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The first challenge of a newly married couple is combining 20-plus years of accumulated stuff, times two, into one space—and then finding a home for all the wedding presents. Check out BRIDES magazine's tips for making room before you find out there isn't space for that carnival-style standing popcorn maker you registered for:
First, you purge.
•Each of you should edit your own stuff alone.
•"Trash anything broken, and donate clothes or appliances you haven't used in the past year," suggests Jennifer Ford Berry, author of Organize Now!
•Toss mementos from previous relationships. "You don't want to bring old baggage into a new beginning," explains Diane Albright, an organizing expert in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Second, choose your non-negotiables.
•You should each make a list of up to three things you absolutely can't live without. The lists will prevent arguments and help you recognize when to compromise.
Next, discuss decor.
•Decide on your home's style and color scheme.
•Give each room a purpose. Be specific, advises Berry: "Rather than just calling a room 'the den,' decide that it's for watching TV and reading and that its purpose is comfort." This will help you decide what to keep by making sure it suits the room's intended use. You'll be surprised at how many items are just hogging space.
Then, make a merge list.
•Start with furniture. Limit multiples of big items like sofas and kitchen tables to one keeper—and make sure it fits your new pad before giving the other away. (If you need help, try the room-planner tools at ikea.com.)
•Use a blank bridal-registry list (you can find one at brides.com. Check off items you already have in good condition, and decide which to keep if there are doubles.
•Avoid the "we need a spare" mentality, unless you have lots of space.
•Once you've given away the mismatched juice glasses, you'll see there are things you actually should register for, even if your cupboard seems full. If you plan ahead, your married life will have a clean start—and there will be plenty of space to stash all that glorious loot.
—Jennifer Goldstein and Marina Khidekel, BRIDES magazine