This post is part two in the Joy Style Series. You'll need to know your style pretty well before moving on to this step, and you can find out how to do that here: How to Find your Interior Design Style
If you were with me last week, you should have your design preferences nailed down, and that’s great and all, but now you're thinking “I share a home with my roommate, how the heck am I gonna get them on board with my vision?!"
I’ve been there. I’m there right now quite honestly. We’re planning our kitchen remodel and I am OBSESSED with green cabinets. Seth however, is totally not having it.
I mean come on... Look at that!
Designing a home with a partner can be tricky but it IS doable and fun even!
(ps; your partner is anyone you share your house with! Spouse, roommate, children, life sized batman replica... etc)
I got some specific issues to address when I asked on my stories, and I work through those specifically at the end in the "Troubleshooting" Section!
Here are my tips for designing with a partner!
1) Have an Open Mind
I list this first, because if you’re going to get anywhere in this process you have to have an open mind. That means being willing to compromise. I suggest having a conversation at the start of any design process and lay a foundation of respect and communication. It makes a world of difference when both parties feel heard and respected!
2) Get Clear About Your Goals
I often see this with design clients. They come to a stalemate in decorating and can’t figure out why. After a bit of digging in, we discover that they each simply have different ideas as to what the room should be used for! Typically it’s an easy fix and we’re back to the races. To stave off this type of issue, I recommend separately writing down the answers to these two questions
-What do you want to use this room for?
-How do you want the room to feel?
You might want this room to be for watching TV and your partner might want a sitting room with a pile of books. You might want the kitchen to feel open and bright and they might want it to feel sophisticated and modern.
Getting the answers to these questions early, saves you from a lot of unnecessary challenges later on.
Here's how it went down for us;
Seth: "I want the kitchen to be a place to cook easily and entertain well on the main floor. I want it to feel useful and clean"
Sam: "I want the kitchen to be a great entertaining space and I want it to feel bright and inviting."
Now we both know what the other's goals area and have had a discussion that he cares more about function than how it looks! Win!
3) Find Out What Their Style Is
You should have an inspiration board already set from last weeks challenge, now encourage your partner to do the same! Ask them to create a board and pin anything house-wise that they love.
Then take a little time investigating and find common themes, just like you did last week.
I have you do this, because you can’t effectively combine styles and make a cohesive home with two partners, if you don’t truly understand your partner’s style! You should each have a joy list at this point!
Seth's board looks like this:
From this (and other inspo photos) we both deduced that his Joy List looks like this:
-Exposed raw wood
-Black Metal accents
-Lots of plants
-Soft cozy textiles
-Pops of bright bold color
4) Try to Find Commonalities
Compare lists and find what they have in common. This is your starting point! I call this the low hanging fruit!
Comparing my list against Seth's, the common themes that emerge are
-Abundant Natural elements (wood, metal, stone, plants)
-Texture in textiles
-Neutral walls and accents of color
-Black metal accents
5) Draw Lines in the Sand
This may seem contradictory to the charge I gave you to have an open mind, but truly it isn't. All I mean by this, is to decide on your absolute "heck no's."
It's good for each partner to know what the other dislikes! Remember, this is all about respect and making sure each of you feels heard.
For Seth and me, my line in the sand is that I don't want bright pops of color (teal, orange, yellows, etc.) His is that he absolutely does not like green cabinets. So no matter how much I like the green, it's his kitchen too and I respect his desires and he respects mine.
I suggest that each of you have an equal number of "Oh Heck No's" and I wouldn't have more than two each. This keeps things balanced and easy to remember.
6) Make Compromises
Now this is where things typically start to get difficult for some couples. You’re going to start combining styles and compromising. Before you do though, consciously shift your attitude and discuss together how this will be a fun challenge and it’s exciting to think that you’re creating a brand new style by combining both of yours.
For example; Seth likes big windows and warm tones, whereas I like things more bright and with brass accents.
So maybe that means installing a big open window in the kitchen with black framing and having brass pulls on the cabinets. Maybe that means having hints of warmth while keeping things airy and calm.
Compromise is the name of the game when it comes to working with a partner!
7) Lay a Blueprint
Now that you have an idea of how you will mix styles on a grand scale, I want you to write out a blueprint so you're both abundantly clear on the vision for the space.
Our blueprint looks like this;
Bird Kitchen Remodel
-Functional for cooking with ease.
-We have the ability to entertain while preparing a meal.
-Natural elements as the focus
-Black metal framed windows contrasted with brass accents
-Mainly Neutrals with hints of Rich color
Now, obviously we didn't decide anything too concrete yet, because we want to focus and get clear on the vision and style before we jump into purchasing or making plans! Take your time with your spaces and I promise it will evolve into your dream home! We will go into design execution further in the coming weeks, but we have a good starting ground for everyone involved!
~What to do when your partner has too many opinions
This question makes me laugh and is awesome on so many levels 🤣 We've all felt this way, at least once. Like "Why do you even care, why don't you just let me do whatever the heck I want"
So, I have a very opinionated husband and this is what we've done to work together a bit more. Let's say he wants something totally crazy in my mind, like to buy a neon yellow couch (he doesn't thank God, but for these purposes let's go with it).
If he absolutely loves this neon couch, I'd just ask him if he could show me an inspiration picture that features something like that.
Once I see this inspiration, it might inspire me too, you never know. That's where having an open mind comes in.
If I still don't like it after seeing an inspiration photo, I would tell him my feelings honestly and respectfully and I'd ask if he'd be willing to compromise. Maybe we can get a bright colored accent, or maybe we can buy neon furniture for another room.
This is all a give and take, and in our discussions about our home, I'm careful to not bulldoze over Seth. It's his house too and he should have a say in it.
~What to do when when your partner wants a completely different style home (Adult home/Man cave)
This one's a doozy. If you've got totally different visions for the entire house, it can cause some tension.
I would suggest, again, asking to see inspiration photos for what your partner wants. If they want a man cave, what about that look do they like?
Once you see some inspiration pics, you guys might be able to break down certain elements that your partner really loves.
For instance, maybe it's a cozy feel, dark wood accents, eclectic bar signs on the wall, the bachelor feel that your partner loves.
Once you know the specific elements they love, you guys can merge those elements with elements from your style.
As couples/partners we both have equal rights to a home that we love, and so your desire for an adult home is equally important to his desire for a man cave.
If blending your styles in one space isn't working, then again, maybe it's a compromise. Maybe you guys devote a room each that you have full reign over.
~What to do when your partner can't visualize something ahead of time, and doesn't like anything that you suggest
This is so real life for me. I've got a vivid imagination, and it's really easy for me to picture something ahead of time. Seth however, is the opposite.
It can be frustrating to be sure, but this is where the power of photos comes in. I usually try to show him what I'm thinking with a picture. If that fails or I can't find the right one, I actually draw it out.
It's never a good drawing, but it's usually enough for him to have some context.
A big part of this is just trust. Sometimes I'll ask him just to trust me. Nothing is permanent in your home, so if you paint the wall and he absolutely hates it, you can repaint.
I hope these answers to your questions were helpful and if you have any more, or if this guide helped you, let me know in the comments below!