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Spousal Design Conflict Tips~Family Room Design Plan

At the end of this post, I'd love to hear how you decorate around spousal design conflict.

I was recently asked to design a living room that posed a bit of a challenge.  I love a good challenge but this one really made me think.  How do I design a space for spouses with completely opposite design preferences?  A space that both will equally love.


After the wife described her style preferences to me, I pictured her dream living room to look a lot like this beautiful space from Centsational Girl... 



She loves light, airy, fresh, traditional designs. 
He is a Historian with a passion for dark, heavy, ornate, design.  If he could have it his way, he would live in a real castle.


My challenge was to incorporate both tastes, equally strong in opposite directions, into one cohesive design that reflects both husband and wife.  





I looked at it this way, if these two got together:






{Robinhood}


What would their space look like??

After working on this project, I came up with a few helpful tips for spousal design conflicts:


1.  Find a common thread between the two tastes and use it to the max.
(In this case, they both liked metal finishes.  I used mercury glass lamps for her and vintage pewter display for him).

2.  Find at least one piece that both agree upon and build the entire room around it.
(In this case it was a painting).

3.  Use art and accessories to bring both personalities into the space.
(In this case, the overall room palette was neutral but, the art and collectibles played up the castle theme and the fabrics and crystal chandelier said traditional chic design)

4.  Remember there is no right or wrong way to decorate.  Design is subjective.  It's ok to mix different styles within a space, eclectic interiors are hot.  Let the room reflect both of you, no matter how different your tastes are...you will have created your very own unique style. 


5.  Have fun.  In the end, this will be a great bonding experience as long as you both play nice during the process. One great way to make it fun is to have him pick something for the space that he thinks she would like and vice versa.




Has anyone else out there struggled with a spousal design conflict?  How do you decorate around it?  I would love to hear what has/hasn't worked for you.





29 comments:

  1. Excellent compromise, Sarah! I'm sure they'll both be happy with the finished product!
    Happy Friday. :)

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  2. We used to have spousal design conflicts, but then he realized that I am better at this and he is not. Now he lets me make all the design decisions and everyone is happy (especially me!) lol

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    1. Ha! That works too. Thanks for the giggle.
      Sarah

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  3. For a moment I thought you were talking about us, hahaha. Great job, Sarah. Love your ideas.

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  4. Another beautiful mood board! My hubby used to give his opinion but he has learned that I know more than he does so he lETS Me DO WHATEVER. SORRY FOR THE CRAZY TYPING, SPILLED WATER ON THE KEYBOARD OF MY LAPTOP ANd it's acting up. Anyways, amazing the WAY YOU BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER AND GAVE THEM BOTH WHAT THEY liked. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Too funny, Ange. At least you have an excuse for crazy typing :) Thanks for the sweet comments.
      Best,
      Sarah

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  5. lol! Kate & Robin Hood -too funny! And bravo to you for taking on such a challenge- getting hubbys & wives to come to an agreement in decor is no easy task and you knocked it out of the park!

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  6. Wow! I think this was a brilliant design plan and compromise plan for both of them! Bravo!!!

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  7. Excellent tips Sarah, so excited to be hooked up wiht Kevin Costner as Robin Hood today, cracking me up! Your whole design plan is divine, that P. Kaufmann fabric is TDF - pinning!
    xoxo
    Kate

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    1. Thank you, Kate. Best of luck to you and Kev, he is one lucky guy.
      Best,
      Sarah

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  8. I love, love, love the whole thing!! I'm copying some of it for my living room.

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  9. I love, love, love all of it, especially the blues! I'm copying some ideas for my living room.

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  10. Wow this is such a fabulous design board, I am utterly in love with it!! What a great way to bring the old world into the modern one!

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  11. Thank you for featuring my dresser in your design board! Also love the clever back story of your design board by mixing styles from Kate at Centsational Girl and Keven Costner of Robin Hood! http://wildwoodcreek.blogspot.com/2011/06/dresser-for-storage.html

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    1. Katie, you are so welcome. That dresser is divine. Love your work and I really enjoyed looking through your blog. Thanks for sharing with us!
      Best,
      Sarah

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  12. This one made me laugh! Kate didn't do too bad I'd say! heeheehee. What a beautiful combination of the two styles! I loved the video, and really I'm blown away at your professionalism and high standards in blogging etiquette! Seriously, you are a total class act! BRAVO!!

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    1. Kim, Thank you for the amazing compliment. Right back at ya, sista!

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  13. It's a gorgeous room. When will you be sharing a shot of Kevin sitting on the sofa?

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    1. Fox Hollow, Maybe I'll get a Christmas card with their family photo? If so, I'll be sure to post it for you :)

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  14. This reminds me of a project from my college days. We were given the task of designing a law office. One of the partners, a woman, loved very formal English interiors, the other, a man. only wanted the most sleek and contemporary interiors. I felt like I was designing for Queen Elizabeth and Don Johnson ( Ok, I'm dating myself, but Miami Vice was big then). Wow did I have to work hard on that one! You did a lovely job bringing together the two different tastes into one design.

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    1. Karen, Ha! I too, have memories of Miami Vice so I guess you dated me also. I would love to see that space! Queen Elizabeth and Don Johnson, a match made in heaven.

      Best,
      Sarah

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  15. What a pretty design! I can totally relate to spouses having very different styles i.e. my hubby and I. What ends up happening is that he lets me make most of the decisions by myself, but for the big purchases he has right to veto anything. So far it's working :-)

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    1. Lori, this is great! Thanks for sharing. This will be something I will suggest as a solution for others with this issue. Thanks for the tip!!
      Sarah

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  16. Sarah, I have been following your blog for quite some time. I {love} your work. Having built 3 homes from the ground up with my husband, spousal design conflict is something that I am accustomed to. We tend to let things "simmer" meaning that we both share our opinions/ideas about something and then think it over for a day or two and hash it out again. I have to remind myself that he lives in our house too! Also, sometimes when I let him have his way it becomes a good challenge for me to think outside the box to make the space come together. I have yet to be unhappy with the results.

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  17. Natalie, I love this comment. I should add "Let is simmer" to the list of tips in this post. I also totally agree with you about how challenges {like spousal design conflict} makes the space better in the end. Thanks for your input!

    Sarah

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  18. Love the design plan! Great job of combining both their tastes. At my house, I have kind of eclectic taste and love a mix of everything (I guess you could say mainly transitional). My husband loves modern, minimalist style. I try to mix both together, and I let him have one room to do mostly modern (living room/office) to suit his tastes.

    -Erin Spain
    DIYOntheCheap.com

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  19. Well done!!! & fantastic advice! Thanks!

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  20. LOVE this..the design and the story. ;)

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  21. When my b/f and I get into design disputes (or any dispute, really) we will both step back and say "on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do I care about this?" More often than not, one person REALLY cares and the other doesn't. Those are easy, the person who cares more gets their way.

    If we both care a lot, then it ends up being more difficult, and it's time to find compromises.

    I love the way you compromised on this one! It's interesting that you broke it down into components (color, shape & weight of pieces) and gave one to each person.

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