It can be challenging to marry two different decorating styles under one roof when you and your spouse or partner have dissimilar taste. But in our experience, it’s worth the effort to decorate together. In the long run, allowing one person’s style to take over doesn’t serve the individuals or the relationship. Finding the balance—where each person and the relationship are expressed through your home—leads to a more fulfilling home life and a more joyful relationship. Creating harmony allows each person to feel comfortable—within themselves, the physical space, and the relationship.
Steps for blending two different styles:
1. Begin by taking time to reflect on, and write down, the qualities you each want your home to embody. Your “essential home qualities” are most likely tied to your values and what you prioritize in life—for example, peace, fun, creativity—peace may be expressed by creating a calming environment or creativity and fun by a colorful energizing space. Most likely you will find that you and your partner share core values. You probably are going for the same overall vibe in essence, but may just have very different ways of expressing it.
2. Honor each person’s process. The more one or the other of you feels controlled, the more likely you are to hold on tight to what you want. Everyone has to find his or her own way. You might be surprised to find that by saying “sure go ahead and hang your college movie posters or install those eight foot stereo speakers,” that when given the freedom to follow through, it loses some appeal to your partner. But if either of you doesn’t have the freedom to figure it out on your own—it can lead to resentment.
3. If it’s possible for each of you to have a room or space of your own—then go for it. Let this be the place where you fully express your style with no limits (and don’t think you can take the office or a sitting room and just give him the garage or basement—unless it’s a real finished room—it doesn’t count!). If you don’t have space for each person to have his or her own room, find a space such as the top of your dresser or a bookshelf that you can claim as your own to decorate as you wish.
4. Different styles can complement one another. A modern chair next to an antique dresser can look really cool. So don’t worry about matching and don’t worry about picking one style, try different combinations and see what works.
5. Make an agreement that you will make sure you each love at least one thing in every room, whether it’s a vase, a chair, or paint color. Each person can give the other person two options that they love to put in the room and their partner gets to eliminate one; this way you aren’t left disliking one thing in every room!
6. Focus on function. Most likely you will agree on how you want the room to function, i.e. an office, a television room, a dining area. If you let function dictate some of the style you’ll find it easier to work together.
7. Choose what matters the most and decide what really is important to you. Decide where you’re willing to compromise and where you’re not—perhaps you realize color is less important to you than comfort so your partner picks the color of your sofa, but you choose the style. Or maybe how the furniture is arranged is more important to you than style, so you arrange the furniture and let your partner pick the fabrics, etc… When you simply can’t agree on a decorating decision, choose a tie-breaker. For example, if you do all the cooking then perhaps you should have final say over the kitchen and if your partner spends more time in your home office then perhaps you could let him have final say in the office.
8. Be creative and create a new style. Share pictures of spaces you each like and find the similarities in the pictures. Once each individual defines their own style and has assessed their practical needs comes the challenge of blending two styles that may be different. But even with very different tastes – you can create harmony in the home by looking for common threads in your two styles (i.e. perhaps your styles are different, but you like the same color…). What is the intersection of your two different tastes—what does that look like? See if you can choose some new items together that you both love that reflects your combined tastes and symbolize your coming together. Perhaps the whole is greater than the sum of the parts?
9. Look at the details of your style. If, for example, you like French Country what qualities are you most drawn to? Is it the colors, fabrics, furniture, or textures? You may find commonalities among your styles—perhaps you both like the same colors or wood furniture. You can also take it a step further and look for the feeling behind the style. For example, mid century modern may translate to “pure” or Swedish to “classic.” Perhaps you can find more shared qualities.
10. Be open minded and open to change. Decide you will both “win.” How you go about the process, your intention and how you are with each other will impact the energy of your home more than any decorating choice.