Whether you're sharing a studio or seriously small one-bedroom with a partner or making a tiny two bedroom work with a roommate, sharing a small space presents a whole set of stresses beyond just sharing a space. Here's how to live a little more harmoniously with someone else in an extra small home.
1. Make a furniture plan
What we mean to say is, don't just meld two households full of stuff into one tiny space and just hope that it'll work. Make a list of what each person has and then decide which item is the best for the newer small space. It's about being intentional. And if neither of you have the right piece for the right place, consider selling an item and purchasing a more compact or compatible piece for the small space you have. Then plan ahead to create a furniture plan — an intentional spot for every piece — that makes the most sense for maximizing space and also creating a good traffic flow.
2. Try out all those space maximizing tricks
Go nuts with all those proven design tricks that tend to visually expand a space: using light colors, letting lots of natural light flood in, perfectly placing mirrors to reflect more light — all the ways we've shared in the past. Not every small space needs to go overboard with them, but when you're trying to fit multiple people in a cozy spot, it's these small details that can make a big impact.
3. Be willing to create and share storage space
Along with the tricks that make a small space feel bigger, there are tricks for squeezing more storage space in small home, and you'll want to take advantage as soon as you move in. Shelves above doors, tools for under the cabinet and more. And the old "you take that shelf and I'll take this one" might not work in a small space, where your things might have to co-mingle with a roommate's stuff. It just might make more sense to store all items of one type in one spot, rather than divide both of your things.
4. Cut down on collections
The one thing that just doesn't go well with sharing a small space with another person is particularly large collections. Trim down vignettes. Sell tchotches. Nix multiples. Or, be willing to get creative to display your collection in a way that won't steal space from the person your sharing your space with.
5. Be extra thoughtful with guests
Overnight guests might be impossible if your space is particularly small — sharing tight quarters with your old college buddy might not be a big deal to you, but it might be to your roommate or partner. But even everyday guests could be an extra stress to small space living if your roommate comes home to a surprise guest, and no where to escape. Consider being extra considerate in inviting guests to your shared space.
6. Consider visual barriers
When you don't always have your own place to escape to in your small home or apartment, visual barriers — big plants, hanging fabric panels, curtains — can be vital in providing the illusion of privacy, which could make sharing a small space feel saner.
7. Have a cleaning plan that you both stick to
It's no secret that small spaces feel dirtier and messier faster, just by their small nature, so it's doubly important that all parties living in the small space create a cleaning plan together — and stick to it. Also consider splurging on cleaning supplies and tools that are nice to look at — you'll save on storage space by having them on display, and them being within view might be a visual reminder to everyone to use them more often.
8. Keep your everyday stuff organized
In a small space, your whole home can become a depository for your bags, briefcase, shoes, keys and other daily items you tote around and have with you when you walk through the front door, making a small home look cluttered quick. Pay extra attention to your landing strip and the area right next to your door. Even a good set of wall hooks can be a sanity-saving makeover for a small space with more than one person.
9. Explore your city to have a getaway spot
It's good to have a place picked out in advance of moving into a very small spot with someone else — the kind of place you know you can go to get work done, be quiet, even just read. Whether it's a coffee shop or the corner of your public library, it would be wise to have a space like this when you need to escape a small space.