How do you and your honey handle decor disagreements? Do you and your partner quibble over furniture placement? Does clutter cause arguments? Designing a home can be a challenge. But trying to design one with another person — your romantic partner — can lead to turmoil. We asked couples to confess their biggest decor disagreement...and the outcome. You might find an answer to your own design dilemma in their stories below.
Brittany + Christian's Dresser Debate
Brittany and Christian met nine years ago and have lived in five different places together over six years. Christian's job relocated them to Amsterdam, and Brittany's turned her interior design side hustle into a full-time pursuit. See their house tour.
Christian: She likes to buy old stuff and refinish it, where I prefer it to be brand new.
Brittany: I found this awesome dresser at Lucketts spring market a few years ago. I talked the dealer down to $30 and then paid slightly more to have it delivered. I will never forget Christian's face when he first saw it and was helping the delivery guy bring it inside. As soon as we were alone he asked me if I had gone crazy. A little sanding action with chalk paint, and it was good as new. Three years later, I sold the dresser for $400.
Danielle + Justin's Color Conflict
Justin and Danielle have been married 4.5 years and together 13! Danielle owns the furniture store TUFT and does interior design. Justin works for himself in the insurance field. See their house tour.
Justin: She wanted to play with a pink palette in the master bedroom. There was no way I wanted any of that, but I did entertain paint swatches on the walls for her amusement.
Danielle: Wall color was not happening in any way, but I did get pink curtains in the room so I'm a happy lady!
Jesse + Meghan's Reclaimed Wood Row
Jesse and Meghan have been together since 2009 and living together for four years. Jesse is a 2nd year PhD student in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. Meghan is owner of Pomp & Circumstance Haberdashery. See their house tour.
Jesse: Meg had built two tabletops from reclaimed wood she had gotten for free. She was intending one of them to be our coffee table, and another to be our dining table. However in our tiny studio, we weren't planning on having a desk space, just a multi-functional table space for me to work on. When I saw the tabletop (which due to the unevenness of the different reclaimed woods was not an entirely flat surface) I had a mini revolt because I needed a flat surface to write on. Meg could see my point and so instead of making me clipboard my way through my PhD, she used the tabletop as a headboard. It actually worked perfectly. Then, Meg's mom ended up finding us a lovely vintage table on Craigslist which is, thankfully, perfectly flat.
Meg: Another wild idea Jesse wasn't thrilled about: I was planning on building a Murphy bed to save space. I found the frame mechanism on Craigslist for free and just needed to build the wood frame around it. I built it, attached the mechanism...and the mechanism ended up being a total dud. The whole project fell apart! it was quite a headache and Jesse urged me to scrap it. So I just got a simple raised frame (this is where that headboard he wrote about above came in handy). The decor disagreement essentially resolved itself by the project not working...but I might have tried to make it work had Jesse not been more of a realist and convinced me that it wasn't worth it.
Jim's Boots v. Deb's Fish Sauce Hearings of 1998
Jim: Do pets count as a design decision? She does keep bringing them home. And I always end up agreeing with her!
Deb: This isn't really a design decision, but one famous disagreement comes to mind: When we packed our car to move from SF to NYC, I told him we didn't have room in the car for a pair of his shoes. But I did magically find room for a garbage bag full of our kitchen condiments (because who knew if NYC would have the same condiments as San Francisco and all those weird things we had brought back from Asia?)
Right around the middle of nowhere in Nevada, a strong smell of rotting clams at red tide wafted into the car. I started to suspect what it was but didn't tell him for a few hundred miles. When we unpacked the entire trunk on a desert canyon road in Utah, there it was: a broken bottle of (VERY SPECIAL) fish sauce I had brought back from Laos. Oops. That has been a story-telling party favorite of ours for a while: the Jim's Boots v. Deb's Very Special Fish Sauce Hearings of 1998.
Saadiq + Mekiel's Gallery Wall Wrangle
Saadiq and Mekiel caught each other's eye on the West Side Highway seven years ago, and have lived together for five. Mekiel is an HR manager within the retail sector and Saadiq doubles as an actor and retail professional. See their house tour.
Mekiel: In the beginning we had many disagreements about how to furnish our apartment. Is this the right soap dispenser, chair, pillow? I tend to let Saadiq take the lead with bigger furniture and I try and focus on smaller decorative pieces; that has worked. Most recently, Saadiq decided that he wanted to do a gallery wall above our sofa. I wasn't fond of the idea but he was persistent and I eventually caved. It actually turned out to be fun picking out things to put in it.
Saadiq: Ironically, most of our disagreements have been in regards to smaller more decorative pieces in the apartment. That's when our slightly different styles tend to clash. We've disagreed about soap dispensers a lot over the years. I also had to really push for the gallery wall we have above the sofa. When I first mentioned it to Mekiel, he wasn't really into the idea. He didn't think it would go well with the rest of our decor, but I thought it would and I really wanted it. So I essentially pitched the idea to him with layout options, inspiration boards, and any specific ideas I had for the wall. It took some convincing, but he eventually liked the idea.
Taylor + Alicia Lay Off the Layouts
Taylor and Alisha Murphy have lived in Austin since they graduated from the University of Texas. Taylor runs his own design firm. Alisha is a teacher and a marriage and family therapist masters student. See their house tour.
Taylor: I get bored with furniture layouts in our spaces so I love changing them up to give a new energy to our house (also a lot of the times it's because I have bought something we don't need that doesn't fit anywhere). Alisha is happy with current layouts and gets overwhelmed to find me moving things around. We disagree during the process of rearranging things, but we talk through it and both give suggestions and weigh pros and cons of changing things around. Sometimes the space feels better and sometimes my vision completely fails and Alisha gets to gloat. That's fine, at least we tried it!
Alisha: We have grown to understand and appreciate each other's style and what works for us as a team, so design disagreements are pretty rare. The one thing we did disagree about was our guest bed. Taylor liked this modern, white, upholstered bed from Pottery Barn Teen. I liked the look of it and agreed that it would look good in the room, but I hated that the bed was so low — it's practically on the floor. We looked around, but so many of the other beds we both liked were also low, so I ended up giving in and we got the original Pottery Barn bed. I still hate that it is so low, but it fits in with the style of the room so I have learned to appreciate it.
*These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.