It’s time to bust some myths about living with your significant other, whether it’s your first home or you’ve shared a space forever. Why is it that, for some reason, whenever we see it on TV or movies, it’s always a nightmare – when in fact it can be the most exciting time in you, and your home’s, life? Apart from waving goodbye to flatshares and spending loads of time with the one you love, moving in together finally feels like the chance to really create the space you’ve always wanted.
Yep, your SO’s questionable taste or lack of anything practical may make it a bumpy ride but we see these as opportunities to create something new, celebrate your individual senses of style and design a harmonious, happy home in the meantime.
Here are our five tips on how to make living together as stylish as can be.
- Pool your resources
A first big move is the perfect chance to invest in some joint big pieces of furniture; usually something that feels a bit indulgent to buy on your own.
Your combined income is a good excuse to upgrade one of those slightly boring, functional items you’ve been getting by with, but which doesn’t really wow – say, replacing your flat-pack TV stand with a beautifully-made wooden version, or changing out that dining table you’ve been carrying with you since uni days to a stylish oak or walnut one for grown-up dinner parties.
Alternatively, it’s a chance to go big on something that feels a little bit more like a treat – a sofa in an unusual colour, a giant statement light or a new armchair – something to stamp your personality on the space and say ‘we’ve arrived’.
- Shop your belongings
It’s a term you might have seen around the internet: ‘shopping’ (or editing) your existing belongings when moving in isn’t just mandatory but a chance to display your style loud and proud.
The best homes show off a bit of one half of the couple, a bit of the other. Be literal about it: lay out all your souvenirs, decorative accessories, even your home textiles with the aim of creating displays out of them.
You’ll start finding connections across things you both own and be able to turn them into displays; say, a shelf with your favourite sculpture, their favourite vase and a pair of souvenirs from your first date. Or a wall of your favourite framed photos, paintings or records. Group the items in rough themes and use them to create little vignettes too – say a tabletop display of holiday souvenirs, things you’ve bought each other or gifts you’ve received.
- Embrace the power of two
A common issue when moving in together is that you’ll probably both have doubles of the same items – mirrors, retro side tables, maybe sofas. Don’t panic – getting rid of them can be one of the worst things you do!
Instead see it as an opportunity to defy the rules and try something new. Double side tables look great either side of a sofa, double sofas means you can add one to your bedroom or potentially a kids’ room or have them facing each other, and double mirrors could be the start of a stunning feature wall.
- Compromise, let go and invest
On the other hand, it’s important to know when to lose items too, and when to give up on the idea of perfection.
We think homes should be packed with personality – even if that means his year 5 judo award – and the best way to do this is to lose the vision of the ‘perfect home’ and embrace the less-than-stylish things your other half might own.
But also be ruthless; a new move or a yearly spring clean is the chance to purge broken items, things you’ve both hoarded and never used (we’re looking at you, sandwich toaster), fading bedsheets – moving in is the ideal moment to take stock and invest in some fresh ones.
- Zone your space
We don’t want to sound like therapists here, but we’d wager that many couples struggle in the long-term with not having distinct areas of a house to themselves – even more so if one of you works from home, is a homemaker, works shifts and needs to sleep at different times.
And thankfully it’s pretty easy to address. Home workers need only invest in a desk – if space is tight, this could be a fold-down one or even a shelf with a fold-up chair – but it’s just as important to have decorative items that separate the space, whether that’s a wall, which could be painted and filled with motivational art and photos or a room divider on wheels which is a handy item full stop.
Zones can also be tiny little areas – like setting aside a table for crafting, a patch of kitchen work surface for foodies with everything they need or a dedicated dressing/make-up/workout area depending on what your interests are.