Moving in together? Five ways to manage clashing tastes

Sort it: The secret to harmonious home decor is compromise

Discover the art of compromise for a happily decorated home. Photograph: iStock

Discover the art of compromise for a happily decorated home. Photograph: iStock

 

Decorating a first home with a partner is an exciting time. Perhaps you’ve been renting for years and finally you can put your stamp on your own place. But what happens when you pool your Pinterest images and Houzz ideabooks only to discover that you have conflicting styles? How do you make it work? Here are five tips for maintaining harmony and creating a home you’ll both love.

Know where to compromise

Making it work is about knowing where to compromise. Moving into a new home is a fresh beginning so take the opportunity to get rid of things you no longer need, like or want. Spend time figuring out which items must stay and which must go. Don’t rush this process and take time to figure out why each of you want to hang on to certain things. Keep an open mind and don’t let sentimentality get in the way.

Your home should make you both happy, relaxed and feel good so it’s important to surround yourself with things you love or at least like. If one of you loves something and the other hates it, is there a way to make it work? Can it be re-upholstered, painted or refurbished? If it’s a piece of art could it be reframed? Or failing all of the above could it live in a place where only its owner needs to see it?

Purge equally

It’s important you both purge equally. That means you shouldn’t just chuck out all of your partner’s stuff while hoarding all of your own. Women tend to accumulate more things while men have fewer possessions. I’ve designed countless homes for couples over the years and have yet to meet a man who gets the larger wardrobe space.

If you’re both coming from your own homes it’s likely you will have two of a lot of things so make a list of everything you have and decide what to keep and what to get rid of. If you’re struggling to agree let practicality decide. Is it too big, worn out or the wrong colour? If so it might be a great excuse to splash out on something new that you both choose together.

Seek equal representation

While one person should take the lead on the design of a home, that doesn’t mean they should completely ignore the other’s taste and opinion. It’s really important both of you feel equally represented in your home. This means making sure one person’s style doesn’t dominate.

When it comes to colour schemes, some women are quite girly and gravitate towards pinks and purples, while some men tend towards more monochrome tones. Colour is one of the most powerful decorating tools for creating the atmosphere in a room. If you’re going to make a home where both of you feel happy and relaxed you’ll need to agree on the colour scheme.

Test out colours before committing. If you’re really struggling to agree on a particular shade, play it safe and stick to neutral tones which you can easily update by introducing colours through accessories and artworks.

Create a space each can retreat to

I met a friend recently who is a self-confessed clutterbug. Her partner is much more of a minimalist. She loves to collect things and having them on display makes her happy. Her partner often remarks there is hardly a free surface left in their home.

Yet despite their differing decor styles, they’ve made a home where both of them feel happy and relaxed. The trick is making sure both have spaces where they feel comfortable. In my friend’s case, it meant having one space in her home which is more minimal than the rest where her partner could escape to occasionally.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to seek help. If it’s all too overwhelming why not enlist the help of an interior designer? This doesn’t have to be expensive and many firms have options that will suit most budgets, from hourly rates to one-off consultancy services. Before deciding who to work with, spend some time researching different firms. Look at the work on their websites to see what the offer is and investigate their style. It’s important you and your partner like their aesthetic. Social media sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz are also fantastic resources for familiarising yourself with the work of different firms.

 A good interior designer can reconcile conflicting design ideas and can also make positive alternative suggestions. They will help bring both looks together in a way that expresses you both equally.

Denise O’Connor is an architect and interior design specialist @optimisedesign

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