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Moving in with your significant other? How to decorate without killing each other

Updated on June 1, 2008

Congratulations, you're taking the leap and moving in with your significant other! You're in love, you're committing to this person, and you're so excited to begin spending the rest of your life with your mate that you just want to run up the nearest hillside, spread your arms, twirl about, and belt out a beloved show tune.

But hold on, Julie Andrews, have you checked out your partner's decorating style? Now, I'm not saying to dump the person if he/she has, say, a porcelain angel collection that creeps you out, but just remember, those angels are moving in with you, too. And if you don't like them, then you need to address with your partner early on that you can't handle hundreds of hand-painted heavenly eyes following your every movement. Believe it or not, this is may lead to a heated and completely ridiculous fight later on. You also need to be prepared for any criticism of your own possessions, and to be ready to compromise on what will go where in your new home.

Does your beloved's poster of Ash and company go in the living room...or in a closet?
Does your beloved's poster of Ash and company go in the living room...or in a closet?

If the two of you have similar tastes in décor, and you can look at each other's belongings and sigh over the exquisitness of each other's knickknacks, art, furniture, action figure collections, etc., then read no further. You are blessed, my child, and you need no guidance. However, if you've ever found yourself asking a question along the lines of "Honey, do we have to hang your Army of Darkness poster in the living room? I've never even seen that movie," then please, read on.

Tip #1: Discuss, discuss, discuss!

Prior to moving in together, put in a little planning time. Determine where you and your partner stand on matters of décor. Maybe you'll decide to stand back and let your more decorating-zealous partner decide on the appearance of your home (or vice versa). Maybe you are both equally interested in interior design, but have different styles and so you will have to make compromises. You may find you have two of the same items (such as couches, beds, appliances) and, due to space limitations in your new place, you can't bring along everything. In that case, you'll have to decide whose couch/bed/etc. to keep, and whose to discard.

Tip #2: Taste is relative

It might be crushing to hear that your darling does not cherish each and every one of your knicknacks, but it is probably true. When I moved in with my boyfriend, I bemoaned his velvet painting collection, but I was hardly bringing any quality pieces into our new home. In fact, at the time, I was into painting all my wood furniture various shades of purple. Yikes. Don't take yourself (and your style) too seriously, and don't insist that your way is the only way.

Lassie--our first decorating compromise!
Lassie--our first decorating compromise!

Tip #3: Let's make a deal!

Negotiate on the ugly items each of you owns. As I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend had a velvet painting collection I didn't care for, and I had a fairy poster that he detested. We agreed that he would get rid of all velvet paintings except for Lassie (an unfortunately large painting of the famous collie that was hung above the fireplace mantel in our first apartment), and in exchange, I would never, ever hang my fairy poster anywhere in our home. This bartering system has served us well over the years. It has provided a balance, so that any given room in our home represents both of our personalities.

Tip #4: Be kind. Remember, you're in love

If you don't care for your partner's decorating style, don't be a jerk about it. Avoid strong statements like, "THERE IS NO WAY YOUR ORANGE VINYL CHAIR IS GOING IN OUR LIVING ROOM! IT'S TACKY AND UGLY AND I HATE IT!!!" Instead, try a more positive approach: "You know, I think the orange vinyl chair might clash with the rest of the décor, but I love your lamp and paintings, and I'm excited to see how they'll look in our new place." Your partner doesn't want, nor deserve, to be insulted. And if it turns out that the orange vinyl chair has sentimental value, or is otherwise important to your partner, then you'll just have to live with it. And hopefully, you'll do this without grudge because you love your mate, you want to be fair, and you realize that his/her comfort and happiness is way more important than having a perfectly coordinated home.

Just remember to keep an open mind and be willing to compromise. Your first home together may not be decorated to the specs of your "dream home", but hey, you are sharing it with the person you love, and a home filled with love and happiness is the best kind of home there is.


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    • profile image

      Angie 5 years ago

      I laughed pretty hard at the mention of the Army of Darkness poster in the living room; that's exactly why I googled this topic!

    • profile image

      sarah 6 years ago

      My boyfriend bought these prints of some truly hideous paintings on a cruise. He cherishes these fugly things, and I had to put them on (albeit in the bedroom so nobody will see them) and they ruin the entire theme of the room. Every time I see those nasty pictures I want to burn them.

      Such is life. I miss having my own place.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Great advice for anyone moving in with their significant other. Compromise is an art form, and you deal with it very well here. I smiled reading about the picture of the fairy you agreed not to hang up. Aw, we have all been there, trust me. My partner had some similar stuff that found its way into my apartment. Kudos to you for this. Cheers.

    • gale583 profile image

      gale583 9 years ago from New England

      Great hub! I'm now starting to toy with the idea of living with my boyfriend in about a year when I finish college. This was certainly something that never crossed my mind, but I will be sure to remember it in the future whenever we do finally move in together. Thanks!

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Yes that is an awesome idea Poopalina.  I own a Hello Kitty wallet believe it or not, but that is the only thing I have with that theme.

    • Poopalina profile image

      Poopalina 9 years ago

      Thanks Paul and SweetiePie! I've noticed that people who like Hello Kitty REALLY LIKE Hello Kitty. Somebody should make a hub on that...

    • profile image

      Paul Felix 9 years ago

      Nice topic and hub poopalina ~ccol~

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      The title of this one caught my attention because I could just imagine a couple fighting over what paintings to hang on the wall. I think compromise is important as you say here and that is essential for any good relationship whether it being decorating or any other issue. One episode of the Tyra Show was funny because this woman had an entire apartment filled with Hello Kitty furniture and accessories and her boyfriend seemed okay with all of it. As a compromise they decided to redecorate the bathroom so the boyfriend would fell more comfortable in the house. Thanks for sharing the informative hub.