No matter how long two people have been together or how much they've endured in their relationship, few things compare to the challenges they face when it comes to redesigning their home. You may think you know your partner inside and out, but strange behavior may occur when you're making seemingly innocuous design decisions. Know this. It is totally normal but can be mildly alarming. To put it bluntly, if you aren’t the only inhabitant of your house, yours isn’t the only design style that counts.
I'd say that 99% of the time, redesign happens because one half of a couple decides they’re sick and tired of the way things look or feel. Usually it’s the nester in the pair who grabs the reins. A take-charge attitude can be a great thing, but keep in mind that whether you’re redoing one room or several, every member of your household should feel represented.
It can be nearly impossible to put aside personal prejudices when faced with your mate’s 1980s dorm room sofa. To you it’s an uncomfortable, ugly piece of garbage. To your partner it’s a reminder of being young and single and not caring what anyone else thought about the sofa. Blending styles, tastes and needs can be tricky. This room shows how beautiful a mixed-style space can be. Adding a little bit of feminine with a dash of masculine creates an elegant and inviting room everyone can feel comfortable in.
Designing can be a very emotional process. You’re changing your day-to-day environment, making countless decisions, solving problems and spending money. There are few things more volatile than expenses in a relationship, and because decor is not always perceived as a necessity (it is for me!), setting expectations ahead of time is critical. Come to an agreement about the basic things such as color, texture and types of furnishings, and go from there. This room has a fantastic mix of cool tones with a blue foundation. Maybe the pops of red represent one partner's favorite color, while the paneled wall was a joint decision. It's a true mix-and-match style that actually works really well.
Figuring Out What Works.
Decide ahead of time what your objective is. Be it a quick refresh or a complete remodel, make sure that you and your partner are on the same page about the project's scope and cost. Unexpected meltdowns may happen during the design process, but you can minimize those by opening the lines of communication.
Decide what stays and what goes.
If you’re asking your partner to get rid of things, be prepared to do the same. There has to be a clear give-and-take so no one feels that they’re being pushed out of the home or overrun with the other person's design decisions.
Make a list of things that require both partners’ approval.
Like a new television or dining room table. Larger purchases are usually a good rule of thumb. If it costs over X amount, both people need to agree.
Decide which items you’re both willing to concede on.
If you truly don’t care about electronics but are obsessed with what they sit on, divide and conquer. Not everyone has the same love of throw pillows and picture frames, so figure out which things you can each contribute.
Learn to compromise.
In a relationship, you both bring unique things to the party. You might not love your partner’s Van Halen record collection, and he or she might hate Shabby Chic. Find a middle ground that you both can live with such as putting the records on display in the family room while working in a few Shabby Chic pieces in the guest bath.
Don’t confuse relationship issues with design dilemmas.
A lot of pent-up aggression gets released during times of great change. Painting the living room walls shouldn’t degenerate into an argument over whose mother is worse. Don’t fall prey to stress and exhaustion. Get the rest you need and agree to table deeper discussions until after the redo.
Make decisions with love and respect.
As much as you want to love your space when you walk through the door, your partner should love it just as much. Create an environment that reflects who you are as a couple and the life that you want to live. By keeping the lines of communication open, setting expectations and being willing to compromise, you can design a space that truly represents everyone who lives there.