decorating a home together

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to bring on my valentine, Sam, to reminisce about our apartment decorating adventures and weigh in with tips on co-decorating a home with a girly-girl. When we first moved in together, Sam’s one request was for me not to turn our apartment into a “pink princess palace.” He knew I had big hopes and dreams of making our new abode awesome but wanted to keep me in check since he knew I could go WILDDDD making it a neon pink, tchotchke-filled haven.

I was pleasantly surprised by Sam’s enthusiasm for decorating our apartment once I began including him in the process and even more so when he actually liked I lot of the pieces I picked out. While there were certainly a number of items that received a hard no (hello every single rug with the littlest hot pink detail), Sam was into our brass coffee table, mint green bookcase, and colorful textile pouf. Our cooperative efforts have resulted in casa de gloob, a home that we built together and both genuinely adore.

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The best example of our collaborative efforts is our massive gallery wall, which is the focal point of our living room (and the photos in this post!). Since the living room makes up the majority of our ~450 sq/ft apartment, the gallery wall sets the tone for our home as a whole. Sam and I worked together to gather artwork, photos and other sentimental prints to frame and evenly distribute across the wall. The result includes everything from family photos and high school drawing projects to artwork from artist friends and even Sam’s hilarious fraternity composite. While every piece is vastly different from one another, they all come together to tell a story of the things that matter most to us both: family, friends, art, music and travel.

Sam and I sat down to reminisce about our apartment decorating adventures and compile some advice regarding what made decorating a home together successful for us. We hope that these six tips help other couples going through the same experience!

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1. Include your significant other in the decorating process

One of you may be way more into the decorating process than the other, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be involved at all. While the decorating enthusiast can certainly take charge of the project, be sure to discuss big plans for your shared space and consult your significant other on major purchases. They may have more opinions than you initially anticipate, plus you may be pleasantly surprised (like I was!) about how into it they can get.

2. Make a mood board

Coming from a girl who makes mood boards for everythingggg, this is an especially important one because it will ensure that you and your partner are on the same page about the look and feel of your home. You can use Pinterest, Photoshop, a folder on your desktop or even a physical poster board to compile your images. If your partner is into the process, then you can both contribute, but it also works if one person makes the board to show the other what they’re imagining and begin a dialogue. Include photos of other homes you love, design details you want to imitate, major pieces you want to incorporate, color inspiration, and anything else that will illustrate the vibe you’re going for. Have an open discussion about your “wish lists” for your space and see where you two align.

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3. Make the decorating process fun!

Sure countless trips to Home Depot can be anything but thrilling, but there are many parts about decorating a home that allow you to flex your creative muscles and get your hands dirty, making for fun couples activities. Painting a room? Make a great playlist, order some pizza and beer, and turn the project into a party! Making the requisite trip to IKEA? Give yourself some extra time for a relaxed lunch in the cafeteria and a well-deserved soft serve break. DIY projects and shopping for playful decor like artwork also make for fun weekend activities.

4. Integrate your belongings

One of the easiest ways to make your new shared space feel like a home is to merge your belongings by category. Books, art, vinyl records and sentimental objects from both parties can be gathered and displayed in tandem. As I noted with the gallery wall, displaying our most treasured artwork next to one another’s made the result feel like ours. We’ve also done this with our framed photos and books, making for precious (and preciously displayed!) collections.

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5. Not all pieces are created equally

If you have an idea as to which pieces and decor concepts you’d like to incorporate, figure out which are going to evoke the most amount of pushback and anticipate those conversations. Back to the rug example, after showing Sam the type of rugs I love and learning that he was not okay with such pink-heavy styles, I knew it was not worth pushing my luck. However when it came to more neutral pieces like our coffee table and bedroom furniture, I knew pushback would be minimal so I found the ones I loved best and simply ran them by Sam before clicking “check out.”

6. Respect vetoes

If your partner is expressing opposition to an idea or piece of furniture, it’s in both of your best interests to respect that opinion. If your partner staunchly dislikes a piece and you get it anyway, you’re going to lose in the long run when your partner is less than happy about seeing the item everyday (and possibly reminding you how much they dislike it).

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Do you live with your significant other? Have any other helpful tips on decorating together? Share in the comments below!

peace, love & neon,

marisa & sam

< photos by christina mulé >

6 Comments

  1. Malka on February 14, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I love this post Marissa, so happy I read it! Even after being married and living with my husband for almost 2 years, we are still learning each other styles starting to merge on a lot of things. I would say the most important thing I’ve learned about decorating and setting up our home is to not rush into anything (and it’s so easy to do this when you find something you LOVE). If there is a piece of furniture we both love, or curtains, or whatever, that’s great and we would go for it. But if there’s any hesitation from either of us, we move on, think about it, and try not to get attached. We have our whole lives together and G-d willing we will be getting out of this one bedroom apartment soon anyway and the decorating begins again! 😉

    • the neon tea party on February 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      Awesome advice, girlfriend! (And so great to hear from you!) You’re totally right about it being easy to want to immediately pull the trigger on a piece you discover. Giving yourself some time to think about your purchases (the big ones especially) and make sure they make sense is a good way to prevent wanting to redecorate over and over again. Also your point about eventually moving into a bigger place is an important reality check — sometime it just doesn’t make sense to go crazy decorating a place that’s more of a temporary solution. The patience will pay off once you’re finally in a fresh, more permanent residence and then you can really go crazy! 🙂 Thank you so much for chiming in! xo

  2. Tina on February 14, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Marisa, love this post. Great advice and I love casa degloob!

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