Couples CompromiseYou got married, finally found the perfect house and now what? You're merging your belongings and finding out that your things are not as compatible as you are with each other. So what to do?
This is where you first learn about compromise. The initial form of compromise usually leads to stagnant rooms with things that you each like and don't like. You end up having rooms that aren't welcoming and you both don't love to be in.
I call these the "avoidance rooms" – rooms you avoid spending time in because you don't like what they look like or feel like. It's a crime for a new house, and a situation that can definitely be turned around.
Often a little mediation and observation of design tastes can make all the difference in the world. While sometimes people can work it out, more often it is one-sided decision-making or lack of any decision-making and action that makes the task of creating a perfect space an overwhelming challenge.
But there are solutions and sometimes you can even have it all.
The Win/WinBedrooms are areas of great compromise, as often couples' tastes will differ drastically. For instance, whether to let in or block out light, what color to paint the room, and should the bed linens have a pattern or be monochromatic? Plus, there's always the issue of whether to have a TV or not.
The Solution: We gave them both what they wanted – dark curtains along a small windowed wall made the room seem bigger, yet the window stayed exposed to let in lots of light. Scott loved the cave-like feeling, while Mimi got her light.
Around the bed, we chose to have movable curtain panels suspended from the ceiling. On the inside, the curtains were a light cream color for Mimi, while the outside of the panel was a dark navy blue for Scott. The curtains created the look of a canopy bed, but the height kept the space feeling airy.
What They Needed: In this situation, the couple thought they would have to find a compromise and yet they didn't. Both got what they wanted in the bedroom without feeling that they had to each make a sacrifice to please the other.
Balanced CompromiseThe Solution: Do a little of both. The headboard went rustic with rough-sawn wood, and the linens were crisp and modern, but neutral. Subtle hints of red brought into the space weren't overwhelming for Felita, yet added the much-needed color for him. Stripes on the ceiling were one way we brought color in, giving the room the look of ceiling beams, which Felita liked because it leant the feeling of rustic and designed at the same time.
He also wanted a workspace in the room, but she didn't. To compromise, we used a sleek, narrow desk. She loved the designed look of the table, and he got a place for his computer.
What They Needed: Often finding the perfect compromise is giving someone the function they need, combined with the design style of their partner. This way everyone feels the compromise is two-sided.
Design LimboMix and match chairs and different fabrics and styles didn't appeal to either of them, but they didn't know what to do. Jeff hated the pink stone fireplace and wanted to paint it, but that idea made Patty nervous, very nervous. Basically, they were frozen in a limbo of indecision so they did nothing — until we came along.
The Solution: For Patty and Jeff, it was a matter of getting a new sofa and chairs in styles they both liked, which meant comfortable with classic lines for Patty and formal with a modern edge for Jeff. That was easy, as the shape of furniture solves half of the problem, while the fabric choice and pillows can complete the picture.
Jeff was worried about things being feminine, so dark woods were employed to lend a more masculine depth to the space. Patty's old coffee table was given a new dark chocolate look that Jeff liked.
What They Needed: Sometimes a third party is exactly what you need. Both partners in the space want what they prefer but also want the other person to be happy. So they hedge the decisions, for an indefinite period of time. It's good to get a consultation sometimes just to help get things moving forward and also to make some decisions. Perspective can be priceless.
It's okay for different areas of the house to have stronger personalities. For example, he dominates the den, while she dominates the dining room. It's a fair trade from the start that can allow partners some design freedom to make decisions on their own and lean a room more in their direction. Generally, it's only fair if it's an even trade – room for room.