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

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Do you find yourselves fighting over decorating?  Here’s what to do when you can’t agree.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that knowing how to compromise over decorating your home is one that many, many couples struggle with at some point in their relationship!  Once upon a time, I, myself, was once a victim of “WeCan’tAgreeSoWeDon’tDoAnything-itis”.

spring decorations on a gray chest

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 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.  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 to compromise.  We both have different passions – mine is interior design and Pookie’s is all things cars.  So, 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.  

kitchen with white cabinets and a gray island

TIP #2: BE RESPECTFUL OF ONE ANOTHER

One of the biggest challenges that I think many couples face, is to not let our feelings and emotions get the upper hand.  When that happens, you have the perfect recipe brewing for a fight over decorating.

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.

neutral accent chair with pillow and throw

 

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.

We communicate and express ourselves differently.  (You should have been here when we were discussing the board and batten treatment that we just added to our foyer.  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.

I know what a challenge this can be so I wrote a post about blending masculine and feminine decorating styles, which you can read by clicking HERE.

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 fewer pillows!!

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

breakfast room with farmhouse table, gray chairs and rustic open shelves

 

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.  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!

family room with neutral furniture and white entertainment center

 

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 on you of how to handle disagreements when they happen.  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.  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.  The wall behind the desk in our home office is a good example.  I wanted a burlap covered bulletin board and nailheads around the border.  You weren’t keen on that idea at all!  The compromise was the vintage mail sorter that I think we both love.

home office with bookcase, desk and antique mail sorter on the wall

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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69 Comments

  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? 😉

  20. Thank goodness my husband and I make a great team. Sometimes it takes a while for us to make a decision but in the end we do. Years ago some wise man told my husband, remember…happy wife, happy life!!

  21. Pam Ballard says:

    Love Laurens comment. Fits me too! My husband wants modern, I love shabby. I am trying to mix the two! The garage is his which drives me crazy. All his exercise equipment which means I can never park my car in the garage. Love your posts.

  22. Suzy, I have had that very same 8 crayons versus 64 crayons conversion.
    Shades make all the difference !
    Myrna

  23. Such an interesting post which I thoroughly enjoyed reading along with the comments. We are about to tackle some home updates later this year and this is a good reminder on how to work together. Loved hearing your hubby’s views – laughed out loud at “fewer pillows”!

  24. I thought it was just us! I’m so glad we are not the only couple that can’t agree on decor. We are learning to compromise though.

  25. You are so right. You do have some great tips ! Thanks for sharing them with us.

  26. Super post, Suzy! Lots of young marrieds would benefit from reading this. 🙂

  27. Your home is lovely and you’ve hit on topics that my hubby and I have frequently had disagreements over. Great tips for how to compromise.

  28. Shirley Cordell says:

    I think your tips and conversation on this topic are so valuable for everyone. I especially like the fact that your husband recognizes your talent for design (it would be next to impossible to ignore) and therefore he knows that even though he may not agree, the end result is going to be a professionally designed look. One extra asset is that money spent on beautiful looking improvements can be a great investment in your homes value. I know, I am a retired realtor.

  29. Beth DeGraff says:

    This is truly some of the best Decorating advice that I received in years ! Thank you Suzy! I have shared it with my husband and he agrees too ! Thank you, thank you, thank you .

  30. Definitely some great tips. You can tell like us, the to of you have gone through a lot of decor updates and renovations. After the second one we learned how to communicate better also.

  31. It usually ends up being $$ that wins and trumps all! lol Great tips. Thanks for sharing at the #InspirationSpotlight Party. Pinned & Shared.

  32. Lol, this is the exact thing that goes on in our house as well! Great tips! We learn as we go, don’t we? I like the 60/40 idea very much! Thank you!
    Catherine

  33. Great post. Loved hearing Pookie’s side of the story too.

  34. Dianne Lanier says:

    My husband and I are fortunate to share the same taste, but if there is a true style issue he refers to me!)

  35. Such sage advice that can be applied to so many situations in life. Thank you for sharing it with us and for the beautiful illustrations.

  36. Great advice! I love your husband’s crayon analogy! Pinterest has helped me to explain my ideas to my husband. Sometimes I wait long enough and he suddenly has a brilliant idea and totally doesn’t remember I suggested it ages ago!!! Pinning and sharing, thanks for linking up to #HomeMattersParty

  37. I think these are fantastic tips! I also get a 60% vote for our home decor and a 40% vote when it comes to electronics. I was 100% a Windows/PC user but here I am now on a mac laptop.

  38. You always have such beautiful photos and ideas, I think I love them all!!
    Thank you for sharing last week on Friday Features
    because they are featured on Friday Features this week!
    Hope you have a great weekend!

