When taking my marriage vows, I promised to stick by my husband’s side through sickness and health, for richer or poorer. But before we moved in together, I didn’t realize my vows would extend to his collection of framed football jerseys and an ancient table lamp shaped like a turtle.
I knew there’d be challenges when I moved into my husband’s condo, yet I never imagined we’d disagree more about our furniture than our finances. Though it took time, we were able to find a balance between “bachelor pad chic” and “country cottage.” Here are a couple of tricks that helped us create a space of our own:
Save space for the sentimental
Neither of us wanted to argue about keeping things with a lot of sentimental—and little aesthetic—value. So, when we combined places, we made a rule that we could each set aside three pieces of furniture as non-negotiable keepers. And somehow, we made my grandmother’s childhood dresser work in the same room as my husband’s beanbag chair from college. Before I moved in, we planned exactly where these “no questions asked” items would go and measured them to ensure they’d fit where we envisioned. While these pieces from our past aren’t always pretty, they’re part of what makes our place home.
Divide and conquer
Since we were adding a whole apartment’s worth of furniture to an already full condo, we knew we’d have to say goodbye to some stuff. Who needs two toaster ovens, anyway? When it came to appliances and cookware, we took inventory of our duplicate items and kept the nicer of the two. We asked around at our offices and family gatherings to see if the rejected appliances had any takers, and gave the remaining items away.
Because we knew we’d eventually want to move into a home together, we didn’t want to part with couches, bookcases and other things we’d want once we had more space. Rather than get rid of those big-ticket items, we opted to place them in storage. Before exposing them to the unknown elements in a storage facility, we made sure they were insured. Some items in storage can only be insured for a limited time or at a low percentage of their actual value—so we triple-checked our policy and calculated the value of what we had.
Find a middle ground
It was tough to find a common design scheme between my furniture and his, so we decided to blend pieces by color instead. And since our things didn’t go together naturally, we chose a more eclectic look for our place. Even so, it took a few months of gathering throw pillows, blankets, and other odds and ends before everything looked cohesive.
Throughout the process, I knew my husband wasn’t thrilled when I added feminine touches to almost every room. But, as a compromise, he was able to keep his den as a total man cave, filled with everything a guy could want. This allowed both of us to feel like we had a say in aspects of the décor, and it set the stage for future collaboration.
Keep clutter to a minimum
Getting rid of our junk was one of the last steps in our moving process, but it was a super important one. Two households means twice the clutter, and I wasn’t about to wade through a sea of old term papers and broken holiday ornaments. A week before I moved in, my husband and I spent several hours sifting through our individual junk drawers and closets. This not only resulted in fewer boxes for me to pack and haul across town, it gave me a great opportunity to organize my files and get my bills, account statements and other important papers in order before the big move.
Though you can’t prepare for every bump in the road that may arise, deciding what to keep, store and give away before moving day can help you breathe a little easier. And if all else fails, you can always de-stress with a nap in your significant other’s beanbag chair.
Richelle Mon bonn is a contributing blogger and E-Business Marketing Manager at Allstate Insurance Co.