Design Dilemma: Decorating with Roommates | Home Design Find
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Design Dilemma: Decorating with Roommates

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It’s a fact of life today: More of us live with roommates. While it used to be that having roommates was just a brief experience  in college, today, living with roommates is a lifestyle that often continues straight through middle age and beyond. The reason? Sky high rents make it impossible to pay rent on just one paycheck alone. For those who are not living with a partner or spouse, the only way to foot the bill is with the help of one or more roommates.

But living with roommates can become a significant design challenge. How do you create a coherent design if you’ve got two or more different design visions happening? What happens when one roommate likes shabby chic, the other appreciates minimalism and the third is into a Victorian parlor look? How do you make a space functional for two or three people and their significant others?

Ironing out all those wrinkles can get a little sticky, but there are a few ways to make your home with roommates a functional, beautiful and stylish place to live.

Create zones.

traditional living room

Before you focus on style, you need to focus on functionality. When you have several independent souls living together in one space, you will need to set up areas where different people can do different things without getting in each other’s way. In the open concept living room above and the kitchen below, areas have been devised that lend themselves to different activities. A couch and chairs provide a conversation area which stands apart from a table that can serve as a place to serve meals or catch up on paperwork. A separate Eames chair serves as a perfect reading nook, as does a window seat. No one gets left out. In the kitchen below, it’s possible not only to cook a good meal, but a space has been set aside as an office.

traditional kitchen

And in the kitchen below, the simple addition of a couch adds a whole new dimension. Now the kitchen becomes a place not only for food preparation, but a place to relax or have a conversation. If the living room couch is in use, there’s always a backup.

contemporary kitchen

Consider room dividers.

contemporary living room

A room divider is an easy way to create space and allow for some separation for privacy and multiple activities. It can be as simple as a screen, or more complicated, such as a sliding door or wall or a bookshelf. Above, we have folding doors, below, a room is divided with the help of an open bookshelf.

modern living room

In the bedroom below, a screen allows for the addition of a living area.

contemporary bedroom
contemporary bedroom

Below, the clever use of vintage windows creates a separate dining room apart from the living room.

industrial dining room

Here, a decorative partition creates a double-duty space.

contemporary bedroom

Even just a fabric screen can work.

traditional living room

Make the most of your bedroom.

contemporary bedroom

When you’ve got roommates, sometimes, the only retreat you can count on is your own bedroom. That means you’ll need to pay extra attention to creating a bedroom that is also multi-functional. The perfect bedroom has not only a place to sleep, but also a couch or seating area and a work area as well.

Like this, for example:

transitional bedroom

Or this:

transitional bedroom

Or this:

scandinavian bedroom

Talk it out.

transitional living room

Just because you have roommates doesn’t mean you have to settle for less when considering a design aesthetic. Sit down with your roommates and have a discussion about what you each envision for your space, and where you might make compromises on that vision. You might even consider hiring a design professional to help your styles and furniture meld. In the Washington D.C. apartment above and below, roommates made no sacrifice in style.

transitional dining room
transitional bedroom

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