Pin It

9 Tips for Decorating With a Roommate


simonkr / iStock /

simonkr / iStock /

Leaving home for the first time is an exciting milestone. The freedom! The responsibility! The potential for décor! For possibly the first time in your life, you have complete control over the way your home/apartment/dorm room looks—save for budgets, landlords, and roommates.

Ah, roommates. You’ll laugh together, you’ll cry together, and you’ll scratch your heads wondering how to combine your boho chic esthetic with her glossy modern preferences.

If you’re hoping to keep the peace with your roommate without sacrificing interior décor bliss, here’s what you need to know.

Emphasize the “With”
Note the title of this post: Decorating With a Roommate, not against. Repeat the following: your roommate is your partner. Like it or not, you’re in this together for the long haul—or at least the semester.

You might have a roommate who has zero interest in decorating your place and is happy to let you take control—but don’t assume that this will be the case. Before you jump in and decorate your shared spaces, you’ll need to communicate.

Ask & Listen
The only way to figure out whether you are your roommate are on the same page (or, perhaps, are in totally different books) is to talk. Ask your roommate how much they care about décor. Ask what furniture they have, what their style preferences are, what their budget is. Talk things out to get an idea of where you both stand and where you need to go.

Enter Pinterest
If you’re both passionate about decorating and are overflowing with ideas, consider making an aspirational Pinterest board together. This will give you a better idea of what you each want—before you drop the big dough.

Take Inventory
Hand-me-downs and thrifted finds are standard among first apartments. Start by comparing what items you are both bringing into your new place. This will help you avoid overcrowding and will let you know what you still need to pick up.

It will also give you an idea about the décor scheme foundation you’ll be working off of. If the budget is tight, beggars can’t be choosers—your hand-me-downs might dictate that décor approach you need to take.

Take Risks
Okay, so you’ve determined each other’s styles—and they are totally opposite. All is not lost: head to the library and scan through their decorating magazine archives for inspiration on how different esthetics can be combined successfully. When done properly, mixing and matching can give a room some personality and make it feel less cookie-cutter than a uniform room.

Aim For Function
Prioritize function over fashion in areas like the bathroom and the kitchen. Spaces is often limited in these rooms, so don’t go overboard with décor. Hopefully, neutral is something you can both agree on.

All successful roommate relationships require that you both be willing to compromise. You might hate the ratty old quilt that your roomie insists on slinging over your couch, but if it keeps her from being homesick, let is slide—as long as she’s cool with the throw rug you picked up at a flea market on your world travels.

Remember: It’s Not Forever
Keep things in perspective: this is your first place. There will be others. Most first homes are far from the images you see in magazines. Embrace this chaotic, mismatched season of your life and start saving for a killer coffee table for when you move out on your own.

The Bedroom: All Bets Are Off
Go all out in your personal space, whether it’s your bedroom or the wall space beside your bed (if you share a room). Make it yours. Make it feel like home. Hold nothing back.

like downlinens