For those of us who have dreamed about having a home of our own to design and decorate since we were knee high to a grasshopper, moving in with our partner should be a really exciting time. At last, all of our plans and dreams can come true, and we can finally create the nest we've always dreamed of.
That is, until you run up against your partner. And their views. And you realise, the horrible, painful truth: they also have thoughts and opinions about your home decor, and they 'aint like yours. At all. What started as a romantic adventure together can soon turn into a nightmare, without some decorating diplomacy to see you through.
In my last post, we talked about how to find out how your partner really feels about decorating. Do they have the same views as you about the importance of decorating, the need for it, how much it will cost, what it will look like? If you went through the quiz, and tried the ideas I suggested, you'll be in a much better place with your partner already.
But what if your partner *is* on board with wanting to decorate, what if they *are* happy to spend money on creating your dream home, but (horror of horrors) their style is just so different from yours? How do you work together to create a home which combines the best bits of yours with the best bits of theirs, without it all looking like a confused mish mash of styles?
I'm going to take you through a seven step plan to help you to work together to create a cohesive home decor, which you can both love and be proud of.
Step One: Identify the Feel
Put down the photos for just a minute. Log out of Pinterest and put down the glossy magazines. The first thing you need to do is to identify the sort of feel that you want from your home. What is home? What does it mean to you? What emotion do you want your home to evoke? Do you want a relaxed space? A formal space? A stylish space? Is it about hanging out with friends, or is it about being more formal and impressive? Think about the places you have been together that you liked e.g pubs, bars, restaurants, stately homes, friends houses etc. Don’t think about the décor, think about the feel of the place.
Step Two: Annotate Pictures which Express your Preferred Style
Start collecting images which have elements of the feel you are trying to create. You can use magazines, Pinterest or photographs to do this exercise. Gather them all together in one place. Now you need to look really closely at these pictures and start getting a bit analytical. On the worksheet write down what you like about each image. e.g I like this shade of blue, I like the turned legs on this sofa, I like the light open feel of this room, I like the cosiness that the log fire gives. Make a list of the qualities that appeal to you most. Rather than saying "I like this room because it's mid-century modern", say "I like the clean lines and geometric patterns". Be specific about what it is you like.
Step Three: Rank your Preferred Elements
Rank the elements you have chosen from your picture research by how important they are to you to have in your home. Split them into ‘Must Have’ and ‘Nice to Have’. Take time to do this, and be prepared to compromise on some of it.
Step Four: Share your Ideas
Now that you have got a clear picture of your own likes and dislikes, present your list and your images to your partner. Allow time to really listen to each other and to elicit what it is that your partner likes. Why does this image inspire them? What lights them up? Allow them 10 whole minutes at least, and don't be tempted to interrupt. Listen with open ears and an open mind. Your job here is to discover, learn and understand. Once you fully understand where they are coming from, swap places and repeat.
Step Five: Find Commonalities and Agree Compromises
Most people like more than one decor style. They might really like modern country, for example, but they also might like some industrial elements or more sleek pieces. It’s in the overlap of these tastes that we find common ground. Discuss with each other the shared elements that you can both agree on and take it from there. Try to agree on some basics like the feel you want to achieve, the colours and textures you like. Even if one of you likes neutrals and the other likes a riot of colour, you can usually find a way to please both with a neutral backdrop with colourful accessories and soft furnishings, for example. Agree to play up one person's tastes in one room, and another in another room if you need to. Open your mind to different ways of achieving the feel you want.
Step Six: Get creative together
Time for you to start exploring ideas about how you can combine your styles and tastes. Sit together and create a joint Pinterest board, which has elements of things your partner likes, and things you like. Make notes underneath each image about how each of you feels about each picture and start to build up an idea of how different elements can work together. Remember that it’s not just 'alright' to have a mix of elements side by side in your home; in fact, it keeps décor interesting and more edgy to have a mix of different styles. Planning together in this way puts you on the same team and helps you to work together, rather than against each other.
Step Seven: Create a Joint Mood Board
Finally, you're going to create a mood board together. Select specific paint samples, fabric samples and photographs of furniture and accessories that you both like, using the joint Pinterest board for inspiration. Suggest a range of paint colours, fabrics and furniture pieces so that you have as broad a range as possible to find common ground and that you can both agree on. And that's it! Once your mood board is complete, it's time to shop happily, knowing that you have listened to each other and accommodated both of your styles and tastes.
Going through these seven steps together will help you to take some of the heat out of design decisions, and help you to work together to create a home you can both love and enjoy. Always start from a place of love and respect for each other, and be open to listening to the other person's ideas.
Let me know how you get on.