Design 101 For "Couples" - Merging Your Styles in Perfect Harmony
You're moving in together and have found the perfect place - congratulations and let the fun begin!
But as the furniture is unloaded and the boxes unpacked, it dawns on you how very different your two decorating styles truly are. Can you blend them together to create a finished look for your new space? Without recourse to your relationship? Of course you can!
A couple's design success begins with asking the right questions. I'd suggest starting by asking your partner how much they would like to be involved in this process - you may be surprised by the answer! Often one party prefers to remain at arms length, simply giving the final plan a 'thumbs up'.
Other couples may find that they both like to have input from start to finish. If so, compare your decorating priorities, perhaps by listing them one through ten. If they are the same, you're halfway there! But, if like most couples, they're different, I assure you that all is not lost!
A classic example that encounter with couples goes roughly like this: one person envisions a particular room as a beautiful yet functional space with seating for six on tasteful pieces, and occasional TV viewing. And the other partner sees the same space as a state-of-the-art home theatre room, replete with seating for ten all on leather furniture. Two very different perspectives indeed!
If this is you, there's no reason to panic. (Insert deep breath here) Stay as open and flexible as possible. Remember that this home belongs to the two of you now, and ideally should be a reflection of both of your tastes and preferences. Revisit your priorities and discuss how you anticipate living and entertaining in your space. Perhaps once you've fleshed out your ideas you'll find that they're not that different after all. Keep this step as high level as possible - a simple "like/dislike", and "yes/no" for potential colours will keep you from getting bogged down and discouraged. Avoid getting caught up in design terminology which can be interpretational - what may be a contemporary to look to you, may not be so to your significant other. Visual cues can be very helpful as this stage as well - tear out pictures of rooms from magazines that you are drawn to.
Over the years, I've found that women are typically more adventuresome with their design choices than men. Their colour palettes can venture towards either cool or warm, with the goal being flow, clarity and continuity. They often prefer patterns, and feel confident using them in different ways. And when asked their favourite decorating colour, many women choose various shades of green.
Women generally prefer light, clear, or low grain woods such as maple and or pine, and their taste in furnishings runs to esthetically pleasing items. They'll often sacrifice a bit of comfort to complete the look. Look no farther than stiletto heels!
Men, on the other hand, are typically conservative in their design preferences. Their palettes of choice are simpler - often anything that matches neutrals. They tend not to gravitate towards patterns, preferring plain or plaid. And hands down, their favorite colour is blue.
Men usually feel strongly about wood applications, with oak and cherry being the top choices. And when it comes to selecting furnishings, in a word, it's COMFORT! COMFORT! COMFORT! They often ask that their furnishings feel as a comfortable as an old pair of jeans. And if it reclines, and has a cup holder, they're sold!