Preparing physical space


Spending some time to prepare your home for sharing will help make the transition easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

When you invite someone into your home, the first impression is important to set the expectation. Spending some time to think through how you will share space, what rules you want to enforce, and that your home will be comfortable and inviting are all very important. Reflecting on the introductory story in this module, envision yourself in the shoes of your new housing companion.

Five tips for hosting – prepare your home for sharing

1. Prepare the bedroom

TThe bedroom is a great place to start the preparation for your new housing companion. This will be their exclusive space, so you want them to feel comfortable. As a general rule, you want this space to be neutral in décor with some flexibility for personal styling according to your housing companion’s taste.

The process:

  1. Eliminate all your personal items from the room, wardrobe, and closet. Remove any family photos or other items with sentimental value. By leaving personal items in the room, your housing companion is likely to feel as if they are encroaching on your space. Having the room cleared of personal items will allow them to feel like it is their space.
  2. Clean the room thoroughly. Your housing companion will be expected to return the room to the same state they find it. Give the room thorough dusting, clean steam carpets, wipe down the windows and blinds, wipe down the walls. Is the room clean and comfortable enough for you to enjoy?

  3. The bed. Most hosts will provide a bed for their housing companion. If you are, then you should ensure you have a comfortable and newer mattress. If your bed is over ten years old, you should consider updating it. This step should not be overlooked as having a good night’s sleep is a sure way to increase your housing companion’s happiness and ultimately yours!

  4. Stylize the room. Now that the room is cleared out and clean, you can begin stylizing it to make your new companion feel welcomed. Many people like to paint their walls and even paint a colourful featured wall. Keep the style simple and allow for flexibility for your new housing companion to hang their artwork if they so desire.
  5. Noises and smells. It is an awkward feeling when you move into a new home, and there are abnormal noises or smells. This is more common in basements or rooms that have been unoccupied for some time. Consider running a dehumidifier to remove dampness and avoid using strong fragrances to mask odours. If you would not want to sleep in the room yourself, then you need to fix it.
cozy bed

If you are providing a furnished room, make sure that everything is included and functional. The attention to detail here can make a big difference in the comfort and experience your housing companion has. Now is an opportune time to fix any broken furniture and ensure that all the light bulbs are working.

2. The Kitchen

The kitchen will likely be the second most used space next to the bedroom. Having another person in the home will increase overall use and the potential for a disorder to escalate.  If you have been living alone for a while, this step is particularly important. You want your housing companion to feel like they can use the kitchen and prepare meals without hindering you.

Things to consider:

  1. Set an example of how you like the kitchen cleaned and organized upon the arrival of your housing companion. As you clean and organize, pay special attention to what you don’t need in the kitchen. Can’t remember how old those spices are? Do you really need that old mixer in the pantry? If you don’t need it, get rid of it or put it in storage.
  2. Make space. Your new companion is going to need space to store their food in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. Be fair in your allocation of space. Many conflicts have emanated from food storage issues. Many people find it best to organize shelf by shelf as opposed to the right and left sides.
  3. Allergies. During the interview process, you will have learnt about any food allergies your housing companion has. If necessary, now is the time to take the precautions needed to eliminate or contain any allergens that may affect your new housing companion.
  4. Shareables. Most households choose to share common items such as spices, flour, rice, sugar, and oil. Talk to your new housing companion to determine what items you would like to share. Stock up all these items; in the future, you can share the cost of replacing the consumed items.
Clean, but not organized.
Clean, but not organized.
Clean and organized.
Clean and organized.

3. Storage and parking

Your housing companion will likely need some space in the home to store their items. This could be as little as a suitcase, to large sports equipment like a kayak or bicycle. Suppose you forgot to ask how much space your new companion will need during the interview process. In that case, you should ask before their arrival to ensure there are no surprisesYour housing companion will likely need some space in the home to store their items. This could be as little as a suitcase, to large sports equipment like a kayak or bicycle. Suppose you forgot to ask how much space your new companion will need during the interview process. In that case, you should ask before their arrival to ensure there are no surprises.

Things to consider:

  1. Parking permit. Do you need a parking permit or pass? If so, share this information with your companion before they arrive. It can be frustrating when you cannot find a place to park your car.
  2. Minimize. Are your storage spaces or spare rooms currently full of clutter or items you don’t need? Now is an excellent opportunity to clear these areas and prepare for a fresh start. This is common to recent widows and widowers and can be an overwhelming and emotional task. You may want to consider asking friends or family for help or hiring a professional.
  3. Sharing is caring. Allocate fair and equitable space for your housing companion to store their items. Establish limits to the use of space and how long it can be used. The last thing you want is to feel resentful as your housing companion has taken over the entire storage room. Discuss with your housing companion before they arrive to estimate how much space they will need.

4. Common areas

The common shared areas of your home should be considered ‘Always Happy’ spaces. No one likes negativity or dealing with another person’s mess. As a general rule, whenever you are in the common areas, you should only share positive emotions and support for one another. You may find that establishing this culture with your housing companions can help cheer you up even on the worst of days.

The physical spaces should remain open and inviting so that everyone can feel comfortable gathering to play games, share tea, and engage in conversation in this space. Décor should be kept tasteful and simple; however, you can decorate seasonally to your heart’s content with your housing companion’s mutual support and agreement.

Things to consider:

  1. Remove personal items. Any personal or delicate valuables should be removed from the common areas if feasible. It would be disheartening to have your housing companion accidentally breaking something of significant sentimental value.

  2. Clean and organize. Do you have a habit of storing items on the coffee table or leaving your sewing project on the sofa? Prepare the space to be open and inviting so that your housing companion will not feel like they are intruding on your space or belongings.

5. Renovations

Do you have any renovations that are half done? Perhaps you wanted to install new kitchen countertops but have been delaying it for some time. Before you start sharing your home is an opportune time to clean up these loose ends. It will be far less intrusive to complete these projects before your household gets busier.

Note: You should not feel obligated to renovate your home for your housing companion. That is not the intent. Companion housing is about utilizing your existing home to its full potential while implementing best practices to keep it clean and orderly.

Be a super host!

Do you want to make your new housing companion feel extra special and welcomed into your home? Starting on the right foot can help ease all anxiety to prepare you for an enjoyable experience.

Steps to get ready

  1. Print off your move-in checklist (or have a digital copy available), include your house rules and expectations.
  2. Have a house key ready for your new housing companion.
  3. Share your first meal. Plan to prepare a sharable dinner for the first night that your housing companion arrives. There is no need to impress them with your culinary talent; keep it simple.

The first time your housing companion sees your home, they’re going to be nervous. Try to make them feel comfortable as much as possible. Make them feel at home. Help them move in, offer some snacks or beverages. Be gracious and spend some time trying to get to know them.


Prepare your home for companion housing. Click on the self reflection exercise below to access the preparation checklist.