Moving in together can be stressful enough. Here are a few tips to avoid fighting about which rug to buy, artwork to hang and color to paint the walls.
By Armina Kasprowicz
Whether you’re newly engaged, just married or you’ve simply decided it’s time to take the next step in your relationship, moving in with your significant other is an exciting and monumental milestone. But, like any other transition, there can be challenges that arise, too. No matter how well you know your better half, you’re destined to learn a thing or two about their living habits that you weren’t aware of before you decided to become roommates.
Some of the most common conflicts surround how each person wants to decorate their shared space. Sometimes, one party takes the lead, and the other simply approves final selections. Other couples each want to have an input from start to finish. Of course, things are much easier if both partners have the same decorating priorities, but in most cases, they differ.
So how do you keep the peace when there’s a difference in decor opinion? Here are a few tried-and-true strategies, honed through more than a decade of experience designing for couples.
Get priorities straight. Moving in together, renovating or redecorating — emotions can run amok, and there can be a lot of stress over making decisions, money and different preferences. One way to ensure everyone ends up happy is to start the process with a discussion of how you want to use the spaces and what is important for each of you. Find points you both agree on, items you both like and mutual must-haves, and build from there.
Set a budget. One of the biggest points of contention when couples decorate together isn’t a matter of style, but one of finances. Resentments can easily build if one person feels the other’s spending is out of control (or the opposite — that their partner is being cheap or restrictive). Before you set foot into a furniture store or interior designer’s office, decide on a budget that you each feel comfortable with.
Share your styles. Often, there is one person in a relationship who has a stronger design preference or is more invested in the look of the home. If you’re that person, resist the urge to simply take the reigns. Instead, get an idea about the other person’s style by shopping together and pointing out things you each love or browsing magazines and Pinterest together. Should you find yourselves at the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s time to get creative. Sometimes the best spaces are created by combining opposing styles, layering eclectic textures, blending different color schemes and mixing unique accessories and art.
Learn to compromise. Evaluate the things you love, and make them work. You’ll likely find that each of you has a few treasured pieces you can’t live without. You might not love everything the other person deems a must-have, but before you veto something, try to come up with a way to reinvent it first. A new coat of paint, different upholstery or even simply using a piece in a different context or room can give it a whole new life. Once each person knows his or her needs will be met, it often opens up the floor for compromise in areas where you might have a difference in opinion.
Designate space. One of the best ways to make sure both parties feel at home in their new house is to choose a space where each person gets the freedom to make the decor decisions. For example, a study or office can take on a masculine feel with darker colors, wood tones, display trophies and heavier textures, while the master bedroom could become a more feminine space with lighter hues, plush fabrics and metallic accents.
Hire a professional. If, despite your best efforts at solving design dilemmas, you’re still facing some conflict when it comes to decorating your space a deux, consider hiring an interior designer to help guide the process. A qualified designer will have plenty of experience decorating for couples and will provide a fresh perspective, creative solutions and unique style options that can take a process that seems like a chore and turn it into a joy. It’s hard to blend two lives together (at least in a way that’s beautiful, comfortable and conflict-free!), and a professional can help hone in on the goals, anticipate problems and offer guidance.
Armina Kasprowicz is the founder of Armina Interiors, a full-service interior design firm specializing in high-end residential properties and small commercial projects throughout Metro Detroit. Born in Poland and educated in the United States, Armina uses her extensive travels and experiences with hybrid cultures as a constant inspiration for her work. Creating sophisticated, elegant interiors and more relaxed, bohemian counterparts, she has a natural fluency with many different design styles as well as a unique ability to blend them together in innovative ways.