His and Hers: The compromise of combining households
The big moment happens: two people fall in love, decide to move in together and thus comes the test of true love — combining your furniture and tastes. With a few basic rules to keep in mind, you’ll be able to have more fun than stress when going through this rite of passage.
Rule No. 1: Both of you need a voice in the design.
One of you cannot be a design bully. A home needs to represent everyone who lives there. How do you do that? Start by hitting the internet and both of you choosing five inspiration photos of rooms you like and your top 10 house priorities. Do this on your own and do not influence each other. Now, before you show each other, remember both of you are right. It’ll be about coming up with a master plan and baby-stepping towards it as time and budget allow. And keep in mind you don’t have to live with something forever. (This is coming from the woman who lived with her husband’s Homer Simpson green sofa with a phone and heated seats for a year.)
Rule No. 2: You make a pact that the room tells you what gets to stay.
It’s like picking the perfect hair cut for your face. Just because a cut looks great on a celebrity doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Same thing with décor. Just because something worked well in your last space doesn’t mean it is the right fit in the new environment. Don’t be scared to bring in outside help. Interior designers are often used as an unbiased party that gives the tough love as to what items work best for a space. Remember you can hire a designer for just a one-hour consultation to come in as a design Judge Judy.
Rule No. 3: You can’t mess with family memories.
If an item is a warm fuzzy for one of you then, out of love, you make it work. Now if everything is a memory, then we have a design intervention. Take a few photos for an album and then set those items free to have a fresh start with someone else. My personal trick is to watch an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive. You very easily will start to see these are just things.
Rule No. 4: Don’t be wasteful.
Give your furniture and décor a chance to help someone else. If you have items that don’t work, you can either sell them or donate them. If you’re going to try and sell the large items, whether at a garage sale or on Craigslist, you need to know you will never get the full value. Once you come to terms with that, then it will be a much easier process. Some money is always better than nothing and even small sales can add up into a new piece that you purchase together.
Also, there are a lot of amazing organizations that will give tax write-offs, and your donations will go to giving others a chance at having a home. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore website states: “Just because they’re called landfills doesn’t mean we need to fill them up. Don’t throw it away — let us put it to good use!” My personal favorite is Amethyst Place, where the women get to keep all of their furniture and décor once they graduate from the program. Or have a garage sale and donate that money to the Ronald McDonald House or your charity of choice.
Rule No. 5: Have fun.
It all comes down to perspective. If you approach the process of combining households with a good attitude, it will be much easier to pull off. Design is a luxury in life and, in the big scheme of things, it’s just furniture. Remember, the whole point is to have a new beginning together.