Design

Making Joint Decorating Decisions

September 9, 2013  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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The very first piece of furniture Chris and I ever bought together was a large, off-white sectional.  We walked into the store, saw it, sat on it and decided to buy it–it being the floor model because that’s all our still-in-college funds could afford.  The sectional was huge, u-shaped, and our apartment was small.  We still laugh over the fact that we never measured the couch before it was delivered and yet, it miraculously and barely fit in our living room. It filled the entire space but we loved that thing.  We didn’t put much thought into decorating back then, especially our first small apartment.   It wasn’t until we moved into our last house that Chris and I really had to start consciously working together to make decorating decisions and purchases.

I was pretty chubby back then, FYI.
Chris used to be 100% function.  The furniture only had to be comfortable, and the flow only had to be convenient. I, on the other hand, used to lean heavily (very heavily, Chris would add) on style, adding furniture that complemented the aesthetic only.  There was error in both of our ways.  Things can look good and function well simultaneously, we’ve learned.  So now how do decisions get made around here?  It’s different for every space.
Let’s start with the kitchen–the kitchen is primarily Chris’s domain.  He enjoys spending a lot of time cooking and experimenting with ingredients so it has to be a place that he is happy in.  And honestly, he makes a lot of the decorating decisions that happen in there based on how he wants things to function.  The open shelving in our last place was his idea. The touch faucet. The double oven. Even the hardware on the cabinets.  I was rooting for knobs, but Chris prefers handles and I respected that it was more his domain so we went with handles and I’m so glad we did. It was the right choice. There’s trust going both ways.  I trusted him with 2 different handles and he trusted me to paint the base cabinets navy blue–something that really didn’t change how the kitchen functioned but made a big difference for me.  It worked!
We have two living spaces. A more formal living room without a television and a family room that is used primarily and almost solely for watching TV (Guilty!). Chris gives me a little more free reign in the formal living room.  As long as there is a good chair for him to sit in (the “his” chair) he trusts my aesthetic and fortunately our style has evolved over the years and is pretty similar now.  Furniture-wise, the seating doesn’t have to be as lounge-worthy as in the family room where an Office marathon could happen any given night.
Decorating rooms, like the family room, probably take the most thought and coordination.  It took us a couple years to finally find the perfect couch for us.  And in this home, we’ve already been talking for weeks about which wall the TV should go on–or should it be a projector screen? (Can you guess who is pushing that idea?) Of course we want our whole house to be comfortable and cozy, but the family room has to be the coziest, while not throwing all aesthetics to the wind.  It can be a tricky balance of give and take, but our goals are the same and that’s a pretty good place to start.
Before we start tackling any room, we talk about what the goal is of the room.  To prepare meals? To entertain? To sleep? To read? Most rooms have more than one objective, so we get those all out and start designing based on the needs. And we try to respect each other, all along the way. Just as I give Chris more control over decisions in the kitchen, he allows me to compose the formal living spaces. We each recognize that those areas are important to one another, and it helps us create spaces that work for our family.
Obviously it rarely goes off that smoothly. We have made many mistakes along the way, and there have been several lively debates. But we both know that we’re creating this space for us, and that makes it special. It’s okay if we have disagreements, because we both just want this to be the best home it can be. We discussed each space in detail before tackling it in our last house, and we’re excited to have a fresh start here.
How do you and your significant other make decorating decisions together?  Are your styles similar or is it Battle Royale every time the renovation topic comes up? If you make all the choices, what do you think would happen if the other person designed one room on their own? Or if you hardly have any say, what would you like to see in your home?

What do you think?

  1. Jena says:

    Julia, I don’t know you — but we have a lot of mutual friends (who, by the way, think the world of you). I just have to say that I think you’re wonderful, and I hope you are feeling better and doing well! I love your blog, and am looking forward to following you on your new adventure in Idaho!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I am sorry to hear about all the health complications. That is a lot to deal with. About your post, I am ready to kick all the furniture I got when I moved into my house to the curb. Tastes and desired color palettes really do change quickly. My current couch is so 2005. ;)

  3. Kathy says:

    We make decisions by NOT making decisions until finally we are left with one choice hahaha

    The best example of this is my paint paralysis. There are, at this moment, at least a dozen paint chips on any of our walls and patches of different colors that I thought would look good, but didn’t. One day, my husband will get sick of looking at them and he will go buy one of the colors. And then we will paint. That’s how we do things. I know everyone’s all like “but paint is easiet thing to change!” but between the two of use we have four jobs and a dog and DIY is not our thing. If we had the extra $$, I would hire everything out because when I do have time off, I don’t want to do anything!

    That being said, I think we both fall on the practical/functional side. If there’s no use for something, I don’t really care for it

  4. AviLynn says:

    I am a control freak by nature (no I’m not a jerk about it) and my husband could care less what I do around here because he knows he would be clueless. If I throw out an idea, he just says go for it- because he lacks vision. You could say were a match made in heaven, (by my standards:).

  5. So, I can’t really focus on the content of this post without thinking – how did she get so thin? You’ve always seemed like the type that is just naturally very thin. Secrets?

    • Haha! There are a couple things in play here. First, that photo was taken at the tail end of a miscarriage of twins and a few other health complications that added to the weight gain, but I’m probably at my thinness now. It has 100% to do with my pregnancy with Greta even 3 years later. It was really really hard on my body. I lost 15 pounds during my pregnancy and I’ve never really been the same since. I got bell’s palsy after having her and couldn’t eat very well. I still get nauseated even when not pregnant and I developed hypothyroidism which made me change my diet drastically. I never expected to come out of a pregnancy thinner, but that’s the only secret I have.

  6. Compromising is important but so hard! I am thankful for the ability to return items. If I find what I think is a great item and my husband isn’t with me or phone accessible I will often just buy it anyway knowing I can return it. I have returned many a lamp haha.

  7. Jenn Leigh says:

    “Lively Debates” — perfect way to word it!

    Chris and I have gotten better in the past year or so. I’ve actually learned to say “so my thought on …. is completely out there and I’m not sure if you’re gonna love it, BUT I think I can pull it off” For whatever reason, this approach started working lately. I’ve also started learning to try and pull together a design board for those “crazy” ideas to help him picture it. He’s always had a hard time visualizing ideas and I have an even harder time accepting that he isn’t like me in that aspect. The joys of marriage right?!? :)

  8. Ryan is the hardest to convince. We can’t afford to buy much right now, but I try and rearrange as often as I can to not get bored with what we have! I started doing it during the day so that he doesn’t have much of an opinion or tell me to stop moving furniture around!! We’ve found a good flow in our living area and bedroom. I can’t imagine making huge decisions together like taking walls down or huge kitchen reno’s. Paint might be our biggest hurdle to overcome when we move into our own space!

    • I bet once you guys get into your own place, the excitement will be enough to make decisions pretty quickly. That’s what happened to us…and then we ended up re-doing all of those so-excited-can’t-wait decisions. ;)

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