Real Life: Living On Your Own

keep dreaming

no way


So, I love how our new apartment is coming together. But I gotta tell ya, as anyone who has ever co-decorated a space knows, having too many cooks in the kitchen totally slows things down. In other words, designing with your significant other (if they have an opinion about such things) can be interesting. Joe and I don’t have a similar aesthetic in the least, and while we are able to find pieces that we both love, it’s a constant give and take. I’ve learned not to get too excited about particular items I might find, because we decided long ago we’d each get a say in big, impactful home purchases like art and furniture. Routinely, I will show the hubs pictures like the ones above as inspiration, and will get an immediate, “Ummm, no.” So I store them all away in Pinterest on the off chance that he’ll some day change his mind…or for posts like this!

I’ve never lived on my own, you see, so I’ve never had a real opportunity to execute a design vision that’s fully my own in the space I’m living in. Okay, caveat: I had my own room in college for two years, but given that my budget could only handle IKEA and hand me downs (and decorating wasn’t my top priority at the time), it doesn’t count. Straight out of college, Joe and I moved up to SF and got a place together, and the mishmashed design vision has been a problem ever since.

Beyond the decorating vision thing, I feel like there’s one other thing I’ve missed out on having never really lived in my own apartment, all by my lonesome. And that’s just it. Being all by my lonesome. I am an only child, and maybe this will sound strange, but I never really missed not having siblings. I relished the time alone in my room as a kid and teenager, listening to music, writing, painting, doing creative things and letting my mind wander. To this day, I still love the time alone in my own apartment. I’m really not one of those people that feels a constant need to be social — honestly, it can feel exhausting (I believe the term for this is introvert).

I have a friend who’s moving into a new place, and will be on her own for the first time in several years (she previously lived with a roommate). “I envy you,” I told her recently, “You get to decorate your new place exactly as you want it, with no one else to veto things that you love or make you really happy to live with.” She disagreed — because, while she enjoys decorating, she told me she’ll really miss living with her old roommate. Conversely, another close friend of mine moved in with her boyfriend several years ago. One day we were talking about this subject, and she told me that while she loves living with her significant other now, she’s so thankful she was able to live alone before they moved in together — she really valued that time to do her own thing.

It made me wonder: do you prefer living alone, or with other people (whether that’s a boyfriend, girlfriend, family, friends, random roommates, etc)? If you’re like me, and have never lived on your own, do you wish you could? If you currently fly solo, what’s your favorite thing about having your own place? And is it just me, or does anyone else have interesting “discussions” about decorating with their significant others?!?!

{Image Credits: Chris Tubbs for Canadian House and Home, Best Decorating 2012 Special Issue; Tiffany Richey Design as featured on La Dolce Vita; Paul Corrie Design on Traditional Home // graphics added by Victoria McGinley}


  1. 10.2.13
    Clara said:

    Yes, yes, and yes. I lived alone for one year during college an absolutely loved it. I had a studio in a new dorm with this big windows and my very own kitchen and a massive walk in closet. Even though I didn’t have a ton of money to decorate, I loved coming home to that quiet space. I am an introvert by nature, too, so while I love living with my boyfriend- I 100% relish the time he is out of town. He feels the same way, so no hard feelings there. And I feel ya on the decorating, he likes to be pretty involved, but luckily he trusts most of my decisions. The thing we’re struggling with now is that we’re not in our forever home so as much as I want to invest, it really doesn’t make sense for us. So for that reason Pinterest is tough for me! Ha. Great post :)

  2. 10.2.13
    Juliette said:

    I should’ve seen trouble brewing when my husband was so involved in the design elements of our wedding! We’re total opposites with decorating, but over time he’s started to realize that my ideas are actually pretty good. =D We still live in home decorated with compromise, but we manage.

    What helps me most is having my own office, which I decorated wholly for myself. He did the same with his office, but actually ended up asking me for help, ha.

    I did live alone for a time, and maybe I got a few decorating ideas out of my system then that wouldn’t fly in my married life, but now it’s US and you know, it works. When we buy our big ticket items it’s because we BOTH love it (and I’m smelling an analogy for happy relationships in this comment, ha).

