Tips for Couples Who can Decorate their Home Together

It can be great to share a home with someone you care about. However, decorating as a couple isn’t always straightforward, especially if your tastes differ.

Who gets their way if one partner loves to fill every place with souvenirs while the other is anti-clutter? When one person prefers vivid colors and patterns and the other prefers quiet gray shades, finding good compromises might be difficult.

Penny Drue Baird, an interior designer, uses her doctorate in psychology as well as her design degree when she helps couples decorate their homes.

“I’m there as a mediator, like a marital therapist,” Baird explains, “finding out how to approach it so neither one feels like they can’t get what they want.”

Baird and two other New York-based interior designers, Deborah Martin and Michelle Gerson, talk about how couples might approach the sometimes difficult challenge of designing shared space.

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Sharing Your Thoughts

According to Baird, all three designers start with an intake meeting with a couple to learn “everything that they are wanting to achieve, and the appearance that they feel like they’re going for.” Clients will bring ripped-from-magazine photographs or exhibit pages from design books to assist explain what they want.

Even if they aren’t working with a designer, a couple can sit down together and have this type of meeting. By showing your spouse what you want, you might discover that you have more in common than you thought. Martin claims that a client may have a preconceived opinion that they don’t like a particular pattern or style, but once they see it in context, they appreciate it.

Martin explains, “It’s all about discovery.” A partner can take the risk of sharing their vision and listening to their partner’s vision with an open mind, just as a designer must “take some risks and present what you feel would function very well in the home.” Both parties may be pleasantly pleased.

In other circumstances, one partner may indicate they’re fine with entirely handing over control. If you’re redesigning or moving into a new home and your partner says you can make all the design decisions, keep them informed throughout the process to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Compromises that are Integrated

Make a list of the items you’ll need in the room or house you’re designing, according to Gerson. If you both enjoy to entertain, these are the shared must-haves you can agree on, such as enough of seats in the living area.

She suggests that you find that common ground and try to agree on one significant piece of furniture. Perhaps one couple prefers the shape of the sofa while the other prefers the fabric.

It may be easier to compromise on other details once each person feels like their most pressing requests have been heard.

“If one person likes a space full of colorful objects while the other dislikes clutter,” Gerson suggests, “then we strive to organize the stuff.” People start to realize they like having stuff around when it looks organized and purposeful, rather than just stuff all over the place.”

Gerson created built-in bookshelves in a home office for one customer who had a collection of music memorabilia to showcase the collection in an organized style that suited both partners.

If a home is large enough, Baird adds, couples with different tastes may find it simpler to agree on the main rooms if they each have more control over one other area. For example, a home library might be decorated in darker colors, but a home office or hobby room might be decorated in bright, dramatic colors. The primary rooms can act as a link between the different types, making it easier to connect them.

“I strive not to create a ‘his space’ or a ‘her space,’ instead designing rooms that flow smoothly and have continuity,” Martin says.

Some couples choose to mingle their opposing interests throughout their home, but Baird says it can be tough to create a “eclectic” area that combines two different decorating styles. “People use the word eclectic to describe it, but it’s truly a mishmosh,” she explains. “It’s really rare to come across a diverse room or home that is well done.”

Take Your Time

People, according to Gerson, are frequently in a haste to totally adorn a place and fill every available area. She warns that this can lead to concessions that neither of you enjoy. Don’t be scared to leave some empty space until you find the perfect piece to fill it.

“It’s fine if you have a terrific sofa, a great coffee table, and a rug,” Gerson says, adding that you should wait until you find a wonderful chair that you both enjoy to finish the room.

Time also helps couples decorate together: “I find that the longer a couple has lived together or been married, the more likely they are to have similar design goals,” Martin says. “Especially older couples, they’re on the same page.”

And, according to Baird, most couples can decorate their houses without fighting if they have adequate communication and patience.

“I’ve never had somebody get divorced until after we finished decorating,” she says.

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Author: Melissa Rayworth 


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