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by Korin Ludicke

Moving in together for the first time is an exciting step in a relationship! But, it’s also a time of transition—gone are the days when a pile of clothes on one side of the bed simply meant sleeping on the other side, or when a midnight bathroom trip didn’t include the possibility of falling into the toilet. In the middle of all these adjustments and compromises should be the joy of sharing your lives, but often, the logistics of sharing space get in the way. To make sure your focus stays on each other (and not each other’s stuff), we’ve come up with a few tips to help with the big move.

Scale back

If you don’t already do this every once in a while, now is the time to go through your belongings and clear out any unwanted, unused, or just plain unnecessary items. Moving two people into one space for the first time is hard enough; don’t make it more crowded and difficult with a bunch of extra clutter.

Take inventory

Go room by room and make a list of all the major items you own. This may seem tedious, but trust me—putting in a little time on paper (or spreadsheet or iPhone note) will save you a ton of time in packing and moving. Group items by room, and then divide them into even smaller categories if necessary (like grouping kitchen items by appliances, dishware, cookware, and so on).

Decide what stays and what goes

Sit down together and compare your lists, making note of duplicates and deciding which to keep. When you can’t come to an agreement on an item, decide if you have room for both (two floor lamps will fit more easily—and be more useful—than two couches). If you can’t agree on whose item to keep, donate both and pick out a new one together. Also, remember to be sensitive toward each other’s sentimental items and major purchases; a more expensive investment piece will probably carry more weight in negotiations than a cheaper impulse buy.

Start fresh

Some things should be new to both of you. Invest in neutral bedding—in both senses of the word. Firstly, reusing what one of you already own might make the other feel like they’re a guest in “your” bed; you want this space to belong to the two of you, together. Secondly, pick out something that doesn’t lean too much towards one or the other’s style. A great starting point is picking a solid, neutral color. That way, you can add personality in the pillows and accessories, which are easier to switch out as your tastes change.

Merge your styles

Together, talk about the look you envision for your space. Go to a home decor store (or browse one online) and take turns pointing out things you like, or make Pinterest boards full of images that describe each of your styles. Then, settle on a style that satisfies both. If that just can’t be done—say, he wants sleek and ultra-modern while you love the distressed, French country look—relegate one style per room.

Plan the space

Avoid mid-move arguments about where the furniture is or isn’t going to go (these usually happen while holding said piece of heavy furniture, which doesn’t help) with these two important words: plan and measure. Know the length of the walls, the dimensions of the furniture, the size of the doorways—measure it all. Then, work out a configuration that you both like and, most importantly, make sure everything fits. Knowing exactly where each piece of furniture is going to go, big or small, will alleviate a great deal of stress on moving day. Trust me.

Don’t be too hard on yourselves

It’s a difficult and ongoing process, so be patient with yourself and with each other. It doesn’t have to be done in a day (or a week or a month or six months in some cases); just remember that eventually it will be done and it will be worth it.