When a Minimalist Meets a Pack Rat...

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The theme of many of my posts is that I’m a minimalist. I’ve moved too many times to accumulate too much stuff, and I get satisfaction out of purging every season. My boyfriend, on the other hand, likes things. His large two-bedroom apartment is filled to the brim with furniture and art and knick knacks that he’s collected during the 15+ years he’s lived there.

Needless to say, I’m a little concerned. He’s neat, so that's not the issue, but I look around at the packed closets and oversized furniture and wonder, could we ever live together?

I browsed around for some advice on dealing with situations like this one, and have had small successes so far. Here goes:

Lead by Example: No one wants to be preachy or preached to, so many experts say “show by doing.” This worked with my mom, who came to visit me in San Francisco and was inspired by (and now has adopted) my minimal style.

Be Positive: The last thing I want to do is nag him. But over time, with just a little encouragement, he has decided to freshen up the space slowly. He’s put large items he hasn’t used in a while on Craigslist (an old drum set, scaffolding...) and plans to use the cash to buy a new computer (which will save space, too).

Pitch In: Together, we organized the space when I had to move in temporarily, helping to make room for my things. Since I’ve moved back into my place, he’s kept those areas cleared out, for the most part. And an obvious tip when doing this is not to toss things without discussing it with the other person first.

Create Zones. Experts suggest creating areas for you and him/her. Of course, if it ever came to living together, I would need my clutter-free space(s). If you keep your areas clear and clutter-free, maybe your partner will eventually follow your lead.

Be Patient: It’s easy to be patient when you’re not living together. But moving in together can also be a catalyst for talking about and agreeing on some terms before you commit to a space you can’t live in for the long term. In this post, I list ways to make that an easier transition and keep the peace.

Do you live with a pack rat? What are some ways you’ve been able to manage?

(Image credits: shutterstock.com/Shutterstock)