I really empathise with Monica from Friends. Why? Because I’m the one who will accidentally trick you into thinking that you’re helping decorate the Christmas tree and hide your ugly side to display my meticulously decorated perfect side. I’ll always notice when the living room rug has been moved a centimetre away from the central position that I deliberately put it, and oh, don’t you dare try and bring a giant porcelain dog on wheels into my flat without a fight…
Living with other people is about compromise. Blah blah blah, we know, right? But it would all be a whole lot easier if people with poor, ahem, I mean, ‘different’ tastes were easy to compromise with. And décor, the vibe and generally how you’d like your shared home to look is one of those things you’ll definitely find yourself bickering about. It just so happens to be one of those things you don’t anticipate until you get there and everyone starts unpacking. So whether you’ve done it, are doing it or are making plans to move in with people who aren’t your parents, here’s what to expect.
1. It’s always about the money
One of you will want to fork out on a far too expensive coffee table for the living room while the others quite like the idea of the coffee table (because admittedly it would look a damn sight better than that overturned plastic storage box) but don’t like it enough to quantify contributing a third of their monthly income to the cost. Cue the ‘who would get to keep it when we leave’ conversations, closely followed by the ‘what do you mean you don’t want to live with me forever’, one.
2. Get a room
Some places are safe for you to express your own personal decorative taste. And when I say some, I mean one. The bedroom. Do what the hell you want in there my friends. Go crazy with the retro lava lamps, hang Barbie dolls from the ceiling by their skinny little necks if you fancy. But don’t go bringing any of that crazy into the shared space because that will probably shortly be followed by…
3. The pas-ag relocation of your shit
Ever gone to your bedroom only to find that whimsical R2-D2 coin counter on your bed, even though you’re almost positive that you had put it on the side table in the living room for everyone to enjoy and admire only a few hours ago? You put it back but wake up the next morning to find it back at the foot of your bed along with the fibre optic lamp you thought would be nice in the kitchen. Welcome to your first, mild encounter of passive aggressive housemate behaviour.
4. The wishful relocation of your shit
Oh, how the tables so quickly turn. You make the mistake of moving your fairy lights from being artfully draped around the mirror in your bedroom to the living room for that one house party you had three months ago that was desperate for a bit of mood lighting. You saved the day and were more than happy to contribute at the time, but that one temporary placement is somehow misconstrued as a permanent fixture and every time you get home from work your housemates have reclaimed your fairy lights to add a bit of twinkle to their Thursday night Netflix binge.
5. The ‘group’ photo that someone’s not in
Group photos are hard at the best of time. There’s probably one occasion in every million get together's that results in a picture that has you all with your eyes open, neither pissed or hungover and looking at least kind of happy to be there. One of your flatmates hastily thinks they’ve found that one and rushes down to Boots to use one of their magical machines, finds a not-awful frame in Poundland and displays the picture proudly on the singular photo hook in the hallway. But then you discover that one of you (probably you) isn’t in the picture and every time you go to leave or enter the house you’re reminded of that one super fun time everyone had without you. Great.
6. You say clutter, I say well thought out display shelf
Someone always ends up using the living room, kitchen or bathroom as an extension of their own space. Quite often it’ll be because they’ve ended up with the smallest room in the house without any storage whatsoever. Nevertheless, the minimalist clean and tidy look that one of you was hoping for goes straight out of the window when all of those decorative owls you all hoped would remain hidden under the bed find their way to the living room window sill for all the world to see. Word to the wise: if you’re that housemate who wanted a minimalist, clean and tidy vibe for your shared house, stop. Give up now. It will not work.
7. Welcome to the houseplant graveyard
If there’s one thing that Pinterest and Instagram have taught us, it’s that grown up houses have plants. So, in an attempt to be a grown-up house you go forth and buy as many potted plants as required to hide the (delete as appropriate) hole in the wall/burn on the table/questionable stain on the kitchen surface. But that’s as far as efforts go. And although you remember someone saying at some point that they’d water the plants, no one does and they all die. And they stay dead until someone’s parents come to visit and insist on throwing them out for you.
8. This isn’t for use, its ornamental
Decorative tea towel? That sounds nice. Giant hand carved candle? How delightful. Engraved and sealed ‘home sweet home’ spatula? That’s cute. These are all examples of gifts you received from various doting family members as soon as they heard that you had finally moved out from your parent’s place. Things that they probably bought you to keep and treasure in the memory of your first adult home. But of course, you won’t be able to keep or treasure them at all once the tea towel is used to mop up the spilt shit mix from a round of Ring of Fire, the candle is burnt when someone blows the fuse (again) and the spatula is used for… well, let’s not go there.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.