Balancing Privacy and Connectedness In Shared Spaces


The economy of sharing is on a roll. From businesses to households, the trend is gaining popularity as it is deemed timely and practical. It’s one of the first condo living problems couples face when they move in together. Shared accommodation thrives on the same theory. In the interest of living close to the workplace, a lot of young professionals share a condo with a few roommates. For others, it is just the normal course of things—sharing space with family or moving in with a partner. Whatever the case may be, the challenges of living in a condo with other people are essentially the same.

A study by the Urban Land Institute found that 27% of millennial renters live with roommates. And while 46% of them agree that shared living could be fun, a majority still wished they live alone. This should not come as a surprise though. People generally value their “alone” moments. And while some may argue that privacy and the desire for it is highly overrated, it is what it is. People need to be with themselves.

It is hard enough to find ways on how to maintain your privacy in the condo that you share with family, friends, co-workers or just some random person looking for a bed space on the Internet. But the tougher challenge is finding ways to have privacy without alienating yourself. In a world obsessed with staying connected, virtual or otherwise, striking the balance between privacy and connectedness can be quite a task.

Are you up to it?


Talk about the boundaries

Talk about the boundaries

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You’d think that since you are living with your best friend that nothing could go wrong. But you would be surprised how much living together could blur boundaries. Like it or not, you have to talk about it. Casually or straight up, tell them you are not a morning person (please don’t knock at my door at 5 a.m.). Tell them you like taking long baths (so they might want to do their business before you come in). Tell them you have to do some take-home office work sometimes (so they should keep it down).

You don’t have to be rude and tell them to get out of your way. But you can always talk your way through it. Remember: feeling like you’re lacking privacy in the condo is inevitable, but being open and communicative will help everyone involved to gain a sense of equilibrium.


Put a lock on it

Put a lock on it

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Locks are a wonderful thing when you are into communal living. Encourage everyone to have a semblance of privacy in the condo. If you are going away, lock your room. If you are trying to get some sleep, lock your room. A “please do not disturb” sign would also help.

When you live with three or four people with erratic schedules, getting some much-needed zzzzz’s can be difficult. If you feel like you need to have a lock for your closet, do that too. Just let everyone know that if they need anything, they can borrow it from you. And of course, extend the same courtesy.

End the eternal battle for shower space The bathroom or the shower is a complicated space to share. It could get frustrating. But protecting your privacy and everyone else’s is still possible with a few tricks. First of all, you have to know everyone’s schedule. You don’t want someone to be banging on the door just as soon as you turned the shower on. We get it—everyone’s running late for work. And thus, the need to compromise on a schedule.

You might also want to use a shower caddy where you can all hang your cute little shower bins with. There’s nothing like wondering why the bottle of conditioner you just bought is already crying for a replacement. That has invasion of privacy written all over it.

Hang an organizer over the door for your brushes, curling irons, shaving cream, etc. Boost up storage space for towels, tissue, and other bathroom essentials.


Invest in creative dividers

Invest in creative dividers

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In the age of open-plan living, it is much tougher to have privacy. The key is to create zones. Of course, no one wants to live in a place that almost feels like it is cordoned off by the police. But you and your roommates can get creative about it. A ceiling-to-floor bookshelf then can double as a divider. You can place it in between the living room and the dining area. So that when someone is reading a book in the living room and the other one wants to have a slow, quiet lunch, they won’t have to be in each other’s faces. But at the same time, they don’t feel like too far away either.

Wall screens, floating panels, and storages walls are great room dividers. They are a great way to create distinct living spaces without having to close off on any of them. Aside from protecting your privacy, creating clever zones also makes your space more organized.

When you share a bedroom, you can use a night table to separate beds. You can also design your room with curtains so that there is a sense of privacy while still being cohesive.


Have fun with labeling

Have fun with labeling

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You don’t always have to pull out a sharpie for every leftover in the fridge. But in shared condos with no luxury of space for shelves, corners, and sides, you might want to consider labeling. This is not just for roommates but also so that guests of roommates will know the difference. It is disrespectful to allow your boyfriend to dig into your roommate’s chocolate spread, right?

No need to label everything, especially the ones that are actually for sharing even if they are actually yours such as the microwave or some pots and pans. But a label on a take-out might help.


Shop for flexible pieces

One of the clever ways to have privacy without alienating yourself is by shopping for small-scale but flexible furniture. Condo living is not about big spaces but functional ones. Instead of a bulky sofa, you can go for a comfortable armchair or a love seat. This allows you to seat comfortably in the communal living room without always having to share the couch. A small side table can be a dining spot or a work spot for one.

Schedule your social lives On the outset, this may seem like a total contradiction to the concept of privacy. But streamlining your social lives can actually be helpful in protecting your privacy. If you are planning a romantic dinner for your special someone then suddenly your roommate’s office friends storm your house, you can expect some disagreement there. Get creative about it and put up a stylish wall planner to let everyone know if you will be using the condo for something else. Now, you can relax about the privacy of your planned events.


Design a dreamy bedroom

If you are lucky enough to have your own bedroom, make sure you give yourself the ultimate one. It is your own private space amid all the communal stuff going on. Get a comfortable bed, give it the perfect lighting, have a few design pieces, and consider soundproofing it.


Have a getaway spot

 Have a getaway spot

Photo courtesy of DMCI Homes

Sometimes, you just need to get away. If you are sharing a condo with three or four friends, things can get too loud and rowdy, and you need to find comfort in being alone. You don’t need to fight your friends over a situation that you agreed to. But you can have a getaway spot where you can be alone.

You don’t have to go out of town, climb a mountain or paddle a small boat in a quiet river all alone. Don’t be too dramatic about it. If you are living in a condo, you may find the sky lounge, lanai or pool deck a perfect place to be alone with your thoughts. Then, you can come back in the condo a renewed and relaxed person ready to catch up and have some fun with your lovely roomies.

Ultimately, it all comes down to basic human courtesy. Respecting each other’s space is the key to co-inhabiting peacefully. Privacy isn’t so much about physical space. It is about being able to function freely without getting in another person’s way, whether you live in a shared space or not.



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