Just about every article you’ll ever read about the pros and cons of shacking-up with your love-interest focus on every aspect of maintaining a healthy relationship EXCEPT décor. What your new place is going to look once you mish-mash all of your wonderful belongings with his (IF he has any, that is) is far-too-often overlooked while honeymoon-hormones are coursing through your veins.
It’s only on the day of the big move (and the days and weeks of unpacking that follow) that you catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. Imagine you’re in your freshly cleaned kitchen, unpacking your favorite glassware, when you hear fumbling and cussing in the living room. There, right beside his proud-as-punch smile, sits a worn-out, flea bitten, 1980-something pleather sofa that came directly from his old dorm room – and it’s sitting right next to your pristine white Barcelona chair. If you’re anything like me, you blurt out “That can’t stay!” faster than pies disappear in a pie-eating contest.
But in all seriousness – living in a home you both love to be in is critical to a happy relationship (even if it seems superficial). With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and “Let’s move in together” on the tip of many lover’s tongues, here are ten tips for moving in together and designing it to work:
1. Pre-Game Rules
Lay down the law before you walk through the door. From “Don’t sit on the sofa in the nude” to “Dirty clothes go in the hamper, not on the floor”, getting the house rules straight BEFORE you move in will help keep the romantic spark burning long and bright.
2. Your Place or Mine?
Moving into his bachelor pad has it’s cons (you never know what you might find or who might turn up on the doorstep) but it could be worse. If this is your first time living together, don’t even think about moving in if he has room mates – or worse still, with him and his parents. If you can, move into neutral territory – find a place that’s neither yours or his, so you can start fresh.
3. Balance of Power
If you do end up moving into his place (or vice versa), be subtle when it comes to telling him you don’t like his stuff. Try to avoid rearranging the minute you walk through the door and break it to him gently that you don’t feel at home in your new home (then rearrange over time!). That said, one person’s stuff shouldn’t dominate – don’t be afraid to speak up and negotiate.
4. Learn to Like Some of His Things (or at Least Pretend!)
So you’re not a fan of his collection of high school wrestling trophies. Or his game consoles, complete with too-many games and controllers, crowding up the living room floor. If there is something of his that you like, give it pride of place – then he won’t mind so much when your candles and vases of flowers take over.
5. Redecorate Together
You’ve decided to live together, so you’ve obviously got things in common. Draw on that and choose your style together. Collaborating on on how your new home looks will not only give you something to work on together, it will give each of you a sense of ownership and pride. At the same time, a home makeover will allow you to get to know each other a whole lot better!
6. Sharing a Bedroom
Sharing a bedroom with your man is quite different to sharing with your 8 year old sister. Your bedroom should be a place where you can both relax, enjoy each others company and most of all, sleep peacefully. He might have to give up the racing car bed and you might have to give up your pink quilt cover and plush toys, because something neutral will be more comfortable for both of you now you’re sharing a room. And most importantly – invest in new linen (throw out any used in previous relationships!).
7. Get (Your Clothes) Out of the Closet
Without question, the most sensitive area of bedroom cohabitation is the closet. Obviously, moving house is the perfect time to throw away any clothes you don’t wear anymore. But now you’re sharing, you might not have as much space as you used to. And he might not understand why you need so much closet space. Be prepared to negotiate – let him keep his old skateboard collection in exchange for the hanging space. And it’s a great excuse to explore some awesome new storage options at IKEA!
8. Beyond the Bedroom
Although the bedroom should probably be your first priority in terms of shared space, the bathroom is a very close second. They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus – and if you’ve ever lived with a man, you’ll know how quickly the bathroom can become an alien landscape. Make sure you both have your own storage space in the bathroom to keep your personal items, and most importantly, show him how to use the toilet brush.
9. Space of Your Own
As much as living in each others pockets sounds like a dream at first, eventually you’re going to need time out from each other to do your own thing. Aside from the bathroom, finding a space in your new home where you can do you own thing can be tricky. But creating your own space – a desk to work, a chair to relax, a spot to exercise or a crafting corner – can give you a place to retreat when you need a little me time.
10. Reveal Your Pillows SLOWLY
Girls LOVE pillows – as we all know the more, the merrier! But men don’t understand this obsession because they think in terms of simple mathematical equations:
(Zzzz) + (1 x head) = (1 x pillow)
So rather than breaking up over a pillow fight (pardon the pun), introduce him to your pillow collection SLOWLY. And by that I mean hide them in your closet and put out a new pillow each week – and he’ll never notice a thing.
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