How To Decorate An Apartment Before Moving In With Friends

Here are a few steps in the right direction on how to move-into and decorate your apartment with your friends.

Like when moving into an apartment with anyone else, issues will eventually arise when decorating. Sometimes it can be seen as a good thing moving into an apartment with friends, others not so much. Having a friendship means you might feel more welcome to argue and less willing to compromise.

Whereas moving in with a group of strangers you might find yourself more willing to compromise as not to upset the delicate balance you live in. This being said it, doesn’t mean that living with your friends doesn’t come with its own unique set of struggles. Especially when it comes to decorating all the shared spaces like the living room and dining room.

1. Remember you are young while choosing the interiors

Most likely are all coming in with some decorations and that's okay. When you are young and living with friends it is not expected for the whole house to have the same feel or look like it’d been decorated by an interior designer.

The place will have a sort of mod podge vibe and that works. If you know ahead of time some of the items, you want to bring in the house send out feelers about them. Figure out which ones can be placed in the common room, which ones you can hang in your room, and which ones to leave behind. Have a conversation with your friends about what are the no-goes with what you already have.

Living Room Decor Collaboration
living room ideas

2. Find a way to meld everyone's sense of style together

Everyone might have a different sense of style and you will need to find a way to meld these together and find common ground. First and foremost, you can be upfront with everyone. If there are things you will not tolerate as decorations—drug or alcohol paraphernalia.

From there you can head into the type of decorating you want to do. Whether it is styling, type of decorations, or vibes you are attempting to replicate. I have a ton of canvasses—most of which don’t match—that I will be bringing up to my new apartment.

On the other hand, my one friend had knickknacks and the other has posters. From there we will need to figure out how the three styles can go together. Obviously, there will be some not everyone likes. Those can hand in our respective rooms while the ones everyone can enjoy will be on display for everyone.

consider every idea seriously
consider every idea seriously

3. Schedule a time for an online call to make a full proof plan

Even before you move in find time to set up some meet-ups or FaceTime sessions. This time together can allow you to figure out vibes and what you are all thinking without the immediate tensions of figuring out what to do with the stuff.

With the time to plan out ideas you can look at furniture and vote on each one you all think is best depending on price, style, and the aesthetic you are looking for. I spent probably an hour and a half on FaceTime with my friends talking about everything from who wanted to buy what to what we were looking at aesthetic-wise, to what we already had.

It was also a great chance to just catch up if and see my friends who live in a different state than me at the moment. We managed to hash out some of the bigger details as well as the smaller ones.

schedule a call with friends and make a full proof plan
call your friends and make a full proof plan

4. Don’t be afraid of shared documents

Shared documents on google sheets can come in handy when figuring out who already has what and who plans on buying what. From there you can add links to ideas you’re having or add prices so that everyone pulls their fair share of things to bring. My roommates and I currently have a shared document.

We filled it with the ideas we have for themes and specific pieces of furniture we have for the various rooms in our apartment. It includes the ideas we have for the kitchen table as well as the coffee table for the living room. While two different people are buying those items, we can now get them to tie in together.

Even if by the simple fact of the same color of the wood. It also shows who has what and has paid for what so we can make sure one person isn’t pulling too big of a load.

5. Figure out if there is a vibe you are going for

Figure out if you want your apartment to be the party place, a chill vibe where people can hang out, or if it will just be for you and your friends. Not only will this set boundaries with your friends it will also help with decorating.

If you want a more down-to-earth vibe you can decorate with plants. Maybe you guys want to go for a more of an earthy setting, but you are not exactly plant-oriented suggest succulents. They are easy to take care of and don’t take much to stay alive.

However, if you are looking to be the place where everyone hangs out maybe think fairy lights which can give the room a good glow and can fit into various styles if you opt to change your décor as you live there.

move in with friends and good vibes
move in with the good vibes

6. Feel free to voice your opinions

Don’t get upset if someone doesn’t agree with you. Maybe some are reminders of your parental home, and you want them in plain sight because it will make you feel better. So, voice your opinions, but don’t use it as an excuse to use your art or decorations over someone else’s.

Again, this is where being friends can cause tensions to rise. You will be more comfortable arguing with friends so be aware. Think of things you want to draw lines on and things that you wouldn’t mind compromising on. While standing your ground can be important you also should know which moments you should stand your ground on.

We already agreed to no arguing which might be a slightly naive idea, but so far, we are just trying not to stress too much about anything. And it works well. I did a big shopping trip and sent out suggestions and didn’t take it too seriously if they didn’t like a rug I did or a shower curtain I liked.

decorate your room and hang your memories
hang your memories in your own room

7. Also remember you also have your bedroom

There inevitable will be items that no one really wants in the shared spaces. Instead of getting offended, remind yourself that you can hang stuff up in your room. After all, is your decoration tastes really as important as not only maintaining your friendships but also keeping the peace with the people you live with?

I know I have a lot of random photos some of which go well together while others are of a whole different art form. So, like me and my friends, we are going to have to find a way to bring together the different elements that work and which ones should stay behind.

8. Cups, bowls, and plates can all count as decorations too

The things you use to eat with are a perfect place to ensure the existence of little bits of decorations that you love. It doesn’t matter to most people what they’re eating off of as long as it’s clean, so everyone bringing in a few cups and bowls allows for a balance that could otherwise be skewed.

Do be sure to be clear if there is an item or two you would like not to be communal. However, don’t make most of your dishes and utensils non-communal otherwise it may come off as people sharing a sink, rather than living with friends. I have a couple of mugs that I’m bringing.

Some provide slight sentimental value—such as the one I used throughout college, while others have a more significant value—like the mug that my mom specifically designed for me. I wouldn’t mind if my college mug broke however, I might be a little upset if my Stitch mug did.

9. Don’t forget to split costs

Especially when everyone is going for a specific theme, make sure you are equally splitting the costs of what you’re all bringing in. If one person has a TV, then the others could provide the table or couch.

However, try not to split the cost of things that are on the expensive side. It can cause tensions at the end of your renting together if people want to take items bought but don’t want to buy the others out.

Instead, I and my friends are each taking some of the bigger items off the list by one person buying the TV, one person getting the couch, and one person the dining room table. Then at the end of our lease, we can each take our own items with us.  

10. Go Shopping and make impulsive buying decisions together!

Ideally, there are going to be things you want to have before you move in such as the TV and couch. However, some items can be bought when you are all together and this will give you the chance to not only finalize your aesthetic but give you the chance to pull together the ideas you have been ruminating on.

My friends and I have been trying to pick out some of the smaller items which can pull together the overall theme of your place. One asked if we had any ideas for the bathroom and when I mentioned a dandelion shower curtain our other friend said how she was designing her room in a provincial floral tone. From there we all comment on how we’d like an overall floral aesthetic to the apartment.

decorating your house with friends
final setup after impulsive buying
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