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Renovating a new home is far from a walk in the park. You’re spending all your weekends in furniture stores, your wallet is crying for help, and you feel like you’re going to scream if you see yet another laminate sample.

But those are foreseeable, at least. What most people don’t realise is that the biggest headache is coming to an agreement on styles with your partner.

I was fortunate in that my husband ceded to my choices for most of the apartment, even though we have different styles. I wanted light and airy; he wanted dark and practical. I wanted floors in the palest wood possible; he wanted something warmer, so that “dirt and hair would be less visible”. Ultimately, we came to a compromise: he would design his study and our kitchen according to his preferences, but I would have the final say in the overall aesthetic of the home.

It wasn’t easy reaching this compromise – we had plenty of arguments, but along the way we figured out some techniques that helped us discuss the renovation in a constructive way. Here are the top three.

Decide which areas are priorities for you.

Which rooms do you spend the most time in? In our household, my husband does most of the cooking, so the kitchen is his domain. As such, he got to decide the workflow and positioning of things. Although we wanted different colours for the kitchen – I wanted a white countertop, he wanted a black granite one – he won because practicality was more important.

Decide which areas you absolutely have to have your way in. Is it the dining room, because you work from home there? Is it the flooring, because you’re doing the mopping? Next, figure out the areas where you’re willing to compromise. Does your partner have a stronger opinion about the blinds than you do? If so, let him or her choose them. The important thing in a household is that everyone feels heard.

Understand the deeper reasons behind your own and your partner’s choices.

The environment of our childhood home plays an essential role in shaping our expectations and preferences for our future home. You may prefer a darker and cosier home with plenty of soft textures, for instance, because you enjoy feeling cocooned from the outside world. Your partner, on the other hand, may prefer a lighter minimalist look because they grew up in a cramped home and now crave the freedom of open spaces. Take the time to discuss and understand the root of your preferences, and share both of your experiences growing up — this can go a long way in understanding each other and reaching a compromise.

Establish common goals for your home.

You and your partner are in a relationship partly because you love each other, but also because you have common goals in life that you hope to achieve as a couple. Take the same approach to your household: what kind of lifestyle do you want to have together? How important is space for other potential family members? What are the feelings you both want to experience at home? Having a calm discussion about common goals helps you both see the bigger picture, and from there, you can figure out how the design helps to achieve that.

Speak to your interior designer about your concerns, and ask their advice on unifying different styles. After all, a medley of design nuances is what makes a home interesting, and what lends it its unique character.


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