How To Get the Home You Want When Your Partner Isn't Into Design

How To Get the Home You Want When Your Partner Isn't Into Design

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Adrienne Breaux
Jan 13, 2015

It can be a sad, frustrating and confusing thing when you love design and can't wait to dive in to a just-moved-into-home by investing money, giving energy and spending time...and the person you're living with couldn't be less interested. How do you work with a spouse, partner or roommate to balance your need to decorate with what they want? It's not easy, but it's doable, and we've got the advice.

Or more accurately, you guys have great advice! We found some powerful words of wisdom from Apartment Therapy reader 2People3Cats in the post: Join Us to Get Organized in 2015: The January Cure.

Find a moment to talk with your spouse when they are not tired and not busy multi-tasking

Let them know just how interested you are in design and changes to the home and how happy, for example, doing the January Cure would make you. Let them know that you would be even happier if the two of you could do these things for your home together, as your home is your nest/sanctuary and an extension of yourselves.

Ask your spouse what they fear/don't like

Basically what are your spouse's reasons for not being interested? Try to come up with some suggestions to resolve these together. For example, if your spouse truly hates going from store to store to find the perfect whatever item for your home, let them know that you can do all the research by taking photos from items you like in stores, book-marking/pinning links from online sites, narrowing down your results to say the top 5 or top 10 and then getting together over a cup of tea/coffee/wine to see which ones your spouse likes too. That way, your spouse doesn't lose any time doing something they don't enjoy, but they gain a special moment with you narrowing down the items on your list.

apocrita chimed in, in that same post, confirming how helpful advice like that above had been in their new marriage:

I must second this awesome advice. I am newly married to my lovely partner whom I've lived with for years, and house stuff is just about the only thing we've fought about. We're finally on the same page about our home.

I sat him down and explained how important it was to me to have a house that reflected our tastes and functioned well. I wanted us to have a house that we would be proud to entertain in and that our loved ones would be excited to spend time in. That conversation helped immensely, because he ultimately wants the same thing. We've made tremendous strides in the last few months, both stylistically and in terms of decluttering...

...Now he's so enthusiastic that he's suggesting paint and curtain colors, unprompted — something that NEVER would have happened before. But once you get the ball rolling on home improvements, the benefit is clear to everyone. Enthusiasm is contagious - approach it as a fun thing you can do together and it'll be hard to say no. :-)

We'd also add some advice of our own:

Be really clear about what you're doing

Whether your partner in living wants to be your partner in design or not, still keep the lines of communication wide open and be upfront with all your plans, both visually and financially. It'll help curb future clashes by not surprising your roommate or mate with something (even if they swore they didn't want to involved in the first place).

Be willing to make compromises

Know ahead of time what your design deal breakers are, and work with your partner to know theirs. This will help get the design priorities out in the open immediately. It'll also help you know which elements you won't mind compromising on if your partner has objections in the future.

Make sure you're making a space they'll enjoy, too

Whether they're getting involved a little or staying out of the design process all together, they still live in the space, so accommodations should be made to make sure it's still a space that functions for them as well, even if it doesn't necessarily reflect their aesthetic tastes as much as yours.

What other advice would you add to these lists? Have you ever been in a similar situation and have advice to add?

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