As you may or may not know, I created my Interior Style Quiz as a tool for you to develop your personal style. It’s been called *scarily accurate* by Brit + Co, featured by House & Garden, and taken by over 100,000 people (!!!). And one of the most common questions I get from quiz takers is this:
"My partner and I just took your quiz, and we got different design styles. I’m Pottery Studio and they’re Museum Bookstore – how do we blend our two styles into a cohesive home that honors both of us?”
Every relationship is as unique as the people in it, but here are the most common situations I see as a designer, and how I recommend navigating them.
1 / One person is far more opinionated and invested in the way your home looks.
The more-opinionated person makes the aesthetic calls, with minimal input from the less-opinionated partner - who is mostly fine with this. The one caveat is, it just needs to be functional. In my experience, the key to making this work (and in actual fact, my approach in every project I work on) is to start with function. Make a list of the ways this room needs to function for each of you. Prioritize that list by primary functions (how you use and move through the space daily) and secondary functions (things you’d like to be able to do in the space occasionally). Once you have a list that both of you can agree on, the more-opinionated partner can move forward making design and aesthetic decisions, being mindful to prioritize the list in order to create a space that satisfies both of you.
2 / Both people are opinionated.
Both people have an established personal style - and those styles are not the same. In this scenario, seek out your common ground. You’ll probably have to let go of some of your design ideas in the process, but you will also arrive at a new blended style that represents you, together. To do this, start by making your list of functions (always!). Next, work together to find the common ground between your two styles - a color both of you like (or can live with), a piece that reminds you of a shared happy memory. Develop a shared design language so that the common areas of the home (like the living room) represent your blended style. Then, define areas of the home for each of you to express your individual styles. This can be a room like an office, or it can be free reign to style the bookshelves as a creative outlet.
3 / Both are opinionated, and are struggling to find common ground.
If every decision becomes a point of contention, I would once again start by making that list of primary and secondary functions. Starting with neutral facts like “we want to seat 4 people daily and 6 people occasionally” and “the den needs to be kid-friendly for the next few years” gives clarity to the big purchase decisions that can feel really emotional. It can also be helpful to bring in a neutral third party. I’m always here as a design resource for you. Book a Design Strategy Session with me and we can work together to merge your personal styles for a home you both feel good in.
What a past client has to say:
"Cristina was very flexible and accommodating in her approach with my wife and me. She gave us confidence in the decisions we made and designed around pieces / elements that are important to us." - Stephen
I also made a video all about picking a style for your home (and sticking with it) on my YouTube series, Home School. I mentioned how to do this when moving in with a partner - and how ultimately it's not about whether one's style is better or worse, or right or wrong, but finding a common ground to build on.
If you can relate to this blog post you might like Group Project, a monthly interview series with people who live together about creating a home that blends their styles and meets their needs. Sign up for my newsletter to get the next issue of Group Project in your inbox!