So much stuff, so little space.

My fiancé and I are in the midst of combining our separate large living spaces into one (small) one.

We piled all of our things into a one-bedroom apartment – and I do mean ALL.

The only things of mine left in my mother’s house are a sled and a baby doll bed my Papa made for me as a child. Since she’s moving – everything I own had to go. I’ve lived there – in one form or another – for about 20 years. For two weeks I stopped at my mother’s on the way home to load up my car with more stuff.

Each day my fiancé’s exclamation of ”More stuff?’ becomes just a little more incredulous.

In any case – everything is in the tiny one bedroom apartment. It has a big yard, parking for the both of us, laundry on site and central air. Lovely, right?

It’s also roughly 700 square feet – a far cry from what either of us is used to.

The house I grew up in.
The house I grew up in.

I can feel your concern from here. Somewhere, my father just said, ‘You need to cool it on the Amazon purchasing.’

Relax y’all.

We did what planning we could ahead of time.

I nixed the majority of his furniture, because mine was nicer, and I’m bossy. He obliged, because mine was nicer and it wasn’t worth the argument. Plus, he had a roommate who he had shared the cost of those things with – it didn’t make sense to take it all or go through the ‘I’ll give you 100 and I’ll take this and you keep that’ game.

Using a rough idea of what our furniture measured out to, we drew up layouts of the apartment to decide what furniture would go where.

Should you ever decide to plunge roughly 2000+ square feet (combined) of furniture and home goods with a significant other, partner, friend – anyone, really – here’s some of the best advice I’ve found.

1. Lists are your friend

Go over what you own, what you can each bring to the table in the new apartment. This is your initial, ‘Okay, I can get rid of this.’

2. Draft

If you can get the dimensions of the place and create a layout for it before you move in, you will save yourself so much trouble and aggravation. This will also help you make sure that you’re not packing things for the new apartment that you’d just end up getting rid of. We loved using RoomStyler’s 3D planner. It allows you to change the flooring and paint colors to really see what works. If you’re a big fan of Ikea furniture, it’s great because you can pull in Ikea furniture and see how it works in your space.

This was incredibly helpful. Think about it – it’s far easier to click a bureau to a different side of a room than it is to pick it up and move it once it’s in your apartment. Especially in small apartments.

But if drawing something up by hand is more yourself, pull  out some graphing paper, circa 10th grade math class. Growing up, this was how I would re-organize my bedroom. It took time to measure and then draw and cut-out some scaled furniture, but you won’t regret doing it.

3. Pick your battles

I don’t know why old Pokemon cards are so important to him. They sit in his drawer and he hasn’t touched them since I don’t know when, but they’re important to him and they don’t take up a lot of space.

On the other hand, that falling apart black Ikea bureau was definitely not coming. It’s broken and I have a perfectly good bedroom set in great shape (that wasn’t bought at Ikea) (no offense, I love Ikea too).

In a small space the bureau matters, the Pokemon cards do not. As you organize what’s going where in your new place, think about the battles. Give and take.

In this case, Fiancé is far more advanced at compromise than I am. At least it appears that way.

4. Pin it.

Seriously. Pinterest is your best friend – and not everything on there is female-centric. Make a board and go over things together. If your other half wants to pin, go for it. Just be honest when you sit down and go over what ones you like. It’ll help the both of you understand each other’s taste and hopefully will help you create a look that complements both of you.

5. Wait -then shop together.

Depending on your access to the space, I suggest waiting until you’re moved in and unpacked before you go out and start outfitting your space with the stuff you don’t have – including decor. Chances are you own whatever you need to make it through a day, or a week, until you are settled in and can go get what’s next. This part will be a lot more fun if you’re clear on what you have (1) and what your design aesthetics are (4). Plus, once you’re in the space it will be very clear what’s lacking, and what you have too much of.

6. Be honest

Compromise, doesn’t mean lying and telling them, ‘No, I like that’ when you really don’t. If you’re out buying things and you really don’t like it – be honest. It is your home too and if you don’t want that ugly dinner table – say so.

Double-edged sword here – they have the right to say the same to you. Try not to get butt hurt over the fact that he doesn’t love that ladder-style bar set-up you saw at Crate and Barrel. If you really like that ladder-style bar, resort to #3. Is this really worth the argument, or can you find something that you both like?

7. Re-organize and toss some more.

If you’re anything like me, no matter how much you try to toss, you will still find yourself with more than you need once you’ve moved. Go through it all again. We seriously need to go through our glassware. We have an entire cabinet filled with glassware. We have a beer glass for almost every beer we’ve tried and more wine glasses than we will ever need. I even have a silver tea set from my grandmother.

We will eventually go through it. Right now we have one cupboard for food and four cupboards for serving and cookware. Craigslist, here we come.

Fiancé and I are still working it out. Hunting for a dining table – I can’t stand eating dinner, breakfast, etc. on a couch – and a bar of some sort has been a challenge.

On the plus side, he raked the entire yard and it looks so nice and clean. Now to wait for the grass to grow.

Any advice as we embark on our design process? 

(Prayers are welcome.)



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