So You're Setting Up House, Huh?
So you’ve decided to move in with your significant other.
May the weeks and months to come be filled with cuddling and laughter and joy and fun, and not petty arguments over whether or not your sweetheart’s hulking Jaba the Hutt cutout will make the final journey from dorm room to bachelor pad to your shared living space.
Let’s face it: whether you’re both design mavens or you couldn’t care less about a room’s feng shui, combining households can be stressful endeavor for any couple.
In fact, doing so can be a real test of the kind of communication skills you’re going to need as a happily cohabiting couple.
Getting it right requires some thought and a few crafty tactics.
Here are our top 6 tips.
1. Clarify Your Situation
Will you be:
A) Moving in someplace new together, or…
B) Moving into one person’s already lovingly furnished territory?
If the answer is A), how you move forward will depend on your personalities.
If one person loves decorating and already is in possession of expensive and finely crafted furniture and the other person doesn’t give a hoot about any of their own stuff, then, problem solved!
However, if both members of the couple are opinionated about decorating or are very attached to the majority of their possessions, consider giving each person a room to decorate all on their own, opinions from the other party entirely withheld within that space.
If the answer is B), it’s important that the person whose space is being moved into offers up areas that their significant other can make entirely their own.
This could mean making peace with flowery pillows where there once was only leather and making space on the wall for personal photos, or it could mean turning one room into anything from a man cave to your partner’s couch-filled, bookish retreat from the world.
Be open, and give your partner their niche.
2. Evaluate Your New Space
If you will be moving into a new space together, your cohabitating adventure should begin long before move-in date when you take measurements of the space.
Chances are, all of your combined possessions won’t fit, and one person will have furniture and appliances that match the space’s decor better than the other’s.
Take a deep look at what’s there, and be honest about whose possessions are more appropriate for what you’ve got.
3. Take Inventory
After measurements have been taken, a full inventory is the next step.
As you go through what you’ve got, you might as well do a little spring cleaning and get rid of things you no longer use or wear.
After all, there’s no use waiting until you’ve moved in together to get rid of that dusting pile of scarves. Some items will by nature necessitate one person to let go of their prized possession, or at least to rethink its main purpose.
You can’t, for instance, have two main bedroom mattresses, while two table lamps may be just fine.
However, if your mattress doesn’t make the cut, it may work just as well in the guest bedroom. In fact you might try getting a new bed if the budget allows. Just be sure to go shopping for mattresses together, pleasing two people is harder than one.
Let go of your old definitions, and…
4. Turn Old Favorites Into Something New
Your significant other, for example, may have an ancient stuffed chair that’s been passed down from generation to generation and sorely shows its age.
But rather than chucking that heirloom to the curbside just because it doesn’t match the paint, why not get it reupholstered, or spruce it up with a new pillow or throw?
Or, if it doesn’t match whomever’s living room set has won the battle, why not move it into the bedroom?
Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it can’t now be new.
5. Discuss Clunkers and Compromise
No matter how in sync you and your partner might be, it’s highly likely that one of you is in possession of an object the other just can’t stand.
One of the most important things you can do while merging two households is having an open discussion about those most reviled pieces, and approaching the conversation with an open-mind.
It’s important that you define for yourself just what you’re willing to compromise on and just what will be a dealbreaker.
You may, for instance, not be able to live in a space with wall-papered in leopard print, but perhaps that leopard print throw can remain at the bottom of your bed.
Think, too, about just how attached you are to your favorites, and whether or not you’re really attached to them or it’s the idea of closing a chapter on one section of your life that’s making you cling. While it’s perfectly acceptable, even in joy, to mourn the end of an era, you may not need that box crate desk you made yourself as a young broke professional, no matter how much it reminds you of those Bohemian days.
You’d be surprised how quickly you get used to (and even like) something new.
6. Be Positive, Open-Minded, Respectful, Caring and Oh Yeah! Patient, Too
Overall, it’s important that, throughout this process, both partners be as understanding with the other as possible, and leave their agendas and condescending attitudes at the door.
If you think, “Well, I’ve just got the design eye and I know everything,” you’re missing the point…and you’re headed for trouble.
People’s possessions represent who they are in different times of their life, and it can be difficult to say goodbye. Approach with empathy, and never underestimate your partner’s (or your own) ability to grow, compromise and change.
With these tips, you’ll be sure to do just that.
So, enjoy your new digs, and enjoy your new cohabitated life!
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