Pictured: Darin Lenhardt. Photo by Andrew Potter

Keepin' Your House A Home

Here's How Not To Be A Homewrecker When You're Making A Home Together

By Ed English

Two worlds are about to collide! Moving in together can be a lot like sex - if done right, it feels and looks awesome; if done wrong, someone silently suffers.

Assuming your partner didn't mean you'd be together forever in "gay years," you are about to embark on a long journey through adulthood's oldest rites of passage - living with a stranger. Because do you ever really know someone until you live with them? Well, you're about to find out.

But if you don't want to be moving out as fast as you moved in, here are seven tips on how to build a home as a couple and not be a homewrecker from Arturo Sanchez of Art | Harrison Interiors in Royal Oak and Darin Lenhardt, creative director at Fleurdetroit in Birmingham.

1. Move your stuff in, but NOT all of it

Are you wondering where to put that beat-up La-Z-Boy you've had since college? The answer is back at college. Moving in with your partner is the opportunity to assess which of you has the better furnishings, says Sanchez.

"Chances are, they have a lot of duplicates," he says. "You glean the best of both households, then you try to make a story using those pieces." If you're both bringing La-Z-Boys, get out while you still can.

2. Create a home, NOT a homage

The fastest way to date your living space and relationship is to give it a theme. Don't turn your home into one big tribute to Broadway's bests or the great outdoors.

"The key is to give themes a light touch," says Sanchez. "You can have an essence of a theme, but don't go crazy. If your place all of a sudden looks like Outback Steakhouse, then you've gone too far."

If someone is moving in with you, you don't have to completely remodel your home, but you should start a project together, says Lenhardt.

"Just start a project so you're sharing in this home together," he says. "Pick out wall colors together. The feeling of collaboration is important."

3. What's theirs is NOT yours

Now that you're all moved in, don't assume everything is up for grabs. "The whole point about being a gay couple is that hopefully you're the same size," says Sanchez. "But some people have that one sweater they don't want their partner to stretch out or spill something on." Take caution when helping yourself to your partner's wardrobe and personal belongings, he explains. "Just be respectful of the person's personal space and the things they are bringing."

If it feels wrong when you are rummaging through that secret box your partner keeps in the back of the closet, chances are, it is!

4. Bathrooms are for your business, NOT ours

When you live together, eventually you will find yourselves moving throughout each room of the house as a couple. He's reading on the couch, so you answer emails on your laptop next to him. She's doing work in the office, so you sit and flip through magazines. This game of cat and mouse should stop at the bathroom.

"It's important when you are moving in to use the bathroom by yourself," says Lenhardt. "Because if you have your own stuff to do in the morning, you should have your own time to do it and not have your partner in the way."

If possible, have two countertops, says Sanchez. If not two bathrooms, separate the items you use each day. "We share the counter but have two separate drawers because everybody has their products," he says.

5. Separate time, NOT space

There should be three spaces in your home: "You should have yours, theirs and ours," says Sanchez, explaining, if you are separate in everything, there's no point in moving in together. "You each need a space to learn how to be a couple."

But space doesn't always mean physical space.

"Not necessarily having your own space but your own time," adds Lenhardt. It's important for even the most in-love couple to have alone time, because you can't lovingly miss someone who is never gone.

6. Live in the now, NOT the past

Photos in your home help you remember the good times when you are going through a rough patch with your partner. Photos of your ex help your partner remember the good times you had when you're going through a rough patch.

"No!" says Lenhardt about past relationship photos. "You put your memories in a drawer and start your new life and a new montage on the wall."

7. Do NOT get too comfortable

Try to always be organized when you are sharing a home with your partner, because if not, it's only going to make things that much more difficult when you move out. Just kidding! But not really.


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