A Guide to Decorating as a Couple

Anyone who has decorated with a spouse can tell you that it’s all fun and games until you have to decide where to hang his framed Chicago Bulls jersey or figure out how your pink Moroccan pouf fits with his black leather recliner. Yes, we’re referring to the life-altering event when two homes become one. Merging furnishings (or even starting from scratch) is not for the faint of heart. In my previous life as an interior designer, I used to half-jokingly say that I was usually hired as part-time decorator, part-time couples counselor. But here’s the thing: It IS possible to create a space that you both love coming home to, sports paraphernalia be damned.

Today I’m talking about the most common issues couples face when designing their home, and how to manage them while keeping your sanity (and relationship) in tact.


1. You’re worried that your partner’s things won’t mesh with yours.

By no means do both parties need to give up every item in their home that they love, but when it comes to pieces that reflect an extreme of your decorating style that the other party hates…do yourself a favor and just bid it adieu. Yes, it’s difficult, but unless your “Keep calm and buy more shoes!” print reflects you as a couple, it’s probably time to let it go and find something that you both love.

When it doubt, follow my rule of three’s: yours, mine, and ours. Perhaps you get to keep your velvet wingback chair that you love (mine), but you style it with his plaid blanket (yours) and a tan leather pouf (ours). This rule of thumb ensures that neither person’s style becomes overpowering, and your individual pieces complement each other to create a design that feels cohesive and reflective of both of you.


2. You can only agree on the most basic pieces possible (and now your space feels incredibly boring).

Since so many couples I’ve worked with can’t agree on what they like, they often wind up choosing whatever furniture is least offensive to each of them—which typically results in a room that looks and feels like a major snooze-fest. If this is your current situation, then take every opportunity to infuse unique pieces that speak to who you are as a couple. Frame some photos from your travels together, display books that you both love to read, or stock a bar cart full of your favorite libations.

Since color is often a tricky thing for both parties to agree on, I recommend focusing on texture to liven things up instead. Be sure to bring in lots of plants, cozy blankets, and woven baskets for storage (hello, form AND function!) to make your basics anything but boring.



3. You’re getting hung up on every detail, and can’t make any decisions.

It’s important to remember that there are SO many working parts in a complete room design, and in the grand scheme of things, that table lamp that your partner loves (that you think is just OK) won’t make or break the entire space.

If you include one modern accent table, it doesn’t mean the entire room will feel cold or stale. Try to see each item in the context of the entire room, rather than harping on each piece individually. That modern accent table styled with a few of your favorite vintage finds will result in a vignette that you both love, and with plenty of personality to boot.



4. Decorating stopped being fun, and neither of you wants to do it anymore.

Things always start out so hopeful! We envision late nights with pizza, beer and paint rollers, effortlessly creating the beautiful space where you are sure to host movie nights and Sunday football gatherings. But soon enough, selecting paint becomes much less about the beer and much more about the fact that your spouse wants to paint your living room GREEN while you clearly know that GREY is the answer.

Take a deep breath. Go ahead and drink that beer, gather some magazines, and make a night out of sifting through them together without worrying about making any actual decisions. Take note of which rooms you like and which ones you don’t, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about why he or she thinks that red walls in the bedroom is a genius idea. You may find common ground where you didn’t expect to, and at the very least, you’ll have a better idea of what you each want out of your home moving forward.