Decorating and furnishing when you and your roommate have different styles

So you love sleek, modern design and your roommate adores the lacy, floral, Victorian look. Now what? If you don’t talk about your conflict before you furnish your apartment, you’ll end up with a goofy hodgepodge look that you’ll both hate.

There are two basic solutions to a design conflict like this. One, you could divide the apartment according to who occupies what space and decorate separately. This allows you complete creative freedom in your bedroom (or your half of the bedroom), your closet (or your shelves in the closet), and your food cupboard. Doing this, though, means that if your style drastically differs from that of your roommate, your apartment will be an aesthetic mutant. And that doesn’t solve the problem of the common space. And what if you’re sharing a studio?

The second solution is a creative compromise. Figure out what is most important to you and be flexible on the rest. You could each do this: come up with one thing or element that you really, really don’t like (i.e. lace) and one thing or element that you don’t want to live without (i.e. black accents). Then be flexible on the rest. You might be surprised with what you come up with.

Another tip: go through decorating magazines and IKEA-type catalogs together (even if you’d never be able to afford some of the stuff you see). It’s good inspiration. Make a note of every time you see a piece or design element you both like.

Then go thrift-shopping, garage-saling, curb-plucking, Craigslist-hunting and Freecycle-haunting together. Paint and fabric are cheap ways to unlock the potential in your finds. Say you come across fifties-era kitchen chairs with cool space-agey silver legs, but the seats are stained and your roommate hates modern design anyway. Recover the seats with vintage floral fabric purchased at a secondhand store. Voila! An original look you both love.

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Author My First Apartment

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Outdoors/adventure writer. Living proof that you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can't take the Midwest out of the girl.

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