Every couple can vouch that relationships are hard work, and that is never truer than when you’re moving in together. It’s a big step to take and a very emotional stage in any person’s life – and why shouldn’t it be? It is about two different people, two different lives and worlds that suddenly get thrown together under one roof and are expected to make a success out of this new living arrangement.
And it stretches much deeper than deciding on which series to watch on TV. So, unless you and your partner have the exact same decorating styles and have decided to mutually shop for new furniture, you are bound to face a few challenges.
But there’s no need to panic – in every home, there should be a balance of textures, a combination of styles, and a healthy contrast of colour to make it interesting. Of course, some planning and work need to happen before you can turn your new shared house into a home.
Here’s what to do…
If you and your partner have different styles, you need to come to terms with the fact that your new home will have a mixed and matched look (we call that ‘eclectic’, and it is a style that can work marvellously). Don’t try and convince your partner to give up their tastes just so you can maintain yours.
Before you both sign on the dotted line for your new place, have a discussion about your ideas, likes and dislikes. Think beyond the structured classification of styles and pay attention to shapes, textures, colours, materials, and how they can all come together to decorate your new space.
Communicate to your partner if there is a piece of your furniture that you can’t part with (i.e. your late grandmother’s dining table), and if there’s something from his/her side that you really don’t like.
Professional interior designers / decorators make it their jobs to create the perfect living spaces for their clients – but you don’t necessarily need one. You and your partner are a team, and talking about your feelings (even if it’s just the colour of scatter cushions) is part of working together to reach an amicable solution.
Moving in together can result in a surplus of many things. Yes, you don’t need two dining tables, but there’s no reason why you can’t have two sets of crockery (if your space allows for it). This way you can alternate between the one and the other when it comes to hosting dinner parties.
Should you be required to throw out some stuff, try and accommodate both your belongings. Keep one partner’s bed, and the other one’s television, for example. Or merge your furniture for a unique combination (such as your vintage coffee table to go with his/her stylish couch) to show off your new dual style in your shared home.
If donating both of your stuff and starting from scratch is not an option, try and sacrifice equally. If you have an excess of, for example, kitchen utensils (who needs two kettles?), then toss the lower-quality items and take the higher-quality ones into your newly shared space (tip: it’s easier getting used to sleeping in a bigger bed than a smaller one!).
Take a look at some exhilarating examples when it comes to an eclectic-style living room.
How would you feel if you walked into your new home one day to find a never-before-seen, brand-new dining room set? Chances are good you’ll feel left out and a bit hurt. So then, avoid doing that to your partner.
If you’re still in need of some furniture pieces or decor items for your new home, make those calls together. Enjoy a combined outing to some furniture stores and make some level-headed decisions together. This can greatly help to avoid future arguments if you both decided on certain pieces. Who knows, you might even discover that your partner has quite an eye for detail and style?
homify hint: Dreading walking from store to store to find that perfect coffee table that you both like? Determine your joined style ahead of time, whether it entails creating a Pinterest board with both your choices, or pouring over the retailers’ catalogues at home. Hitting the stores with this type of preparation will help to make shopping together more fun – and quick!
So, you are in love with the warmer, summer shades, yet your partner prefers a cool, steely tone to the interiors. The good news? Conventional wisdom tells us that colours that lie opposite each other on the colour wheel (complementary colours) are especially pleasing together.
This means that a warm orange and an aquatic blue are quite dynamic when thrown together, since they enhance each other’s intensity. This unique mixing of hues may be perceived as soothing or balanced, since it simultaneously stimulates different parts of the eye.
Should both of your preferences end up looking like a multi-coloured car crash, rather compromise. Narrow your home’s colour palette down to shades you both enjoy (i.e. instead of hot pink, how about a soft salmon shade?).
And when even that is not possible, then opt for the neutral palette. Whites, greys, and beiges can form a peaceful overall colour scheme, allowing you to add bits and pieces of (both) your favourite colours here and there.
Sit down with your significant other and take a peek at Choosing An Interior Colour Scheme.
Dividing chores is one thing (“You do dishes, I’ll take care of mowing the lawn.”), but dividing rooms and styles? Yes, it is possible – and it is a great remedy for couples where one tends to run the show.
Your significant other might feel left out if you tend to take over all the decisions when it comes to decor and furniture – even if they don’t say it out loud, it’s not a great feeling to live in a house that shows no traces of one’s style and personality.
So, make a special effort to represent both of your styles in your interior. This can be as huge as decorating the spare bedroom in a rustic style because it’s your partner’s favourite, or as simple as making the bathroom into their favourite colour.
homify hint: Compromise! We all have sentimental pieces that are hard to part with. Instead of asking your partner to toss that framed vintage movie poster because it doesn’t fit in the living room, consider moving it to the office or spare bedroom. It’s important to keep some of your favourite pieces (it adds character and tells stories), but that goes for your partner too.
Just because you now share a house doesn’t mean you have to share a body or personality as well. Each person bringing their own tastes and styles together under one roof is what makes living together interesting. So yes, compromise on the big stuff, but keep your individuality.
Make sure each of you has their own room/corner/nook/shelf that’s just yours, and let your personal style flow freely in that area. This doesn’t have to take up an entire room, as this isn’t about dividing up equal spaces for you and your partner. It is about acknowledging that, at times, you’ll want to do your own thing – and then you’d like your own things/style.
Whether this is reading a book in the study/living room, running on the treadmill that you’ve placed in the corner of the spare bedroom, or tending to an herb garden on the patio, doing our own individual things is key to maintaining a happy relationship.