  3. 10.2.13

    I think that it’s totally natural to crave a space that’s all yours, to decorate all on your own. My husband and I have similar design aesthetics but I still felt like I needed a space of my own. So we cleared out the bedroom we were using as storage and I went to town with the decor! We did the same with our second bathroom. In the end, it’s pretty streamlined with the rest of our home, but when I’m in there I do feel like it’s my little haven. Sometimes I think it’s just about having a little slice of your own space – maybe a studio or tiny office! I’d love to see what your office decor would look like.

  4. 10.2.13

    Totally feel you on this one! I have just started re-decorating the whole place and it’s already been quite the challenge having another opinion. Especially when that other person is a male…We always try to compromise on things but sometimes it is tough to sway him to let me do something girly. Flowers are O.K but no pinks, purples, floral patterns, polka dots…you get the trend. Although I LOVE living together, I do miss my times living alone for that reason.

  5. 10.2.13
    Madi said:

    This post is SO my life right now! I have never lived alone. Literally 4 weeks after I crossed the stage at my college graduation ceremony, I walked down the aisle to my groom! And could our tastes be any different? I don’t think so.
    I feel kind of split on this topic. Sometimes I think it would be awesome to have a space that is completely my own. But on the other hand, I know I have always LOVED living with other people (and especially my husband) because I thrive off of conversation at all hours and sharing life under the same roof.
    We’ve found some ways to compromise on this design journey. 1) We’ve had to come agreement on large furniture pieces-Most of which are clean, timeless and “blank slate” pieces. i.e., Simple white couch, large jute rugs, etc. 2) We bring out/blend our personal styles in additional textiles (curtains, pillow covers, throws) and knick-knacks. My husband grew up in a home that was very “farmhouse/country” and I prefer more eclectic and modern spaces. Imagine that combo! :)
    I’m dying to see more captures of your new space, Victoria! Thanks for always being so real in your journey! Love following.

  6. 10.2.13
    dana said:

    too funny you posted about this, because I’m moving in on my own for the first time in 2 years next week. I finally bought my own condo, and I’ve never been MORE excited to move, although I really will miss living with my current roommates. I am also an only child – and probably a bit of an introvert at times, although I too have never missed not having siblings. I have a pretty serious boyfriend, and we have OPPOSITE taste. If we ever moved in together, I think it would get prettyyy interesting… that’s why I’m happy to have my own place right now. great post!

    xx Dana

  7. 10.2.13

    I’ve never lived alone, and as introverted as I can be, I don’t regret never having my own place. My husband and I certainly don’t agree on decorating (my Pinterest ideas get about the same reaction as yours) and it definitely makes it hard, especially in a little NY apartment. But most of the time he’s learned that it’s just easier to give into my ideas, which is good since if it was up to him we would have a wall of clocks, model cars, and sports paraphernalia!

  8. 10.2.13
    HMC said:

    I just moved into my own place after living with my boyfriend, and the aftermath of the breakup aside, I loooooove living alone. Not only does my apartment look exactly the way I want it to, but eating cheese for dinner is perfectly acceptable. I’m a total introvert, but I think there’s something to be said for being all by your lonesome, at least for a little while!

  9. 10.2.13
    Sandra said:

    I never knew we were so much alike. I lived alone for a short period in college but only had about $20 a month leftover after bills, so no decorating for me. I moved in to my husbands house and it has been a huge effort (struggle) to change anything. Ive been trying to change the curtains fot years to no avail and also the huge matchy matchy bedroom set in our small bedroom. I feel most guys think, if it works, why change it. I do get envious of my friends whose husbands let tjem do all the decorating and yes, i spend alot of time daydreaming about decorating my own place and living alone because im a total intrivert too.

  10. 10.2.13
    Ashley said:

    So, I absolutely LOVE my roommate, and living together, but I’ve always said I would have absolutely no problem living alone. In NYC it’s tough though since rent is so expensive. Unless you’re making bank, it usually makes more sense to have a roomie.

