Let's Get Ready to Rumble...
What does the world of wrestling have in common with the world of interior design?
Actually, quite a lot. In fact, just for fun, I looked up the definition of wrestling and its description read like this: “A sport in which two competitors attempt to unbalance, control or immobilize each other by various holds and maneuvers.” Yes, that sounds like a design project to me!
As an interior designer with very definite opinions, I also happen to be married to a textile designer who is equally invested in his own self-expression. When we first bought a 1950s-style relic/house together, it needed a total renovation. During this long and arduous process, I asked our contractor if he had ever seen a couple get a divorce over a grout color? No joke, this is the kind of hand-to-hand combat we were locked into. We have since sold that house and I honestly cannot recall what that grout color was, even after fighting for it and then living with it for years! It just goes to show that sometimes what we are really fighting for in the home design arena can be about some other issue entirely.
This is so common, I can’t even tell you! During my latest trip to a chic furniture store in chic Greenwich, Connecticut, I was privy to an intense family scene two sofas over from me. The husband was clearly irritated and unhappy with the choices in front of him and his overwhelmed wife’s response was to accuse him of not wanting to spend time with their children! OK, then! I cautiously slunk over to the bedding section. A couple I was working with several years ago actually cursed each other out in my presence. He was sitting at one end of their dining table while she was at the other end. I was sitting in the middle. How poetic.
Don’t get caught up in tussles like these! Here are a few typical thorny situations I’ve seen, along with some advice about to how to stop them from escalating:
When you first get together, each of you is bringing some of your own furniture.
Trying to blend your furniture can lead to a look that screams “garage sale.” I say get rid of it all and create a shared aesthetic by buying furniture as a couple. It will bring you together for a new future instead of necessitating that you defend your past.
One of you has a collection of porcelain figurines that the other one isn’t especially fond of (i.e., hates).
House them all together in one display cabinet instead of letting the collection take over the whole space.
One of you likes neutral colors and the other one likes bold colors.
Keep the main furniture pieces neutral, like the sofa and side chairs, and add drama with bold-colored accents such as pillows, accessories and curtains.
If all else fails, a truly acceptable, and some say preferable, solution to spatial conflict is to declare rooms “my domain” and “your domain.” We’ve all seen the rise of the “man cave” for him and the “home office” for her. Knock yourselves out. (Not each other!) Don’t compromise. If you can each have your own way sometimes, the power struggle fizzles out. That’s why the new language we use with toddlers is “take turns” instead of “share.” They know the deal! We’re all just toddlers over 5 feet tall when it comes to marking our territory.