Whether you’re a match made in heaven or have your share of differences, decorating any shared space with a roommate is going to require some careful planning and, yes, compromise. 

But that doesn’t mean the process can’t be fun or that you need to toss out all your favorite possessions. Here, photographer duo and IRL cohabitators The Maxwells share five simple tips for successfully decorating a communal space (hint: it involves lots of healthy communication and just a little patience.) Check out their tips below!

1. Voice Your Opinion

In a kind and courteous way, of course. If you never say anything and you let a more dominant personality take over you will end up bitter and feeling like there’s no hope in creating a space you feel at home in. Save yourself and your relationship by sharing your thoughts and knowing there is no “right and wrong” when it comes to style. You both deserve to be respected and represented equally! Don’t let anyone bully you about your style because no matter what it is, it’s YOURS, and that’s what makes it special.

2. Hear Each Other Out

It’s easy to get caught up in your own needs and forget to listen to your roommate about what they need and, more specifically, WHY?

For someone who has a ton of clothes and likes packing their closet to the brim, it might be difficult to understand a roommate who prefers to see a little empty, unused space. It’s important to take the time to find out what aesthetic your design partner feels inspired by!

3. Be Patient

You WILL eventually find something you both like. For pieces like a shared comforter, couch, rug or coasters, it’s important you are both equally happy with them. Sometimes that means meeting in the middle of your two styles or simply picking out prints that are more neutral. Maybe your roommate won’t go for the hot pink floral, but a vintage floral in black might be the perfect in-between!

Anything that is going to be in a communal space should be something both of your eyes can rest easily on. When you first start searching for these shared pieces there will be many times when you’ll find something you like, ask if the other person likes it, and get a lot of “no’s.” This is okay! If you look long enough you will discover there actually are prints and styles you both can get behind. It’s worth the time, and when you finally do find the gem you both love you will forget all about the blood, sweat and tears you spent searching.

4. Find a Space That is Just Yours

It’s important for you to have some space that is completely yours to decorate however your heart desires. If you are married and sharing a bed, room, closet and LIFE with your spouse it can be hard to feel like you have an outlet for your own style. Side tables are a good place to start because you can have your own and dress it up or down however you like it!

Find a nook, a drawer, a corner or a shelf that you can claim for your own and let it all hang out! Having spots that are your own will help make compromising in shared spots a lot easier.

5. Respect Each Other’s Hard “No”s

Every now and then you will come across something that is so ugly your eyes burn when you look at it. It is important to not make fun of anyone for finding value in something that makes you want to vomit, while at the same time respectfully sharing your opinion.

No one should have to look at a “St. Pauli girl” neon beer sign every day (sorry Michael Scott, we are with Jan on this one.) Give each other the space to say “no” to pieces that make their eyes twitch and blood boil. It might hurt to have to put your Big Mouth Billy Bass in storage for a time, but you will be grateful you established the “hard no” rule the next time your roommate comes home with a tank of impromptu sea monkeys that really grind your gears.

Photography and words by The Maxwells

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Jessica McQueen

Associate Editor

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