Set an intention from the beginning that you will value each other’s opinions and preferences, and lend equal weight to each point of view.
Case in point: This living room is a great example of merging traditionally masculine elements (wood-panel walls, rich browns, hex print rug, cowhide stool) with a touch of boho glam (printed pillows, persimmon throw, velvet sofa, glass lamp) for a look that keeps everyone happy.
Sit down separately and write up lists of everything your heart craves in a home. At this point don’t worry about budget or space limitations; let your imagination run free and just get it all down on paper.
Once you have your wish list complete, pick your top five items, in order of importance, and have your partner do the same. It’s important to know which items are the most meaningful to each of you and where there is some wiggle room.
To take it a step further, work together to make a joint list of priorities. This list should point to five things you want to create in a home together, from the specific (uncluttered, sunny) to the less tangible but equally important (warm, laid-back).
If there are things that completely horrify you, now is your chance to exercise your veto power. The point here is to avoid major conflicts down the road, not to pick a fight now. So stick with the few things that really are deal breakers for you, and ask your partner to do the same.
If your partner claims to hate some of your favourite looks, don’t worry. In step 9 you’ll have a chance to bring back a little of what you love, even if your partner doesn’t get it.
Shared spaces like the living room, where you spend lots of time together, should reflect both of you. Now is the time to compare your lists and try to find items that will work together.
Case in point: In this living room a dark floor, traditional furniture and a library ladder build a classic foundation for the room, while the rich green paint behind the bookcases and a sparkly chandelier inject a sense of fun.
Having trouble picking a shade you both like? Try browsing Houzz together and pick out photos with colours that appeal to each of you.
Keep your eyes open and be willing to wait for the right pieces. Sometimes a person will make a sweeping generalisation, like “I don’t like art.” Well, that probably isn’t the full story. It is more likely this person hasn’t encountered a style that resonates with them.
Case in point: This wall mosaic by artist John Whitmarsh was created by piecing together bits of discarded asphalt, and has a modern urban vibe that could appeal to someone who hasn’t found his or her art niche yet.
We all have our own loves, and they don’t always mesh with the loves of the person we happen to be sharing a roof with – and that’s OK. It’s important to respect the other person’s hobbies and interests, while also finding a way to work them into a shared space that pleases you both.
Case in point: This collection of model trains could have easily gotten out of hand. But lined up on simple floating shelves, they suddenly look crisp and intriguing.
Think about where you would love to go for a getaway together and try designing your bedroom with this in mind. By focusing on something other than yourselves, it will take the pressure off. Posh urban hotel? Tropical oasis? The world is your oyster!
Separate offices, an extra den, a hobby room, a guest space, a workout room, or even a walk-in wardrobe can work as personal space. It feels great to be able to decorate a room exactly how you want, so try to make this happen, even if you are decorating your own nooks or closets rather than entire rooms.
If you’ve managed to make a few tough decisions, and each of you feels you bent on some issues, and also you were able to pick out a few things you love, give yourselves a great big pat on the back.
Decorating is an ongoing process, so don’t worry if it feels like things are taking longer than you would like. The most important thing is that your home, even when it is a work in progress, is a place you enjoy spending time in.
Still having issues?Consider hiring an interior designer. Designers are there to make your life easier. An experienced designer can help pinpoint a look that will appeal to both of you, even if it seems your styles are at odds.