House For Six

Decorating For Opposite Tastes: Time To Experiment

Deme CrinionComment
Welcome back!  We're on Day 3 of our Decorating For Opposite Tastes series!  

I just want to reiterate that I'm not a professional here.  I'm just married to a man with different tastes from my own.  We've disagreed through many a home decor decision but we've also managed to find a way to blend those two styles and as we create a home that reflects us both.  We hope you can learn from some of our struggles and benefit from the tips we've picked up along the way.  We know some of you are pros at this, so please join in the conversation via the comments!

Yesterday, we got into the communication weeds and ran you through a couple of exercises to help you to talk in more detail about your home.  Hopefully it was enlightening and no one was harmed in the list making.  But was it also overwhelming?  If so, then try narrowing the focus down to one room at a time vs. the whole house.  Which is exactly what we're doing today!

It the last post, we chose some words to describe how we want our home to feel (not look). Were you able to agree on a few words together?  Deciding jointly on how you want your house to feel is a HUGE success, because every other design decision is based on those words. 

Now we're going to practice.  Say hello to...

You're going to choose a room in your house to experiment with a design approach that suits your two style preferences.  A room is much less intimidating than taking on the entire house at once.   You might choose the room that bothers you the most or it might be the room that is closest to getting two stamps of approval.  If a whole room is just too much to handle, pick a small area of the house to focus styling the mantle, the wall behind the couch, or linens for the bed.

There is no time limit for this exercise. It may take you an afternoon or it may take a couple months.  The goal is to create a space that captures both of your styles and that you both love.

Start by talking about your goals for the room.  How do you want the room to feel?  Which of the words you chose for your home do you want this space embody? 

What function(s) will this room serve?  Is it just a bedroom or does it need to double as an office?  Identify all the purposes the room must serve and jot them down too.

Similar to the last post, write down what's currently working and what's not (remember our "be specific" motto). This is where it can get dicey.  Something totally works for one of you and the other can't stand it.  There will have to be compromise for this to work.  Try to determine if that awful painting is something you can live with and try to find a redeeming quality about it (can you pick up on any of the colors and work them into the room?).  Maybe just moving it to a different spot in the room will help or perhaps it's better suited for another room entirely. 

When it comes to compromise, we each have to be willing to work with the things the other person really loves.  Maybe not all of them, but some.  And we have to figure out where we are willing to compromise on some of our own strongholds.  For example, I'm giving up on aqua walls in our home....but I might paint the inside of my office closet that color.

Gather inspiration and talk about your ideas for the space.  How do you want to arrange the furniture?  What colors do you want to use in the space? 

Inspiration comes from everywhere....

Take note of places that you enjoy when you're out and about.  Is there a restaurant or favorite store with a vibe that suits you?  Start taking mental notes of how they use color, furniture layout, lighting and accessories to create that particular mood.

Go window shopping together and point out things you like and things you don't.  Specifically name what you do/don't like about them (the items, not your spouse) so you can begin to understand each other's perspective.  And where you have shared tastes!  It's important to focus on what you have in common and how your opposites can attract, rather than fight.

Create a pinboard to collect your digital images in one spot and be sure to make a note about what exactly you like about each image.  Look at other rooms that have successfully pulled off the "don't tell me we can't go together" attitude.  Here's a few of my numero unos...

I die over this hall.  A very traditional foyer with fantastic architectural details is taken up a notch with global accessories, art, and a bold stair runner.

The Greenwhich Hotel in NYC....where no room is exactly the same because of their globally collected feel.  Their rooms look more like a home than a hotel.  No matchy, matchy.  Nothing bought in a set.  A look of favorite pieces pulled together to tell a story.

This living space is so warm and inviting.  The planked walls give a rustic cottage feel to the space, but the couches are dark and tailored, and the tables have a juxtaposition of warm wood tones and hard metal.

This mini-mod nursery is little land eye candy.  The art over the dresser is so unexpected and yet plays so well with everything else in the room.  It also gives the space a great pop of color.
This gorgeous dining room manages to feel casual and formal all at the same time, thanks to a great mix of pieces and layered rugs.

This kitchen combines rustic beams and a natural wood table with industrial lights, sleek chairs, and bold upholstered pieces.

This timeless bed is a stunner in Carmel's house but the geometric print on the pillow, bit of leopard on the chair, and the modern art all inject this room with plenty of personality. 

Her husband's office is pretty amazing too, and not at all contrived.

The key to these rooms' success is pulling together things you already own and love and finding the right pieces to tie them all together.  And that's where I want you to start.

You talked, you've gathered ideas, you may still not agree, but it's time to start experimenting.

If the room you've chosen is so full of stuff that it's hard to envision anything else, clear out the room completely to give yourselves a blank slate.  Then bring in the key pieces of furniture.  If you don't agree with your partner on the layout, just start pushing furniture around.  You might be surprised at which layout works better over the other and how it can change the feel of the room.  Also think about furniture pieces in other areas of the house that may work in this space. 

Once your furniture layout is set, you can start to accessorize.  Begin with what you already have. Pull some of your favorite pieces from around the house into this one room.  It's ok if it leaves a conspicuous void elsewhere.  This is where you want to take the best of both of you and see if you can meld them together.  Try arranging/hanging/grouping things several different ways until you both nod your heads.

It may help to find an inspiration piece you both like to get you started and to keep you on track.  Something that has the colors you want to work into the room or a captures the spirit of the room.  Again, keep in mind the way you want the room to feel.  It will help you make a lot of decisions.  You wanted bright and airy but the walls and furniture and flooring are all very dark?  Try replacing at least one of them with something light...a light area rug over the dark floors....light colored pillows on the couches....a lighter coat of paint on the walls (more on that tomorrow!).

Be patient during this process.  You won't get it right the 1st time.  Or the 2nd. Or maybe not even the 20th.  The goal is not even to get it perfect in the end.  The goal is to practice.  To have a dedicated space where you can try things out without having to get them right.  But hopefully with improved communication and some experimentation you'll soon refine the art of compromise.  Which is where we'll pick up again tomorrow!

*This is the 3rd post in the Decorating For Opposite Tastes series.  Catch the others by clicking the links below:

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to keep in touch!