How to resolve decorating disagreements


A few trade-offs can result in a design that makes everyone happy.


You say, “Wallpaper.” I say, “Wall texture.” You say, “Carpet.” I say, “Hardwood.” Before you call the whole thing off, recognize that compromise might be required to resolve disputes over home décor. Whether you’ve just purchased your first home or are finally getting around to redecorating after decades, you may find that those diverse views that make life interesting in the best of times add heat to discussions over design decisions. Keep in mind that differences over decorating are common, and a few tradeoffs can result in a striking décor that makes everyone happy.



You’re in This Together

When two people share a dwelling, what makes it their home is a concerted effort to reflect the combination of styles and interests. If a major disagreement arises over interior design, a first step may be to look for common, or at least complementary, ground.


Start with the palette: A visit to Tommy's Paint Pot will offer a wealth of color schemes and wall-finishing options from which to choose to form the backdrop of your décor. Next, compare furnishing styles. If your tastes run to classical and your partner prefers modern, you may be able to find some elements of each style that offer a starting point for discussion. Spend some time browsing decorating sites, shows, and magazines to identify rooms that you like. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to talk about why you like this and why your partner likes that, which may provide some insights into the emotional aspects of decorating preferences.


Shopping and making these decisions as a team makes it more likely that both of you will feel involved and pleased with the outcomes. Speaking of shopping, that’s another area where there may be some disagreement. You may love to shop—the more choices, the better—whereas your partner hates it, or vice versa. In that case, one solution is for the shopping pro to make some scouting trips, return with paint and wallpaper samples and fabric swatches, and then schedule return visits to the stores most likely to yield maximum results with a minimum time commitment from the non-shopper.


It Doesn’t Have to Be Either/Or

Combining your decorating preferences and treasures can yield a décor that’s fabulous and uniquely yours. Style, function, and comfort aren’t mutually exclusive. An antique cupboard can command a place of honor in otherwise modern surroundings.


Going room by room is another strategy. If one of your style preferences dominates in the living room, the other person could make key design decisions in the kitchen. And each of you can have your own spaces on which to place your stamp by choosing favorite colors, furniture, and belongings to showcase in a den, sewing room, or hobby haven.


Some rooms can be designed for double duty: The basement man cave may occasionally be rearranged to make room for a big family get-together. The home office can double as a display for that prized collection that used to grace a living room.    


A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way

People have strong attachments to their belongings and sense of style. It may be hard to agree that a cherished collection of salt and pepper shakers or sports memorabilia would clash with a new living room décor. Acknowledging the pangs that arise over such decisions and appreciating each other’s willingness to compromise are crucial steps in creating surroundings you can both call your own.