  39. My husband always had strong opinions about decorating and his choices were rarely in sync with the decorating ideas I envisioned for our home. I am old fashioned in that my religious beliefs suggest that my husband has the final vote on anything in our marriage. I know that not everyone would understand that but that’s okay; it works for us. And, after a year or two of living with some of the hideous decorating choices he made, my husband has, for the most part, decided that I am the better decorator. And there will always be things that he likes more than I do and the other way around. So, that ugly pendant lamp that he loves so much, because his father made it, hangs in a prominent place in our living room and it doesn’t really meld into my decorating scheme but he is so happy every night when he sits down beneath that lamp to read the paper just as his father once did and that brings me so much more joy than having the catalog worthy showroom that I had initially envisioned. In the end, it’s about the love. When I am old and dying, I will never regret the paint colors he or I chose. I won’t regret that his trophy fish hung on the wall in our family room no matter how much it clashed with my style. Those things just won’t matter to me in the long run. That being said; I think your home is so absolutely stunning! I love everything about your home, inside and out! Just beautiful! I may have to see if I can incorporate some of your design elements into our eclectic home!

    1. I like your thoughts on this subject. Thanks!

    2. I know this is an ooolllld post but I have come to the same conclusion. Things turn out better, through the years, if my husband has the final vote. God knows what He’s doing. I don’t like the now broken stained glass pendant light he made his Mom years ago, but he does and so there it hangs in our family room. I thought I would hate the TV over the fireplace but it’s not so bad. I don’t have to “style” the mantel either. My husband thinks I am over the top with blue and white cache pots, lamps, ginger jars but he knows I make concessions. And I am pretty sure I don’t have room for any more……..maybe.

  40. Jacy Cole says:

    Very good suggestions! Thank you!! And thank you to Pookie as well. 🙂

  41. Suzy, I really appreciate your frankness. It’s very simply stated that men think differently than women do. I completely relate with your choice on gray. My husband identifies some colors with childhood memories and that has been a challenge. One color we tend to agree on is brown tones. My guess is that many men gravitates to those warm tones, they tend to relate those tones to the wilderness/outdoors.

  42. Hannah McNally says:

    My last boyfriend and I used to ask the other “Is this something that’s REALLY important to you?” If the answer from the other person was yes, we went with that person’s opinion/desire. But you only said yes if it truly was. otherwise we compromised! 🙂

  43. Great conversatiions and good points!

  44. Katherine Allen says:

    Love the style that you both come up with. Especially your kitchen. That I have pinned to my Pinterest board for kitchen ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  45. Nancy Carroll says:

    Hahaha…”fewer pillows”! How many times have I heard that one!!!

  46. Our house burned in February. We are going through a massive rebuild and our tempers have flaired many times over the last few weeks. We need to follow your tips for the remainder of this journey. Thanks.

  47. Great article! I’m going to come back and read it again and all the comments!

  48. Norma Rolader says:

    Thank you for this info!! But I do have to say my husband is a blessing he did not fuss or argue with me on what I wanted to do!!! The only thing when I was young he would come home from work and never knew where he was going to be sitting or where to find what cabinet what dishes were in! LOL!!!! Thank you and God bless

  49. Suzy and Pookie, this is really a well done, helpful post! I love how you work together and so nice of Pookie to put in his two cents! I agree, we must include our husbands in on home decisions.

    My husband and I are opposites in a lot of ways, have been married for 41 years and over all those years, we’ve learned to work things out. He generally lets me have the upper hand when it comes to decorating, and he does get involved in the “doing”, so I always try to include him in my decisions. As an example, he was the one who installed our hardwood floors in five of our rooms when we built our new house! He may not always agree with me, but he lets me have a try at it. Nothing is permanent and a person can always repaint if needed or sell that piece of furniture that just didn’t work out the way you thought it would. Luckily for us, we never came to that point, and as you suggested, we let things go for a few days when we disagreed, and then came back to it and rehashed it out.
    Love your beautiful home and decorating ideas! My favorites are your kitchen and office. Keep up the good work, both of you!!!

    1. Susan Martin says:

      Loved this post- well I love all you posts, yet this one was so telling. Your husband’s comments sounded just like mine, too funny!!
      This collaboration of both people is very important, and it takes great cooperation, yet very worth the effort. Thanks for sharing!

