I live in a lovely fifth-floor studio apartment in the picturesque neighborhood of Pacific Heights in San Francisco. San Francisco is the most expensive city in the US for renters, so my decision to rent a studio as an SF resident in her early 20s is nothing new. Oh, but also, my boyfriend lives there, too.
We've been together for about five years, and while the living together part is nothing new, the living in a studio together part is. We sacrificed space (psst, it's 400 square feet) for a prime location, and it was 100 percent worth it. But as you can imagine, I've learned quite a few valuable lessons about how to make the most out of the space — or lack thereof — that we share (translated: how to not kill your significant other if that's something you'd like to avoid). If you're thinking about moving into a studio with your partner to save money, you'll want to keep these eight crucial tips in mind.
1. Get Rid of Every Single Thing You Don't Need
Before you even move in to your new place, grab a bottle of wine, order pizza, and get ready for an entire weekend of decluttering and throwing sh*t out. Everyone knows that when you move, you realise just how many unnecessary belongings you have, and you don't have to be good at maths to understand that double the people equals double the amount of stuff. I suggest familiarising yourself with Marie Kondo's "magic" method of tidying up and getting rid of every single item (from dishes to clothes) that you don't use or want.
2. Pick Out All Furniture Together (and Measure Everything First)
You'll undoubtedly be taking a trip (or 10) to Ikea, and it's truly important to shop together and agree on a style, even for the minor stuff. Living in one room means you can essentially see all your decor at once, so it's important to pick out things that you both love and won't get tired of after a short time. Before shopping, however, measure each part of your space so you know for sure if that six-foot-long sofa will fit.
3. Divide the Wardrobe Evenly
Wardrobe space in a studio is so important, and you should set clear boundaries — you get one whole side and your partner gets the other. Keeping your wardrobe as organised as possible, as opposed to having both people's clothes scattered throughout, will save you unwanted stress.
4. Baskets, Baskets, Baskets
They'll be your new best friend. Invest in some decorative baskets that provide both aesthetic and functionality. I have a sturdy shelf in my "living room," aka the section where the dresser, TV, and sofa are, and it's filled with baskets containing extra towels, t-shirts, and more. Baskets are the easiest way to create more storage when your wardrobe or cupboards are full.
5. Help Each Other Out With Housework
This seems so obvious, but be up front about the fact that you'll both have to clean on a daily basis. Between laundry, kitchen clutter, and dust, a small space can get dirty really quickly. Tag-team the housework on a regular basis, and you'll avoid having to do time-sucking deep cleanings every week or so.
6. Be OK With Saying Goodbye to All Forms of Privacy
Obviously getting way too comfortable with your partner is something that happens in every long-term relationship, but the mentality is taken to a whole new level when you're in such close quarters. When you sign the lease, you're also signing away all forms of privacy, from having the luxury of your own bathroom to just getting a quiet night to yourself. "Me time" will become more precious than ever, so respect your partner's need for alone time, whether that means leaving for a few hours while they get work done or wearing headphones when you're watching netflix while they wind down with a book.
7. Brighten Your Space Up With a Few Choice (Small) Items
While some people might have the luxury of hanging large artwork or houseplants, chances are your studio won't allow for that. To keep your shared space feeling bright and inviting, incorporate small but impactful touches, like succulents on your windowsill, flowers on your bedside table, and colourful throw pillows on your couch.
8. Use Every Single Inch of Space
Extra books in kitchen cabinets? Check. Luggage stored invisibly under bed? Check. You've only got so much surface area to work with, so use every single inch of it.