marrying home design styles in a marriage (for any one who lives together)

It seems like it would be as natural as your love, but combining two individuals different styles and unique tastes into one home is often times more like an arranged marriage. However, no one wants their stuff to feel like it has to co exist; merely tolerating the other persons' things, just hoping one day love will happen! How can we make certain our homes represent the best combination of “us” in their style and design? 

*note: In this post I’m going to specifically address married couples since that is my situation, but I want to be clear these ideas apply to anyone living together; couples, family, friends, and roommates. Co-existing in a space is a challenge for all of us!)

Sharing a home is an exciting prospect for couples! That moment when you finally begin to unpack your boxes into his and her drawers, or mix your set of dishes with their cool bar glasses, or when he gets excited to finally have a couch and you are giddy at the thought of a blender! You both wait and watch as the lines between "yours" and "mine" vanish and are replaced by "ours."

Whether moving in together is on your horizon, or you're already established in your home... it's useful to take a few moments (first individually and then together) to acknowledge your individual tastes and design desires, and then set expectations together as a couple what, how, who & where design + decor decisions will be make. I want to share a bit of my experience learning this with Tyler & share some helps for making this "marriage" a happy and beautiful one! 

I've mentioned this before in past posts - but the first month of Tyler & my of marriage was possibly the most tumultuous of my entire life. After our quick honey moon, we rushed to pack up our lives, drive/fly cross the country, unpack into a new apartment in a very new city, start a new job, and start a new school. Whew. We had lots of "things" and very little real furniture to make the house a home. We had about a week to establish ourselves before I dove into teaching... and it was not easy. *RN I'm flashing back to crying in the IKEA parking lot right now when we argued over which bookcase to get (it's an emotional decision you guys).* That wasn't the first argument (nor the last, I'm sure) over home design. Still a touchy subject for us! 

Here's what we've learned makes a happier "marriage" of design in our home :)


Much like deciding on the "feel" for our wedding - we had to sort of talk out what direction we wanted to go with our home. We decided to move towards whites + earthy tones, linen/leather textures, dark woods (if possible), & brass/gold metals. We wanted our home to feel clean and modern (on the minimal side), with comfy & inviting elements. 


Tyler is more minimal, likes clean counter spaces, gets rid of excess, and typically prefers to spend less on things.

I, on the other hand, seem to collect little items - like candles, flower pots, jewelry holders. I can't pin down colors/patterns I want to commit to. I like to keep stuff around for the "just in case" moments. I also can get hooked on something expensive and have a hard time compromising that. 

Often these quirks/differences come head to head when planning and purchasing new items. One thing we have to have in common, however, is willingness to compromise. Here's a snippet of a pretty common compromise (you can decide who's who in this situation ;)

"I think it might be too cheap, I mean, who knows with IKEA."

"We agreed we would only spend $500 on this. This is the best we're gonna do in that price range. Let's get the black one."

"I don't think black will work with the couch. What about the white one?"

"As long as we paint the wall behind it, that's fine."

***this conversation has been edited in interest of length of this post. Normally those conclusions would take about 30 minutes more convincing.***


Co-purchasing is obvious for the big stuff. We spent a while shopping around for our couch and bedroom furniture. Typically involving Pinterest boards, shared notes, and lots of side by side computer surfing. Most important points to agree on *BEFORE* you go too far down the decision path: price, style, size, and where it will sit in apartment or space/what it will be used for.

We defined "small stuff" as >$100. For us, this is the "you don't need my approval, but checking in for my opinion would be nice" zone. I think it's important to have leverage to spend money on something independent of other person's approval - just seems healthy. However, your partner is due the respect of you consulting their opinion. Obviously, if there are strong reservations, we would forgo that purchase. 


Tyler's got his dedicated Xbox drawers. Sometimes I have to put his controller away for him. Oh well. 

I've got a growing collection of cookbooks. Sometimes he gets to roll his eyes when I add another to the shelves without cooking a single recipe in the last one. 

Tyler had a large aviation poster framed for our entry way. I wasn't super into it at first, but I got over it. 

I have about 20 small candle votives I just like to keep out on shelves. He puts them away occasionally, and I pull them right back out and scatter them. Sure that's probably annoying, but he deals with it. 

One of my favorite examples of this is our bedroom. Tyler set up a keyboard, amp and music stand in one of the free corners. I set up an easel, organized a space for brushes and paints, and propped a bunch of canvases against the wall. I don't love stepping on his amp cords, and he doesn't love how messy my painting corner can get.

But nights when he's tapping away on the keys, while I run my brush along the canvas... we make art together. It's a beautiful thing :)


And that's what it's all about.

Sharing the space in a way you can better share your love for each other.

Photos for this post by Maya Dehlin. Find her on insta @thatmayagirlphotography