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When you decide to share space with your sweetie, practicality and design become important priorities. Here are some starting points on blending households.

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You’ve met that special someone, and you’re ready to hermit your way into elastic-waisted, lounge-wear bliss. (Who needs real pants, anyways?)

Instead of first dates—or rolling around in ramen noodles for one—you while away your time debating the important things in life, like the right way to load a dishwasher or whether your cats would eat you if they could. (Ain’t love grand?)

Setting the stage for domestic bliss

Whether you’re newlywed, in a long-term relationship, or recently engaged (like me), living with your beloved could go swimmingly. Or it may take a period of adjustment. (Cough.) At the risk of sounding solemn, your decision to cohabitate will impact your life in a big way. But with the right partner, and a little patience, it should go smoothly. Heck, it could even be fun.

With a can-do attitude, and a few concessions here and there, you’ll keep your sanity, and sense of style, intact. When it comes to sharing a space, here are a few tips to make it less chaotic and more awesomesauce:

Let your partner be themselves

Before your dearest moved in, you were so close to mastering that calming beach house look, with crisp, white linens and furniture, and a splash of light blue on the walls. Now your spare room is bursting with shoes, vagrant toasters, and Christmas decorations of yesteryear. (Sigh.) Take a deep breath, now let it go.

Your space is no longer just yours—you share it with another living, breathing human being. If that picture frame or book collection is so important to your snuggle muffin, why not let them have it? As hackneyed as it sounds, it’s all about communication. Sit your partner down and decide what stays and what goes. You could make a day of it.

couple cuddling white couch living room

Lose the stray toaster

After aeons of living by your lonesome, you’ve likely amassed an impressive collection of crap, from dishes to electronics. Now merge your partner’s assortment of movables, and you’ve got quite the mess on your hands.

If you can deal with some of your stuff before moving day, you’re one step ahead of the game. If that’s not possible, take an inventory of your things once you’ve unpacked. Decide what you’ll keep, and what you’ll toss or donate. (Just don’t accidentally throw out your partner’s giant Mickey Mouse sweater.)

Agree on a style

If you’re set on chic décor, sit your partner down and chat specifics. Are they into spicy Spanish design or simple, understated details? Do they envision a wall filled with family pictures? Or maybe your partner prefers a root canal to an afternoon at IKEA. Either way, before you pick up that new leather couch, you should probably clear it with your partner.

Build an escape room

While some couples don’t mind sharing a space 24/7, others need to slowly ease into it. Whether it’s a “man cave” or a “lady lair,” some people need a place to retreat when they’re feeling overwhelmed or in need of alone time.

You could design the space around your favorite de-stressing activities, whether that’s sipping vino, socializing, or meditating. Some guys, and gals, opt for a home spa setup, or a sanctuary for frazzled nerves, with a comfy couch, blankets, and a TV.

Take-home lesson

Home is where the heart is, as they say. Sure, you’ll need to compromise at times, but living with your sweetheart can be amazing. Even if you’ve got nothing to do, you have someone special to do nothing with. Now, would you take out the garbage already?

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Tanya Roberts

Tanya Roberts is a writer and marketer who loves to spin stories about interior design and home decor. She is principle strategist at Bluefinch.ca