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How to Decorate With Roommates & Still Remain Friends

By: Sarah Beaumont

August 8, 2017

Image via Apartment Therapy by Marisa Vitale


Once upon a time, a minimalist and a maximalist moved into an apartment together… You can probably guess how the rest of this story goes. Whether you met your roommate on Craigslist or you’ve been BFFs for ages, combining styles — especially wildly different ones — can be challenging. The last thing you want to do is hurt your roomie’s feelings, but if that rug they have is offensively ugly, you have to speak your mind. Since it’s rare to go through life without having a cohabitation design dilemma, we’ve compiled some simple tips to help you achieve a harmonious home. Because no one wants to stop being friends over a throw pillow.


Tip #1: Brainstorm together.

If you have the chance to do some brainstorming before moving in together, pair up to discuss your personal styles and discover if you have similar tastes. Creating a shared Pinterest board where you can each post ideas can help you get a good visual perspective on what your roomie is going for. Then, if they’re into super eclectic bohemian spaces while you’re more of a Scandinavian minimalist person, you can start to find a way to combine styles early on.

Tip #2: Combine and conquer.

Figure out what furniture each of you already owns and what you’ll need to purchase together. Then combine your existing pieces and come up with a plan for splitting the difference between new items, and who will take them in the end, so one person doesn’t walk away with everything after moving out. If you each happen to have large furniture pieces like sofas and dining tables, consider your storage options and the size of your space. Is there another area that a second sofa can fit? If not, you may have to make a sacrifice and choose the one that’s best suited for the space.

Tip #3: Keep communal areas, communal.

Having mutual respect for shared areas is key to keeping a happy home. This means not leaving your clutter out all the time and being considerate of your roommate’s opinion on your decor (and vice-versa). Be sure to consult with one another before hanging up a large piece of art or moving your collection of rocks and crystals into the living room. We recommend keeping personal pieces or especially “loud” objects in your own space unless previously discussed.

Tip #4: Aim for functionality.

If you’re living with roommates, chances are you don’t have loads of spare square footage. So when you get lazy, things can get real messy real fast. A shared home should be as functional and organized as possible. Floating shelves are a great way to create more space in the common areas while organizers in the kitchen and bathroom can give you designated spots for shared essentials. Try to make sure your space is always stocked with cleaning materials and necessary household items so no one can get away with slacking off on their share of the chores! A functional space will set you up for successful cohabitation.

Tip #5: Be honest.

If you really can’t stand your roommate’s boho tapestry that’s hanging in the living room or the ten yoga mats she keeps out in the open, it’s important to speak up. It may be hard to tell them, but if you don’t, you’ll likely end up making passive aggressive comments and allowing a lot of tension to build up over one little piece of decor. Encourage honesty early on in the design process and if something they use as decoration bothers you later on, simply ask them if they would mind keeping it in their bedroom instead. And remember to always be just as respectful of the shared space as you want your roomie to be.

Tip #6: Focus on your bedroom.

When you live with another person, your bedroom is your sanctuary. So if you and your roomie’s styles don’t exactly mesh, focus your energy on designing a personal oasis that reflects your tastes and makes you happy. That way, whenever you need to escape the common areas, you have a room to take refuge in that feels uniquely, one-hundred percent you.

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