In the years before I got married, I had carte blanche to design and decorate however I wanted since I owned my own house, and for much of the time lived alone (not that my roommates had much to say about the decor, either!). Home design and decor was something I really loved — finding or making pieces to make my condo feel like a home was fun and satisfying.
Once we got married and I moved into Ryan’s house, I took it upon myself to turn his bare bachelor pad into something more homey that felt like it was mine too (and not like I was just living in his space). We’ve re-done our home office, made a few changes in the living room, and, if you have been reading this blog at all in the last week, you’ll know we’re now doing our big kitchen and dining room renovation, which also includes some more living room changes.
So there’s a lot to decorate and design. And lo and behold, Ryan has some thoughts about the things in our house! We’re learning to work together to choose things that work for both of us. Here are five ways you can work with your husband (or wife or roommate or partner or whatever) when you’re decorating your house — instead of constantly butting heads.
Talk about your ideas and plan together
I think, for the most part, Ryan would trust my judgment when it comes to the decor and design in the house. But I’d rather discuss everything with him to make sure he’s on board. The last thing I want to do is make a decision that he comes to resent because he wasn’t asked about it and doesn’t really like it.
(photo credit: Modern Craft Construction LLC)
When we were planning out the design for the kitchen and dining room, we discussed the merits of wood cabinets versus white, an “L” layout with an island instead of a “U” shape, and whether or not we should spend the extra money to put in cabinets in the dining room for storage (resounding answer = heck yes!). Bouncing ideas off each other also meant that we came up with more (and better) ideas than if I’d just taken the reins.
Agree on a budget
I think one of the worst things you can do is spend money without discussing it first. Money is the number one thing that couples fight over, so it’s really important to talk about big money decisions. Of course we discussed and budgeted for our kitchen and dining room, but there were small things that I had on my to-buy list that I could have easily just picked up without talking about it with him first.
(photo credit: West Elm)
Instead, I showed him the cabinet I had in mind for our DVD player, and the curtains I chose for the living room. I’m trying to buy quality furniture and decor items (better made, less slave labor, etc.) so it can really add up if we’re (er, I’m) not careful. But with a budget, plus a little extra for those unexpected costs (we’ve installed a utility sink, fixed our ceiling fan, and dug a line in our foundation to get power to the island, for example), we have yet to clash on money since we started.
*superstitiously crosses fingers*
Don’t drag him where he doesn’t want to go
Ryan is so easy going that I can ask him to go anywhere and he’ll happily come along. But if your husband isn’t one for shopping, find a friend and leave him at home. Almost everyone has a way to send photos over their cell phones, so if you’re concerned he’ll like something or not, shoot him a photo.
(photo credit: Trend Mixer)
Or, you can choose a few things you like and take him just to look at those things, without dragging him through the entire store — which may lead to boredom, resentment, and it’ll be hard for him to give his honest opinion in that state of mind.
Form can’t trump function
While Ryan does care whether or not everything looks nice, whether or not it works for us is more important to him. An example would be our TV and sound system. If it was up to me, I’d just have a medium-sized TV with the speakers the TV came with as not to disturb the aesthetic of the room.
(photo credit: Brian Benda)
Ryan, however, wanted EXPLOSIONS IN YOUR BRAIN sort of sound, and had a big external speakers. There was no way he was going to be okay with something small and there was no way I was going to have crazy enormous speakers taking up half our cozy living room.
So we compromised. The TV is bigger than I would have chosen myself, and we went with a sound bar instead of the enormous speakers. I got some form, he got some function.
Make it comfortable
You and your husband must be comfortable in your home. After all, that’s what it is — a home. Home should be a place to relax, to feel safe, to grow a family. It must be comfortable. If your husband feels like he lives in museum or a home and garden magazine, he’ll never be able to relax.
When we were re-doing our home office, I thought that fabric-covered dining room chairs would be fine. I’d had one for years and it functioned perfectly for me. But nope! Definitely not comfortable enough — Ryan wants wheels and adjustable everything and arm rests. He doesn’t play computer games often, but sometimes he’ll play for a few hours with friends in other states. It’s his bonding time. And like the rest of our house, it has to be comfortable.
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Hope these were helpful! And join in the conversation — what are the ways you compromise with your spouse when it comes to decorating?
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