    My roommate and I are going on 3 years living together and slowly, slowly have been updating our hand-me-downs and Ikea pieces. I’m always hesitant when suggesting furniture or art for the place because I don’t want her to feel like she has to like it just because I do (and I also don’t want her to say no!).

    I do hope that I have a chance to live on my own one day before I settle down. Calling all the shots would be a lot of fun!

  11. 10.2.13
    Cat said:

    YES! I totally agree with you, Victoria. I too am an “only”, preferred to have a single room in college, LOVE my alone time at home, and never had my own place. It’s something I wish I had done & encourage my girls all the time of the importance of women having the opportunity to live on their own before getting married. It’s important for women to be self-relient & discover themselves. BTW, I”m married w/4 kids; 3 of which are young women.I’m probably not your typical reader, but I love your blog.

  12. 10.2.13

    I’d never really thought about this but I’m loving reading everyone’s responses! I lived alone after college and now live with my husband but our tastes are pretty similar so I don’t think we’ve ever disagreed about anything decor wise – though since we have separate bathroom/closet areas those are decorated pretty differently. I’m not sure he’d be down for a sequin shower curtain if we had to share ha!

  13. 10.2.13
    Alyssa said:

    This is a great post, Victoria! For me, I think there’s a time and a place for each situation. Right now, I’m loving living with roommates. It’s the right time in my life to be living with buddies, and coming home to girlfriends every night definitely makes life more fun (plus, I get to do all the girly decorating I want!). That being said, I do plan on living with a boyfriend/husband/fiance in the future–and possibly living on my own if the time is right. I’m sure I’ll enjoy each and every one for different reasons, but for now I’m really loving where I am!

  14. 10.2.13
    nora said:

    I am like you. I lived with my parents. My husband moved in for a short time with my family. But we bought a house within our first year of marriage. I do wish I could have decorated my own space. My husband lets me do mostly what I want but still likes to give me a hard time. I brought home clear chairs for the kitchen. I wish you could have seen his face. He likes them now. He also is a little over the chevron. But he’s a good sport.

  15. 10.2.13
    Emily said:

    Such a great post! Very though provoking. I lived alone for two years after never having done it before. I have to say, it was very hard at first. I have a big family and have always been surrounded by people in living situations, so it took getting used to just being with ME. After I learned how to be alone, I started loving it.

    Now I’m engaged and living with my fiance, which has definitely been another adjustment. Decorating is a give and take – you don’t want it to be too “girly” because you want him to be comfortable too, but you also want it to be YOU. I found that picking out items together, like you said, is the best way to go about it!
    Isn’t That Charming.

  16. 10.2.13
    Kodi said:

    I’m totally the same as you — my husband grew up with a brother and they’d always seek each other out and be together with their parents at home. When I lived with my parents I usually disappeared to my room after school, came out for dinner, disappeared again, and then came out for a while before I went to bed. My husband and I had to talk out our habits when we moved in together to make sure we were both happy. He works til 7 each day when I’m usually home between 4-5, so I’ve got some built in alone time on the weekdays!
    grey et al

  17. 10.2.13

    Decorating with husbands is the worst! I wish N did not have opinions about everything, but we’ve worked through a lot of issues by teaching him to articulate what he doesn’t like instead of declaring everything that isn’t traditional to be weird.

    It just took one breakdown where he casually shot holes in my gorgeous plan for him to realize that he needs to be constructive if it’s important to him, or just keep quiet. :)

  18. 10.2.13

    I live alone and I absolutely love it. First off, I love making all of my own design decisions-I think I would have a really tough time letting someone else have input! Also, after hanging out with people for 8 hours a day at work (which I enjoy), I really relish coming home and just being by myself, with no one to talk to, so I can just decompress. That’s how I relax and re-energize. So yeah, if I ever need to move in with a boyfriend I think it’s going to be a bit of a struggle for me!

  19. 10.2.13

    I live alone, and I love it. It would be nice to live with a significant other (I think – never actually done it), but I’m pretty happy not to have roommates. Having roommates was a blast in college, but now I’d just prefer to live close to friends but each have our own apartments. I like to come home and be able to do whatever I want!

