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By Rayni Jerram

One of the questions I hear most often is, ‘How do you decorate a home when your significant other has a completely different style?’ If you are new to merging different styles under one roof, chances are  you could use a blueprint for moving forward. Walk through these steps for simple strategies for blending styles without stepping on too many toes.

Step 1: Commit to respecting each other

Set an intention from the beginning that you will value each other’s opinions and preferences, and lend equal weight to each point of view.

Think about blending styles rather than blending personalities. It keeps things more civil and allows you to see more options. After all, many of us are drawn to morethan one style. Look at this as a design dilemma (which it is) rather than trying to read too much into it. We all have our own likes and dislikes, and that’s OK.

Case in point: This living room is a great example of merging traditionally masculine elements (wood-panel walls, rich browns, hex print rug, cowhide stool) with a touch of boho glam (printed pillows, persimmon throw, velvet sofa, glass lamp) for a look that keeps everyone happy.

Step 2: Make your wish list 

Sit down separately and write up lists of everything your heart craves in a home. At this point don’t worry about budget or space limitations; let your imagination run free and just get it all down on paper.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want. If pink walls are what your heart desires, list it. Try to avoid guessing what your partner will think. You might be surprised.

Step 3: Set your priorities

Once you have your wish list complete, pick your top five items, in order of importance, and have your partner do the same. It’s important to know which items are the most meaningful to each of you and where there is some wiggle room.

To take it a step further, work together to make a joint list of priorities. This list should point to five things you want to create in a home together, from the specific (uncluttered, sunny) to the less tangible but equally important (warm, laid-back).

Step 4: Define your limits

If there are things that completely horrify you, now is your chance to exercise your veto power. The point here is to avoid major conflicts down the road, not to pick a fight now. So stick with the few things that really are deal breakers for you, and ask your partner to do the same.

If your partner claims to hate some of your favourite looks, don’t worry. In step 9 you’ll have a chance to bring back a little of what you love, even if your partner doesn’t get it.

Step 5: Agree to blend styles in main spaces

Shared spaces like the living room, where you spend lots of time together, should reflect both of you. Now is the time to compare your lists and try to find items that will work together.

Case in point: In this living room a dark floor, traditional furniture and a library ladder build a classic foundation for the Alternatively, pick a masculine furniture shape (Chesterfield sofa, wingback chair) and cover it in a soft, luxurious material like jewel-tone velvet. Either way, the idea is to shake it up a bit, so each piece appeals to both of, while the rich green paint behind the bookcases and a sparkly chandelier inject a sense of fun.

Ideas on using fabrics: Mixing up fabrics and furniture shapes is a great way to blend styles. Try updating a mix of traditionally masculine fabrics and patterns like leather and houndstooth with a modern palette, and then use them on furniture with clean lines and a bit

Compromise does not need to equal boring. Adding a bold colour, like the purple in this living room, can be just the thing to tie together disparate styles. There is something about having an intense backdrop that makes anything you put in front of it hang together.

Having trouble picking a shade you both like? Try browsing Houzz together and pick out photos with colours that appeal to each of you. Alternatively, pick a masculine furniture shape (Chesterfield sofa, wingback chair) and cover it in a soft, luxurious material like jewel-tone velvet. Either way, the idea is to shake it up a bit, so each piece appeals to both of you.

Step 6: Be willing to look at new things

Keep your eyes open and be willing to wait for the right pieces. Sometimes a person will make a sweeping generalisation, like “I don’t like art.” Well, that probably isn’t the full story. It is more likely this person hasn’t encountered a style that resonates with them.

Case in point: This wall mosaic by artist John Whitmarsh was created by piecing together bits of discarded asphalt, and has a modern urban vibe that could appeal to someone who hasn’t found his or her art niche yet.

Step 7: Don’t dismiss anyone’s passion

We all have our own loves, and they don’t always mesh with the loves of the person we happen to be sharing a roof with – and that’s OK. It’s important to respect the other person’s hobbies and interests, while also finding a way to work them into a shared space that pleases you both.

Case in point: This collection of model trains could have easily gotten out of hand. But lined up on simple floating shelves, they suddenly look crisp and intriguing.

Step 8: Make your bedroom the getaway zone

Think about where you would love to go for a getaway together and try designing your bedroom with this in mind. By focusing on something other than yourselves, it will take the pressure off. Posh urban hotel? Tropical oasis? The world is your oyster!

Step 9: Give each person free rein in one room

Separate offices, an extra den, a hobby room, a guest space, a workout room, or even a walk-in wardrobe can work as personal space. It feels great to be able to decorate a room exactly how you want, so try to make this happen, even if you are decorating your own nooks or closets rather than entire rooms.

Step 10: Assess where you stand

If you’ve managed to make a few tough decisions, and each of you feels you bent on some issues, and also you were able to pick out a few things you love, give yourselves a great big pat on the back.

Decorating is an ongoing process, so don’t worry if it feels like things are taking longer than you would like. The most important thing is that your home, even when it is a work in progress, is a place you enjoy spending time in.

Still having issues? Consider hiring an interior designer on Houzz. Designers are there to make your life easier. An experienced designer can help pinpoint a look that will appeal to both of you, even if it seems your styles are at odds.

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