I’m embarrassed to admit to you what my MOST ASKED interior design question is, but here we go … It’s some form of this: “How do you get your husband on board with all your ideas?”
I actually wrote about this topic many years back, but I want to dive in again today since the question does get asked so frequently.
But first, a tiny disclaimer! Two things: 1. Every shared space requires compromise. Unless you are living alone, you’re probably going to need to decide certain things with your roommates or partner or on behalf of your children if they’re not old enough to have an opinion yet. I think it’s considerate and important to care about what another person thinks, even if they aren’t as passionate about it as you are. That said … 2. There’s nothing wrong with one person taking the lead on design. Just like anything else in your relationship, there is probably one person who cares more and is more involved than the other. So, in my marriage, my husband understands that I love decorating SO MUCH and that he should at bare minimum give all my ideas a chance.
There are a lot of knee-jerk reactions in design. A lot of mental blocks. Sometimes, even, complete miscommunications. This is all normal, especially when you are new to renovating or decorating your first home. Especially when one person spends every night trolling Pinterest and the other person genuinely thinks all white paint colors are the same (LOL).
OK, so that said (can you tell I am dodging land mines trying not to offend anyone???). here are some things that have helped me get Jeremy on the same page before a big project …
1. Showing lots of example photos.
This is my number one tip! Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. Do your homework and find a bunch of example photos. A lot of people need visuals to be able to imagine something, especially big changes. I always do this anyway because I’m indecisive. I’ve noticed that Jeremy’s eyes start glazing over if I describe a big project to him, but if I just pull some photos he’s interested and has opinions.
2. Take one project at a time.
When we were newlyweds Jeremy wanted to be completely involved in every decision about renovations—especially in our first home. But over time he developed a trust and also (these are his words, not mine) he realized that he didn’t really care about every small decision, and it was easier if he just let me do it.
So my advice here is don’t try to plan your entire home renovation in one sitting. Plan a room, or even a big project. Start small and it will be much easier to fully communicate about what you are doing. Plus, you will learn valuable lessons from each project!
3. Hold out for what you really want + give it time.
If you don’t agree right away, give it time.
Pink front door, for example. We had multiple conversations about that door. It wasn’t Jeremy’s first choice. And to be fair he did get his first choice on our previous home and our door was black.
But I really wanted that pink door. So I waited. I waited until there was something he really wanted and I said, “OK, if I can have the pink door.” Compromise … it’s that simple.
I wouldn’t have done it if he truly hated it. But, in the end, he realized he didn’t care that much … that other things were more important to him. And now he loves the door! It was just a knee-jerk reaction, so I gave it some time and kept throwing it out there.
If I went with his initial reaction every time, then every single thing in our house will be a neutral. LOL
4. Give options.
Looking at different options helps a LOT—especially when it comes to big purchases. Seeing examples of a FULLY styled room with whatever element you are wanting to do can be a really important step for someone who doesn’t know how to visualize big room changes (which is most people).
If you want to do black hardware, show your partner a bunch of different photos of rooms with black hardware that all look amazing and ask them which one they like the best.
5. Find exciting things you each want.
If your dream is to have pink tile in your bathroom or a bright yellow stove in your kitchen, find a way to give your partner their dream as well! Listen to the thing they get excited about and designate projects and purchases that make them as happy as your tile or stove makes you.
The first year we owned our home, we spent a lot of our money on Jeremy’s studio—something that he treasures and uses every day of his life. So after all that, we both feel like it’s kind of fair that he lets me pick out all the wallpaper and the tile. My strategy is that we both get the things that are most important to us. Win-Win.
That’s just the balance we have struck. I know every situation and combination of taste and personalities is different, but I hope it’s helpful in some way. And like I said, we’ve done three houses together now and built more and more trust each time.
I just asked him if there was anything he would want to add to this post and he said he just realized a long time ago that it’s way easier and quicker for him not to care. LOL That’s the spirit!
I wish you luck in all your future compromising! xx – Elsie
Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Alyssa Rosenheck (see my entire home’s paint color roundup here).