing woolens safely?
    I disagree about the cast iron. Too much iron gets in the food. A quality stainless steel skillet will last forever (as long as it doesn’t have that nasty, bad-for-you non-stick coating). I bought a couple Calphalon Tri-Ply stainless steel skillets recently to replace my cast iron and they work pretty well. Not quite the even heat distribution of cast iron, but I see they also offer something called Accu-Core.
    I also bought those e-something or other cleaning cloths that the site recommended and they are AMAZING! Thank you.
    I can’t live without my Fagor pressure cooker. I know y’all aren’t foodies here, living in Manhattan why cook when there are so many great restaurants within walking distance? But for someone like me who belongs to an organic co-op type delivery service of fruits and vegetables, I spend a lot of free time cooking. I don’t like the way the pressure cooker cooks meat; I prefer a slow cooker for tough cuts of meat and my over broiler for tender cuts, but I make chicken stock every week and it is indispensable. For serious cooks whose dishes are based on homemade stock, a good pressure cooker saves both time and money on my natural gas bill. And it’s brilliant for any cooked vegetable (besides wilting lettuces like spinach or kale). Vegetables are cooked in a third of the time, and have a beautiful color and texture.

    • lifeedited

      thanks for the suggestions. i was very close to including the e-cloth on there. definitely becoming a must-have item.
      i’ve heard the argument about iron in food. some say extra iron is a benefit. others a danger.

  • WhippleStTracy

    I agree with Marrena about the Fagor Pressure Cooker. I am a huge fan of multi use tools in the ktichen, I use mine to can and cook veggies and hearty stews but my favorite thing is cooking rice of any kind. It can make perfect sushi rice in 7 minutes! Amazing multi use item.
    A great scanner app for iphone is called the Scanner Pro. Will scan and make PDFs of anything. Amazing quality!
    And lastly, my favorite thing in my house is my west elm Tillary couch. Very comfortable, but transforms into a twim size bed as the cushions are removable. This has been really great in out small spaces and great for guests.

  • I love my hoover vacuum. It cost $99 and free shipping from HSN and all the tools are on board. It does not require bags, just empty the easy to detach and reattach tube. If you empty after each use, you won’t get the yukky vacuum smell cause the offending debris is thrown out promptly. I can quickly get to a needed tool such as the hose for my sliding glass door track, the furniture brush for my upholstery and the duster for the furniture. I used to have a vacuum that I had to use the items separately, now, as I come to an item that needs a cleaning, I can do it and move on to the next chore. Saves me time and aggrevation. My dream vacuum would be cordless. They have cordless power tools for the guys, and I say it’s high time to make the vacuum cordless for us ladies. Love your web site. I visit here all the time. Agree about the iron skillet.

    • lifeedited

      good suggestion on vacuum. i always say that a quality vacuum is a sign of adulthood. what type do you have?

      • Laura

        Dyson is the best! I’ve had mine for 9 years now. I have two children and two dogs. I vacuum everyday. We live in a small space, but we seem to make big messes.

  • Cynthia Lee

    How do you clean cast iron without water?
    I rarely use my cast iron skillets anymore – they are so heavy and they chipped the porcelain in my kitchen sink when I was washing them with hot water.
    Any suggestions for easier cleaning?

  • Liam

    How do you clean a cast iron pan WITH water?! Getting water anywhere near it will ruin the seasoning, not to mention the damage soaping it can do! yikes!

    • lifeedited

      liam and cynthia,
      truth is i usually do quick wipe with water and soap-less sponge. i am careful not to wipe too much fat/seasoning off to let it build up. one approach is taking a paper towel and doing a quick swipe. that works for most stuff unless you’re working with a lot of fat and/or spices, in which case you need to do a more thorough clean.

  • Link to skillet on amazon? You have to have to make it easier for me to bookmark this stuff on pinterest/thefancy 🙂

  • Anna

    Get American-made cast iron. Cast iron from China contains toxic substances that contaminate the food. (Sorry, can’t find the source of this info, but it struck me as reliable when I saw it.)

  • I like your scanner idea, but I have a different take which I’ve been testing for the last 6 months. I travel a lot and live in a 389 sq ft apartment. To track my paper receipts for travel and to cut down on paper in my living space I use an APP for my smart phone called CamScanner (iOS), and I’m sure there are other ones, but this one is great. (I’m not affiliated in any way, it’s just useful to me.) I used the free version for a long time until I purchased the APP outright. It allows me to take a photograph of a document, or a piece of paper, and convert it easily to a PDF which it stores for me. The power in this app is its ability to share the PDF’s it creates wirelessly, over the internet, fax, email, dropbox, evernote, google docs and more. I generally email to myself, but the options in the full version are extensive.

  • Ali T. of Dualiti

    What sectional couches do you recommend? I definitely want one that guests will want to sleep on!

  • Josh

    I’ve found a 10″ (26cm) iittala Hackman Dahlström Tools version, but no reference at all to a 12″ (30.5cm) version of your skillet. Can you verify the size for us? (Were there two versions an 26cm and a 30.5cm?)

  • Benjamin Diem

    super old thread but i thought i would ask if anyone found the cast iron skillet by hackman / dahlstrom

    i would love to find one
    any suggestions?