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How To Decorate With Your Other Half: Lessons On Compromise

It’s no secret that cohabitation means compromise. Whether it’s working out a system for who’ll put the bins out, buying a second TV to accommodate your disparate taste in shows, or accepting all the strange little quirks of your other half’s bathroom routine, there are a long list of items you’d probably do differently if you lived alone. Chances are, interior decorating is one of those items. It’s a very tricky compromise to master, usually resulting in a lot of arguments and a less than perfect finished product.

If you have struggled with it, rest assured you’re not alone. A recent survey by online art store UGallery found 60% of female respondents thought "managing different home decor styles" was one of the biggest challenges for couples, with many struggling to reach a consensus on colours and furniture, wall decoration, and which existing household items to incorporate into new designs.

In this post, we’ll be giving you the tools and know-how to master the art of compromise and navigate the task successfully, leaving you with a home full of spaces you and your loved one both enjoy being in.

1. Map out a direction together

The chances of you and your partner sharing exactly the same taste in interiors is next to none. Rather than trying to make compromises of the cuff as you choose colours or items of furniture, take time to understand each other’s design point of view.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to compare pictures of spaces you both really like. These can be pictures from magazines or photos of spaces you’ve visited, like libraries, cafés, a friend’s house or an Airbnb. As you flick through your photos together, take the time to explain what it is you like about each space. Is it the feel? The colours? The beautiful wooden furniture? Or something else entirely? This will leave you with a good understanding of each other’s preferences and where they cross over with your own, allowing you to create a shared vision for your space and lay the groundwork for easy decisions moving forward.

As well as working out which direction to move forward in, it’s just as important to determine your design deal-breakers. These are things either one of you can’t get your head around (like a pink feature wall or a shagpile rug, for example) and therefore have the power to veto. While you might lose out on something you’ve had your heart set on, remember that your home décor needs to create a comfortable, welcoming environment for both of you. If it doesn’t, you’re setting yourself up for disagreements and resentment down the track, which will be much worse than any temporary anger about not getting a velvet sofa.

2. Mix your styles

If your styles are a little eclectic, you’ll be pleased to know the most beautiful designs often come from opposition.

The key to creating something beautiful is all about striking the balance and creating flow, so your combined style takes on a life of its own.

For example, if one of you loves colour and the other is all about minimalism, fuse cleanly designed furniture with bright artwork, vivid rugs, and statement cushions. If one of you loves feminine spaces and the other is a fan of bold designs and hard lines, pick blocky furniture in soft pastels, like our Sensazione 1 Seater Sofa in Biscotti Beige .

Canningvale sensazione 1 seater sofa arm chair

If you’re struggling to fuse your two styles together, turn your focus to colour. The right palette can bring everything together, creating a sense of harmony regardless of how different the other elements are.

3. Master give and take

As you move through the process, remember to listen to your partner, appreciate their point of view, and articulate your own clearly and calmly. (There’s a helpful and an unhelpful way to say you don’t like a cushion!) Don’t be afraid to use ‘I statements’ (e.g. ‘I’d prefer x because x’) to own your opinions rather than pass judgement on theirs, and always try and dig deeper into why your other half likes or doesn’t like something you do, so you can harness that understanding for your next suggestion.

As well as style and design, remember to communicate openly on budget and timeframe. You’ll save yourself a lot of arguments if you’re both on the same page with these elements.

Finally, remember that decorating as a couple is a process of compromise and you won’t agree on every detail. Be prepared to sacrifice some ideas in exchange for others and keep your ultimate goal – creating a space you both love to be in - front of mind.

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