Designing for Two: Sharing and Compromising in Home Design

March 26, 2013No comments

Redesigning a home is an exciting process with a big reward at completion. Perhaps it’s a nice addition, or maybe it’s a remodeled kitchen with shiny new appliances. Whatever the case, it’s a well-deserved prize that was a long time in the making. But by no means is a remodel all fun and games.

It’s no secret that remodels are expensive. And when large sums of money are at stake, people can start acting funny — even your significant other. They may never have offered their opinion on carpet or rugs before, but now, surprisingly, every design decision matters. This is to be expected. As are the eventual disagreements you two will face.

But what do you do when your expectations and wishes don’t match? Never fear. Here are some tips for working as a team and making sure each person’s voice is heard.

Dayton Painted White Kitchen Cabinets

The owners of this kitchen started the remodel with different visions. Working together and compromising lead to this gorgeous result.

Determine Your Mission

At the onset, jointly discuss the project’s scope, set specific goals, and arrive at a budget. This is a good assignment for projects of all sizes: from small refreshes to major overhauls. It’s easier to push your project forward when your work is based on a number of agreements.

Write Out Wish Lists

Individually, pick the top five items you want to see in the space. If you both have an item on your list, that’s perfect. The decision has already been made! Your lists will help guide your design and future purchases.

Note the Hot-Button Issues

A home remodel is by no means a political drama, but that isn’t to say that certain aspects won’t bring out strong emotions. Make a list of what items need both parties’ approval. Generally, these will be the more expensive pieces in the space. But who am I to say that throw pillows will not be a big issue?

Get Ready to Compromise

Pillows aside, it’s important to understand that everyone has different tastes. While you may not love your partner’s design choices, you have to remember the feeling is probably mutual. Shared spaces need to reflect both of you. Bust out your wish lists and get ready to work together.

Pick Your Battles

Design disagreements shouldn’t feel like a world war. You need to pick your battles and find the middle ground. If it comes to it, consider raising a white flag and concede in one area for greater control in another. Ultimately, it’s good practice for each partner to feel represented in the final space.

Divide and Conquer

If something is of little importance to you but critical for your partner, let them take the reins. This will cause fewer conflicts and expedite the process. Just make sure to connect and review the decision.

Always Be Respectful

This one is easy but significant. If design disagreements start creeping into the rest of your life, take a step back and recognize the issue. Try working through something else and come back to it.

Be Open to New Things

If she wants red and he wants blue, maybe try looking into something else entirely. Be willing to take a different route and try something new. Browse around the Internet for inspiration.

Mission: Accomplished?

Think you’re done? Revisit your goals, wish lists and budget, and evaluate where you stand. If you’ve compromised a lot throughout the design, perhaps you can reason your way into switching a decision. Remember, your home is a space to share and you both need to be happy with the decisions.

Author: August Drilling writes for and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. He is a creative guy and enjoys writing and design. When not putting ideas into action, August can be found trying new recipes and catching up on the latest movies, TV shows and books, all with iPhone in hand.

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