One of the biggest milestones for couples is designing their first home, but it can also be a major relationship pressure point. We partnered with Homepolish—an NYC-based home-design company that provides design services by the hour—to get five of their designers' takes on how to decorate your first home together...without killing each other.
Tune in over the coming weeks as we feature recent newlywed couples who have moved in together and worked with a Homepolish designer to meld their personal style and turn their houses into homes.
Let’s face facts: Relationships are by no means easy. There are ups and downs, honeymoon phases, and then those moments that are...well, less than ideal. And each relationship is built upon defining benchmarks.
One of the greatest linchpin milestones of a relationship is that moment of truth: moving in together. Living together in the same space (whether it’s a sweeping suburban home in Chicago or a 400-square-foot studio in New York) has the ability to bring out all of the annoying habits of your loved one: leaving the toilet seat up, not cleaning up after himself or herself, leaving shoes in the middle of the hallway, you get it. However, it also brings with it the intimate moments of making breakfast and falling asleep together on the sofa.
Plus, it affords one of the biggest joys (and struggles) of relationships: being able to design a life together, both literally and figuratively. It can be a struggle to bridge the tastes of two people, which is why we turned to the team at Homepolish to give us their top five tips for cohabitation and design.
Communication is Key
Hey, look at that! Communication isn’t just essential to a healthy relationship, it’s also essential to good design. Before two people tackle the design of a space together, it is important for both of them to take a step back and a moment to breathe, then have a chat about what they envision for the home. As Homepolish’s Rosanna Bassford says, “I'd say each person in the couple should identify and communicate their priorities for the home right off the bat.” Having a time to talk about each person’s needs and dreams will minimize struggles and conflicts down the road.
And if words aren’t your forte? Perhaps you can communicate by making a joint mood board.
Identify Your Deal Breakers
Does your loved one have a penchant for beanbags? Or, on the flip side, do you have a treasured vintage side table that’s a family heirloom of sorts? We all have design items that we feel we must have and those that we must get rid of. It’s essential to know what will make or break the design of your home. Designer Jennifer Wallenstein explains, “Decide individually what your personal deal breakers and must-haves are, and agree to let each other make the final call on those decisions. By letting go of the reins on every small decision, especially the ones that don’t matter to you as much as they do to your partner, you’ll save your sanity.” After all, you can’t control every decision in your relationship either.
Embrace Your Differences
This leads us to our next point: As two unique individuals, you have to be able to embrace and appreciate your different approaches to design. Homepolish’s Taylor Edwards, who formerly worked as a wedding planner, weighs in, saying, “Oftentimes, tension arises when one or the other person sees their vision for the space and does not allow their partner to participate in that vision. However, as with most things in marriage, this narrowed approach leaves the home feeling one-sided, and neither person feels heard.
By appreciating your partner’s style, you will create a home style unique to the two of you. The mix of styles is what gives your space dimension and personality and allows you both to truly feel at home with each other.” In other words, mixing two peoples’ aesthetics will create something new and exciting. Just because one person is a minimalist and the other is a maximalist doesn’t mean you can’t find a middle ground.
Build on Compromise
“Marriage is all about compromise, and building a new home together is a big exercise in give and take for both partners,” says Homepolish’s Angela Belt. It’s another pillar of relationship advice. You can’t always get what you want, right? If you ask your partner to give up on the shag carpet or the bright-pink accent wall, be willing to let go of something you like.
Hire a Designer!
We may be biased when we say this, but sometimes the best way to avoid conflict when designing your home is to hire a designer! Designers aren't only professionals who know about the ins and outs of creating a space, they are also neutral third-party participants in your home who can act as the tiebreaker (and sometimes therapist) in your home design. Homepolish’s Tali Roth chimes in: “A decorator will act as a mediator and will blend your styles together while finding a middle ground on budget.
He or she will ensure the space doesn't feel like a hodgepodge of different styles but rather a new take on what you both love and gravitate toward. It’s a foolproof way to make the process way more enjoyable.” A designer’s expert eye will curate and marry your styles (which, in turn, will make your marriage stronger). Plus, it will alleviate the stress that can often come with design projects—and that way, you don’t take it out on each other.