The Bolder, the Better: Cost-Conscious Decorating for Couples Moving in Together

Guest Author: Natalie Jones

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Today, we have a guest writer, Natalie Jones. Hope her advice resonates with you!

Moving in with a significant other is an exciting time, a chance to learn more about each other and grow as a couple. But it’s also a time when misunderstanding and conflict can leave you wondering, “What was I thinking?” It’s difficult enough deciding who will pay what bills, how to divide the household chores, and who should be doing the grocery shopping. It’s also a time when money may be tight and in short supply for decorating. There’s no need to fall out over the expense of decorating your home, especially if you see eye to eye when it comes to artwork, furniture, colors, and other visual elements. Consider the following budget-friendly tips on how to make it work.


Spend some time talking about your shared interior design expectations. Save the specifics for later; start with a very general, even philosophical, conversation about likes and dislikes. There will be some compromising to do, and easing into the subject can remove some of the stress from the situation. So, put off discussing where his beer-stained upholstered recliner should go (other than the trash), or what to do with her vintage collection of unicorn artwork. Sometimes, agreeing to move a prized object to the back room instead of the living room can head off a potentially relationship-damaging disagreement. Also, look for inexpensive ways to decorate, such as using commonplace items you have no other use for. 

Discuss Closet Space

Sharing space in the bedroom closet demonstrates the ability to compromise, which will certainly carry on to your decorating efforts. You can effectively organize your space by categorizing all the clothing and accessories you know you’re going to wear regularly. Donate the items that have been untouched for at least a year, and store the attire that’s not appropriate for the current season. You can even create more space with an additional rod and shelves. Your closet’s appearance is just as mood-lifting as the adorned walls of your home, so take the time to add matching hangers and quality lighting.

Emphasize Eclecticism

If you’re expecting the place to be as pristinely coordinated as your Great Aunt Tilly’s house, you’re probably headed for a disappointment. Why copy someone else’s style anyway? Decorating a home on a budget and with limited space is a challenge, an opportunity to embrace and appreciate an eclectic approach that will come to define you and your partner’s identity as a couple. Eclecticism will be easier -- and more fun. It can all work together with a little bit of juxtaposition and experimentation. Go ahead and combine that chrome floor lamp with the homemade table made of distressed river wood. If you need to make a purchase, try shopping at IKEA for fun and affordable eclectic pieces that will still leave money in your wallet. Even better: IKEA offers buying guides for each room in your room, which can be a great starting place. There’s nothing wrong with being economical as well as eclectic.

Embrace Whimsy

One person’s juvenilia is another’s masterpiece. Don’t be afraid to go for a bold look that no visitor will forget. What about decorating the back wall of your den with an array of shower heads (vintage and contemporary) that you can get on sale or rehab out of the trash? Or, why not class up your living room with a Gone with the Wind-style curtain as a decorative wall hanging? Decorative plates are another affordable and uniquely appealing design element, arranged in an assortment of sizes, styles, and colors.

Try It Before Dismissing It

If your first place together is on the small side, you have limited decorating space. That’s a great opportunity to get creative, even edgy, with your decor. The beauty of decorating is that you don’t have to spend much money or stay with a look if you decide later you hate it, so give it a try even if you’re uncertain at first. You never know -- it might prove ideal and could save a lot of money. A good rule of thumb is to leave it in place for a few days before making a final decision. Decorating eclectically on the cheap is a fun adventure and a worthwhile money-saving venture.

Give It Time

Getting used to each other takes time, so there’s no reason to assume that it won’t take some time to get into your decorating “groove.” Take your time; it’s a process, an evolution if you like, but you’ll know when it feels right. And never stop communicating openly as you work through it.