Marrying Design Styles

start with the basics.

Before beginning to stress over nothing, begin with the basics. Start by readjusting your outlook. Rather than thinking of the merger as a daunting and painful process, regard it as the exciting, fun experience that it should be.

Have an open and honest discussion about how you want your new shared space to look and feel. Review and assess what you both have in terms of functionality, comfort, need, and scale.

Some pieces may be too large or small for the new space. If it won’t fit through the doors, or would look dwarfed or overpowering in the room, why even consider it? Remove it from the list of pieces to move with you.

It may be that your partner will surprise you and say one or more of her furniture pieces are beyond their useful life and should not be included in the move. Or that he wants to start fresh and eliminate the mismatched hand-me-downs.

Once you have your list of potential items to move, you may both agree that bed #1 will be used in the master bedroom and that sofa #3 is the best choice for the family room. Assess each room in a similar fashion. You may be surprised by how many items stand out as being ideal for one space or another and how quickly you’ll whittle down the list.

Edit and eliminate things you will not use and consider donating castaways in decent shape to The Furniture Bank or some other worthy foundation. Giving back to the community will make you feel good and will start your new home off with some great karma.

learn to compromise.

There are times when you must assess what is most important to you and what you can and cannot live with – or without. Your spouse, hopefully, is included on that list.

Note that compromise is not telling him he can have a corner of the house to do with as he pleases to create a “man cave.” It is about communicating and working as a team to create your ideal home environment. So let go of any ego and stubbornness and be open to discussion and varying points of view.

If your partner will use the office space more than you, is there a need to insist the room be completed your way?

Admit it… you love the idea of having a home theatre system! So that huge flat screen is actually perfect. It just isn’t appropriate in the bedroom at the foot of your bed. Perhaps a section of the basement could be transformed into a fabulous media room / home theatre? That would leave the main floor available for a living room that encourages conversation, entertaining, and visiting with guests.

And those chairs might not be the nicest thing to look at, but they are comfortable and possess a certain charm and style about them that is irreplaceable. They would make a statement in that little reading nook…

Consider accent walls or accessories in bolder tones or patterns if one of you favours neutral and/or non-patterned schemes. Play with layering and adding in textures to create more depth.

The bottom line? Be realistic. Set your respective priorities in terms of functional spaces, must haves, and nice to haves, and work together to plan and put it all together.

to use an old cliché, do not judge a book by its cover.

Embrace the unique pieces that come with your partner and that carry importance to him or her, especially if it is a family heirloom. Be open to exploring how pieces might fit and to recreating or repurposing furnishings so that they become something you both love and cherish.

Wood can be re-finished or painted to completely change the look of a piece. Swap the hardware for something new that melds with the rest of your home or your combined style. Remove cabinet doors or turn bookcases on their sides. Consider reupholstering seating to bring it back to life and make it “ours” instead of “yours.”

A huge trend right now is taking more traditionally-styled chairs, painting the frame in an unexpected colour or finish, and covering the seat with a modern day fabric. The look is stunning! And it easily bridges time periods and helps marry convergent styles.

Do not be afraid to think outside the box. Look at things with fresh eyes and don’t feel you need to place an item in the bedroom just because it is part of your bedroom suite. That dresser might be the perfect statement piece for the front hallway! Let it double as valuable storage for hats, gloves, keys, and other miscellaneous items that will help keep things neatly in place at all times.

there is no rule that says you must stick to one design style.

In fact, mixing and matching styles tends to add more character and personality to spaces – your home will be uniquely yours and your partner’s rather than looking like a replica of a retail showroom floor.

If you look at many rooms designed by decorators or designers, you’ll notice that most are veering away from “matched sets.” The nightstands need not match the bed frame. Nightstands might not even be practical pieces for you based on your needs and the size of the space. Who says you can’t combine your leather headboard with mirrored storage cabinets for a look that reflects you both?

Remember: functionality is critical if your space is to function well! Pieces that function in harmony will naturally fit together.

A stately grandfather clock in the same room as modern seating? Why not? Create unity and visual flow through the use of colour, texture, or even repetitive accessories. Take a chance and see how things look when paired together. And remember – if you don’t like it, move it to another space!