Combining Decorating Styles: What To Do After Saying “I Do”

Maybe you’re a little bit country. Maybe he’s a little bit rock and roll. And maybe you didn’t quite realize this until after you moved in together. So what are you going to do? Here is a practical guide to combining two distinct households into a single happy home:

1. We’ll start with the easy one, purging all duplicate household items. No household needs two irons (if you’re anything like me, there’s barely one person in the house willing to do ironing, much less two), two sets of dishes, two vacuum cleaners, etc. Keep whichever one is newer or in better shape and garage sale the rest. Simple, right?

2. Keep anything with clean, classic lines. They can be recovered, repurposed or refinished. What do I mean by clean, classic lines? Anything that has a simple silhouette, without curved or scrolled embellishments or multiple pillows. Examples: a chair that has classic lines, but the upholstery doesn’t match anything else, can easily be recovered in a coordinating fabric or a dining room buffet can be repurposed as a T.V. stand. Also anything that swivels is a keeper as it can add flexibility to a room.

3. Remember that even if it’s not a set, any furniture with the same metals, colors or styles will work together. And you can always paint mismatched wood pieces or accents, such as lamps, to work together.

4. Storage furniture always wins. Especially, if it’s closed storage. After all, you’re going to need a place to put your figurine and/or beer cap collection!

5. Speaking of collections, if one of you insists of having their prized collection of baseball cards/vintage hats/shot glasses from around the world displayed (and you can compromise on an appropriate place for them) remember the entire collection does not have to be displayed all at once. Choose a select few to display at one time and then rotate them out periodically.

Now, no one said this was going to be an easy process. It definitely requires a lot of compromising and a healthy dose of diplomacy. The main thing to keep in mind is that you are building a home together. Therefore, it’s important to be as objective as possible about both your own possessions and your partners.

While it may seem like the most fair approach is to split a room down the middle and each of you keep an equal amount or furniture, it unfortunately never quite works out. So forget about splitting a room down the middle (i.e. I get to keep my couch, you get to keep your chair). Not only do the numbers never work out (Does “Hey, a couch is like two chairs! I should get to keep something else!” sound familiar?), it will do your design absolutely no favors. So try to be fair and remember that all your sacrifices are for the greater good. And if all else fails, call me and I’ll tell you what stays and what goes!

Finally, nobody wants to start a new life in a new home that is already filled with clutter. Once you’ve edited your belongings, you have to get rid of anything that did not work. For anything sentimental, take photos so you can keep them handy and either sell them on eBay or put them in storage. A garage sale is always a great idea if you have a lot of items to purge, but for larger or more valuable pieces Craigslist or eBay are probably better options. And there’s always the man cave!