What Do You Do If You and Your Partner Have Different Design Styles?

Congrats on moving in together! Now how do you decorate?

Moving in together is a huge milestone for many couples. It can signify a step forward in the relationship and yield many joys of daily companionship.

However, it also inherently necessitates some compromises. And one of the biggest compromises couples must navigate when moving in together is merging their design styles. Couples may argue over what furniture stays or which paint colors make both happy. It can be stressful and problematic.

With that in mind, here are our best tips for meshing different aesthetics in the new home.

Tip 1: Communicate Expectations

Before you even pack up your individual spaces to move, start discussing what each of you would like your new home to look like.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Natalie Ron, founder of the home-organizing company Swoon Spaces, suggests being specific. “What does a peaceful home look and feel like to your partner?” she says. “How much of that are you each responsible for?”

These questions will give you a clear idea of both partners’ hopes and expectations before you even enter the new home.

Tip 2: Declutter Before the Move

The moving company You Move Me calls sorting through your own items “the most crucial step” of any move.

Because you may not have space for all of you and your partner’s items, decluttering gives you a head start on combining households. It will also force you to reflect on which items you love, as well as how you decorated your own space.

While packing, try to identify characteristics of your style. Do you like vintage pieces? Maybe you love green furniture. Whatever you’re drawn to, clearly describing it to your partner will help establish what elements of your personal style you’d like to preserve.

Tip 3: Identify Common Ground — and Non-Negotiables

Architects working on blueprint of a new home construction buildDragonImages/Getty Images

After you move into the new space with your lightened load of furniture, it’s time to see how everything fits. Unpacking can be stressful as design decisions start to actualize.

In this negotiation phase, try to find decor choices you both agree on. Even if it’s just the placement of the couch or a mutual hatred of the color red, Ron says “[t]here will be common ground.”

During this phase, it’s also critical to ensure both partners have a say in the home’s design style. As couples therapist Glenna Gordon told the Washington Post, “This is about more than ego; it’s also about mental health. It’s never good for someone to feel like a stranger in their own home — not good for the individual, and really not good for the relationship.”

So if your partner voices a dislike or a non-negotiable, listen and try to incorporate their input.

Tip 4: Embrace the Eclectic

To find the best design compromises, it’s worth broadening your ideas of your personal style. This can mean embracing a more eclectic aesthetic that meets both partners’ needs in the middle.

The Zoe Report takes an example in which one partner is a minimalist who loves neutrals, while the other is a colorful maximalist. To combine their styles, the couple utilized large, neutral-colored base furniture and an eclectic mix of wall art and trinkets. This satisfied both partners’ preferences, resulting in a space as unique as the couple who designed it.

Tip 5: Invest in New Pieces Together

As designer Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski tells My Domaine, sometimes the key to bridging two independent styles is buying a few key pieces that speak to both. That’s what Piotrowski and her partner did.

“[W]e could buy pieces together that felt like ‘us,’ and we didn’t rush it,” she says. “We’ve slowly collected pieces over the past two years as we’ve found items that we both love.”

Of course, as you invest in new work, set clear expectations around your furniture budget, as well as how many new pieces you’re trying to add. And always keep those receipts, just in case a piece doesn’t work out like you’d hoped.

Tip 6: Choose Patience

Finally, remind yourself that setting up a new home takes time. It’s OK to spend months — or years! — developing a new aesthetic together.

Similarly, try your best not to judge your partner’s preferences. While you you may hate that old, saggy recliner, it may hold special value to your partner. Try to understand where they’re coming from. Who knows? It may give you a new appreciation for the person you love.