  20. 10.2.13
    Nnenna said:

    Yes! I’ve never lived alone, but I would love to. I went straight from sharing a room with my sister, to sharing a suite in college, to sharing apartments here in NYC. I feel that it’s extra tough here in NYC because the rent is so expensive and living with roommate(s) is just more feasible financially (i.e. I really could not afford to live on my own, even though I want to). Even the people I know who are five, ten years, older than me are still living with roommates!

    On top of that, decorating is also difficult because I feel that each place is so temporary. I’ve lived in 3 different places in the last 2 years and it’s likely I’ll have to move again sometime next year. So it makes it hard for me to commit to buying big ticket items for the apartment, especially considering that my roommate and I have different tastes.

    I’m still hoping/dreaming that one day I will have a space all my own to live in and decorate!

  21. 10.2.13
    Allie said:

    I always think I would be a good contender for living alone but then I wonder if it would make me less social (or maybe more social?) and I would also be pretty scared at night. I’m such a scaredy cat! But I may have to live alone next year so we’ll see!

  22. 10.2.13
    Susan said:

    After college, I moved back in with my family and am still living there again this year. I have to say I have not regretted it. There are moments that I really want that own independent space that’s mine, but I know that the time will come for me. Right now, my mom and I have so much fun picking out pieces to “grow” my childhood room and that’s been so nice (a new comfy chair, new artwork and a new duvet!)

  23. 10.2.13
    Kimberly said:

    I’m married….but I secretly miss the time in my old apartment. I wish I was rich like Carrie Bradshaw and could have kept my old place for a blogging office and just for me time. For me, sometimes it is more than just having the space… I just enjoyed having something that was 100% mine and not having to share or compromise about anything unless I wanted to. That must sound absolutely terrible! Lol

  24. 10.2.13
    Joanna said:

    I’ve never lived alone, but things have worked out in terms of decorating the apartment my husband and I live in because I lean towards more masculine design tendencies to begin with! I think the only time we really disagree is when I want to make bold changes – painting a wall navy, or the entire living room white, etc. I’m also a home textile designer, so he has the good sense to never question my opinions on that front. I do wish I had lived alone at some point – I think there’s a different creative flow that happens in a solo space, and hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to have my own studio to establish that!

  25. 10.2.13
    Rebecca said:

    I had my own apartment for a little over a year when living in Philly and it was really nice to have my own space. I’m completely an introvert and am with you on socializing being an exhausting a lot of the time. When I lived alone was making almost nothing, but I was working at Anthro and a perk of the job was definitely the samples! I may have gone a little overboard and since then have gotten rid of most things as they weren’t actually my style! I think it’s always a constant evolution. Now being married we definitely make choices together and it can be a challenge…Steve loves solids and it’s hard to get him to do a pattern! Our apartment has really turned into a factory now, so I’m saving all my ideas for a few years from now when we can buy something. I dream about wall sconces and pendant lighting, and what kind of cabinets I’d pick out…as I think the architectural details are so important in creating a space. Now I’m rambling on! I love talking about decorating – love this post!

  26. 10.2.13

    Oh my, I LOVED living alone. Also being introverted and spending my young professional days working for a very “Devil Wears Prada” like boss in the design world, coming home to silence was my heaven. And yes, the designing for yourself is fabulous. I love my husband, but let’s just say there are some wolf plates from Alaska in our kitchen that were a HUGE compromise :)


  27. 10.2.13
    julia said:

    What an interesting discussion! I love reading through the comments as well. My fiance and I have very similar design aesthetics and I have loved decorating every one of our 4 apartments together. When our mutual friend first introduced us in college, she told me “His room is amazing”. And she was right! He has a very good eye and that is one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place. I am also an introvert and have lived alone as well as with roommates. Surprisingly, I didn’t really like living alone except when I had my own room in a dorm. But my own apartment? That was a little too lonely for me.

