Moving in with Your Love? How to Share Closet Space

You’ve had the tough conversations, about financeswhere you’ll live, and maybe even how many children you hope to have. You’ve gotten to know each other’s little quirks.

She likes her coffee first thing in the morning, while you would just as soon wait until you get to work, where it’s free. You like to sleep in on Saturday, but he never misses his 7:30 am weekend yoga class. You probably like different tv shows, and you may have squabbled a bit over the Netflix queue. These are all easy to resolve. But have you had the really big conversation yet? Don't let closet territory get in the way of newlywed bliss.

How will you divide the closet space?

In an ideal world, you both have walk-in closets, with plenty of room for whatever you want to keep in there. But most new couples don’t have that, so the compromising has to begin. Try to keep a cool head and remember how very much you love your partner, even if that collection of bowling bags does take up far too much space.

Speaking of those bowling bags -- or the middle school trophy collection or all those pants that will never, ever fit again -- moving in together is a good time to check your stuff. Most people don’t even know how much stuff they have. Once you’ve decided what has to go, you may be able to get a tax deduction for donating it to a non-profit or make a little extra cash by consigning or Ebaying your unused goods. Extra cash to pay for a move is always nice.

Now, what are your closets like?

Charming, but Small

Older homes can be charming, with beautiful details like durable hardwood floors and intricate molding. Less charming are the closets. Not only do they not hold as many hangers and shoe racks as modern closets, they may even be narrower. Were people really that much smaller 100 years ago? From their closets, you would think so. When faced with truly tiny closets, the kind even a single person would find challenging, you may need to explore solutions other than “get rid of all our stuff.”

Going antique shopping together for a large wardrobe can be fun! If you find a great one, but the inside isn’t configured the way you need, consider adding a hanging bar or shelves. If antiques aren’t your thing, Ikea remains one of of the greatest places to find solutions to your storage problems at a reasonable price. For a custom look, check out these great ideas from Ikea Hackers.

Roomy, but underused

If your closets aren’t too small, they might be more useful after some reconfiguring. While there are plenty of DIY options available, you may want to consult with a local professional, a company that does nothing but closets. They really know their stuff and can figure out the best way to make use of the space you have. Adding shelves, drawers, or extra rows of racks can up your storage options. Who knows? You might even be able to fit a little built-in desk in there.

Not exactly where you want them

If the closet in the bedroom isn’t enough for two, explore other options around your home. Your guestroom doesn’t really need a large closet unless you plan to have guests stay for a month or more. Closets in other rooms can also be used for storing off-season clothing. Bonus: If you only keep what’s in season in your bedroom closet, getting dressed will be quicker and easier in the morning. The two of you may even have time to drink coffee and read the paper together before work.

If you’ve explored all your options, and there’s just no way two people can fit everything into the closet space you have, and the rooms are too small for wardrobes or other storage options, what do you do? The way we see it, you have three options: move, add on, or use a spare bedroom as a closet/dressing room. The third option is great, if you have a spare bedroom. Moving is a pretty big solution, but starting life together in a place that’s new to both of you can be fun.

If you love the home you’re in, renovating to add a master suite may be your best solution. More and more homeowners with traditional small bedrooms and bathrooms are doing just that. Bonus: Sharing a big project can teach you a lot about your partner. Are you ready for that?

In the end, if you can survive the dividing of the closet space, you’re well on your way to a long and loving relationship. Relationships are all about sharing territory, and the closet is some of the toughest real estate to divide!