Moving in together

Dear Claudia,

I need tips on how to blend two households. I am moving into my boyfriend’s house. We are both in our 50’s. His taste is very “Ikea”, Swedish style modern simplicity, and I am eclectic/eccentric with antiques and funky mix. His house is fully furnished, as is my funky eclectic apartment, which is FULL of stuff. Quite honestly even my glassware would clash with his, not to mention my furniture, art pieces, and smalls. Any ideas on how we can do this so that it looks great, fits us both, I feel like I’m at home, and he doesn’t feel like he lost his?




This is a first for me and I’m feeling like Dear Abby. Your home should feel good to both of you. If you are both comfortable in your blended space, you’ll be happy which is a great foundation to build a life together.

The clash of both of your styles can present a problem if someone lives clutter free and the other likes to be surrounded by stuff. There will be lots of compromising.

Ilona Schwartz-Dallow, LCSW, Goshen says, “In the honeymoon stage of a relationship there are many things people regret and resent as time goes by.”

Here are Dallow’s questions to consider when moving in together when both have been independent for many years:

  • Do both parties have an attachment to their personal items?
  • Are they both willing to compromise to the other persons feelings about what seems to be important to maintain?
  • Are they willing to compromise to each other’s emotional needs?
  • Is there enough room for both to keep valued possession? Do they have children whom they may pass on family treasures that might make one/both of them to feel satisfied with keeping items yet not having the need to keep them in their new blended home?
  • Do they have an agreed financial arrangement that would sway one or the other into giving up what they consider treasure to please the other?
  • Is she able to accept the new decor? Has she been able, or is she willing to have this discussion about some of the things she might want him to consider in changing the furnishing to meet some of her tastes?
  • Is he aware that she has thoughts and feelings about making changes and is not totally happy with his house and contents?
  • Is she anxious about bringing it up?
  • What does she think his response will be?

My best advice is to discuss what stays and what goes and compromise on important pieces keeping form and function in mind. I worked with a couple settled in their home and they ended up with 4 dining sets: his, hers, a grandmother’s set and the kitchen set. Every room was a dining room. It looked like a restaurant.

If blending can be streamlined from the beginning, it can avoid problems in the future. A storage unit can hold items as you transition. It will be a big adjustment for all.

Instead of his/hers, approach it as ‘our house’. Once decisions are made for blending contents, fresh paint can transform the house and by working on projects together, it will feel like a new home because it is. Good luck!