We can’t agree on a decorating scheme
Three readers reveal what happens when a couple’s tastes differ – and how to avoid fighting over statement tiles or bold colours
‘I often play a game of “Do you notice anything different today?” when he comes home from work’ Donna Henry, a stay-at-home mum and former graphic design tutor, lives in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, with her husband Dave, a technical designer, and their daughter, Eva, two
‘Because of our jobs, we’re both quite different in how we look at things. I’m from an art and interior design background, but Dave is more practical, so he often doesn’t see my vision like I do. I’m quite into design and our home is quirky and mismatched – there’s lots going on, and he thinks it’s a bit much. He plays it safe whereas I’m a bit more daring. If I tell him an idea I’ve had, he’ll be like, “That’s a bit weird.” He almost always loves it once it’s done, though.
‘I used to tell him my ideas and then when he hesitated, I’d suggest just trying it out. I’d always say, “If you don’t like it, we’ll change it back,” but in the end we don’t usually have to do that. If I didn’t convince him to try things, we wouldn’t have half the stuff we have now! These days, though, I don’t bother asking – I just play a game where I say, “Do you notice anything different today?” when he comes home from work because I’m always changing things around. If we were burgled, I’m not sure I’d even notice what went missing!
‘Dave isn’t really into DIY – he’ll put stuff up for me if I ask. He’s a lot more practical and likes to plan, plan, plan, whereas I don’t like to wait – I’m quite impulsive. I’ll admit that a few times I’ve regretted my decision, then had to take something down and repaint a wall here and there. Generally, though, we work together well. The major nightmare was our conservatory, which we redid as the old one was leaky. We had glass panels all around the room, but we accidentally left the masking tape around it when we’d finished painting the wood and it stuck like glue to the glass. In the end, we had to board it up so it looks like wooden panels. We got over it and turned it into a positive, but he really washed his hands of it after that.
‘These days, he’s happy for me to take the lead in our house, and he has a garage that he’s doing up – I’m happy that he’s got his own space. The next project is the bathroom, which we’re working on together – we’ve already agreed on statement tiles. I always consult him on major things like that, but I think this time we have the same vision.’
‘My partner always starts off as if he doesn’t like my idea, then I overhear him telling people it was his’
‘We’ve always had similar tastes – we both like old mixed with new, and we have a masculine choice in colours. It’s more how we get to the point of finishing a room where we differ. James is very practical but impulsive – if he sees something he likes, he’ll get it. I’m more of a thinker. I like to plan things.
‘James will admit that I always tend to get my own way. When I have an idea, he’s usually against it straight away, so I think it’s going to be a massive struggle to try and get it done. I think it’s a no, but then I hear him talking about it with friends like it was the plan all along. Sometimes he tries to pretend he never said he didn’t like an idea, but I can literally recall the argument we had in the shop!
‘I’m a big fan of Pinterest and have boards for different rooms in the house. I love research and spend lots of time sorting things out. We landscaped the garden over winter last year and James decided to do it himself with a friend. I sent him photographs of how I wanted it to look with specific details about the grey resin decking. I came home to find the decking was brown instead. James decided last minute that it was a better colour. He told me it’d look good when it was laid. Once it was down, he looked at me and said,
“Yeah, you were right.” He spent a day trying to paint it before ripping it out.
‘Our decorating process involves lots of talking at each other. He gets defensive when he thinks that someone has a better idea than him. We talk it through, I show him a picture, and he sketches it out. Once he’s done that, he likes it – then it becomes his idea!’
‘I had to fight tooth and nail for the lime green bathroom she thought would be too loud’
‘If I had to sum up my style, I’d describe it as bold and vibrant – I love bright oranges and limes, and funky fabrics. I think I watched too many cartoons when I was younger. I’m no fan of anything traditional – Artex is the work of the devil. Danielle was more conservative when we first got together, but over time she’s grown to be more daring. It takes ages to talk her into things, though she usually agrees in the end.
‘I’m a painter-decorator by trade and this is my fourth project, but my first as an upcycler. I got into that after our wedding. Everything we were quoted for a venue was out of our budget, so we decided to do everything ourselves, renting out an old school and upcycling furniture for the ceremony and reception. I’m a bit of a project manager – I did the last kitchen up by myself before Danielle moved in. I know it’ll be a bit of a culture shock for her when we start on our new one. I’ve managed to talk her into having standalone units from charity shops – a bit of a challenge, but fortune favours the brave!
‘We do compromise, but most of the time I can persuade her to do something a bit bolder – nine times out of 10, once I’ve talked her through my idea, she’s good to go on it. I had to fight tooth and nail for our lime green bathroom because she thought it was too loud. It took a cruise to persuade her to decorate our kitchen splashback in coloured glass – she thought it was an awful idea until the restaurant on the ship had a similar design on its doors. I’m trying to get her to agree to painting our wooden fireplace teal with a yellow hearth – she’s appalled but I keep telling her, “Trust me – it’ll work”.’