By Jessi Deakin & Sarah Yarrow
The issue of merging styles once you move in with your beloved can be a particularly challenging one – particularly if you’ve both spent years collecting and cultivating items prior. What exactly are you supposed to do if you’re all about The Hamptons and your partner wants to rock the industrial distressed metal look?
However, if you and your partner have decidedly different ideas of what constitutes ‘style’, and it’s an ongoing headache, then never fear – there are actually ways to combine the two as well as compromise without changing your Facebook status to “It’s complicated”! Here are our top tips:
1 Define what you’re both wanting in your home in terms of look and feel
This could be a mind map of key descriptive words like “relaxed”, “cosy”, “minimal” or some visuals of spaces you love and can see yourself living in. See if any of your key words overlap or coincide in any way. Chances are the images you are each drawn to are very different – at a glance you might think “this is going to be impossible” but look closely. Are there any common threads? Do you both like the same types of timbers? Cool or warm colour palettes? Patterns or textures? Minimal or eclectic? Fingers crossed you’ll be able to find some common ground and use that as the basis of your decor.
2 Agree on your “must-haves” and “absolutely-nots”
Whilst you might have your heart set on open shelving to display your collected treasures (that your other half refers to as “clutter” grr …), your partner might have a more minimal look in mind. At some point if you want to really pull a complete look together you both need to compromise, take a deep breath and cull the items and furniture that are outdated or simply don’t fit into the greater scheme.
In most cases, if you dig deep enough, there are usually only certain, specific elements of a space that someone is non-negotiable on, with the others not really mattering to them as much. Determining where each of you stand on these is key as you figure out a compromise. For example, when out shopping your partner might be drawn to a black leather modular lounge which you can instantly see isn’t going to fit in with your “theme”.
Before you run out of the store screaming, find out exactly what it is that he likes so much about it. It could be that he likes the size and shape of the modular lounge as it means he can stretch out and put his feet up at the end of the day. Perhaps he isn’t fussed on the fabric or colour which means you can agree to look at modular lounges but perhaps in a grey textured fabric instead (which would fit in with your Scandi colour palette much more nicely). Boom – compromise complete!
3 Dedicate separate spaces to be styled exactly to each of your tastes
If your beloved’s still in a sulk, here are two words for him: man cave. If hubby has a collection of sports memorabilia or bizarre ornaments from overseas that he refuses to keep in storage which you’d prefer not have displayed front and centre in the living room, then encourage him to decorate his own space with pride. The same goes for yourself – designate yourself an area which you can pretty up whatever way you please.
For a home that doesn’t look disjointed, it is still preferable to come to some kind of compromise on a central theme or colours that will define the main rooms and have cohesion. Whatever you do, don’t go down the path of, “okay you can choose the coffee table if I get to choose the entertainment unit”. This is a recipe for decorating disaster!
4 Compromise with the user-friendly Bohemian style
So what kind of style options are out there for couples that won’t cause a cold war? In our experience the one style that can pull together differing items coherently is Bohemian. We are experts in this eclectic style and the beauty of it is that if you do it well, it’s quite versatile, unlike some other styles such as French Provincial or Scandi which are more rigid in their aesthetic.
Bohemian embraces different cultures, displays of interesting, sometimes clashing items, and utilizes different textures and natural materials. It embraces the carefree, the relaxed and the unusual. Tones are often warm and many varying colour palettes can be applied to suit different tastes. There’s also a mix of patterns and elements don’t need to fit in a traditional way. So your grandma’s antique 19th Century chair might look completely fine next to your partner’s retro 50s table!
5 If all else fails, hire an interior designer!
If you’re facing a really tough stand off that shows no signs of wavering then a designer can step in and help both of you make those tough calls. As interior designers, a key part of our process is to get a sense of our clients’ personal tastes. This often involves two extremes and sometimes the opinions of other family members as well.
The best part is, an interior designer can provide technical reasons as to why one way is a better option than another and even offer completely new ideas to suit all parties. Once a vision is clearly outlined, you both may end up actually agreeing!
–Jessi and Sarah Yarrow are co-founders of Black Arrow, a Sydney-based interior design company focused on creating immersive, relaxing interiors that feed your soul. All photos are of their work.