Hooray! You’ve got someone who you get to wake up to every morning. Moving in together is a great way to strengthen your relationship. When you take the plunge to blend your lives together, sometimes the biggest challenge is deciding whose design aesthetic will guide your home decor. If your tastes in interiors are drastically different, don’t panic. In every home, there should always be a balance of textures, styles and masculine and feminine lines. We consulted three interior design experts: Jacquelyn Clark from Lark and Linen, Estee Stanley and Emily Henderson for the ultimate tips on how to decorate a shared living space.
1. Don’t Blend Styles. Establish Your in-between Style: Jacquelyn Clark says the number one mistake she sees couples make is trying to do too much too quickly. She told us, “I’m all about eclectic decor, but there really does need to be some rhyme or reason to the scheme. Before moving in together, it’s always a good idea to take stock of what you both have or what you hope to achieve, and try to find a common thread. Once you establish that common element (the happy medium, if you will!) take that idea and run with it.”
2. Figure Out What Rituals Are Important: Take watching TV, for example. If you’re the type who loves to binge watch every night and your partner would rather read books, you might have some compromising to do. Emily Henderson suggests, “Truly think about how much you watch TV and how big a part of it is in your relaxing at night. If both of you don’t watch too much, move your TV into a different room. But, this battle is extremely hard to win if he truly enjoys watching TV to unwind. Think about how you don’t want to shove him in the other room, just because you don’t like that big black box messing up your decor. So maybe this is a big enough issue to compromise on. List what is the most important to both of you and don’t compromise within that. Compromise outside of that.”
3. The Right Color Palette Can Bring Everything Together: Any two, three or nine styles can work together if you have one consistent color palette. Emily told us, “My husband Brian and I both love blues, grays, white, green and hot pink. Once you have a consistent color palette everything becomes so much easier. Just stick to that palette.”
4. Both Soft + Light and Strong + Dark Decor Elements Are Essential: Emily Henderson balances her colder blue and gray tones with “woods, warm leathers and brass.” Estee Stanley chimes in, “A fine balance of masculine and feminine elements can be achieved through introducing softer hues using accessories such as throws, pillows, flowers and other natural elements that can soften harsher, darker tones and create a more mixed and inviting palette.”
5. Make Statements Sparingly: Emily Henderson suggests keeping things neutral in the main living areas. If you’re dying to go bold with your accent colors — be it bright green or hot pink — keep it to spaces like your offices, guest rooms, foyers, hallways, bathrooms. Jacquelyn Clark adds, “I’m a big proponent of keeping the overall palette neutral and kicking it up a notch with inexpensive accessories.”
6. Talk About Your Ideas and Allow for Open Discussions: Like anything else when it comes to a relationship, communication is key. Clark says, “If there is something your significant other is headstrong about keeping but you despise, have an open discussion about the item to come to a mutual understanding. For instance, if my boyfriend insisted on keeping a framed hockey jersey because his late grandfather had it signed just for him, I would be much more willing to work around the piece knowing that it has sentimental value. And when it comes down to it, that’s more important than anything else. On the flip side, if there IS an item that your other half loathes to their core, it’s important to hear them out. After all, you’re a team, and a team needs to work together to come up with an amicable solution. It always exists. I promise!”
7. Be Willing to Compromise: Acknowledge that we all have pieces that have sentiment value and that those things are hard to part with. Stanley Estee suggests, “Instead of getting rid of the item, try using it in a different area of the home that is either not the main living space or a room where the piece makes sense. It’s important to keep your favorite pieces as they add character and create stories, but, if it compromises the overall aesthetic, then maybe make some space in the garage.”
8. Textiles Make a House a Home: Estee Stanley told us, “Any textile that has rich fabrics adds an element of femininity more than just a color alone. A straight-lined, clean chair alone may read masculine, but, mixed with a gorgeous luscious throw, the piece takes on a new form, and you have the best of both worlds.”
9. Things to Keep in Mind When Shopping for New Furniture: Emily Henderson tells us to look for “feminine shape in a masculine or gender-neutral finish/color. Leather pieces, like a couch, or a pair of chairs, are another way to bring in some masculinity. Brian loves leather a lot, and I can go for it if it’s caramel leather and vintage or really worn. New, black and shiny does not work for me. But having a leather piece in your room instantly infuses the room with A TON of masculinity, which can balance out some of the more feminine accents.”
10. Above All Else, Have Fun: Jacquelyn Clark reminds us, “When it comes down to it, interior design is supposed to be fun. Don’t let it make or break you. Simply rejoice in this exciting new step in your lives. And just remember: Decor can easily change and evolve, so if you’re not happy with it quite yet, give it a bit of time. Eventually you’ll find a common ground and make it work!”
11. Sentimental Items Can Stay. Everything Else Has Got to Go: The biggest tip that Estee Stanley can offer is this: “Start off on a clean slate. A space for two people needs to not only reflect their individual style but the style of a couple collectively. The most important advice is to be ruthless and not hold on to things that have no sentimental value and work with everything else. With the right styling and accessorizing, this can complete the space.”
12. Create a Home That You Both Love: Emily Henderson swears that the more confidence you feel in your home, the better your life will be. She says, “You’ll walk through the door every night happy that it looks like you, that it represents you, that it’s comfortable and inviting. You’ll have more dinner parties, improving your social life and strengthening your relationship. Your kids will have fonder and fonder memories of their childhood. It truly doesn’t take a ton of money, just a consistent color palette and lots of trolling for the right vintage pieces that fit within your priorities.”
How have you dealt with decorating dilemmas when you moved in with your partner? Share your experiences in the comments below!
(Photos via Emily Henderson)