Stress Free Organizing for Living Together

Yours, Mine & Ours. It’s important to sort it out before living together.

So, you’re shacking up. Taking the plunge. Making a commitment and merging your lives (and possessions) into one unit. Congratulations! There are many reasons why people move in together. Organizing for living together doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether you are a couple, blending a family, roommates or a caregiver, it’s important to address the “stuff” before moving day. I’m not talking last minute nerves or who gets the bigger bedroom. I’m talking about your actual things.

When two (or more) households become one it means double the stuff in, what is likely, the same amount of space. Emotional baggage aside, you’ll need to sort through it all and pare down to what you actually need. Never fear! There are some simple organizing solutions for living together that will help you to get started on an agreeable note. By the way, you’ll eventually need to address the emotional baggage too.

When organizing for living together there’s baggage and then there’s BAGGAGE.

Compromise is KEY

Deciding on what stays and what goes can be a touchy subject. I suggest you flip that question on its head. Instead, turn your focus on deciding together on the things you both LOVE and NEED. This doesn’t mean that you won’t run into conflict. If you’ve decided to cohabitate, for whatever reason, this won’t be the last time that you’ll have to make compromises. You might as well settle in, right? However, if you are still at loggerheads here are a few suggestions to make the decision making go a little smoother:

Refurbish/Repurpose-Can you re-cover a beloved piece of furniture to suit both your tastes? Turn a bookcase into a bar? Paint a table? Change the hardware on a dresser?

You Pick/I Pick-Take turns. You win this one, I win that one. No complaints!

Fresh Start- Still can’t agree? Perhaps it’s time to buy something new that you can shop for together. Win/Win!

Rock/Paper/Scissors-I only recommend this strategy in extreme situations. Don’t be a donkey.

Warning. Use only in dire circumstances.

Deciding on Duplicates

Ideally, if you know that you plan on living together, there is time to plan ahead. You can take an inventory of the things you each own. You will have to decide which to keep and which goes for resale, recycling or donation. Or, the trash. It’s unlikely that you’ll need two can openers, two sets of cutlery, two microwaves, two dining room tables, two couches…you get the picture. Hopefully, you’ve been able to discuss and make COMPROMISE (see above) on what to keep. If not, here’s how to figure out what makes the cut:

Quality-Is one of the options of a higher quality? Is it expected to last longer? Sturdier? Comfier? Pick the obvious choice.

Condition-Ratty linens? Holey towels? In need of repair? If it’s looking worse for wear, pick the item(s) in the best condition.

Towels are an affordable splurge.

Size-Yes, size matters. Bigger isn’t always better (unless it’s a king-sized shared bed). Consider which option(s) fit best in the space you are working with. Now might be a good time to measure and make sure it fits your floorplan too!

Usability-Will you both use it? Does it have an immediate use? Or, will the items(s) be used in the near future (E.g. camping gear)?

QUICK TIP: The kitchen is a good place to start. It’s unlikely that you have (much) emotional attachment to cleaning supplies or cheese graters. Moving is also a great opportunity to cull unnecessary kitchen contraptions that are collecting dust. I see you, pasta maker.

Décor Dilemmas

Okay, maybe I’m not the best person to give advice about combining artwork and aesthetics. Just ask my husband where the majority of his pieces reside. The boat shed. I mean, his framed picture of 1980’s, greased-up Hulk Hogan is more suited to that space than our living room. Right, Brother?

Honestly, mixing different styles make homes dynamic and interesting. I think common ground is the solution you should strive for when merging décor tastes. Can’t we all just get along? Sure cohesiveness is nice…for some. Eclectic, for others. Interior Designers recommend considering scale, colour, space and balance to make spaces “work”. Personally, I think décor is more about blending than balancing. A home doesn’t have to be matchy-matchy, it needs to work for you instead! Especially if kids/pets are involved and space is limited. After all, you have to learn to live and share your communal space.

Décor is subjective. There is no universal truth.

However, you can rest assured that the Hulkster and his 24 inch pythons will remain in their current location. A tool shed. It’s important to be reasonable when organizing for living together. Or, have a partner that will acquiesce to your taste.

“Whatcha gonna do, when Hulkamania runs wild on you?!”

The Great Purge

Speaking of limited space. Before you pack is an awesome time to purge your possessions for your big move. No need to bring surplus clutter into your new living situation. Consider it an opportunity to deal with those non-necessities. Looking to start with a clean slate? Here is a list of common locations to consider when decluttering: attics, basements, bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, dining rooms, entrance ways, garages, kitchens, living rooms and sheds or outbuildings.

“Your home is living space, not storage space.”

Francine Joy
Purge before you pack.

Additional categories to evaluate for living together include, but aren’t limited to:

Kids & Pets-Yeah, I deliberately put them in the same category. You should probably find out if members of the household are allergic before you move in together. Who is responsible for walkies and cleaning up after them?

Legal Matters-Before things get weird, discuss rental/lease agreements or mortgages. Do you have a budget? Who is in charge of bill payments? Which ones? It’s best to figure that stuff out now to avoid arrears letters and general butt-hurt.

Chores-Dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, general tidying etc. Sort it out before “standoffs” evolve. Trust me on this. Divide and conquer.

Reality check!

Outdoor Living-Don’t forget about outside objects like fire pits, mowers, tools and lawn furniture!

Personal Space-Togetherness is great but privacy is equally as important. Is there a space to escape?

Extra Storage Options-Normally, I don’t encourage the use of additional storage space. Renting out storage units is an added expense. And, often times unnecessary. (Declutter instead!) However, I concede that there are situations when storing extra items makes sense. For example, if you know the cohabitation isn’t a long-term event. By all means, store your stuff. Or, if you simply can’t part with sentimental or precious belongings. Stockpile away!

You should determine if you have space for kids & pets before moving in together.

Need More Help Figuring it Out?

Regardless of the circumstances, moving in together isn’t something to be taken lightly. Yes, it can be an exciting time but it also requires serious thought. It should be intentional. A Sorted Affair Inc. is here for your organizing needs for living together. Contact Kelly for a FREE consultation today!

Yours in All Things Sorted,


Did You Know?

You can find me and more AWESOME, QUIRKY content on my social media! I invite you to follow me and my daily shenanigans:

Your friendly, neighbourhood Organizer-Kelly Corkery

Leave a Comment