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Ask Maeve: I Need My Own Space With Roommates

UntitledI have a roommate and we share our main living space. I find it really hard to relax at home, like I don’t have anywhere to unwind. How do I do this, but also not get in the way of my roommate?

A great question! Having roommates can be a fun experience, and is often necessary as living alone can be both impractical and expensive. But as you mention, at times it can also bring challenges, like how to carve out space for yourself when someone else is always around.

It sounds like you have your own room. If so, great, we are going to start there. Your main living space doesn’t need to be the only place for you to unwind. You can create a sanctuary in your room as well, where it’s private. And there’s no shame in nesting in your room. It’s not about hiding. It’s about learning to craft a home environment that is nurturing for you.

Start by thinking about what it is that you need around you to unwind. Perhaps it’s a cozy place to sit, combined with a TV, or a good book. Or, it might be uninterrupted time to close your eyes, think, listen to music, take a nap, or stretch out.

Once you know what it is that you need to relax, it’s time to create that environment in your room. Depending on the size of your space and your resources, you might have to make some compromises, or create a mini-version of what you wish you had in your main living space. For example, if you don’t have space for a couch, but need a cozy spot for hanging out, introduce a comfy chair into your room. There’s almost always room in a corner, and if you are truly short on space, you could instead consider a few jumbo pillows for the floor (or get creative and hang a hammock seat from the ceiling, a bit more work, but if you are handy, a fun thing to try out!).

Once you’ve had a chance to adjust your room, you can try introducing small things into your common space as well. An easy place to start is a small basket or bin of things to help you relax (like books, games, music) placed on a shelf or in a corner of the living room. You can grab it when you want to hang out and put it back when you are done. This is a great way to be able to have your space and some comforting things in the living area without feeling like you’re in the way. Chat with your roommate about it first so you are on the same page. And possibly your roommate will feel more comfortable relaxing as well, and you can then hang out together.

Try out one or two of these small changes until you have one working. And keep in mind, living with roommates is the ideal time to learn how to craft a home, as when you are ready to transition to your own home – or perhaps move in with a partner! – it’s great to have some skills under your belt about how to make home work for you.

Photo Credit: picjumbo

Maeve Richmond is the founder and head coach of Maeve's Method, a home organization system based in New York City. She specializes in parents & kids, couples, small space solutions, space planning and decorative elements for the home. Contact her at or @MaeveRichmond.

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