In the midst of the joyful experience of merging your life with another, it is disconcertingly easy to fall into marital discord over issues of furniture and decor. When one person has strong feelings about design, their beloved often needs to be handled with care in the process of decorating the nuptial abode. Learn to navigate the potential conflicts of merging two households.
This is good marital advice for the ages but especially when merging furniture. Let him keep his ratty recliner, or beloved sofa, but gently suggest it be recovered in a fabric of your choice. Respect his need for a space that reflects his taste as well as yours. However, if he begins suggesting furniture that evokes office decor, put your foot down and remind him that a home should be a haven from the business world. One recent newlywed permitted her husband’s hunting trophies in the house, but only in his office, where he can admire his dominion over the animal kingdom in private.
Make sure there are comfortable places to sit. If your husband is tall, make sure there’s a chair with a deep enough seat for his legs. The man cave is evidence that men have been exiled from the American living room, which is a shame. Decorate with a man’s larger frame and seating habits in mind. If he likes to put his feet up, put an ottoman table in front of his favorite chair.
Don’t ask for your spouse’s participation in every decision. If he or she is design-impaired, they will simply be intimidated by the abundance of choices. If you show him a magazine picture of an elaborately draped bed, he will be so alarmed by the bed hangings that he’ll be unable to see the charming shape of the headboard. Keep him in the loop by sharing your most subdued paint color choices and conservative furniture selections. Keep your riskier decisions to yourself until their successful integration proves your design genius.
If you love a colorful paint scheme, you will set yourself up for disappointment if you expect spousal enthusiasm in the planning stages. Nothing sets off alarm bells more than a fanned out assortment of vivid paint chips. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the design neophyte to make the imaginative leap from that screaming orange on the paint chip to the nearly neutral effect it has in a traditional living room. Play your cards close to the vest, literally, unless you're willing to live with basic beige.
Another piece of timeless marital advice: Remove all price tags before bringing accessories into the house. One decorator remembers a married couple he worked with who were spending a lot of money on their interiors. The husband objected to the $350 charge for a custom pillow, but had no qualms about the overall cost of the job. The point is, $350 seems like a lot for a pillow, but it was much more palatable when rolled into a larger bill, sparing him the eternal mystery of the high costs of cushions.