8 Home Decorating Tips for Couples

Decorating as a couple doesn’t have to land you in therapy

Credit: iStock / CandyBoxPhoto

Keeping the walls neutral can help keep the peace when you’re decorating your home together

Whether you’ve just moved in together, or you’re rejigging your current abode, compromising on design can test a relationship. But these decorating tips prove it doesn’t have to

Don’t let decorating as a couple land you in therapy. Let our tips help you navigate the process.  

1. Seek Inspiration Together: Flip through some design magazines and websites and collect pictures you each like. Then mix up the images and look at them together: rather than focusing on the styles portrayed, concentrate on the feeling they evoke. Warmth, elegance, utility? Try to find some common ground where your picks overlap, and then agree to work toward that type of ambiance.

2. Make a Plan: Decide together which big-ticket items you’re going purchase, and which items you’re going to keep or repurpose, then put it in writing. This will minimize arguments later in the process.

3. Shop Together: Make it a date and have fun with it. Picking out furniture and artwork together can actually bring you closer. Imagine what you’d buy if you had mansion and a million dollars – then dial it back from there. If you must make separate excursions, be sure to consult your partner before making any major purchases.  

4. Negotiate: Relationships are about compromise, and decorating is no exception. If shared decisions on key pieces are getting you down, alternate. Let one partner have that leather chair in exchange for the other’s choice of bedroom furniture. You’ll probably want to have a talk about that giant flat screen, too: chances are one of you wants to install it in the front room. Decide now whether you can live with it dominating your main living area, or if you’d rather compromise on something else.

5. Try Eclectic Style: Divergent tastes don’t have to be incompatible. “Matchy” is out anyway. Pair the superhero memorabilia with the art prints in a room with lots of natural light, grouping items of similar colour. Integrate furniture in different styles by painting or staining it the same colour, or by using similar textiles to create harmony.

6. Keep the Walls Neutral: White, grey and beige walls might not have the romance of fuchsia, or make a bold statement like avocado green – but they’ll give you a non-competing backdrop if you’re trying to bring together furniture and decor items in different styles. Lamps and track lighting can create atmosphere on neutral walls, and you won’t have to worry about one overbearing colour. As an added bonus, colourful artwork pops against a grey background.

7. Add Foliage: If you can’t agree on artwork or other touches, a plant is a no-brainer. If you get lots of light, a tropical plant instantly refreshes the room. An aloe plant is great in the kitchen, for burns and scratches as well as style. If you’re looking for something tougher, a cactus or two can add character to the driest decor.

8. Rezone: For times when you can’t even agree to disagree, create a separate space for each of you. This can be as simple as placing a floor screen to divide a shared office. Ta da! Suddenly that lucite Kartell chair isn’t battling Canucks posters for attention. If you have a bit more space, consider each picking a room to decorate to your tastes (a rumpus room for one of you and a crafting space for the other?), and make the main living area and kitchen neutral territory.

Tackling a full home overhaul? Check out our complete guide to home renovation management.