Sharing a home with the person you love for the very first time can often make you feel anything but all warm and fuzzy inside. Before you both reach your limits after arguing over what goes where, remember that it's important to fuse your personal styles so you can both feel at home. Diann Valentine teaches you how!
Men are hunters and they need a space that they can identify as their own. If you do not have the room to give him his own man cave, then carve out a space where he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Whether it’s the garage or the guest bathroom, agree that this will be his space, don’t try to decorate it or clean it and let him know that he sits on the throne…at least in this room. Don’t worry – you can (and should) carve out a space just for you too!
While designing a residential interior, my couple had a game room/man cave identified in the space plan but the man of the house was not too thrilled that his man cave would be occupied by both male and female guests during entertaining moments. I took the closet in this room and re-designed it especially for the man of the house. It was a small space but we eliminated the utilitarian need for hanging coats in it and I decided to make it a space to showcase some of his many fedoras. I removed the doors and hung modern curtains, lined the closet with a sexy retro wallpaper from Flavor Paper and installed hat hooks to perch each topper. The result was sleek, cool, eclectic and something he proudly showed off to male and female visitors alike.
I have found that most couples struggle the most with the master bedroom because he has his own aesthetic and you may have grandiose ideas of designing your love nest with ‘you’ in mind. Allow him to choose the color of the room up front and he will see this as you softening the reigns on the cohabitating rules. Give it to him and then you can add your own design touches. When I married my husband, his favorite color was purple so I was stuck with an Eggplant hued master bedroom and lavender master bathroom. I didn’t fight it but instead I rolled with it and added some ‘DV’ flavor to the mix like this accent wall covered in retro Osborne & Little wallpaper. After living with this color for a couple of years, we both felt like a change was needed, only this time, he said, "Whatever you want baby!"
Sometimes couples get stuck with identifying a space as masculine or feminine and hence, the debate begins. Think about the commonly shared rooms in your home as neutral territory. The formal dining room gets a lot of emphasis but seldom gets a lot of use so this is the easiest room to compromise on. Choose a neutral color palette and maybe use your dining room table paired with his chairs. And, if his chairs need a little updating, don’t be afraid to get a few yards of fabric and bring out a heavy-duty staple gun and some muscle to make them look and feel brand new!.
Before scheduling the moving crew, it is important to identify your priorities to your love. Do not assume anything about one another and take the time to talk about what things he cannot live without and vice versa. Discuss everything from paint colors to childhood memorabilia and then talk about the different rooms in your new home and how you can find a place for those things that matter to one another. For every one of your items that gets accepted, be willing to accept two of his. Ladies – combining a home requires compromise and when you demonstrate your willingness to give a little more, (if he’s a good man) he will ultimately give you much more freedom with household design decisions in the long run.
The one complaint I get from all of my male clients is that their partners want things to look too pristine and they feel as though thy cannot be comfortable in their own homes. There is not a man alive that does not want to come home from a long day and throw his feet up on the coffee table and relax. Picture perfect or all-white rooms that look more like museums than actual living spaces are so five minutes ago. Comfort trumps style for most men so if he is in love with his sofa because it is the most comfortable thing imaginable, design your new combined space around it. Tell him that he can keep his beloved mush of down and feather as long as you get to add some groovy throw pillows that will bring it to life. You’ll be surprised how fast your man will likely agree.
One of the ways to keep your man from prying too much into your home design decisions is to make sure you have all of his favorite things close by. The refrigerator stocked with his favorite drink, a cabinet where you stash his go-to cigars, his monthly reading list or his video game of the moment that you have strategically placed around the house will please his soul and add more brownie points to your bag of tricks!
Combining two homes into one is naturally going to bring together more items that you have room to store so save yourself a headache and create a plan to get organized as soon as you start unpacking all of those boxes. Think of yourself as a kindergarten teacher and the only way to avoid chaos is to keep things organized. Bathrooms, kitchens and garages are notorious for clutter traps as the demands of career and our ever-increasing limited hours in a day keep us from putting things away after each use. Identifying compartments that are clearly labeled helps both you and your partner participate in keeping the home in tact. Remember, the only way for this to work is for you to lead by example…
Every room in your new home does not need to be neutral ground. Some spaces should comfortably welcome both of your styles to create an eclectic mix as evidence that you have combined your lives. For this residential project, my client loved the custom crystal fireplace screen that I pitched her for their living room but her husband was not so easily sold. That is - until I found a Vintage Porcelain sculpture of a Doberman that reminded him of his childhood pet. In an instant, the space no longer felt feminine and was in fact just right for the two of them!
I have intentionally given you ladies lots of tips to encourage you to compromise on the design of your new love nest. However, a girl must draw the line at something. If you’re a girl like me then you are an undercover closet stylist, fashionista and owner or more shoes than the law should allow. Well don’t feel bad about it and all your compromises set the tone for you to have what every woman in the world requires: the majority of closet space. You see once I graciously resided in the ‘Purple Rain’ bedroom, kept the god awful but comfortable sectional and created a man cave for my husband, it was his pleasure to relinquish all of our master bedroom closets and store his possessions in the closets I built for him in his man cave. After all, he loves it when I step out like the glamour girl God created me to be.
So many of us dreaded our single days, myself included, and could not wait for the day when we could share our lives with the man who made our hearts sing. Remember the date nights with your married friends when you felt like a third wheel or the traditional girls only vacation that was starting to feel like a pre-planned pity party? Well, if you have decided that you love someone enough and are ready to identify yourselves with a shared address – embrace his stuff - both the good and the bad. Shine a light on all of the ways he makes your life better and suddenly that pile of crap in the corner will not matter much at all.