Decorating your home gets infinitely more complicated when you add a second person's tastes into the mix. I learned that quickly when I moved in with my now-husband, David, four years ago. He came with some strong opinions about what he liked and really didn't like — not to mention, a bunch of nautical-themed knickknacks I wasn't crazy about.
Though we learned to compromise and mesh his classic New England look with my decidedly funkier vibe, our space could still use some work. That's where interior designer Kate Rumson comes in. We asked her for her expert advice on decorating our small New York apartment as a couple using decor from HomeDepot.com — and she had some seriously smart tips. Read on to see how she recommends we tackle our living room, as a couple.
First and foremost, Kate says it's important to focus on what you both like — not where your opinions differ. For instance, both David and I gravitate toward contemporary styles with clean lines, so Kate recommends a sleek, retro-inspired armchair and charcoal grey couch. Then, we could add pieces that speak to each of us, like a mod brass end table for my more eclectic style and some oceanic wall art to go with David's nautical pieces. "We designed a classic space with nautical flair, dark wood tones, and funky and colorful furnishings and accessories," Kate says.
Two people means twice the stuff — at least for us. Both David and I tend to collect things, from a whole shelf of cookbooks to art prints we picked up while traveling. As much as I'd like to declutter, I don't want to part with sentimental objects that hold a lot of meaning.
Thankfully, Kate has a solution: using small knickknacks as part of the decor when possible, then storing the rest. "If you love certain items, I'd recommend displaying them on bookshelves or coffee and side tables," she says. "Or if it’s something that wouldn't necessarily add to the decor of the space, I'd recommend investing in furniture with storage and baskets to store them out of sight." These stylish wooden baskets work beautifully for throw blankets and other textiles, while decorative bowls can hold smaller pieces like coasters and candles.
Kate also recommends couples spend some time thinking about what they really want out of their space. For instance, I often work from home, so carving out room in our small apartment for a workspace was important. And since we don't have a lot of square footage, Kate says paying attention to the size of each piece is also key. "Furniture scale is extremely important in smaller spaces," she said. In addition to choosing a love seat instead of a full sofa, Kate suggests choosing a dining room table and chairs that could flex into a desk during the day.
Overall, Kate says couples should keep each other in mind throughout the decorating process. For us, that means balancing a peach patterned rug and throw pillows with more industrial pieces like a matte black floor lamp. Your home should reflect both of you, so it's all about finding a middle ground.