Remember that old saying that opposites attract? Well, if you and your spouse are arguing about decor, keep in mind that those differences initially drew the two of you lovebirds together.

And it can again. It is true that the honeymoon does eventually end, but when it comes to decor, the golden rule is comprise and finding common ground. Just think, the two of you are such interesting people, and your combined tastes could make for an eclectic and absolutely fascinating decor that reflects the both of you, and your time together.

Of course, I have friends who tell me their husbands don’t care about decor so they decorate as they wish (within certain financial parameters, of course). And I recently met a woman who tells me that she is perfectly content to let her husband make the design decisions because he enjoys it, and anyway, she likes his taste in design. That certainly makes the decisions easy and minimizes the potential for conflict.

But my feeling is, why lose out on the opportunity to decorate in a way that satisfies both partners, that shows them off as unique and special individuals who have come together as a couple? There’s just so much potential there, even if the process is sometimes difficult.

Here are some ideas to help mix his and her styles without undue stress for those of us who sometimes do have differences in style preferences.

First of all, be patient. Rome was not built in a day and neither is your decor a thing that springs up overnight, especially when it comes to knitting together the style of two people who are not similar in many ways. The process will involve taking the time together to think, research and narrow down choices.

If you’re doing renovations or rebuilding, think about and write down everything each of you might want in an ideal world. This is a great place to start; from here you can narrow down your ideas, keeping equality firmly in mind so both partners get an equal opportunity to choose. This could relate to a room or the whole house, whether it be a spa in the bathroom, or a den or “rec” room with a huge television screen.

As for colours and finishes and accessories, go through a stack of decor magazines together. You will find decor ideas, as well as products that you might not have been aware of. You may even find a picture that shows you a room that you both love, one that you might even want to reproduce entirely or partially.

Compare the things that you like, and you will notice differences but also similarities. The similarities are gold, for now you know you can safely go further with these trends or choices that you have in common. But discuss differences with your mind open to compromise. There may be things you can’t stand, and your spouse will likely have some of the same issues. Try bargaining. For example, you can offer to stay away from a particular design trend that he hates if he stays away from a look that you abhor. Or you might discuss colour choices or functional alternatives that both parties find acceptable.

Often you can combine or mix items quite successfully, some of her favourites and some of his. Just make sure the colour scheme ties all the furniture and decor items together.

For example, she may love her traditional white or floral upholstered chair, and he loves his dark modern living room cabinetry. Both can coexist very prettily beside each other, as long as the walls and colour scheme ties the two together.

Balance is also important. If the room seems too feminine with light colours, delicate furniture, and flowery fabrics, for example, introduce some more masculine elements such as dark colours and simple, streamlined shapes. Or just keep the decor more general, and stay away from items that look too gender-specific.

If upholstered pieces just do not work together, consider slip covers or new upholstery to create that sense of unity. Also do not be afraid to paint different types of chairs and cabinetry in the same or similar colours. This will also bring about of sense of unity if the pieces seem too dissimilar to you.

Finally, if you still have trouble reaching a middle ground, consider hiring a professional designer or decorator. And, don’t forget, always keep your receipts.

Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design;

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