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A professional organizer’s guide to moving in together




Photo: Two Men And A Moving Van via Yelp

Congratulations, you’ve made the big decision to move in together! This can be very therapeutic, or lead to therapy. Seriously, the merger of two previously independent lives under one roof is a monumental change, from decor to fashion styles to how many dishes get left in the sink.

I had the pleasure of speaking with professional organizer, author, and Feng Shui expert Bethany St. Clair. She has a wealth of experience helping folks cohabitate as seamlessly as possible through her Sacramento-based company, St. Clair Organize and Design. I asked for her take on why this can be such a daunting life change for so many.

Photo courtesy of Bethany St. Clair

“Like life, we always have to make concessions for other people’s tastes and personal choices,” she explained. “Moving in together can sometimes be like understanding another culture.”

She added that the blending of previously sacred and separate space “can be a litmus test for your cohabitation chemistry.” For example, “you may appreciate someone else’s clothing style but you would never wear that style yourself. You are stuck looking at your partner’s furniture, knick knacks, lava lamp, etc.”

With these obstacles in mind, I asked her for her top five suggestions for people who are moving in together. She graciously provided the following list based on her own expertise and experience helping others in this situation.

1). Go in with an open mind and a win-win strategy vs. keeping score. Avoid the–I get this, you get that–mentality. Before you make a floor plan discuss how the rooms will be used and who will use them. Where will each of you spend most of your time?  What rooms will be shared? What are each of your needs for each room? What style are you going for?

2). Come up with a floor plan and draw it out if need be. What goes where? Measure carefully. Consider: Does it fit? Does it look good? Keep narrowing down and editing your pieces. A piece may be a “no” now but later you’ll find a place for it. What will you do with the extra non-usable furniture?  Loan out to friends, put in storage, donate, or sell?

3). Commit within the first month to discussing and tweaking what’s working and not working. If any uncomfortable issues come up, like having a television in the bedroom , or keeping things neat, address them—especially if it makes one person more unhappy than it makes the other person feel good.

4). The small things will become big things if not addressed. Stacking the dishwasher, how to close and open those vertical blinds properly, making the bed using hospital corners (my mother-in-law invented them!), doing laundry, etc., can be painful experiences, so try and resolve them through structuring chores and compromise.

5). Keep a good attitude, be flexible, practice kindness. Consider the adventure of forging a new life together and what brought you to this point in the first place. Make your home your sanctuary. After all, who wants confrontation in a sanctuary?

Find more ways to make your moving-in-together experience as seamless as possible through Yelp. Reach out to Bethany, or find an organizer near you.

More about Bethany St. Clair:
After leaving a successful career as an executive in corporate Human Resources, Bethany founded St. Clair Organize and Design in 2000. Combining her business and educational background with real hands-on life experience, Bethany effectively invigorates spaces and cycles out old energy while allowing new energy to come in.  The result is a beautiful new environment. She is a published author with a book, Organizing with Feng Shui: 101 Tips Room by Room, now available on amazon. She was twice-named one of the top five professional organizers in the San Francisco Bay Area, by SF Gate Magazine. Bethany is a member of The International Feng Shui Guild.

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