How to Avoid Design Disaster When Moving in With Your Significant Other
Make no mistake—whether you’ve been together for four months or four years, moving in together is a big deal. Not only is it a significant step in your relationship, but it’s often a battle of personal decor tastes, as well. Is it possible to blend Mid-century with IKEA? Hollywood Regency with vintage? We polled a number of couples across the country to find out exactly how they meshed their design preferences—and what, if anything, they had to compromise on during the process. Read on for their thoughtful insights.
Names: Loredana and James
Ages: 43 and 39
Location: Highlands, NJ
What year did you move in together? 2014
How long were you together before that? 6 months
How long have you lived together total? 3 years
What was the biggest challenge moving in together? Space was probably our biggest challenge since James loves clothing and shoes as much as I do.
How did you combine your decor? Combining our decor wasn’t really an issue since James didn’t have much decor or furniture to begin with. Whatever he did have was IKEA and he didn’t really have anything invested in it.
What compromises, if any, did you have to make? We both compromised on sharing our closet space and giving up some of our clothing/accessories that we hadn’t worn in awhile. I’m a big fan of decorating and shopping estate sales/thrift stores and my boyfriend and I really had a great time finding things we both loved that matched our style. For us, decorating the space was a collaborative effort as we both like the hunt for that one vintage piece more than anything.
Names: Amanda and Joseph
Ages: 33 and 42
Location: Chicago, IL
What year did you move in together? 2016
How long were you together before that? A little under a year, maybe 10 months. We met and lived together in NYC before moving to Chicago.
How long have you lived together total? A year and a half.
What was the biggest challenge moving in together? Nothing really. Initially we were living in a studio in the East Village, so deciding what to get rid of and keep for both of us was probably the biggest “challenge,” but the decisions were easy as they mostly made themselves.
How did you combine your decor? We both had a very similar aesthetic, so combining decor was pretty easy as well. I think we were both willing to compromise since we trusted each other’s taste. Moving from a small NYC studio to a larger modern high rise in Chicago meant that we had an opportunity to purchase new pieces together, which again were fairly easy decisions.
What compromises, if any, did you have to make? Very few, thankfully. It all just kind of flowed. Again, having a very similar aesthetic makes it pretty easy.
Names: Dina and Jeff
Ages: 32 and 33
Location: San Francisco, CA
What year did you move in together? 2016
How long were you together before that? 1 year
How long have you lived together total? 2 years
What was the biggest challenge moving in together? Being mindful of the other person’s schedule
How did you combine your decor? Jeff likes historical charm and I like the complete opposite; clean and updated. The first condo we bought together was a good mix of our two styles as it was a building from the 1920’s that was renovated in 2007. A lot of the old detail remained but the flow and aesthetics were updated to reflect our lifestyle.
What compromises, if any, did you have to make? We’ve learned to pick and choose our battles and let the little things go. There are many pieces of furniture or decor that may not be the other person’s taste but if it is important for them to have it in the house, we have learned it’s not worth an argument!
Names: Christina and Simon
Ages: 40 and 49
Location: Montauk, NY
What year did you move in together? 2002
How long were you together before that? Two weeks. Simon moved into my Union Square apartment on our third date, and kept a “very expensive closet” on the Upper East Side while his lease ran out.
How long have you lived together total? 16 years
What was the biggest challenge moving in together? Simon is a very laid-back, easy-going guy, so there weren’t many challenges. His style was, ahem, not really established yet. He had some random IKEA things, but wasn’t really attached to anything, so I had carte blanche to decorate.
How did you combine your decor? At the time, neither of us had strong taste in decor, so it was relatively easy.
What compromises, if any, did you have to make? Luckily, none!
Names: Mikaila and Bill
Ages: 29 and 31
Location: Brooklyn, NY
What year did you move in together? 2017
How long were you together before that? 8 years
How long have you lived together total? 1.5 years
What was the biggest challenge moving in together? Our biggest challenge living together is as simple as who cleans the most or who took out the recycling last. Sounds silly but I’m sure most all people deal with this when living with another person.
How did you combine your decor? Bill is super creative and into street art (mainly graffiti, NYC street art). He creates art on a daily basis for fun and also for a living, so when we moved in together he had up towards 30 or 40 canvases, and sculptures that he has done or has collected from living in NYC. I am in a creative industry but I don’t make art, I would rather decorate with houseplants or embroidered wall hangings etc. We’ve meshed our styles together to make it feel homey without it feeling like we are living in a college dorm room. We both enjoy old records, traditional mid-century modern furniture, plants, and pretty much anything old that has character.
What compromises, if any, did you have to make? One compromise that I have made is to just be understanding of his space and his things. I am an extreme neat freak and clutter drives me insane. He has more stuff than he knows what to do with, but he loves all of it. So, I am working on being respectful of those things and I only want to throw it out half of the time instead of all of the time.