Living with another or multiple other people can come with a bunch of conflicts, decorating being one of them. Shared spaces like the kitchen, living room and bathroom can quickly become a mismatch of opposing styles. However, living with roommates, outside of the terrible experiences, also has the benefit of potentially being able to split costs on furniture and decor.
Even if your living situation is temporary, living in a space that feels like home is always better than in a cluttered mess. It’s important that all roommates are a part of the conversation when it comes to decorating. Maybe you’ll want to check out interior bloggers together or start a collaborative Pinterest board to get some inspiration.
Agree on Financials
Before you start considering things like color palette and furniture for a DIY session, it’s important to set the ground rules in terms of finances. There are a range of questions that you’ll have to ask and factors that everyone needs to be on the same page with. For instance, what’s the master budget? Will costs be split evenly? Can someone who doesn’t need creative control pay less for decorations?
Stick to Some Neutrals
A good starting place when decorating are the walls and the sofa. These typically make up a large portion of a shared living space. Even if you or your roommates have color preferences, keeping these foundational items neutral offers the best chance of satisfying everyone. If possible, keep this rule of thumb for other items like curtains and rugs.
There are always other areas where you and your roommates can express your design tastes. For instance, accent pillows, wall art and other decorative accessories. If you’re someone that’s into a neutral palette, try not to be too afraid of color. If you’re living with multiple roommates, you can probably expect that at least one of them wants to add different colors.
There might be room for each roommate to have a list of non-negotiables or dealbreakers. For instance, two things per person that they cannot accept no matter what. This might be something more simple like no burgundy decor or something a little more out there like no stuffed toys in the living room.
Find a Middle Ground, But Not Always
You probably expected a tip on finding a middle ground. However, it’s also important that you don’t compromise too much. Why? Sometimes, the option that’s in the middle will make all parties unhappy. What’s the point of that? For instance, if you prefer a shabby chic style and another roommate prefers a contemporary style, a french country style wouldn’t make sense.
Instead, compromise in other ways. This might mean giving one roommate free reign over the living room while you get to control the kitchen. You’ll likely have to be okay with some design choices that you wouldn’t choose yourself. However, making sure there are set boundaries will help to keep the peace.
If you’ve already been living with your roommates, you all might have accumulated a bunch of items. Before going ahead with redecorating, it might be a good idea to go through all your things and declutter. This will create a blank canvas for everyone to work with. You might consider the Marie Kondo or KonMari method when decluttering and organizing your things.
Focus on Your Bedroom
Even if you can’t get total creative control over shared spaces, you can always rely on your bedroom being your sanctuary. Of course, you might have certain restrictions from your landlord but there tends to be ways to get around them. For instance, if you’re not allowed to paint your walls, try a large tapestry instead.
Ultimately, you want to try your best to make this experience as pain free as possible. Even if you might just be living with roommates to cut down on expenses, being on good terms is never a bad thing. Keep the communication open and honest while making sure you’re open to decorating styles that are different from your own.