A Home You Both Love: 12 Solutions for Your Biggest Decor Disputes

If you’re cohabitating with your sweetheart, you’ve probably noticed some slight—or extremely major—differences in tastes and habits. Why let those little disagreements get in the way of domestic bliss? Here, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we list a dozen style stress points, plus easy ways to smooth them over and build a happy home.

Grandma’s Heirlooms vs. Fresh Furniture

Hand-Me-Downs or New Furniture

The dilemma: One partner adores the charm of Grandma’s big brown armoire and her harvest-gold sofa. The other is wishing for brand-new, mod-looking gear.

The compromise: Give Grandma’s old stuff a makeover with clever use of paint or fabric. Old brown wood can look really sharp when brushed with glossy black, and a snazzy new upholstery job will take the sofa set from grim to gorgeous. Even Grandma will be pleased.

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Wall-to-Wall Carpeting vs. Hardwood

Wall-to-Wall Carpet or Hardwood Flooring

The dilemma: One party loves the luxurious hush of carpeted rooms; the other longs for the gleam of wood flooring.

The compromise: Use wall-to-wall in the bedroom, so you can begin and end your day with a plush texture underfoot. In the living spaces, go for wool or cotton area rugs surrounded by shining hardwood.

Related: The 9 Rules for Rugs That Everyone Should Know

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Cool Leather vs. Warm Upholstery

Leather or Upholstery in the Living Room

The dilemma: When it comes to sofas and chairs, one player wants black leather, the other prefers cushy velvet.

The compromise: Split the difference. Choose leather for armchairs and a soft cuddly fabric for the couch—and stick to the same color family to let the textures play off of each other. The variety will add tons of visual interest to your living space and harmony to your home.

Related: The 7 Room Layout Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

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Big TV vs. No TV

Big TV or No TV

The dilemma: One partner thinks the living room should be all about the giant flat-screen; the other envisions a serene, screen-free sanctuary.

The compromise: Place the flat screen in unit with doors to hide it when it’s not in use, or invest in a pretty frame that can make a wall-mounted television look more like a picture.

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Mementos vs. Minimalism

Displaying Mementos or Keeping Out Clutter

The dilemma: One mate treasures a home filled with memory-laden knick-knacks; the other is an avid clutter-buster who strives for a sleek and minimal look.

The compromise: Designate a space (such as a guest room or a home office) as “the shrine,” where the sentimentalist can spend quality time with all those tsotchkes. Let the minimalist preside over the rest of the home, which will feel clean and calm (but allow the clutter-lover to display a carefully chosen object here or there).

Related: 11 Easy DIY Projects to Declutter Your Home

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Coat Hangers vs. Coat Droppers

Hanging Coats or Not

The dilemma: One inhabitant tends to shed coats and hats wherever they land; the other likes to keep them neatly arrayed behind closed doors.

The compromise: Hang a row of hooks near the entry—and make sure they’re big and sturdy, so even a lifelong dropper can be trained to deposit gear in the right spot.

Related: 14 Ultrafunctional Ideas to Steal for Your Entryway

homepolish.com; photographed by Claire Esparros

Functional vs. Pretty Kitchen

Practical Kitchen or Beautiful Kitchen

The dilemma: One cook wants a hard-working kitchen equipped with stainless steel gadgetry and durable surfaces; the other wants marble, chandeliers, and old-world cabinets that hides all the workaday stuff.

The compromise: Mixed-material kitchens are totally on-trend, so feel free to combine ornate cupboards with commercial-style appliances, or to use a gorgeous marble on the island and a tougher countertop around the perimeter.

Related: 11 Cheap Cures for a Cluttered Kitchen

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Full Shelves vs. Styled Shelves

Crammed Bookshelves or Styled Bookshelves

The dilemma: One spouse is a bookworm who wants to fill the shelves like library stacks; the other prefers a sparse, curated shelf-scape featuring interesting objets d’art and perhaps a few color-matched volumes.

The compromise: Place the library stacks in a hallway with shallow store-bought or built-in bookcases extending floor to ceiling, and let the bookworm organize them. Keep a “showcase” shelf in the living area for the stylist to command.

Related: 10 Novel DIYs for a Better Bookshelf

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DIY Fix-Ups vs. Professional Job

DIY Repair or Cslling in the Professionals

The dilemma: One partner insists on in-house handling of repairs and rehabs, while the other would rather contract it out and get it done fast.

The compromise: For quick fixes, let the family handyman get it done. For projects that could drag on or be dangerous, leave it to the professionals.


Pile Maker vs. Neat Filer

Bills and Papers Piled Up or Filed Away

The dilemma: One mate keep track of bills and papers by stacking them in plain sight; the other abhors such an untidy system and likes to stow things in organized files.

The compromise: Use some nice, open baskets for keeping papers corralled but still within view--then make a vow: the stacker will sort through the stacks regularly, then the the filer will archive the important papers for safekeeping.


Related: Let It Go—14 Things to Trash Without Thinking Twice


The Color Addict vs. The Neutralizer

Bold or Neutral Color Palette

The dilemma: One player is crazy for bold, bright hues and wants to splash every room with magenta, turquoise, and emerald; the other pines for nothing but white, cream, and perhaps a little taupe.

The compromise: Let the neutrals set the scene: walls, furniture and floors should all be quiet in tone. Then go for lavishly colorful accessories: throws, pillows, and table lamps can all scream for attention (and the neutralizer can shut them up in the closet when no one else is home).

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Toilet Paper Roll In vs. Roll Out

Toilet Paper Rolled In or Out

The dilemma: One bathroom denizen thinks the paper should unspool toward the wall; the other believes it should roll toward the user.

The compromise: There’s only one solution to this age-old conflict: separate bathrooms.

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