You know what's hard? Living with a boy. Suddenly all of your favorite items are deemed too "girlie" and you find yourself prioritizing TVs in every room over bedding. When my husband Patrick and I were moving into our first home together (one we owned, not rented), he suddenly got all of these opinions. It is a lake house upstate, and I had all these visions of curling up with a cup of coffee in my modern cabin-chalet-style home filled with hints of plaid and art deco furniture. But he thought acrylic was weird and wanted nothing to do with the words "chaise lounge." We spent a lot of time looking at catalogs for inspiration — yes, apparently people do still read those. All of my "What do you think of these?" emails would go unanswered because, while he had a lot of thoughts on what he didn't like, he couldn't quite articulate what he did like.
After weeks of arguing over everything from the flooring to the paint color to the new couch I just bought without showing him, we finally agreed on one thing: if we were going to make it through the rest of the renovations, we were going to need to strategize. We started having "coffee chats" where we would set aside a few moments every day to really talk and to get our priorities aligned: Here's what we came up with.
1. Make it cozy for everyone
Our number one goal was comfort. We wanted friends and family to feel at ease when they visited. You'll be amazed at how at-home everyone feels when they know they can wake up and make themselves a delicious and flavorful cup of coffee! That's why one of the first purchases we made for the house was our Keurig® K55 coffee maker. It is essential for our morning coffee chats. Everyone can wake up at their leisure, choose from a variety of flavors, and enjoy their favorite cup of coffee while taking in the view and planning their agenda for the day.
2. Make the space functional for the both of you
Since Patrick works remotely a lot of the time, we needed to carve out a quiet space for him to take calls and be productive. I, on the other hand, have always dreamed of a reading loft, so I was able to make a few yard-sale scores to furnish our upstairs loft so it could function as a reading space and an office. I added plenty of plush pillows and textiles, so it's now a cozy place I can't wait to curl up in with a cup of coffee and a good book and where Patrick can escape to get some work done. We were able to create the perfect blend of feminine and masculine decor so the space worked for both of us.
3. Know when to make each other happy
Confession time — I'm very stubborn. It's a struggle for me to let something go, especially if I think I'm right, so I had to learn when to take a step back or drop it altogether. Example: I think rugs are crucial, while my husband just doesn't get it. "Why would you want to cover up the expensive floor we paid for?" he said. That's a valid point, but I still fought him on it. "They add warmth and texture!" I yelled back. "It's really just another thing that will need cleaning," he said calmly. I knew my argument wasn't strong enough to change his mind, so I decided to let it go for the time being. He got his wood floors — then I got a cute bedside throw rug I love stepping onto every morning. Everyone wins.
4. Make big calls as a team and in person
The age of online shopping really put our relationship to the test. It's so easy to make impulse decisions when something you want is just a click away! Patrick liked to be included in the decorating decisions and although there are some disagreements, I realized that taking the time to sit down together during our coffee chats really helps us to hash it out and is way more effective for our relationship. When we are both happy with the compromise it makes the final outcome that much better.
5. Celebrate the wins
There's nothing Patrick loves more than a deal. So when we find a particularly good score on a yard sale site or at an antique shop, we can't help but get excited. He loves that we're saving money and I love getting exactly what I want! And it makes me feel good when I hear my husband bragging to his friends and family about our combined resourcefulness and ingenuity.