Communication 101: How to Compromise With Your Roommates on Decorating

By Christine Ascher on May 11, 2017

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Living with a roommate always means a lot of compromises. You’ll have to compromise on when you go to bed, how loud you set your morning alarm, who gets to use the bathroom first in the mornings, and various other areas of your life that you probably won’t even think about until the situation arises.

One major area of compromise that you might encounter is the way that you’re planning to decorate your dorm or apartment. It’s almost inevitable that you and your roommates will have at least slightly differing styles, and you’ll probably all want to include some of your own personalities in your dorm or apartment décor.

Here are some ways to compromise when decorating without losing your own style.

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Set a Budget

You might have some roommates who want to go all out when it comes to decorating — they’re willing to go to great expenses to make the space exactly how they want it. If you’re not willing to pay as much to decorate, make that clear from the beginning to avoid any awkward conversations later on down the road. You can set a budget with your roommate that you both feel comfortable with; that way, your roommate won’t get carried away and you won’t have to break the bank.

Be Honest

The most important way to ensure successful communication and compromise in any situation is to be honest. If you really hate the tapestry that your roommate put up in the living room, tell them right away instead of letting the frustration grow every time you see it.

When it comes to your living situation, any problems that you have are more likely to grow than to go away, even when pertaining to decorations. Your dorm or apartment is somewhere where you’ll want to feel at home, and that’s difficult if you hate the way that it’s decorated. Be honest from the start and you’ll hopefully avoid any subsequent arguments; it’ll also help your roommates understand what you do and don’t like when it comes to décor.

Mix and Match

Not everything in your dorm or apartment has to match perfectly; if your style differs from that of your roommates, try mixing and matching to make everyone feel like they’re getting a say in the décor. Small touches, like throw pillows and pictures on the walls, are areas that you could each put your own flair into. Instead of looking overly uniform, your apartment might actually appear more charming and cozy as a result.

Tackle Different Areas

If you really want to decorate the walls of your apartment a certain way and your roommates aren’t so sure, offer to allow them to decorate a different area however they want. That way, you’ll all have the freedom to let your imagination soar. You might still want to set some limits for each other just so none of you end up with something that you really can’t stand.

For the most part, however, it’s a good idea to give each other the freedom to choose. That way, each person will feel like they have a little something of their own in the space, and other items that aren’t as suited to their style won’t seem to matter as much.

Try to Meet in the Middle

If you and your roommates have styles that are similar but not exactly the same, you might be able to meet somewhere in the middle. This is especially true when it comes to colors and patterns. For instance, if your roommate’s favorite color is pink and you really love orange, try to find a design that incorporates both colors. Or, if anything, find a neutral color that you both like, so neither of you feels slighted by the decision.

While living with someone does sometimes mean that you won’t be able to have everything exactly the way you would want if you were on your own, you shouldn’t end up hating the décor — and neither should your roommates. It’s better to settle on something that you both can agree on than to leave one person unhappy.

Keep to Your Own Sides

If you and your roommate have completely different styles that really don’t mix, confine your decorating to your respective sides of the room. That way, even if your tastes clash completely, you can still have your own space exactly the way you want it. You might still have to get used to looking at your roommate’s décor and vice versa, but you’ll feel better knowing that you have your own space decorated to your own style.

Remember that it Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

A big part of decorating with roommates is accepting the fact that your apartment or dorm may not be absolutely perfect for you. While you should feel comfortable and happy in your space, remember that it’s not your permanent home. If there are aspects of the décor that you’re not thrilled with but that your roommates love, keep in mind that you don’t have to live with it forever. College spaces are always temporary.

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By Christine Ascher

Uloop Writer
Hi! I'm Christine and I'm currently a senior at the University of Southern California, where I study English Literature, Economics, and French.

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