Published on October 6, 2018

how to merge your style with your significant other Pin It
Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

The number one mistake couples who are about to move in together make? Fighting about it.

“It’s really important to be considerate and honor each other’s desires because you both have to feel like you belong in your new home,” says Yelp’s Home Editor (and accomplished interior designer/general real estate guru) Lauren Makk. “At the end of the day, the neon beer sign shouldn’t make or break the relationship… but it can find a new home in the garage.”

You know what they (generally don’t, actually) say: spouse before house.

While sacrificing your relationship in the name of keeping your sentimentally significant dinnerware is never recommended, the process of moving in with someone who has wildly different taste than you isn’t all about surrendering your belongings to compromise. “I know how it feels to want to start fresh with all new things as you merge your lives. But buying all new things after all the recent moving expenses can really break the bank,” points out Makk.

So how do you navigate moving in with a S.O. and dealing with both your and their belongings? Makk has some ideas. From knowing when to compromise to blending two separate styles easily, read on to discover her top tips.

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Don’t buy entirely new furnishings.

You don’t have to throw everything out and start fresh with pieces you bought together; just start small. “Consider hitting up your local bargain retailers for fresh kitchen accessories, bathroom decor, rugs, and even some new art. I recommend taking your partner so that you can both agree on these elements together to help you create your new nest,” says Makk. Picking out some smaller things together is a good start (not to mention, a helpful money saver).

Take stock of what you have.

“Before moving in, take a good inventory of what each person is bringing to the space,” recommends the designer. Having a clear idea of exactly what you have and what you still need will help avoid arguments down the road—then, decide what to do with duplicates before you start packing up your home. “If you’re moving in together, there’s a chance you’ll have two sofas, two kitchen tables… consider a few factors to decide which items to keep and which to donate,” continues Makk, pointing out considerations like size (“which item will fit best in your new space?”) and condition (“which item is in the best shape?).

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Illustration by PhuONG NGUYEN

Voting power.

Maybe it’s an offending collection of Beanie Babies or a tacky motivational poster; there are some things that are beyond compromise. The solution? “Give each person one ‘veto’ to ensure the design feels like a true compromise,” suggests Makk. Fair is fair.

Consider the sentimental.

By the same token, you might not understand why your partner is clinging for dear life to a stuffed deer head—but if it turns out that item has sentimental value, understand that you might not win this particular battle. “Be considerate when there are certain heirlooms or hand-me-down pieces that may mean something to your SO,” cautions Makk. “If it’s your grandmother’s old hutch that you really want, or his grandfather’s stuffed deer head, find a way to work it into the design.”

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Save up.

You might hate your SO’s dingy old sofa, but if it’s the only one you currently own (and you don’t have the funds to splurge on a new one), make due with it and other less-than-ideal pieces for now, but start saving. “Create a small fund to buy new furniture together so no one feels slighted if their furniture doesn’t make the cut,” says Makk. There’s no need to buy a ton of large, expensive pieces when you move in, but looking to the future never hurt.

Be realistic.

It’s only fair that you get rid of as much furniture as you expect your partner to. “The exception to this rule? If there’s a clear difference in quality or condition of pieces. If one of you just purchased a new couch, consider keeping the new piece,” says Makk.

Think in the abstract.

If you’re having trouble reconciling two particularly different personal styles—certain aesthetics may blend effortlessly, but it can be tricky to make, say, bohemian eclecticism mix with monochrome minimalism—think bigger. “Discuss the function and mood for each room together,” offers Makk. “If you want a warm, relaxing, and informal living room, pick pieces that match that.” Rather than designing by style, try designing by mood and feeling. It may end up making the most sense.

imagePin ItStart with a plan.

So you decided what stays and what goes, what communal new pieces you want to buy, and what will become of the hand-me-down leather chair. The next step is figuring out how everything goes together, and to do this, it’s best to start with a few key factors decided. For one, agree on a color palette: “Using a consistent color scheme helps to make a space look more cohesive,” says Makk.

Feeling stuck on what to do with a space? “Pick a piece that you both love and build the room around that piece,” she continues. “Whether it’s a piece of art or a sentimental chair, use it as inspiration.” Having a clear jumping off point for the design of a room, be it a color or a piece of furniture, will make meshing your belongings all the easier.

When all else fails, get help.

If designing your new space with your partner is in danger of sending you to couples’ counseling, get a grip. It’s only furniture. “Consider an interior designer,” says Makk. “A designer will help blend your styles and provide an unbiased opinion.” Seeking professional assistance is the best way to avoid stepping on each other’s toes. Plus, they’ll be able to find a way to make that abstract end table your SO insists on keeping look chic.

See more tips on cohabitation:
14 Essentials for Anyone Who Lives with a Roommate

Nine Tips for Sharing a Bed with a Significant Other
How Three Couples Share One Brooklyn Home

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