It’s the wedding season! Hello out there, all you lovebirds!
Soon all the newlyweds will be facing their first marital challenge: how to combine their belongings harmoniously into one pleasant living space. (Oh, what to do with his bobblehead collection! Her shoe fixation! Four coffee machines!)
Marriage, of course, requires these little–and not so little–accommodations. Likewise re-marriage. Or boomerang kids returning home. Or elderly parents moving in. You can be sure that whatever prompts the re-arranging of your household to accommodate other people’s tastes and stuff could also send you over the edge!
(Now, my area of expertise is the interior design aspect of merging households. What to do about your adult child’s love of death metal rock at midnight is a question above my pay grade. But I’m sure you’ll work it out.)
Merging Households Tip #1: Talk a lot, and be nice.
Whether the decision to combine households was happily anticipated and desired, or born of necessity, it will take some flexibility from all parties to make it work. Think and talk through the needs of everyone: privacy? accessibility? work-from-home space? When you know what will be needed, you can work together to make it happen. (Need some guidance? I’d love to help you
For example, we created a needed mini office space in one corner of my client’s bedroom. Your situation might involve converting an unused room into a bedroom for Mom.
Merging Households Tip #2: Be prepared to compromise
What happens when you can’t agree on style questions? When your spouse, for example, is more passionate than you are about the look, that’s a natural place where you can easily give way. When you are equally invested in style choices, can you find an area to meet in the middle?
If you can’t reach agreement, though, seeking an impartial third opinion is so helpful. But choose only a neutral party, not a friend, or else it’s hardly impartial. Above all, remember that people are more important than things. If this decision causes any sort of rift in the relationship, always honor the person over the design. (Or just let the lady win!)
Merging Households Tip #3: Measure all the spaces to decide what will fit and what has to go.
I can tell you now that, when combining two households into one, everything will not fit. So you’ll have to decide what to keep. (See tip No. 1!) To start with, look for duplicates of cookware, dishes and small appliances, and keep the best. And the rest?
a) Use this opportunity to purge what you don’t need. Pass it forward to a young couple or single who’s starting to furnish a home. You could stage a pay-it-forward party for your family. Set it up like a garage sale and let them “shop”. Maybe ask them to donate funny things to trade.
b) Find a worthy cause–maybe a domestic shelter that’s setting up new homes for women beginning over–and donate your extras in good condition to them.
When it comes to the stuff of life, a big category is SENTIMENTAL items. You must be brave. Sort. Keepsakes. Maybe you can integrate some family history into your new decor, as I did with my dad’s sports memorabilia in my son’s room.
Most importantly, you’re going for a coherent style in the merged areas. Maybe there’s a nostalgic piece of furniture that you decide together could be repurposed in the new space. For instance, you can always make a chest into a tv console or a dresser into a sofa table. Maybe it just needs a coat of paint or new knobs to fit in (or make you not hate it). And of course good quality soft goods can be reupholstered.
Sometimes you can merge personal belongings such as art by creating a gallery wall of your combined pieces. With decorative items that you decide to keep, you might try rotating pieces in so everyone’s favorites get a viewing.
Merging Households Tip #4: Shop together for new items.
Sometimes, to get a unified look, you have to delete and add. Discuss the new look you’re going for and set your budget for acquiring the larger new pieces. Consult a designer (I happen to know one!) if you need help accommodating the tastes and desires of both of you.
Merging two lives and homes can be done without killing anyone! Allow me to assist you!