Surviving home decorating as a couple
COUPLES need to focus on the most important elements of decorating, not just style but also what I call the four C’s: cost, comfort, colour and compromise.
I also asked for the advice of Gail Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York-presbyterian Hospital. Saltz gives smart, no-nonsense tips — ones that I wish I had followed years ago. 1. Cost The No. 1 thing couples fight about is money, so when it comes to decorating, the most important thing you can do is set a budget before you begin. Do your homework and make sure you factor in all extra costs such as moving and installation. I always suggest investing in the big pieces first for each room: sofa, dining table and bed. Saltz suggests going one step further: discuss early on how you will handle either one of you wanting to make a budget change along the way. 2. Comfort Comfort is one of the trickiest elements of decorating because what is comfortable for a 155cm woman might not be comfortable for a 180cm man. Go furniture shopping together. Also know the purpose of each room and furnish it accordingly. Saltz suggests that couples should decorate in 10-year increments for actual family living.
In her experience, many fights occur when couples decorate for an ideal and not for kids, messiness and ease of care, which not only creates tension, but also decreases the opportunity for fun family experiences and memories that build intimacy.
From a decorating standpoint, comfort and fabric go hand in hand; you will never be fully relaxed if you are terrified of staining what you’re sitting on.
To determine the right fabric choices, think about look, feel and, most important, durability (check out solution-dyed outdoor fabrics for all upholstery). And when it comes to sofas, consider extra-deep seats, down or down-covered foam cushions and ample pillows or throw cushions (these are so that short people like me will be comfortable in those extra-deep seats!). 3. Colour Painting your walls is without a doubt the single most transformative tool in all of interior design and one of the most flexible.
Its impact is immediate, changing the mood of a room and your perception of its size. Although painting a room is easy, choosing a Colour can be a challenge. Numerous times I have sat with couples as they labour over tiny paint chips.
Clarity comes when I tell them that the simplest way to judge a colour is to try it out, at which point they roll up their sleeves and get to work. Painting is fun, and working together will make you both feel good. Saltz says it is important to give each other credit.
“Pride in your home, like pride in your family, is something that can increase your closeness because it reflects both your tastes.” 4. Compromise When it comes to decorating, I have worked with couples who have clearly delineated responsibilities: He deals with everything outside, she deals with everything inside. But for most it’s not that easy. One client of mine said, “all men want a La-z-boy recliner, and all women don’t.” Though the truth might not be so black and white, the challenge still is finding a way to balance style desires with comfort and financial desires so that, as Saltz says, “you avoid later resentments.”
I wish I had had that advice. Saltz recommends that couples make communication a priority with weekly check-ins during which they take each other’s temperature on their decisions, budget and any changes that might have arisen. 5. Style Style is perhaps the trickiest for couples to navigate because it is so personal.
You can’t argue with someone if he or she thinks a sofa isn’t comfortable, but you can argue if that person doesn’t like a sofa because of its chunky leg and modern silhouette. Presumably you and your partner have had some discussion of style before you em- bark on a decorating project, but, quite often, one’s taste changes and evolves during the process.saltz warns that “if you disagree, remember it is stuff, not people, you’re talking about, so don’t personalise having different tastes.”
The one place Saltz makes a definite style recommendation is in the bedroom. She says, “Think ‘romantic’ in your bedroom.
“This is your nest with your partner. Increase both of your feelings of being desired by planning a place to share your love for each other.”
— Washington Post