  50. For 48 years my husband has always tried to do what he could so that I would be happy with our home. We started out with nothing and worked on making our first apartment presentable. I’ll never forget our kitchen curtains that I bought for 50 cents a piece on a clearance table. They were ugly, all bright orange, yellows from the 70’s, three pairs of tiers on 72 inch tenement windows. I hung them and waited for him to come home from work figuring he would be mad. He came in and looked at them as I explained why I bought them. He said if that’s what we can afford then they look just fine. He went on to wallpaper every room in that house. The landlady couldn’t believe what we did when she saw it. She liked it better than her own home.
    We’ve owned five homes over the years including a lakeside cottage and a two story colonial we built in the early nineties. He’s always had a voice in what we do but mostly we like the same things. He’s wallpapered and painted more rooms than I can count. We’ve been in this house 3 years now and the work he’s done is incredible from tiling the floor in the whole lower level to painting every room sometimes more than once. He was not a fan of gray walls in our main living area and this year he insisted on painting them a very deep blue (think Bears color of the year). While it started out as always my ideas, now he comes up with things I’ve never thought of. We make a good team and both enjoy living in a nice space. But since I discovered all these blogs a year ago, I’ve taken to changing out the decor frequently and he’s not a fan of seeing a different arrangement every week on our kitchen table! But he knows it’s my fun and pleasure just as he enjoys working in the garden which is also a combined effort of my ideas and his manpower. Sorry for the long post, but my point is that in all these years he really wants what will make me happy and while our surroundings are very nice, I would be happy anywhere as long as we’re together.

  51. Donna Souders says:

    I SO enjoyed this! You and your husband should do this more! It was fun reading this and it made me laugh more than once, your husband’s comments are hilarious. I can say for sure and 100% your home is beautiful!

  52. What a great idea – sharing your individual takes on decorating! Very honest and respectful. Suzy, you know that Pookie slays me ?! My husband lived and worked in another city for awhile and while he was there I made a HUGE decision and had a front patio, privacy screen, privacy trees, and concrete stairs going down the side of the house put in. To me it was an excellent investment, functional and really added beautiful curb appeal. Because I paid for it with some gifted money, it was not a hit on our joint pocketbook. Well, he absolutely loved it, however it hurt his feelings that I did this without his input. To this day I feel bad about that and it’s been 5 years. The patio area has matured nicely and the goal of some green privacy worked well, but I regret the opportunity to have shared the joy of planning this together with him. I am just too head strong some times (all good intentions aside). ?

  53. FUN post! This was very unique. You two are MUCH more skilled at communication and compromise than I am. Good advice.

  54. I don’t know if you usually get this many replies to your blogs, but this was the best, most helpful blog I have ever read! (I don’t normally read the replies.) Having Pookie weigh in on the subject, along with your input was so helpful to those of us that may run into challenges from our other half when we try to make changes in our homes. Thank you for some very helpful tips on how to compromise!!!

    1. I’m glad you found this helpful! I’ll have to do a better job of including him more!

  55. This may just save my marriage! In the process of redecorating, redesigning, and making our home (which we’ve been in for over seven years!) more US! My husband is so hypocritical saying he doesn’t care what colour the walls are or what finish our countertops are – but he has REALLY strong opinions about everything! I’ll certainly be giving some of your suggestions a try!

    Thanks,
    Jenny

    1. Hi Jenny. I’ve certainly been down the path myself of someone saying they don’t care, but then being critical of what I choose. WinkWink I hope some of my suggestions will be of help to you!

  56. I love the discussion in comments of Pookie and you, it is really nice and make you kind of “human” ; – )

  57. Mary V. Bates says:

    I know this is going back awhile, but do you remember where you got that beautiful white crock that holds your cooking utensils? It’s on the right side of your stove, not too far from the round basket/tray that is propped up vertically. I would love to have a crock like (or similar) to that! Thanks so much for the lovely photos and great article.

    1. Hi Mary. It’s actually a vase, instead of an actual crock and came from HomeGoods. Keep your eye out there if you have one near you because they constantly have things like this.

  58. Nancy Sharp says:

    Could you come counsel my husband and me?😄 Before my husband retired, he cared nothing about the inside of the house. We were transferred 12 times and each time he went to the office and I was left to decorate our houses. Now he has an opinion about everything! He never sees a need to change anything! I get so frustrated! Pray for my bad attitude please. I’m going to save this blog post.

  59. Great post! Very helpful. Thanks.

  60. I have never had the problem of compromise as my husband has never had the slightest interest in the house or it’s decor. Just a place to live for him. He has the attitude that you buy a table when you marry and that is the table you have for the rest of your life. I have longed for a conversation or even an argument over decor but it has yet to happen. It is so frustrating to having make all the decisions and not have someone’s input. On the upside there has never been a black lounge or recliner! Small mercies I guess.