Decorating as a Couple – 7 solutions to the most common dramas

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Shacking up, sharing walls, living in sin, however you coin this gig, moving in together is a big step. We’re not talking roomies here. We’re talking cohabitation with your latest squeeze. We’re talking the art of balancing of your yin and yang – in your décor, no less.

Here’s how to make your very own love nest without marring your relationship.

A touch of black and some scandi elements. Images sourced L to R: mydomaine.com and ao.com

First things first. Congrats! You’re moving in with your lad or lady. That’s pretty neat. And we don’t want to put a dampener on things but there’s a reason why love stories often climax at that first kiss…

That initial rush when you’re all up in each other’s grills is a heady time. It’s full of swooning and blushing and general carry on. By contrast, domestication doesn’t sound quite so hot. In fact, it sounds a bit banal and boring even. There. We said it. BUT it can also be pretty lovely if you create a space that cocoons both your personalities. (Ahhhh…)

Domestic bliss. Images sourced L to R: dailytelegraph.com.au and flickr.com

So you’re familiar with the art of compromise – let’s face it – you’d never have made it this far otherwise. But you’re not sure how to mesh your styles. (That beat-up armchair? Surely it’s not coming with.) Here’s how to shape your shared abode so it’s an expression of your lurrrve.

Adding in some organic textures – hide, geometric timber lighting and a timber coffee table. Or heavy wooden furniture assuages the feminine. Images sourced Zanui and mydomaine.com

Too much femme!
Antidote: embrace organic textures.

If you’re suffering from a surfeit of feminine accents, channel the handsome elements of Scandi style – opt for distressed leather and darker woods to defuse the decorative. Natural elements (wood, iron, stone) infuse your space with handsome. And rugged and refined is a match made in heaven.

Adding in a dash of black also works a treat. An urban-industrial bookshelf is the perfect foil for fine vases and photo frames.

Ebony elements and a dramatic feature wall. Images sourced: mydomaine.com

Your palette’s on the pretty side
Antidote: Add bold block colours for dramatic contrast.

If your colour scheme tends towards the pastel, adding dark colour as a backdrop can create the balance you’re searching for. Consider a navy feature wall. Renting? Change up your quilt cover and showcase your accent cushions.

In your living space, opting for more masculine or neutral colours as your staples allows your fave faux-fur cushion to pop without making the space seem too girly rom-com. A pattern-free rug offers another option.

Distressed leather paired with cushions and throws. And an extensive array of not-too-femme accent pieces. Images sourced L to R: decorilla.com and abigailahern.wordpress.com

When it’s on the shabby side…
Antidote: Include it!

So your (wo)man has a penchant for holding onto things and their old faves look more Vinnies than vintage. Believe it or not the inclusion of much-loved pieces in your space makes it more interesting. An armchair with a touch of the slump is the ideal home for a cushion with an on-trend metallic pattern. It’s escaping stuffing! Call on the services of a throw. Carry the colours across your accents for a sense of cohesion.

Eclectic spaces are textured and intriguing. Your home is a visual narrative of your life after all.

Pairing feminine designs with more masculine patterns – stripes, plaids, herringbone, and houndstooth work well. Images sourced L to R: mydomaine.com and dailydot.com

You’ve got a touch of the chintz
Antidote: incorporate more masculine patterns

There’s nothing wrong with a few florals and feminine tints. Add in some bold (or pin) striped or wool tartan cushions in more masculine hues to counterbalance things.

Or vice versa, if you’re trying to counteract an ultra-minimalist space. Interspersed these elements work a treat.

Add in sensual curves to a minimalist space to soften the angles. Images sourced L to R: makingitlovely.com, mymanthix.tumblr.com and Zanui

It’s way too stark!
Antidote: add in some sculptural elements.

If your space sits on the austere end of the spectrum, adding in some shapely silhouettes helps to offset the more extreme angles. Think of tear drop vases, svelte sofas, statement mirrors and sexy ottomans or stools. See our blog on ottomans for inspiration.

Vignettes are a perfect way to create a personal nook. Images sourced: Zanui, interiors-porn.tumblr.com and Zanui.

That can’t go in the living room
Antidote: Carve out some personal space for each party.

Cultivate nooks within your home where each of you can have ownership. You might not have room for a man-cave with a trophy altar or a boudoir with sateen-cushioned banquette seating* but a little vignette devoted to the individual is an ideal way to get around a lack of space.

Create your own gallery walls, claim the entryway, a corner of the study or even a spot on the balcony as your own.

*Forgive the gross genderalisations for the sake of brevity… we are all for woman-caves for cigar-smoking poker-playing ladies and powder-rooms for Great Gatsby glam-mens.

Images sourced L to R: mum-abulous.com and buzzfeed.com

It’s still a bit too him or her?
Antidote: Purchase some staple pieces together.

Ensuring that you both feel at home in your space is super-important. And sometimes it can still feel like his or her apartment. Selecting some dramatic art that you both love can create a signature style that you’re both invested in.

If all else fails, EDIT! De-clutter your space. Less really is more. 😀

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.