When your significant other tells you that they need “space,” they’re not joking. Lighting brand Sofary recently surveyed 900 people about what it’s really like to live with their partners and it found that domestic bliss is as much about mutual respect and open communication as it is about square footage.
Most of the cohabitation revelations were reassuring, like the fact that nearly 74 percent of respondents said they moved in with their S.O. because they felt like they were ready (not because they thought they could save on living expenses or fix relationship issues). But when it came to making room for love, couples need a shocking amount of distance—1,800 square feet, to be exact.
After breaking down the numbers by generation, the study found that people who were satisfied with their relationship had an average of 12.8 percent more space than those who were dissatisfied with their relationship. For instance, baby boomers with at least 1,835 square feet of space were satisfied in their relationships, compared to the 1,733 square feet for unhappy couples in that age range. Similarly, millennials who had 1,810 square feet of space between them were a lot happier than those with 1,566 square feet. Lesson learned? As little as 100 square feet can be the difference between you and a breakup.
If your home falls on the unsatisfied side of the spectrum, don’t sign up for couples counseling just yet. Here are three tips for making the most of your space—so you can focus on making the most out of your relationship.
Use Room Dividers for Privacy
If you don’t have the luxury of a guest room or office, consider dividing up your space to create a retreat on your own. While a folding screen doesn’t provide the same satisfaction of shutting (or slamming) a door, it will provide enough privacy to keep you and your partner sane. Top it off with a chic sleeper sofa and you’ll have a proper place to seek solace when your S.O. snores.
Invest in Multifunction
Men and women had the same number one complaint: They think their partner is too messy. And, frankly, we aren’t surprised. When you’re tasked with tackling clutter for not one but two people, you have to get creative. Instead of splurging on small treasures and trinkets, spend your money on large pieces of furniture that can serve multiple functions, like a bench that doubles as shoe storage, a side table that’s also a magazine rack, or a pouf that’s also a side table.
Go Big on Mirrors
Oversize mirrors are one of the easiest ways to open up a teeny room by adding depth and reflecting light. Full-length floor mirrors are great for bedrooms and entryways, as they offer you a head-to-toe picture when you’re getting dressed or heading out the door. A large mirror with built-in shelving can work wonders in a living room or kitchen if you need a bonus spot for books.
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