Combining households

After our first apartment together was featured on Apartment Therapy, I got a lot of questions about how Ryan and I combined our two previous apartments into one cohesive space. Our blending of two styles and an odd mix of new purchases, Ikea budget items and hand-me-downs was a challenge that I loved tackling. Moving in with a significant other is an emotional time without suddenly having a crammed-full apartment and two of everything. I started to write up some tips that helped us, and then invited Ryan to share his point of view as well. Feel free to share your own tips in the comment section below. We'll be posting in two parts. Part one (below) is about getting on the same page and clearing the decks. Part two (tomorrow) will be about adding in pieces and choosing decorations.

1. Talk about your new home before anything gets packed. Maggie: Whether you're moving into a new-to-you-both home or one person is making space for the other, open communication is key to resolving fights before they begin. Talk about how you want your home together to feel, whether you like calm and soothing interiors or energetic ones, if you see your new pad as THE place for entertaining friends, what colors you hate, what furniture you must keep, etc. Share photos of furniture you like and rooms that you'd like to emulate. I learned so much about Ryan's style (and still am two years later).

Ryan: If possible, having an idea of the layout of your new home can be a big help in these sorts of discussions. Knowing the spaces you have to work with can help you make a case for what furniture to use in the living room or if there is even wall space for your collection of posters. It's also useful for figuring out what your partner cares most about. If you could care less what colors to use in the bathroom, but your partner has a strong opinion, it's easy to defer to their judgement and save yourself an argument in the aisle at the store.

2. Realize that there will be compromises and don't take your partner's taste as a personal affront. Maggie: You're two separate people and you will have differing opinions about style, colors, fabrics, etc. That amazing diy project you want to do make produce only a "meh" from your better half. We established "veto power" so that when either of us hates a decorating idea of the others, we can say "No way" with no consequences. Well, I may get grumpy for a few days, but there are always other great decorating ideas to be had. And that way, Ryan keeps my girly style in check. It's OUR home, not MY home, even if I am the decorator.

Ryan: Just because she can't stand your favorite chair, doesn't mean the move is doomed. Work together to find a way to keep some of your favorite things around, but realize that some things may need to find a new home (in another room, in storage, or in someone else's home). Prior to moving in together I had a concert poster collection that I loved. When we moved in, there just wasn't room for everything, so we chose a few that we both were partial to and made space for those. The others came out of frames and into storage. Beyond the things you have, you'll need to make compromises when it comes to tastes and styles too. I know my distate for floral patterns drives Maggie a bit crazy, but I like to think we she found one I didn't mind too much it made it that much sweeter.

3. Eliminate duplicates before moving day. Maggie: We found that especially in the kitchen we had almost two of everything. Unless one of us was particularly attached to something, we simply kept the better quality of the two. For our first six months of our new home we also had two dining sets, two sofas, etc. Luckily we had the space to do so, but even those got whittled down over the following two years as we decided they weren't necessary. Some duplicates we kept as back-up (in case our toaster broke, we had another one in storage). But when we downsized in our last move, those got the heave-ho too. It was also easier to get rid of these things BEFORE packing them up and moving them.

Ryan: Moving two homes into one in a day or a weekend is long enough, so take care of whatever you can ahead of time. If you don't have room for a second bed, make a point to try and sell it prior to moving day. For the kitchen and household goods, have a garage sale a few weeks ahead of time, or make a couple trips to Goodwill. The less you have to move in (and then move out subsequently) the better. It's easy to think "well, I can't imagine living without MY favorite coffee maker", but try to take a step back and make an objective decision as to which to keep. Is one bigger? Does one make a particularly annoying beeping noise? If you truly can't decide, keep one in storage for a bit.  If a year later you realize you've never had to take it out, it's probably OK to let it go.


Tomorrow we'll post about blending our two styles!