Moving in Together: How Couples Can Compromise on Decor

A survey conducted by Homebase in the United Kingdom revealed that a power struggle between the sexes over how their home should be decorated may put a relationship in jeopardy. Six out of the 10 couples that responded to the survey said choosing decor and furnishings caused stress and led to arguments. One in seven felt that it had hurt the relationship.


Though the study’s respondents hailed from across the Atlantic, one can assume that the issue may cause a few problems among relationships in the United States as well. The statistics on how many couples actually have the same taste in home decor is limited, but the odds are the number is fairly low. In her experience, it is the exception and not the rule that couples have the same home decor tastes, according to interior designer Jayne Pelosi in an HGTV article. In the same article, Sarit Catz noted that she felt like half of a designer’s job ends up being couples’ counseling.

Fortunately, there are a number of solutions available to couples moving in together to help bridge tastes and styles as well as prevent relationship strife when it’s time to decorate.

Identify an Overlap in Tastes

Pelosi recommends that couples find four or five books depicting various styles, like retro, traditional or Zen, and look through them in a nonjudgmental way, letting your partner know which styles you like the most. Then, write down a list of styles you can live with, the styles you can’t stand and what you love. This is a great way to determine if there is a joint style that might work.

Shopping Together

Shopping together can be fun and may even bring couples closer together. If you’ve taken the time to determine your overlap in tastes or have found a collective style that works, the experience is likely to be far more enjoyable. Remember that if only one partner’s style dominates your living space, it may not feel like “home” to the other. Joint purchases can better represent both personalities.

If you can’t agree on colors for the main pieces of furniture, such as in the living room, a piece of good advice that can also help “save the peace” is to go with neutrals like beige, linen, taupe or grey. Interior decorator Kelly Nodello advises couples to keep larger pieces such as the sofa, walls and window coverings, including window shades, neutral. Add color using accents like area rugs and pillows.

Meeting in the Middle

Remember that relationships are all about compromise, and that includes decorating your new home. You may need to alternate decisions on some important pieces, such as letting your partner have the leather chair he really wants while you get to choose the bed.

Before going shopping for new items or even deciding on a look that works for both of you, take inventory of what you already have and what you might want to get rid of. If either partner has an heirloom piece, it is probably something no one should have to give up. Of course, that doesn’t mean it has to be the centerpiece of the living room.

If you find you’re having difficulty even compromising, consider creating separate spaces. If your home is large enough, you could each have a room to decorate the way you’d like. If that isn’t an option, it can be something as simple as using a floor screen to divide a shared office.

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