Moving in together is a milestone. When loving partners agree to share a home, a world of bonding opportunities appears through paint colors, carpet samples, furniture catalogs and objets d’art… if a couple makes it that far. Being drawn to two different decorating styles can make breaking up seem more likely than creating a mutually comfortable space. Just remember that healthy relationships are built on compromise, even in home décor.
Set the mood
Hate your partner’s affinity for shabby chic? Can’t believe you married someone who thinks leopard print is a neutral? In love and decorating, we sometimes get so focused on the details that we miss the big picture. Step back and have a serious talk about the mood you want each room to convey, rather than how you want it to look. If you can agree that the bedroom should be serene and the bathroom should be revitalizing, you might both be comfortable giving up some control of individual elements. Once the space captures the desired spirit, offending pieces will fade into the background.
Compromise with color
Blending styles is easier than you think if you keep an open mind with color. Seemingly competing designs – ‘90s minimalism and ‘70s glamour come to mind – can actually complement each other when a room’s hues establish a common thread. The first step is agreeing on a color palate, whether it’s vibrant jewel tones, neutral shades or something in between. As the room comes together, choose pieces that meet your color guidelines. Any differences in furniture form or decorative items will add an interesting depth to the space.
Make a statement
If trying to compromise seems futile, don’t. One way to stop butting heads is to think of a room as a blank canvas where both partners can leave their mark. White or gray walls, wood floors, solid canvas curtains and a sofa with a simple form, for example, can create a foolproof backdrop for a selection of statement pieces that each person had a hand in choosing. Beaded throw pillows, a vintage movie poster and even a broken-in recliner can all mark their territory in an otherwise understated room. The trick is keeping eye-catching or unusual finds to a thoughtful minimum – think art gallery, not flea market.
Find your sanctuary
It’s likely that each partner has a sanctuary within the house, the room where they find the most pleasure. Perhaps one person enjoys time spent in the kitchen cooking gourmet meals, while the other looks forward to a candlelit bath in the master suite. The rules of the game are simple: Each person gets to choose the room that means the most to them. While both partners have a say in the décor, tie-breaking decisions ultimately go to the person with dibs on that space. Try to agree on some ground rules from the start, or you might end up with a Star Wars-themed living room in an otherwise rustic-industrial house.
Let pictures do the talking
One man’s boho is another man’s eclectic. Miscommunication can trip up even the most design-savvy couples, but images prevent ideas from being lost in translation. When attempting to describe the styles or pieces you like (or don’t like), rely on resources like Pinterest or design magazines to make the point. Both partners should create informal mood boards and spend time looking through them together. Go into the exercise with an open mind and you may find that you have more in common than you thought. If there are truly no parallels, be respectful of your partner’s taste and be receptive to some give and take. After all, this is someone you agreed to share a bathroom with. It must be true love.