This weekend I'll be lugging suitcases across town, shopping for bedding and other necessities, and if I can find the time, making an IKEA run. Yes, I'm moving into a new apartment here in London. A few weeks ago I shared my tips for those looking for shared housing, and now I'll be tackling the next hurdle on any sharer's list: how to make a common space feel like your own space. After a search that felt never-ending, I finally hit rental paydirt: a large room in a bright flat, in my preferred area of Southwest London. The flat itself has buckets of storage, a great kitchen and a south-facing patio for those (deliciously rare over here) sunny summer days. Add to that a friendly, live-in landlord flatmate - who's recently installed new carpeting upstairs and even bought me a desk for my blogging work - and I'm feeling pretty satisfied.
Now the challenge is designing my new room to reflect my personal tastes. It comes fully furnished, and while there's anything wrong with a wicker bed (a friend likened the look to being on a constant summer holiday), let's face it - as a designer, I make aesthetic decisions for others every day, and when it comes to my own life, that control isn't exactly something I relish giving up. By keeping the following points in mind, I'm sure I'll be feeling at home soon enough:
1. Splurge where you can. The upside to living with furniture which has been chosen by others is that it's also been paid for by others. That's enough, in my mind mind at least, to justify splashing out a little on the items which you'll take with you when you leave.
Bedding, lighting and artwork can all make an impact in an otherwise bare room. For my part, I've got my eye on a luxe bedspread from Anthropologie and a sweet bedside lamp from Heal's.
2. Small items in shared areas. Sure, in a shared home you won't get a lot of say in the furniture selection for common spaces, especially with a live-in landlord as part of the deal. But there's often room for a few smaller home accessories, and who knows- your new roommates might be perfectly thrilled to welcome your favorite floor lamp into their living room.
So if eating off of your own dishes or using your own coat hangers in the front hall helps you feel at home, go for it. I'll be bringing with me a few favorite toss cushions to donate to the communal sofa, and my favorite kitchen tools as well.
How have you made yourself at home, when living in someone else's?
Images: 1. Used with permission, 2. Anthropologie and Heal's, as linked above.