How To Personalize A Shared Living Space — When You And Your Roommate Have Very Different Taste

How To Personalize A Shared Living Space --- When You And Your Roommate Have Very Different Taste

You and your roomie are tight. You split bottles of Pinot on the reg, wash each other’s dishes, and binge TV together on more streaming services than you can keep track of.

But when it comes to decorations, well … you couldn’t be more different. It’s straight up minimalist zen vs. Versailles 2.0, with your psychedelic shag rugs battling her swaths of clean-cut greige.

In other words, it’s a full-on decor war.

So how can you reconcile those differences and create a shared space that appeals to both of your tastes?

It’s not impossible. In fact, when you meld multiple styles, you’ll end up with a home design that’s totally unique and causes zero fights.

Below are 10 creatively diplomatic ways to go about it, courtesy of our friends at MakeSpace — a full-service New York City storage company that also serves Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

1. Put a plan into place

a cutting board hangs on a white wall underneath a small clock
Ugly Duckling House

Are you foraging local thrift shops for bargains, or coordinating designer pieces from West Elm? It’s best to have both a budget and a vision in place from the get-go. As you move forward, it’ll make it much easier to stay on the same page.

If you’re not sure where to start, try hitting Pinterest up for inspiration.

2. Divvy the room, literally…

a woven room partition divides one room into two
Sugar and Cloth

Room partitions are an instant game changer. They mentally divide one room into two without doing any permanent damage whatsoever.

This makes them perfect solutions for areas like the living room. Used daily, a room divider can create two separate, totally customizable nooks (we’re lookin’ at you, makeshift home office!). And if you want to have a party or gathering that requires more space, you can simply fold it up and store it in a closet.

If you’re tight on space (and positive you want to permanently divide the room), you can use a bookshelf as a divider. Just make sure to fill it up with tomes and trinkets you both choose.

Two birds, one stone, and everyone’s happy.

3. …and figuratively

portrait of a living room with leather couches and a wooden coffee table
The Merry Thought

There are certain items you and your roommate should always split the cost on. Disposables like toilet paper and dish towels, for example. Or the cable bill from all that Netflix bingeing.

But for bigger items – like the sofa, or your dining room table – Elle Decor advises establishing clear ownership from the get-go. This will make it much easier to decide who keeps what if one of you moves out.  

4. Set a clutter dropzone

a small box in a hallway holds pillows and a blanket
The Proper Blog

You have a tendency to leave your running shoes in the hallway, he always forgets to put away his computer charger. When it’s just the two of you it’s no biggie – but how can you eliminate the mess when guests pop by?

Designate a spot or basket where you can toss miscellaneous items for last-minute tidying up. It’ll eliminate guesswork (“where’s my mail?”), resentment (“did he throw out my mail again?”), and clutter (“oh, there’s my mail!”), all in one go.

5. When it doubt, shop it out

various items hang on the wall of a gift shop

Try looking together for new pieces. You might be surprised by which items you find mutually appealing. Who knew you both had a penchant for Japanese textiles?

Plus, here’s one not-so-obvious benefit of being roomies:

You can totally Amazon order and chill … from the comfort of your shared couch.

6. Collaborate on a gallery wall

a small collection of colorful artwork comprises a gallery wall
A Beautiful Mess

You want this photo in the living room, she wants that one.

So why not hang both?

Put your heads (and artwork) together to form a gallery wall, which will allow both your personalities and preferences to shine. Here’s some inspo from Houzz on how to create a gallery wall that’s totally organic.

And if your pieces are still somewhat at odds, you could make like Laura from A Beautiful Mess and unify them with bright-colored mat boards.

7. But stay true to yourself, too

a black cat sits upon the dining table in a gorgeous vintage kitchen
This Little Street

There’s compromise, and then there’s totally giving in because you think it will be easier. A good way to keep your balance alive is by trading off who gets to purchase the bigger pieces, and when.

Think of it as a gallery wall – but for the entire room!

8. Rotate pieces out every few months

a small, concrete clock on the perch of a white-brick mantel
Lemon Thistle

If there are certain pieces you simply can’t see eye to eye on, it may be time for temporary concession.

Consider swapping items out every few months. Whether you put them in storage or simply stow them away in your room, it makes the process a much fairer one. That way, your beloved street art painting gets as much time in the sun as does her antique deer antlers.

9. Give each other some literal space

four small bouquets of white flowers in little glass jars placed on a mantel
Gratefully Vintage

Maybe you have a particular vision for the kitchen, while your roomie is a whiz at arranging bathroom cosmetics.

One solution:

Grant each other free reign of each respective space. This will make the design portion a fun activity, rather than kindling for an argument.

Just make sure you equally divide the cleaning responsibilities, too.

10. Make your bedroom your dream design den

Easy like a Sunday morning #cosybedroom #minimalstyle #easylikeasundaymorning #bedroominterior

A post shared by AK ️️️️️ INTERIORS (@amarakanu_interiors) on

Good news: You don’t have to compromise in your own space. In fact, your bedroom is one place you can trick out 100% with your own flair.

Bedazzle your mirror, go wild with throw pillows, or hang those pieces that didn’t quite make the gallery wall.  

And relax in the knowledge that the only person choosing the aesthetic here is you.


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