Making a Small Space Feel Cozy–Even When You Share It
You and your sweetie are moving in together! This is great news! You’ll have two incomes which will make affording the rent and utilities much simpler. You’ll share expenses for food and split the chores evenly. You’ll each do less work and have more time to spend together, right? Bring on the romance!
That’s the dream. Here’s the reality: moving and setting up a new space is always going to be stressful, especially when you’re trying to fit two whole individual lives (and lifetime accumulations of stuff) into a single space. Not to mention that when you first start out, that area is likely to be small. Remember: “open floor plan” is just realtor code for “studio apartment.”
Breaking Up the Space
The first thing you have to do when you’re dealing with an “open floor plan” is find a way to break up space. The simplest way to do this is to set up a room divider or two. If your space is small, you should opt for curtains instead of screens. This way you can tie the curtains back to make when you need to make the space feel bigger and close them when you need some alone time or privacy. Companies like Room Dividers Now offer free standing kits to help you hang these curtains simply and quickly (as opposed to rigging them up from the ceiling).
Use Light Colors
If your space is “cozy” (aka, if one of you sneezes, the other will feel it no matter what part of the apartment they are in), opt for furniture and paint colors that are lighter. White walls and light colored curtain dividers might seem boring but they’ll help the space feel brighter and bigger than it is. Darker colors tend to make spaces feel smaller which is nice for large spaces but can make small spaces feel downright claustrophobic.
Making Your Bedroom Cozy
Chances are you, and your sweetie have very different ideas about the form and function of a bedroom. Some people, for example, believe that bedrooms are only for sleeping. Others see them as cozy getaways, no matter the time of day. Maybe one of you likes to watch TV before bed. The other can’t sleep unless the space is dark and silent. These are going to be challenges, and you should talk about them before you move in together and try to find compromises. For example, the person who sees the bedroom as a cozy getaway can claim that space as their “I need alone time” space (we’ll get to this later). The person who enjoys watching television before bed can opt for a tablet and headphones.
Downsize Downsize Downsize
Some downsizing is normal even when you aren’t going to be moving in with someone else. It makes the packing and moving process a lot easier. When you’re joining lives with someone, this downsizing needs to be turbocharged. And it is important that you do this process together. Go through your individual homes together and decide together which pieces of furniture you will keep (you don’t need two beds, couches, etc. ) and donate. For sentimental items, remember that self-storage units exist for a reason. If sentimental belongings don’t fit into the new space, split the cost of a storage unit and store sentimental or seasonal items there.
Yours and Theirs
When you first move in together, you might be determined to share everything. Here’s the truth: that only feels fun for about a week, if that long. It is incredibly important, especially now that you share a space, which you each keep some semblance of autonomy and stake out some territory for yourselves. A great way to do this is to have yours and theirs bookcases. Chances are you both have those ubiquitous Billy bookcases from IKEA, right? Set them up and then fill them, decorate them however each of you likes. If one of you likes clean shelves with a few decorative items, great! If the other likes to stuff the bookcase as full as it can get, awesome! These spaces are yours to do with what you wish.
These are just some ways that you can make a small shared space feel big enough for two. Have you moved in with a significant other? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments!