How To Compromise Over Decorating Your Home When You Can’t Agree

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Ever tried to decorate your home, but your better half isn’t on board with your vision? Navigating home decor with others can feel like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube—blindfolded.

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Do you suffer from, “WeCan’tAgreeSoWeDon’tDoAnything-itis”?

Juggling different tastes can be a real challenge. Here’s how to work together to create a space that gets the nod from everyone, without having to call in a mediator.

Sometimes, the trickiest part of decorating isn’t finding the right paint color or agreeing where the tv should go; it’s making sure everyone who lives in your home is on board with your choices.

Whether it’s your spouse, a roommate, or family members, balancing various preferences can create unwanted tension. Let me share some practical tips on how to reach a consensus without sacrificing style.

I’m certainly no expert in human relationships, but maybe you will find it helpful if I tell you how my husband (aka Pookie) and I have learned to resolve our decorating differences.  Let me tell you – it was quite entertaining to “interview” Pookie for this article.

Tip #1: Neither one of you can always be the chief.

This one kind of smacked us in the face early in our marriage.  Someone has to have the “authority” to make the final decision.  

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If not, you’ll either be stuck and do nothing – or if you force the situation, one (or both) of you may wind up feeling hurt, angry and/or resentful.

It’s all about learning how the art of give and take.  We both have different passions – mine is interior design and Pookie’s is all things cars.  

The basic agreement that works for us is that when it comes to the cars, yard and exterior of our home, Pookie gets 60% of the vote and I get 40%.

When it comes to making decisions about the interior of our home, I get the 60% and Pookie gets the 40%.  

Pookie and I agree that when it comes to making decisions about our home and cars, having this agreement in place is one of the best things that we’ve done as a couple.

Pookie weighs in: I recognize that the design of the interior of the house matters more to Suzy than to me.  I do care and have an opinion about it, but it isn’t my passion.  BUT – when it comes to cars, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.  I’m joking – sort of.  

Tip #2: Be respectful on one another.

Any time there’s a disagreement, it can be extremely hard to not let our feelings and emotions get the upper hand.  When that happens, you have the perfect recipe brewing for a digging-your-heels-in kind of argument over decorating.

(A certain quote from a famous movie about no crying in baseball comes to mind here.)

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Remember that HE isn’t wrong and neither are YOU!  It’s simply a matter of each of us having our own opinions and likes and dislikes.  

Try not to take the difference of opinion personally and be respectful of the other person’s preference.  (I’m preaching to the choir here, btw.)

Pookie weighs in: There are times when we both have a strong opinion about what should be done, which for us, can lead to frustration, anger and bickering.  When that happens, we table the subject for a few hours (or days), then come back together for more discussion when we’ve both calmed down. It usually works like a charm, but sometimes it takes regrouping more than once.

Suzy says: OK, Pookie – let me interject something right here. Don’t you agree that it takes practice? We weren’t perfect at it in the beginning, but we have improved drastically! 

Tip #3: Recognize that you’re different genders. By nature you’ll approach things differently.

Oh boy, this one took me a looong time to realize and then ultimately accept!  Bottom line – a man’s brain is wired differently than a woman’s.  It just is.

I highly recommend reading the book, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. It’s a great, fun read!

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We communicate and express ourselves differently.  You should have been here when we were discussing the paneled wall that I wanted to add to the dining room.  Talk about communication differences!

I realize this is a generalization and there are various degrees of these differences, but overall, I believe this can have a huge impact on most of our decision making in all aspects of life as a couple.

Pookie weighs in: When it comes to design, my desires are heavily influenced by the cost, functionality and engineering behind the design.  My preferences are more minimalist than Suzy’s. However – I love log cabin style!  I love rustic, stone, wood leather and carved bear statues. Oh yeah – and no throw pillows!!

Suzy’s view: Me?  I’d love to throw all those annoying concerns out the window.  I just want it to be pretty!

Blending masculine and feminine decorating styles is a big topic. More on it below!

Tip #4: Be Patient!

Don’t try to rush an agreement.  I’ve found that using inspiration photos from Pinterest often does a better job of getting my idea across than me trying to explain it.  

green velvet chair positioned in front of window with navy blue floral draperiesPin

Surprisingly, Pookie can’t read my mind and isn’t able to see the end result that I have in my head. Give the other person time to mull your idea over and think about it.

Pookie weighs in: When it comes to choosing colors, I only have eight crayons in my box, but Suzy has sixty-four!  To me, gray is gray, but to Suzy, gray is griege, gray is taupe, gray is blue-gray, etc. Then there’s light gray, dark gray, charcoal gray…you get the picture. We’ve learned that to resolve our disagreements over color choices, we should try lots of different samples and live with them for several days or weeks. We’ve always been able to find a good compromise, that we’re both happy with that way.

Suzy’s view: He’s right!  If it were up to me, the entire interior of our home would have been painted some shade of gray. Pookie didn’t agree, so the compromise was to find a beige paint color that had gray undertones.  We lived with a wall of large paint samples for weeks until we found one that we could agree on!  BTW – we wound up using Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige throughout our home. Glad you resisted me on that one, Pookie! 

Tip #5: But what if you just can’t agree???

Well…first of all, refer back to tips 1, 2 and 3.  I recommend having discussions that have nothing to do with a specific project, but will lead to a general agreement between the two of you on how to make decisions and handle disagreements when they happen.  

pair of green velvet chairs positioned in front of window with navy blue floral draperiesPin

Trust me – unless you are an exception to the rule – you will need to know how to compromise about what to do inside your home!

Pookie weighs in: Suzy is much more concerned with form over function, unless she realizes that considering the function is a requirement.  When I don’t agree with her design opinion, my first tactic is to remind her of the cost and why I believe her idea is impractical.  I’m an engineer, so I don’t have the creative brain that Suzy does.  But – ultimately, she has 60% of the vote when it comes to the interior of the house, so there’s always that.

Suzy’s view: Yes, I use my 60% voting power frequently, but I always try to consider your ideas.  You often have good suggestions, if I just listen!  When you truly have a strong opposing opinion about something, I do my best to find a compromise instead of going forward with my idea anyway.  Our home office is a good example. I wanted a small’ish desk that could float away from the wall. You wanted a very manly, massive desk that had lots of room to spread out and has tons of drawers.

Tip #6: How do you blend masculine and feminine decorating styles?

Not only are you doing your best to compromise and work together, you may also be struggling to blend masculine and feminine decor styles together.

Our home office is a prime example. This is Pookie’s office. It needed to be pretty enough for me, but masculine enough for him.

home office with traditional wood furniture, green velvet arm chairs, navy blue floral curtains and colorful accessoriesPin

It was more than just a taste difference – it was a gender difference! Blending masculine and feminine decorating styles requires a little finesse.

Can you identify the masculine and feminine parts of this room? It truly is a blend that worked so well for us.

• Identify the sticking points: start by reviewing each item you own, allowing each of you to vote on keeping, discarding, or reconsidering it. Then come together to discuss your findings. You’ll like be surprised to discover shared tastes and ideas that appeal to both of you.

• Start with a base: Whatever your color preferences are, I suggest staying with neutral colors for walls and large furniture. Then you’re ready to choose two or more colors that you’d both like to include for a total of three key colors.

• Avoid gender specific items: Your room’s decor shouldn’t be a one sided story. The key to decorating spaces that incorporate both of your personalities, is to add touches of both of you.

• Keep the eye moving: Inevitably, you’ll still have some items in the room that may not appeal to you. The trick is to keep the eye moving around the room so as not to bring too much attention to any one object or color.

• Mix up the details: Include one masculine item for each feminine item in the room.  That will give an equal balance to overall design.

We followed each of these tips when we decorated the office, and I’m happy to report that Pookie never tires of telling me how much he loves the room! 

Well, that’s our take on how we handle our home design disagreements.  We aren’t perfect, but we try our best to honor that 60/40 agreement that we made!  Do you have any suggestions for how you handle disagreements over your home?

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  1. We have just finished a whole house remodel/redecorate. We basically follow the same rules as you do, especially the 60/40 rule for inside vs outside. My husband also has dominion over the basement “man cave” space (although I am itching to spruce it up!) One thing that really helped was for us to use the website Houzz and to independently select “favorites” for each room. Then we side by side compared our favorites and surprisingly we picked some of the same, even those he is much more dark, rustic, log cabin and I am light, bright, cottage style! That gave us common ground to start from. When I had a final plan and he seemed a little concerned, I pointed out what it had in common with those “favorites” we both had chosen! Now that all has been completed, he loves everything and says I definitely made the right decisions.

    1. I love that you included your husband in the blog. My husband likes to be a small part but he is more 80/20. When it come down to his car, that’s a whole different rating scale.

  2. Very good suggestions!! Sometimes hubby and I are at a stalemate and the biggest arguments have been over paint color. Frankly, I think he’s a little color blind. Honestly, I’m not saying that to be mean. If we discuss what color to paint he says green. Now, I know the Pantone color of the year is green, but what about next year and the year after that. Once we get back home I want to paint the kitchen, foyer, living room, and den. So I have to find some Pinterest photos that will show what I want.

  3. We call it analysis paralysis in our house. My husband has worked so hard to renovate our home, it is important to respect his wishes. BUT…
    These are great suggestions!

  4. Anne Marie says:

    Great post and so very true!

  5. Goodness! This is MY life!!! My hubby has very good tastes, STRONG opinions! Sometimes, though, too strong. Argh!

  6. What a great post. Our arguments are to do and not to do. I want to change everything at some point and his idea is if it is not broke don’t fix it. I will have to pin your post and keep referring to it. Maybe it will settle disagreements.

  7. I can relate on the majority of the tips. When we first married every time color was mentioned my husband thought it should be his alma mater colors. I have found through the years that he has great ideas, loves to help pick paint colors, encourages me to get the next project started when a bonus comes in and is an amazing handy man to have around.

  8. I am very fortunate in that my husband lets me do whatever I want with the house. I in turn pretty much give him free rein outside. But if there’s something I do or don’t want outside, he generally lets me have my way. That’s the secret to MY successful marriage. : )

  9. Melinda Pilkinton says:

    Very good tips… I like the Pinterest photo ideas – showing your partner what look you are going for, then he or she can weigh in with ideas.

  10. Linda Owens says:

    Your ideas and suggestions are right on and it’s great the way you discuss things and reach a compromise. Love your blog!
    Linda Owens

  11. My husband is a very talented handyman. It somethimes takes him a lot longer to start on something than I want, but usually I am pleased when everything is done. He is working in a big outdoor building now. Slow going, but maybe I’ll get my craft room in the basement one day when all that “building stuff” gets moved out! Thanks for the helpful advice?

  12. Hi Suzy—your home is just gorgeous so obviously you both have done a great job with your compromises! Not just magazine perfection, but your home is decor book worthy! I personally think your tips are crucial to not only decor issues but to marriage itself! Thanks for sharing! Blessings always!

  13. We recently spent about a year and a half remodeling most of our home. I think my husband’s philosophy is once a house is built, it’s done. HA! We all know that isn’t true. However, once he was on board, we did manage to work together to make updates that make us both happy. The biggest sticking point was our kitchen. I wanted white cabinets, but he was pretty adamant about not ‘painting brand new, perfectly good wood’. We finally compromised on natural maple cabinets, and I must say I love them. They do go well with the style of our kitchen, dining, family room. But, he thought I’d lost my mind with the faucet I chose. He wasn’t sure about the farm sink either. Now, when anyone comes to visit, the first thing he does is shows them the sink and asks them to turn on the faucet. (He’s such a hoot!)The next stop is my closet so he can show them the cedar lining. That was his idea as we had lost a large cedar tree during a storm. He had the logs sawed up into boards, planed them and lined my closet and our coat closet with them. Another feature of our remodel that was his idea but I love! When I was picking up paint for our remodel, the clerk commented that he often told people if they wanted to test a marriage, build or remodel a house together. I only wanted to kill my husband once during our remodel. I’m afraid to ask him that question, though. 😉 We both lived to tell the tale. Life is good!

  14. Great advice! My husband and I built our our home. When we picked out colors, tile, etc, the designer was amazed that we agreed on so many of the major decisions and completed the process in an hour. I explained that we had been talking for a year prior to this process and we had researched what we wanted in the home. I had collected pictures, swatches, samples so I would not be overwhelmed at the meeting. We have been married 30 years and make a great team! I’m so thankful!

  15. Carol Elkins says:

    I love how Pookie weighs in with his opinion!

  16. I’m grateful for a husband that has a good eye for color and designs. He manages his own kitchen and bathroom remodeling business, so I trust his judgments. I’m a very visual person so I need pictures. I love this blog because you describe your decorating so well to the reader and there are lots of pictures, too. If I have a new idea to present to my husband, I go ahead with it. Amazingly, we almost always agree and if we don’t, I let it go. I’m not a pushy or controlling person, anyway. God has been good to us and I’m grateful for what I have in our marriage of almost 46 years!

  17. My husband and I are opposites when it comes to decor. I dislike green, gray, black, and brown and love blues, reds, yellows. So our family room is his brown haven and our bedroom is my blue heaven. And if we ever move, I am getting a sunroom full of colr!

  18. Linda Manuel says:

    Excellent tips and comments. Clearly your home shows the agreements made and the resulting beauty! Totally classy!

  19. What a great post! We also use the 60/40 rule…it just works. My hubby is strictly a function guy, until it comes to cars…then it’s about style, performance…it’s all in the details. Me? Just the reverse. Sure I want a space to function….but it also has to be pretty! I think our home reflects both of us…it functions, and it looks good. What more could I want? 😉