Merging two households, while exciting, can take a lot of work. You may need to address everything from duplicate items and treasured family heirlooms to furnishings of questionable taste.
Discuss your expectations before you begin. Adapting your lifestyle to fit with someone else's is a learning process that requires an open mind and a lot of compromise. If your significant other is determined to keep something that is not your style, especially if it's a family heirloom, agree to at least try it in the new place and revisit it in the future. Help each other make the transition easier by respecting each other's ideas and don't start things off on the wrong foot by being stubborn.
List your "must haves." Some items have strong sentimental value, and no matter how little sense it makes to keep them, you simply must have them around. If some of your must haves are large items that will require a lot of space, have a conversation about where they will go and whether it really makes sense to keep them. Consider renting a self storage unit if you have to keep these items and don't have the space.
Take the easy road by picking and choosing favorites from each person's belongings first, setting aside the things you both love or need. It feels good to start off on an agreeable note.
First, do a purge and make three piles: "keep," "give away," and "not sure." You can go back to the "not sure" pile if you end up having more space than you thought. Take a look at your items and think about how often you use them. If you have items you think you'll want later or can't part with, consider placing them in a storage unit. Remember it is much easier to get rid of things before you pack and move. Your merge will be easier if you make the decisions before you start squeezing in items that don't work.
GET RID OF DUPLICATES
One of the most difficult parts of merging two households is deciding which possessions to keep when you and the person you're moving in with both have the same item. When deciding which duplicate to keep, decide which items are in the best condition and highest quality: the sharpest, highest-quality knives, the best mixer, etc.
ACCOUNT FOR CLOTHES AND PERSONAL ITEMS
Edit your closets beforehand. If there are too many clothes to fit everything in the bedroom closet at once, try sorting you clothes and accessories based on the seasons and store out-of-season stuff in a less accessible spot. You can also move bulky, heavy items like shoes and coats to a secondary closet outside the bedroom. If you don't have an obvious place for extra clothing storage, vacuum compaction bags are great for storing excess clothing, blankets, etc.
DRAW A FLOOR PLAN
This might seem like a bit of a hassle, but it will make your life a lot easier when you start moving into the new place or if you have hired a moving company. It will save you plenty of headaches on moving day. Include doors and windows so you know where furniture can be positioned. Measure the rooms in your new space. This way you can figure out what will fit where. Take pictures as well, so you'll remember the little details that could help you decide where to put things. Think about furniture pieces individually instead of their current arrangement.
Find a decorating scheme that merges both your tastes. Whether you're moving together into a brand-new space or into one of your existing homes, decide on a new decorating scheme that will tie all of your possessions together into a cohesive home. You might want to paint the walls, install new light fixtures, get new curtains, and so on in order to make the space feel like it belongs to the whole family, and not just one person.
GET CHILDREN INVOLVED
If you have children, make sure to get them involved. Merging two households can be hard on kids. If children are involved in your household merge, they should be involved in the decision making. It's really helpful if they feel they have a say in what their new space will be like. Get the kids involved in packing, decorating, and creation of their new personal space.
Be open-minded about the end result. The new household isn't going to be like your old one, and you shouldn't expect it or want it to be. Strive for a new and improved merged household, rather than trying to replicate the old house. You're merging your tastes with your partners to create something new and fresh. With careful planning you can create a new space that you both enjoy and are comfortable in. After the merge, look for something you can buy for your home that is yours together as a new household.