Sur­viv­ing home dec­o­rat­ing as a cou­ple

Lesotho Times - - Business - El­iz­a­beth May­hew

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

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