An eventual step for all LTR couples is the infamous “U-haul” moment: when you decide that you want to be near your girlfriend so much that you pack up your entire place, rent a truck (which ends up being pretty fun), and drive everything you own to her house…where you will now live forever. Moving in with the girl you love can be a huge challenge. As fun as it is to wake up together every morning, you also have to wake up to each other’s stuff every morning (even if her stuff includes a huge, metallic, vintage desk that doesn’t really go with anything but that she moved with her across the country for sentimental reasons). Merging your stuff and your different styles can be hard. Here are just a few ideas for how you can make the most of both worlds in your joint living space.
If you are living in an apartment and she has a bike, you have a bike, or—better yet—you both have bikes, it can feel like they are taking up all of your extra space and adding clutter. Meet the solution for cycling couples: The Art of Donatello Leaning Storage rack from Overstock. It’s freestanding, so you don’t even have to screw it into anything (though I’m sure you would have jumped at the chance to get out your tool-belt).
Another way to make a place feel like it belongs to both of you is to grow something in it together. If you’re not ready for/interested in a baby or pets, relax—you can grow plants. Plants are a great way to add a peaceful, nature feeling to your shared space, especially if you live in a city and don’t have a lot of outdoor access. If you have a small patio, there are hundreds of creative ways to make a compact garden together. A great example is this stackable garden from Pinterest.
Even if you don’t have a patio, and even if your place doesn’t get that much light and you worry that plants die in your dark apartment, there’s a solution for you: grow tent. Grow tents let you bring nature, and your gardening hobby inside. It might seem crazy, but I know people who’ve grown an entire, amazing garden in a New York City apartment thanks to this glorified aluminum bag. Here’s one from TheLAShop.
If you each brought your own furniture to your joint place, it can be fun to pick out at least one new piece together. Few items could be more symbolic of your new harmonious, shared life than a Love Seat. Just imagine, on all of those nights you’re going to end up staying home because you just love hanging out together and looking at your cute new apartment, you’ll even be able to cuddle on the same seat. Here’s a cute one from World Market.
Having a bar is a fun way to say “Hey, let’s be fancy adults together and make cocktails for our friends when they come over.” And now that you live together, it’s super important to invite people over (and to go out!), rather than just sinking into your own couple-isolation bubble. A bar is also just a good way to make delicious drinks easily accessible. The two of you can combine your creativity choose from a variety of different styles on Pinterest, from fancy to boho chic.
You cannot merge lives without merging books. A bookshelf is a hugely important way to celebrate your togetherness and the overnight doubling of your literary assets. If you’re working with a standard shelf, you can still make it your own by adding more than just books—find cool ways to incorporate your records, her comic books, her vintage cameras, and photos of the two of you from when you first met. But you can also take your bookshelf to the next level by doing something super creative like this one made out of pipes:
My final tip for living together is to get your socks under control. Remember when you had your own place and—even then—you could never find matching socks because they always went missing or ended up all disorganized all over the place? Living together is like taking all of that sock chaos and multiplying it, especially if your lady, like mine, says she “needs a LOT of cute socks in order to feel sexy.” In an ideal world, socks would always be easy to find, and the socks that are “mine” and the ones that are “hers” would be clear. There are lots of cute ways to figure this out, like this idea of using dividers to organize drawers. Just do yourself a favor and figure it out before you have a blow-out fight over something as stupid as socks.
Good luck living together. I wish you many mornings filled with pancakes and happiness, and many scary moments when you realize that you haven’t talked to anyone besides each other in 14 whole days.