This is a really common ‘problem’ clients come to me with. The couple have agreed they’re going to make some pretty big updates to their home, but they can’t agree on much else! This can be incredibly frustrating and can lead to no decisions being made at all. One very simple way to combat this is to hire a professional designer to merge the design styles and ‘must haves’ of everyone involved. Even if you are engaging professional help, though, it will help to align your wants and needs prior to meeting with someone.
In my experience, there are 4 main ways to achieve a happy medium for everyone:
1. Define clear roles: one of you leads the charge, is the main organiser and decision-maker for the project, and the other is brought in only on key decisions
2. Combine your design styles: Figure out what’s important to each person and find a way to combine them (there’s always a way!) so the finished result reflects both of you
3. Compromise and separate: Find common ground on key areas, then divvy up rooms where you can each go wild. A man cave is a great example of this!
4. Hand it over to a professional. Problem solved 😉
Strategy #1: Choose a leader for the project
Creating roles for each person works really well if there is one of you who is much more invested in the project than the other. For example, you might care more about what colours, tiles, and furniture etc. is selected than your partner. He or she might care about some things — like installing a great sound system — but is happy not to be consulted on every decision.
In my experience, working on projects this way means decisions are made faster and the project runs smoother when each person has their defined ‘role’, and just one person is in charge.
To kick things off smoothly, I suggest having a conversation up front about what you want to achieve overall, then one of you takes charge and execute on that. These tips on how to plan a successful renovation or decoration project will give you a helpful starting point on structuring that discussion.
Strategy #2: Combine your design styles and preferences
Combining design styles with your other half can be easy or difficult, depending on how ‘passionate’ each person is about their ideas! If you both have strong opinions about how your house should look and feel, get to the ‘why’ of your preferences.
One method of doing this is to go through magazines together and pick out images you like. Some of my favourite local interiors magazines are InsideOut, Vogue Living and Real Living, but you could also look online or in non-interiors magazines. For each image your partner selects, ask them what about that image appeals to them — is it the colour palette, the feeling, or a certain piece of furniture? This will help you get a deeper understanding of both of your preferences and find some commonalities.
You can also try this out by visiting showrooms together. Looking at things in the flesh can also help you understand what functional elements are important to you. Do you really need that recliner chair, for example? (Answer is always *no*! ;))
Getting a handle on how you want your house to function is also key. For example, do you want a quiet reading area? Or a creative studio space? Is an island bench in the kitchen a non-negotiable? Again, getting to the ‘why’ of these ideas can open up the conversation and lead to mutual agreement.
When it comes to how to combine your design styles in practice, there’s going to be some compromise. Get aligned about which elements are most important to you both, and agree on who gets to pick what. There will probably be some things that you both want to have in-put on —your bedroom, for example — and some things that one of you cares more about than the other.
Which leads me to the next strategy.
Strategy #3: Come together on the common areas, divide up the other areas
In this approach, compromise in key areas, then give each free reign in the areas that are important to one another.
Follow the above strategy on how to combine your design styles to decide on the style for the areas which matter to both of you — kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, for example. Then divide up the other areas between you. I suggest coming up with an overall budget and timeline for all the spaces so that you keep on track. Then make sure you each give each other the freedom to do whatever they want in the spaces you’re each assigned to.
This method requires quite a bit of letting go of control on both your parts, so make sure you’ve both agreed to that as well!
If that’s not going to work…
Strategy #4: Leave it to a professional
Most things in life are so much easier and quicker when outsourced! If you’re struggling to come together in terms of your needs and wants in your home, calling in a professional interior designer can save you hours of discussions and planning. The end result will also be much better, as we are trained to read between the lines of what each person wants and needs, and to bring that together in a cohesive way that will feel like home for both of you.
This project shows how I was able to bring together two very different tastes harmoniously. The finished product was one that both clients absolutely love. There are elements in the room that appeal to both (the bookshelves and the sofa, for example), and other pieces the wife absolutely loved, that the husband wasn’t too fussed about, and vice-versa.
This is straight from the client:
“It wasn’t until I sat in my now favourite room of the house with the fireplace on, my babies in bed and complete silence that I truly got to appreciate what a brilliant job Alex had done. To be able to perfectly balance my husband’s and my taste; which are on different ends of the spectrum, and that we both love what Alex has created is a true credit to her.”
Whichever approach you choose, it’s important that both parties are happy with it for the project to move forward smoothly.
And if strategy #4 sounds the most appealing, find out more about how I could help you here.