Travis and I realized very soon after buying our home that we have different designs styles. I think it was something we always knew, but he always had his own space and I had mine and we decorated them as we saw fit. Once we moved into our rented home together, even then we didn’t really experience design differences. We didn’t paint or buy any furniture since we knew it would be temporary. We simply combined the furniture we had from our respective apartments and just made it work.
Buying a home was an entirely different ball game where we bought furniture together and completely designed how each room would feel and how it would look… together. This took a bit of trial and error and really putting each of our prides aside, listening to each other, and compromising. We learned more about each other and learned how to hone our communication skills with our design intentions and how we approached each other.
How the design process usually works in our relationship is I (Chelsea) will have an initial vision of what I think the room should look like and then I make the same mistake every time. The mistake I make is I try and describe the vision to Travis with words, rather than visuals, and my point doesn’t always get through. Since then, I have three-dimensionally modeled my vision or created a mood board to show him what I am envisioning. Based on this visual, he gives his honest input of what he likes and doesn't like in the design and we go from there.
Now, to give you a bit of background about Travis. Some significant others let their partner have free reign to design the home in whatever way he/she/they see fit. Travis is not one of these people, and I’m thankful he’s not. Would it be easier if he let me have free reign to design our home in whatever way I wanted, yes. Does it make our home feel like a home for both of us if our ideas are both implemented in the design, absolutely. I want our home to feel great for both of us and to reflect both of us. I've learned that I need to present options to him and he then gives his opinion on each option.
Travis needs a starting point for design. He needs a baseline, which is usually my initial design vision, to either describe what he likes or doesn’t like about the vision and we work from there. We work together until we are both happy with where the design is going. There are compromises and areas where we are both pushed outside of our comfort zone to accommodate the other and that’s how our home design is growing and evolving.
Travis’ Design Style
Dark wood tones
Rustic, but not kitschy
Chelsea’s Design Style
Isn’t afraid of a little color
Balance of light and dark
I understand not everyone has the ability or means to three-dimensionally model what they are thinking, but there are other ways of how you can effectively communicate your vision and get your partners' input.
Some Helpful Ideas if Your Partner and You Have Different Design Styles
1. Don’t Overload Your Partner with Too Many Options
If you are the ‘decorator’ in the relationship and want your partners’ opinion, try not to overload them with too many ideas or options. I’ve learned first hand that this can lead to frustration and indifference which is not the goal. Present maybe 2 or 3 options and go from there.
Also, when your partner gives their opinion on options you present to them, listen and absorb what they are saying rather than discarding it or diminishing their opinion. There are opinions that Travis has had about options I’ve presented to him that I was disappointed with at the time, but his opinions helped make the design better in the long run.
2. Combine These Styles in Your Home - Compromise
This is another one that I've struggled with. Sometimes, I think I know best when it comes to design and Travis' style isn't incorporated in the way that it should be. I've learned to compromise. There is going to be some push and pull needed to reflect both of your styles in your home, but it is doable. Have your significant other pick a small piece of furniture or décor that they like and then swap by you picking a small piece. Yeah, but what if these two pieces don't go together? That's ok. They are small reflections of you both that can subtly be placed in your home that showcases both of your styles.
3. Decide on the Big Pieces First… Together - Sofas, Tables, Chairs, etc.
Figure out what functions the foundation pieces of your home need to have. Does your sofa need to seat just two people or does it need to accommodate a family of 5? Does the sofa fabric need to accommodate pets? Do you want to be able to clean under the sofa, or do you want it low to the ground? How many people does your dining room table need to seat? Is your room more rectangular or square? Can it accommodate a circular, square or rectangular table? Your home and your lifestyle will inform some of these design decisions, so focus on those first. Most importantly, make these big piece decisions together! This is where you both may need to budge a little bit in one way or another. Also remember, the big pieces don't need to be decided on in one day. If you both begin to get frustrated, take a break and come back to these decisions later (I'm not a licensed counselor, just someone with experience.