As a little kid with an early interest in interior design, I dreamed of what my “grown-up” home would look like one day. While my taste has evolved over the years (I no longer want purple velvet curtains in my dining room), my desire to create a well-designed house has remained the same. And that still didn’t change when I moved in with a significant other for the first time and had to learn how to create an aesthetically pleasing space while living with a guy who had only one pillow on his bed. So I feel the pain of anyone who has moved in with a significant other only to find that your interior design styles are very different.
However, the key to decorating a shared living space you’ll both be happy with is to not let all the design decisions be one-sided. I promise: it’s possible for couples to combine their interior design styles and belongings when moving in together without sacrificing their personalities. Read on to learn how I’ve mastered living with a partner without compromising my aesthetic.
1. Create a shared Pinterest or mood board.
No, we’re not back in 2010. But over a decade later, Pinterest still is a great place to look for home decor inspiration. Create a board dedicated to your new digs, and share it with your partner so both of you can pin anything that catches your eye. I also find it helpful to create subcategories within the board for each room so you can better organize your pins. Once you’ve gathered all your inspo pics, review them together and look for overlapping themes. What wood tones, furniture styles, or types of decor are you both drawn to? Finding these similarities helps you set guidelines when shopping and ensures that you’ll both enjoy the overall vibe of your space.
2. Decide on a unifying color palette.
Much like finding common ground on your furniture and design styles, it’s helpful to identify colors you both like and want to feature in your home. I prefer neutrals, so this has been a struggle for me in the past when living with a boyfriend who wanted to keep his blue plaid sheets from college (*insert eye roll here*). I find it helpful to first pick a base color for your furniture, textiles, and walls—think grays, creams, tans, etc.—and then select a few colors you’ll incorporate through art, decor, and accents. That way, if a red throw pillow catches your eye at Target, but your agreed-upon color palette is gray, white, blue, and gold, you’ll know to reach for a different color that you’ll both like.
3. Don’t be afraid to mix styles.
We all know opposites attract, and this can be true for both relationships and interiors. Just like your calm significant other can help ease your nerves, a soft, shaggy rug can help modern furniture feel more inviting. Professional designers use this technique of juxtaposition to make sure rooms don’t feel too matchy-matchy or simplistic. It can be intimidating at first to mix interior design styles like coastal and glam, but this is also what will make your home feel unique. Ultimately, if you love a piece, you’ll find a way to make it work in your space.
4. Take inventory of your current home items.
When combining two homes together, you’re likely to have multiples of some items. And unless you have room for two couches, two coffee tables, and two toaster ovens (which I definitely did not in my first apartment), you’re going to have to purge some things. This also gives you the opportunity to see what existing furniture fits your new space and planned aesthetic. For example, if you have both an upholstered and wooden bedframe to choose from and you know you want to keep your primary bedroom feeling cozy and inviting, you might choose to use the upholstered bed in that room. Then you can either use the wooden bedframe in a guest room or sell it somewhere like Facebook Marketplace. After deciding what works, create a list of the pieces you’ll want to replace or don’t have yet.
5. Be mindful of sentimental pieces.
They say communication is the key to a successful relationship, and the same can be said for a successful move-in. When reviewing your items together, be open and honest with your partner about any sentimental keepsakes that are special to you. Your partner may not like the look of your favorite accent chair, but if you tell them that it was a gift from your dad and it’s important for you to keep (even if it doesn’t totally match your agreed-upon style), they’ll better understand your love for the piece and will likely find it important, too. Respecting each other’s individual styles and necessities will ensure that you both feel comfortable and represented in your shared space.