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Step by Step Guide: Decorating with Roommates

When you’re single and young, living with a roommate just makes sense! You can split the cost of rent, Wifi, and energy bills. On the other hand, you may not realize how well you don’t know someone until you try to make one space work for the both of you. Here’s our foolproof, step-by-step guide for decorating with your new roomies:

 

 

 

 

 

1: Go window shopping together.

 

 

Notice we said window shopping—not actual shopping! That part comes later. No matter how well you think you know someone, you won’t truly figure out what feels like home to them until they actually tell you.

 

 

One easy way to get a feel for someone’s taste is by shopping with them at a home store. Try to pick a store that offers various styles, lots of different types of furniture, and decorative accessories. As you wander through the store, point out pieces you really love and really hate so you can get to know each other’s preferences.

 

 

Another option is digital window shopping. Instead of going to a physical store, create separate Pinterest boards or Amazon Wish Lists you can look at. Again, make sure you aren’t just pinning things you like—let each other know what you don’t like too. As you scroll through one another’s lists, figure out which styles you have in common.

 

 

 

 

 

2: Take inventory of what you have.

 

 

Now that you know what you both want (and don’t want) in your home, figure out what you already have. If your roommate already owns a coffee table, two end tables, and a TV stand, you want to find out this information before you place an order for a new matching living room set. Swap photos of the furniture you own and let each other know which pieces you plan to bring into your shared space. Speak honestly about which pieces you may not want to have in common areas, like the living room and kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

3: Assume your bedroom will be your personal sanctuary.

 

 

When you live with roommates, it’s likely that your bedroom will be the only space you have all to yourself. Be sure to make the most of it! Your bedroom should feel cozy, safe, and inviting so you want to spend your alone time there. You and your roommate may totally disagree on color choices in the rest of the house, but you can paint your bedroom walls whatever color you like. And maybe your roommate doesn’t appreciate the quilt you sewed out of old t-shirts from your favorite tween rock bands, but that blanket will be perfect for snuggling up in bed while you sleep late on Saturday mornings.

 

 

That brings up another point… If you have family heirlooms or extremely personal items, like your t-shirt quilt or a piece of furniture from your grandmother, you should go ahead and assume that these items will live in your bedroom. Although there is a chance that your roommate will enjoy these personal items as well, it’s safer to plan on keeping them in your own space. This way, you won’t have to worry about someone else accidentally damaging them or hurt feelings if a roommate doesn’t love them like you do.

 

 

And remember that your bedroom will be a safe haven if your roommate invites over some friends you don’t particularly like, or when you just need some space. You’ll probably want a small seating area so you have more options for relaxing, other than in your bed. One way you can really ensure your bedroom feels personalized is by customizing your seating.

 

 

 

 

 

4: Embrace the eclectic, Bohemian, colorful, and practical look.

 

 

Whenever you’re meshing two styles, you’re going to run into different preferences. So instead of fighting it, learn to love new things! Use the roommate lifestyle as a way of practicing your flexibility and trying exciting options that you may not have explored otherwise.

 

 

At the same time, make sure you make practical purchasing decisions. Most likely, your roommate will not have the exact same cleaning habits as you, so try to proactively avoid a spat over clutter. Choose furniture pieces that offer extra storage, such as decorative bins instead of open shelving, and an ottoman which opens up to a hollow storage space. Go ahead and plan to have a dish drying rack on the kitchen counter to keep space available in the sink. You can’t prevent all clutter from forming, but you can at least eliminate the most common messes.

 

 

 

 

 

5: Before you move furniture for real, map it out digitally.

 

 

There are tons of free floor planning apps and websites that allow you to choose the dimensions of your room, upload photos of your furniture, and drag and drop each piece into your preferred location. Come up with two or three different furniture arrangements with your roommate, and decide on one you both love. This exercise will save a lot of hassle and sweat in case you don’t like the first plan you try out.

 

 

 

 

 

Need some more help planning for your new shared space? Or do you want to see some sofas in person with your roommate before ordering online? Come visit one of our three Bay Area locations to get started!