Whether your new roommate is your bestie or your boyfriend, or you found each other on Craigslist, sharing a living space with someone can be tricky business. Chances are you and your new roomie don’t have the exact same taste in décor — no matter how often they re-pin from your “Dream Home” board. She might love bright bohemian textiles but you prefer Scandinavian simplicity. Where to go from there?
Meet Coriann Bright, the brains behind LA design and organization firm Bright Living. Bright transforms her clients’ homes by clearing their clutter and working with items they already own. Talk about a major lifestyle improvement!
While decorating with a roommate can be seriously challenging, it isn’t an impossible mission. We asked Coriann to share some of her pro tips for navigating the treacherous waters. Who knows, it might result in a more beautiful living space than you ever imagined. Scroll down for some tried-and-true ways to settle the decor war before it even starts.
1. Come Together in Communal Areas
Mutual respect for the shared area in the home goes a long way. You may love your massive collection of empty beer cans, but your roommate thinks it looks like you just forgot to take out the recycling. Bright suggests storing both super personal pieces and precious family heirlooms in your own private space.
2. Lay It All Out
“When starting any project, I always dive into what my clients already have first to find inspiration,” says Bright. “When you move in, take the opportunity to collect all the decor that you both already own. Lay it all out on the floor and take a moment to see if any of the items have a common theme, color or look. Use this as the foundation to build a blended design, but be selective. Remember, you don’t have to use everything.
3. Floor Plan A, B, C
Take some time to play with the layout of shared areas, such as the living room. Most people want to shove every piece of furniture against a wall. Grab some furniture glides and experiment with different floor plans (floating the bookcase as a room divider, using the sofa to separate the dining area from the living room). Let your hobbies shape a room’s function. For example, if you and your roommate are both into yoga, an open living room may be a great option.
4. Pin It to Win It
Create a shared Pinterest board. Not only does it give you an excuse to hang out at home on a Saturday night and bake, but it will make finding common inspiration fun. Who knows what cool ideas you both will agree on? Maybe you have a mutual love for the color red or are both stoked on the idea of building an industrial bookshelf? Bonus: this is the best way to get a better sense of your roommate’s taste and overall personal style.
5. Classic L.I.M Rule
Less is more, people! Nothing kills the vibe of a stylish pad like clutter and too much furniture. Come up with a good storage plan together so that everything can be put away. If you each have a sofa, coffee table, chairs and rugs, pick the best of the best to actually use in each space. Even if you have the most beautiful room, you won’t be able to enjoy it if your roommate piles up her mail on the coffee table or leaves her shoes at the front door. Communicate a plan together as to where things will go and you’ll be golden.
6. Color Clash
Dying for a plum-colored bathroom? Bright suggests playing it cautious. “Always do a paint sample and never select a color off the two-inch paint chip in the store,” she says. “A trick I picked up is to select three different hues of the color you like and paint a 12″ x 12″ square on the wall. Stare at it for a day or so before you dip into the paint roller.” Or, update the room with an accent wall versus saturating the entire room in color.
7. Love Nesting
Moving in together can be exciting, but it’s also an exercise in compromise. “I often work with helping couples to blend their households and find a balance between their two styles. Many times it’s completely different,” says Bright. “My secret: it’s all about equality and communication. Even if your S.O. swears he doesn’t care about how many throw pillows are on the bed, trust me, he does. Discuss a design plan ahead of time and outline your deal breakers.”
8. Keep the Future in Mind
Chances are you aren’t planning on living with this person forever. If you’re going splitsies on big-ticket items (sofas, artwork), make a plan well in advance on who will take the item after the lease is up.
Do you have a roommate with wildly different tastes? Do you still have questions on how to cohabit conflict-free? Ask us in the comments!