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Moving In Together, Part 2: Turning Two Living Rooms Into One

As we mentioned in part one of the “Moving in Together” series, moving in with your significant other is a huge and exciting milestone, but the actual moving in part can be less than exciting if you don’t do a little planning beforehand. You both have stuff, and before you can achieve cohabitational bliss, you need to decide what goes, what stays, and how you’re going to combine it all when you get to your new space.

Last time, we helped you set up your new kitchen. This week, we’ll be focusing on the living room. Your living room will be a focal point of your new place. Not only will it be a popular spot for entertaining, you’ll also be spending a lot of time, um, living in there each day. While you’ll want your living room to look good, it should function well, as well, and we’ve put together some suggestions for achieving both. Here are some tips:

1. MEASUREMENTS:

Before moving in together into your new space, you need to know exactly how much living room you have to work with, and how much of that space will be taken up by your combined furniture pieces, artwork, and other items. Measure everything. If you have any wall or floor space left over, go shopping together to find items that will bring the room together. But don’t overdo it. Even if you did manage to get rid of some items before the move (here are some donating tips), it’s still easy to clutter up a room. You don’t need to cover up every square inch. Leave some room in your living room to breathe and walk. You (and your guests) will appreciate it.

Blended color palette from the Bellhops article "Moving in Together, Part 2: Two Living Rooms Become One"

2. FURNITURE ARRANGEMENTS:

As important as it as to settle on furniture you both like, it’s equally important to arrange your pieces in a way that will actually work for both of you. Map out your room so that everything is balanced from a space and layout perspective, then focus on the overall look. Sometimes, this requires keeping a piece because of its usefulness or potential, and not because it looks great or because you spent a lot of money on it. Instead of trying to blend styles, settle on an in-between style that will work for both of you. A bookcase might fit a corner perfectly, but needs to be painted. Maybe that floor lamp would work better with a different shade. Perhaps you’ll need to reupholster a chair. A slipcover can work wonders on a sofa or loveseat until it’s time to buy a new one. Settle on an overall design goal for the room, and be willing to compromise to achieve it.

3. DECORATIONS:

If you and your significant other love the same styles, then great. Chances are, however, that before moving in together you realized you have different tastes. And simply throwing your stuff together will make your living room look, you guessed it, thrown together. You can bridge the eclectic style gaps by not fixating too much on any one piece and focusing instead on experimenting with similar shapes, textures, or materials. Some fun throw pillows can take the edge off an angular sofa. His coffee table might work better on top of your area rug. When it comes time to shop for missing pieces, choose basic or timeless items and designs in order to avoid making things even more eclectic than they already are.

Living room chair from the Bellhops article: "Moving in Together, Part 2: Two Living Rooms Become One"

4. PORTION CONTROL:

Just as too many styles can overwhelm a living room, so can too many accessories. The goal should be to accent, not overwhelm. Leave enough room so you can move without having to move stuff. Got too many bins or baskets on the floor? Combine the contents and store the overflow in a nearby closet. It doesn’t take much for a living room to get covered up with blankets or stuffed with pillows. Spread or throw what you need, and then store the rest. An ottoman with built-in storage can help. And if you’re like most couples, your living room will be home to a big, flatscreen TV. Unfortunately, some of the appeal of watching your favorite movie in 4K will be lost if you’re also staring at 4,000 cords while you do it. Limit yourselves to the only the components you absolutely must have, and find ways to tuck, cover, or otherwise hide the cables. A reclaimed dresser can act as a sturdy and obscuring entertainment center.

5. COLOR SWATCHES:

One saving grace when it comes to moving in together is the use of a blended color palette. You can get away with two, three, or more different styles if you stick to a common set of colors. Try selecting accessories with softer hues to balance out the heavier colors found in your bigger pieces. (Note: It’s also cheaper and easier to experiment with your accessory colors than it is with your furniture pieces.) If you’ve established a color palette, but things still feel too busy, opt for a neutral feel in the living room and other main areas, while going for more adventurous colors in the hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms, foyers, and other side areas.

Thanks for reading. Come back next time when we move on to the master bath in the “Moving in Together” series.


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