When Your Tastes Clash: How to Design and Decorate as a Couple
If you and your guy agree on paint samples with the same fervor with which you recognize pistachio gelato is the best dessert ever whipped into cool, creamy perfection, count your blessings—because there are a lot of couples who would kill to share decorating tastes in addition to less hot-button alliances. But just because you have different ideas about what looks good in your living room doesn’t mean you can’t make decorating together work. So whether you’re moving in together or tackling a renovation for the first time, here are some ideas to get you started.
This room has a fantastic mix of cool tones with a blue foundation. Maybe the pops of red represent one partner’s favorite color, while the paneled wall was a joint decision. It’s a true mix-and-match style that actually works really well.
Figuring Out What Works
Decide ahead of time what your objective is. Be it a quick refresh or a complete remodel, make sure that you and your partner are on the same page about the project’s scope and cost. Unexpected meltdowns may happen during the design process, but you can minimize those by opening the lines of communication:
- Decide what stays and what goes. If you’re asking your partner to get rid of things, be prepared to do the same. There has to be a clear give-and-take so no one feels that they’re being pushed out of the home or overrun with the other person’s design decisions.
- Make a list of things that require both partners’ approval, like a new television or dining room table. Larger purchases are usually a good rule of thumb. If it costs over X amount, both people need to agree.
- Decide which items you’re both willing to concede on. If you truly don’t care about electronics but are obsessed with what they sit on, divide and conquer. Not everyone has the same love of throw pillows and picture frames, so figure out which things you can each contribute.
- Learn to compromise. In a relationship you both bring unique things to the party. You might not love your partner’s Van Halen record collection, and he or she might hate Shabby Chic. Find a middle ground that you both can live with such as putting the records on display in the family room while working in a few Shabby Chic pieces in the guest bath.
- Don’t confuse relationship issues with design dilemmas. A lot of pent-up aggression gets released during times of great change. Painting the living room walls shouldn’t degenerate into an argument over whose mother is worse. Don’t fall prey to stress and exhaustion. Get the rest you need and agree to table deeper discussions until after the redo.
Make decisions with love and respect. As much as you want to love your space when you walk through the door, your partner should love it just as much. Create an environment that reflects who you are as a couple and the life that you want to live. Bykeeping the lines of communication open, setting expectations and being willing to compromise, you can design a space that truly represents everyone who lives there.