Folie à Deux (A Madness Shared by Two)

Creating a home together can be one of the most exciting things you can do as a couple, though some couples will say that meeting halfway regarding design drives them crazy. Her favorite color is blue; his, brown. She’s into surfing, he’s into planes. You get the idea. With some good old-fashioned communication and compromise, there are ways in which you can meld both of your styles to create something that feels like home for both of you.

Fortunately, we live in an era in which eclecticism is widely accepted in transitional style. Mixing vintage and modern happens quite frequently and can be done successfully. What needs to happen is some sort of unifying element, and the simplest way to achieve that is through color. For example, if all of the furniture is in a neutral shade with texture, the wall color becomes more flexible.

When couples first begin looking for items for their home, it can be fun to find looks and furniture pieces that appeal to each individual and share them in a no-bad-ideas brainstorming session. One thing that I suggest couples do is to create a secret Pinterest board where they can post images of things they like and collaborate. The idea that the board secret appeals to a lot of couples, as it's an endeavor they share together without outside influence. I do recommend that when they take this approach that partners only "favorite" things they like, and not comment. All discussions about ideas should be face to face.

Traditional, modern, and rustic elements meet in this design for a young couple.

Traditional, modern, and rustic elements meet in this design for a young couple.

In one of my recent living room projects, we started with the rug that they had owned in their previous apartment. He wanted more traditional pieces; she wanted to include some fun and modern shapes and prints. Both wanted a bit of a rustic element, found in the coffee table. They are both very happy with the space and find it a comfortable area to spend time with their family.

Ideally, each partner will have one room in which they can fully express themselves without intervention -- the most popular examples are the man cave and the craft room. When each person has their needs fully met on some level, compromise in other rooms becomes much easier to navigate.

You never would have known this was a recliner if I didn't tell you first!

You never would have known this was a recliner if I didn't tell you first!

Don't off-handedly dismiss the idea of a recliner. Before I started working as a full time designer, I worked in furniture sales as many of us do. The #1 request from men was that they wanted a recliner. Now some people may not want to include the sloppy bachelor pad relic a la Frasier into their decor, but the design for recliners has become more sleek and deceptive in that they no longer scream "recliner" (such as this piece from Circle Furniture or these two from Ethan Allen). If you can't find a recliner you agree on, see if a chair with an ottoman will work just as well in order to put his feet up after a long day.

Perhaps one partner has a sentimental dining set, and the other partner doesn't like it but it's in really good condition. There are several options in order to update the look to the other's taste. The wood may be able to be painted or stained, the chairs may be reupholstered, or perhaps they can use the chairs and not the table or vice versa.

If it all still seems too overwhelming after following this advice, it may help you both to find an interior designer who listens to both partners to find an equal balance. Her (yes, I'm going to say "her" since I'm clearly talking about me here) vast resources and experience may lead to an option that was not previously considered so you can spend more time on the sofa instead of going crazy selecting one.