  28. 10.2.13

    I feel like I am always having envious thoughts about others decorations around the house- don’t get me wrong, I love living with my husband- but I sometimes I feel like I am the only person with a husband who has opinions about the decorations. It’s comforting to hear that others have the same problems. HA!

  29. 10.2.13

    It’s so funny that you bring up this topic — I’m just about to move into my very own studio apartment and it will be my first time living alone (having previously lived with roommates). Given that I’ll likely move in with the bf when he finishes grad and our long distance relationship becomes short distance, I’m really relishing this time here and now to decorate just as I want to. I still try to make sure my purchases aren’t entirely girly, but I am SO looking forward to having my own vision — the give and take can be a good thing though sometimes!

  30. 10.2.13
    Megan said:

    Okay, so I am an only child as well who is now living alone and I love it. I waited a long time before moving in with my previous boyfriend and I tell everyone the same advice – you won’t again live alone (if everything goes to plan) until you’re a widow, so make sure you’re ready for that constant companionship. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you’re not, living alone is pure bliss for a lot of people so make sure you enjoy it while you can. You also learn a lot about yourself when you live alone, I feel like it is something everyone has to do once… but I am biased since it is something that works for me. So I’m not widowed, but things haven’t gone as planned and for the first time in … hmmm … six years (?) I am living alone again and it is fabulous. I loved my partner at the time, but I always missed living alone, having my space, my sounds, my silences, my choices, my food, my messes, etc… and now, through unfortunately twists and turns, I am here again and going to savour every moment.

  31. 10.2.13

    Oh my goodness, this hits so close to home! I feel ya on everything you said. I, too, have never lived alone. I grew up with 4 younger siblings, but (or perhaps because of that) also enjoy time alone to do my own thing.

    I feel like my home decor taste varies. There’s the part of me that loves white and feminine details, but then there’s the part that is drawn to rustic pieces and natural elements like brick, wood, brass, etc. Seth fits right in with the natural/rustic side. Thankfully, he doesn’t care too much about how I decorate, but he isn’t into white (which makes me crazy) and has opinions about bigger things. So, like you said, it’s a compromise.

    I don’t know if I would ever actually want to live alone even though I would want to decorating freedom. I think it’s because I grew up with a big family – the house has always been filled with people and commotion. I think I would get lonely. But I’m super thankful Seth is a firefighter because once he starts working at a firehouse, he will work either 24 or 48 hour shifts so I’ll get the alone time without having to live by myself. But I’ll still have to compromise on the decorating part. Not sure how to get around that part! ;)

  32. 10.2.13

    you are so not alone!!! many things have stalled b/c R isn’t on board with them (or i am paralyzed without his full buy-in to actually make a decision in case he hates me for it later. haha). even though i love our ghost chairs around the dinner table to look at, they are uncomfy, and were HIS pick… i wanted something you could sit cross-legged in… but guys don’t like cushy things. so to pacify him, i let him have that one.

    also, i want tons of pillows… he wants nothing to do with that. oy. and don’t even get me started on art. thank gosh he moved in to MY place so we didn’t have to co-decorate from the start – that would have been a bloody nightmare (literally bloody b/c one of us wouldn’t have come out alive, ha ha).

    some guys let their women run the decorating show – i bet we both wish this was our man!

    p.s: LOVE the b&w wall inspiration pic!

    • 10.2.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Joe recently informed me that there is a pillow embargo on our house. As in, I’ve reached my allotted limit to bring onto the premises. Now I just need to dream up more reasons (and more places) to put them! :)

  33. 10.2.13

    OMG, Victoria I relate to this post SO much. A) I’m an only child too. B) I just moved in with my bf and I understand the issue of mismashed decorating. I’ve actually lived on my own for 5 years, so I’m used to having my girly things around. I too enjoy my time alone and being able to just be quiet and do my own thing. I do miss my little glitter and glam things, like my twinkle lights above my bed, and lots of candles. Ugh, lol. Good luck to you! :)

  34. 10.3.13
    Sara said:

    I’ve never really lived alone either! It seems kind of crazy now that I think of it – the last time I even had my own room was in high school! I think I’ve gotten completely used to having someone around all of the time… though I definitely love my alone time too.

