Things I Learned About Decorating When I Moved In With 3 Males + 1 Dog

This post is brought to you by a space that feels like you (even if it’s shared), pillows that don’t smell like dog, and

Ten months ago I packed up my little two bedroom apartment and relocated to the other side of the river with my husband, his dog, and (occasionally) his two sons.

Combining households can be emotionally and logistically challenging. It can also be stylistically challenging because WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LET ME PUT 15 THROW PILLOWS ON THE BED. So when Minted offered me a mini shopping spree of sorts, I positively leapt at the chance.

If you’re not familiar with Minted, it’s online marketplace designed to connect you with independent artists from all over the world. Minted sources its pieces through on-going art competitions, so it introduces you to new, super talented designers and creatives every single day. Pretty great, right?

minted pillow
After ten months of living with three dudes and two pets (and a mini shopping spree at Minted), here’s what I’ve learned:

1. OMG get throw pillows with removable, washable cases

Let’s talk about how dogs (even really cute dogs!) smell like Doritos. Let’s talk about how teenage boys smell like … teenage boys and how your handsome cyclist husband sometimes smells like he’s a cyclist. And it’s not just the dog and boys and husband! I like to drink my decaf on the sofa and you’d be surprised by how many times that mug can’t quite find my mouth.

The answer here is obvious: cute throw pillows with removable, washable shams. We have this one and I love it. When you can wash a pillow sham you’re waaaaaay less likely to yell at the dog because she made everything smell all dog-ish.


2. Pretty much everyone is okay with grey

I have a tendency to, uh, take over a space.  Left to my own devices, I’d decorate every square inch of our house – including my stepsons’ rooms – to fit my taste. WHAT 13-YEAR-OLD BOYS DOESN’T WANT  A PINK CLOSET I ASK YOU.

But that’s not fair and it doesn’t really make people feel like a space is their own. So rather than filling shared spaces with all my stuff in the colors only I love, I opted for a slightly more muted palette and used a bit more grey. It’s classy and it’s gender neutral. Anybody would love this photo or this gorgeous drawing.


The Prince Street cottage where I lived for two years + Minted’s map print of that same neighborhood

3. Hang art that reminds you who you are

Obviously, you had a life before you combined households. Of course, you did amazing things before you became a partner/parent. But it might be weird to have a gallery wall consisting exclusively of photos from trips you took before you met your partner? That said, I also don’t want my entire home filled with wedding photos and kids’ drawings. Those are lovely but I want a bit of me in my space, you know?

For me, the solution to this was one of Minted’s custom map prints. It’s a gorgeous print that’s meaningful and important to me, but also happens to look nice tucked into a gallery wall of family photos. Win/win!

If you’ve combined households recently, I’d love to hear your tips! How do you make your space feel inclusive without erasing yourself?

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Love the idea of the print maps, checking those out now! I’m in a tiny studio and was slow to add artwork, but that could be a great gift for someone as they move!

Sarah Von Bargen

Well! He’s about the same size as my husband’s dog and Loretta (the dog) is quite intimidated by him. Which he enjoys 😉


My boyfriend and I moved in together – and I also have a dog. One thing he requested was to not let her into the bedroom, and it’s actually been pretty glorious not sleeping with fur crawling all over my sheets! But other than that she has free reign. Another thing we did was, create our own office nooks, and that’s where we each were allowed to decorate however we wanted. For the common spaces, we mixed my “toys” (usually colorful souvenirs from my travels) with his movie posters (which I got framed!), to make the living room and kitchen come alive, and with special items for both of us! He also takes great pictures of landscapes, and we love beaches, so we framed a bunch of beach/water pictures from trips we took together and that’s up in our room 🙂

I’m still trying to convince him to get throw pillows for the couch, which he’s been averse to because of the fur, so I’m definitely going to go out and by some with removable shams!! LOVED IT!

Sarah Von Bargen

Those removable shams are a game changer! Also: once a year we rent an upholstery cleaner for $15 and shampoo all the furniture AND IT IS AMAZING.


i would probably kick my dog out for a week just to bask in the clean smelling furniture for a few days, haha


When I saw the house photo, I was all like “hello Wellington!” 😀

My partner and I are about to move into our new house (as in, brand spanking new, rebuilt after the earthquakes destroyed our old one). We’ve gone for greys in our decor so that we can put pretty much colour we want with it. Although, with the size of our new garage, I’m sure as long as I leave him to his own devices out in the garage, he’ll let me have free rein in the rest of the house 😉

Regarding maps, I came across these gorgeous necklaces

Miss D

Oh man, it’s so funny that you say everyone is okay with grey because my partner told me yesterday he does not like grey… even though I think it’s a great neutral! Argh.

We each have our own room/office that’s ours to do what we like with – the rest of the house… let’s just say it’s a battle. A battle of compromise. 😉


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