Eight ways to share a living space
As a generation who rent more than buy, we can often find ourselves sharing homes with people we barely know at all. We might not want to be best friends with our flatmates, but making the effort to get to know each other and to snatch moments of real, meaningful connection rather than polite hellos in the kitchen, can make a big difference to how we feel at home and our ability to truly relax and be ourselves. Here are eight simple tips to make things easier when it comes to sharing a living space.
- Look out for each other. Take it in turns to do the milk run or pause for a minute before running out to ask if you can get them anything from the shop is a simple gesture of kindness that will never go unappreciated.
- Respect their privacy Don’t go into your flatmates’ bedroom without being invited, even if you’re certain they have three mugs, four plates and all of the bowls in there. This is about respecting people’s boundaries, as soon as this is broken it’s very difficult to rebuild.
- Stock up on kitchen essentials. You can never have enough pots, pans and cooking utensils. This means you don’t have to resent your flatmate for not washing up the only frying pan when you need to cook, you can just use a clean one.
- Be thoughtful Out of courtesy to the person(s) you’re living with, let them know if you’ve invited guests over, ideally at least a few days in advance. Don’t feel inclined to invite them to join you and take your flatmate into the friendzone. You can be warm and friendly without sharing a social life. However, pouring them a glass of wine or offering them a plate of food is a kind gesture.
- Divvy up your space Everyone wants to feel they can be their whole authentic self at home, so if there’s an object that would mean a lot to you to have in the shared living area just discuss what’s fair in terms of taking up space, and divide the shelves equally, so everyone can feel the home is their own.
- Don’t air your clean laundry Sometimes there just isn’t enough room in a shared home for everyone to dry their washing in the same place. Invest in some airers so you can hang your clothes in your own rooms and not encroach on each other’s space. It might also save you the embarrassment of your flatmates knowing your taste in underwear.
- Offer to cook for them. Communal dining is the easiest way to break down any barriers and get to know your new flatmate. If dinner feels too formal, suggest a Sunday morning breakfast (give them a week’s notice so they don’t make other plans), remember to ask for their dietary requirements and preferences. Set the table, using your nicest cutlery and glassware. Opt for a vase of flowers on the table rather than a candle (which can feel a bit intense or romantic).
- Know your place A good bathroom storage system can help avoid conflict because you’ll all be clear about who’s stuff goes where. There’s nothing worse than accidentally using someone else’s expensive face wash, or feeling that your toothbrush shouldn’t still be wet from this morning…