    I can’t wait to see what you and Joe come up (agree on) in your place!

  35. 10.3.13

    I’m on the fence. I lived by myself for a while and it was great because I could decorate however I wanted and do whatever I wanted. However, I loooove living with my fiance and roommates. There’s always something going on and I like that. The only bummer is finding alone-time or quiet time is really really hard inside the house.

  36. 10.3.13
    meg said:

    Haha! I can totally relate!
    I do let my husband make some decisions. I try and nudge him the right way. ;)

  37. 10.3.13
    Chelsea said:

    I have to say that living with a significant other than be a challenge in a variety of different levels but none so much in our household when it comes to decor. (Hubs is an interior designer) I would have loved to live in my own for awhile but the timing never worked out. Now I find space for my ‘alone’ time within th confines of our busy schedules but it works. Like you, I need a quiet moment or two ;)

  38. 10.3.13
    Mere said:

    V, how funny you post this because I was musing on a similar thought this morning. Living with a boy for so long has made me learn to totally embrace the rare alone time I can get. That being said, I am watching Molly for two weeks while my folks are out of town, and after one full day/night alone I’m already bored as hell. So maybe my “me time” needs cap off after a few hours nowadays…grass is always greener. But I have a plan to make everything better: you and Luce fly out here and stay with us?? XO

    • 10.3.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Um, I wish!!! We saw a girl in the park today that was your doppelganger, and Luce and I both totally stopped and did a double take. I said to her (I says), “Doesn’t that look like your Auntie Meredith??” She agreed.

  39. 10.4.13
    Liv said:

    I never knew my BF had so many opinions until we started decorating our house. i’m no Martha Stewart, but he STINKS at it. I’m still trying to explain to him why we need curtains & a rug in the living-room and what an “accent color” is. he just doesn’t get it.

    • 10.4.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Oh, the random opinions! Joe used to say that he thought all curtains make a room look sloppy and messy. Thank God for Pinterest…I could show him like 10 million examples of how that’s absolutely NOT true.

  40. 10.4.13
    Rose said:

    I am constantly daydreaming about my own place; I currently live in Queens with three roommates. One the plus side, we have a pretty good sized space and it feels fairly homey-for the most part, the paint isn’t terrible although the tiling in our kitchen and bathroom looks straight out of the 70’s. My roomies give me pretty free reign over little decorating decisions, but since most all the furniture belongs to two of them from before I moved with them I can’t really get rid of pieces I don’t like. I’m very much looking forward to the day I get my own place (I like to imagine it’ll be a little bit like Kerry Washington’s on Scandal *daydreaming*).

  41. 10.4.13
    Aly said:

    I have been living on my own for the past two years and LOVE it. I think the decorating piece may or may not be one of the biggest factors for me… That being said, I am kind of young to be so used to this lifestyle (I’m only 25) and know that I will probably have to give it up shortly in the name of getting into a larger space (yay expensive bay area rent) and in hopes of actually having a social life ;)

  42. 10.8.13

    Such a great question! I had my own room in college and in an apartment with a roommate after college, but at that point in my life I didn’t have a lot of money so decorating couldn’t be a priority. Now that I live with my husband and it can be, we are always butting heads on design. He hates color, so we have a lot of gray happening at home!

  43. 10.16.13

    Funny you bring this up now (or rather, funny I’m reading this now since I’m playing catch up on all the blogs!) – I’m moving to San Francisco (from NYC) and I very possibly will be living on my own once I find a job. I’m excited about it because I’ll finally have a space all to myself (I’ve never lived by myself), but I’m nervous that I’ll get all anti-social since I won’t have the built-in social life that comes with living with other people! In general I’m definitely more excited than not though! :) (And doubly excited because I’ll finally be back in the bay area!!)

  44. 10.16.13
    Samiyah said:

    I agree I love living alone. I’m the opposite I’m concerned about how it will be living with someone else romantically. I’ve never moved in with anyone I was in a relationship with. Curios to know how that will turn out!

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