When Opposites Attract

So what first attracted you to your partner, was it that he was so different to everyone you had previously dated, so different to you maybe. You were always so straight one-eighty, clothes perfectly ironed, not one hair out of place and you always carry a pen. He was a surfer dude, happiest in his boardies and thongs, but nevertheless Cupid struck you both.

Opposites do attract.

But what if you have opposite styles in the home too. You are neat and tidy with everything having its own place, you’re minimalist and you don’t like clutter. He’s a maximalist and his flat was always full of things you felt he had no use for but he liked to have it around. Now you are moving in together how can your two styles work in the same space?

This situation is not to be confused with your partner having terrible taste, (that is in Part Two next time and my husband will be nervously reading that one!), in many ways that can be easier as the one with terrible taste will usually recognise that, or at least care less. When you have two competing but valid styles the potential for conflict is higher.

As a designer, we tend to play relationship counsellor sometimes. I would never walk into someone’s domestic argument and pick a side; that would be both career and maybe even literal suicide!

Being one part of a partnership requires compromise, and in my experience moving in together requires more compromise than at any other part of the relationship including getting married (we just did what I wanted when getting married – no arguments required). However, if you are going to make a go of the partnership then this is the right time to do it and not leave one partner with a list of smouldering resentments building up.

Here are my top tips for managing your conflicting styles:

Talk it out

Sounds obvious but actually sit down and discuss how you want the house laid out before you move in together. What items do you or your partner own that are deal-breakers, perhaps they have great sentimental value (note that saying “my old girlfriend bought me this” won’t win many compromise points!). Once you have a selection of items that you can work around then you can begin properly.

Sell everything and buy new stuff

If you are just moving in together then there won’t be any need to keep two of certain items – there may not be room for two sofas for example. It may be that the existing carpets or walls lend themselves to one of the two sofas but if not then you could always sell them both on gumtree and buy one you both like.

Be brutal

By that I don’t mean launch into a huge fight in which you tell your partner exactly what you think of them. I actually mean be brutal with yourself. Before moving in together you need to look honestly at everything you own and decide whether or not you really need it. Do this before you both turn up at the door to your new home each armed with enough furniture to fill it. You should be de-cluttering on a regular basis anyway (read all about how to here), but it is all the more important when you move houses.

Find your recurring theme

You might not think it at first but find a repeated theme. Maybe you both have similar dark timber legs on your furniture. Maybe you both hate patterned fabrics so do colour blocking. Find the reoccurring theme even if its something small and start from there. There must be something that you have in common even if you feel like complete opposites.

Take inspiration from experiences

Is there a movie you both love? Somewhere you travelled together perhaps? Creating a style out of shared experiences will not only result in you both smiling whenever you walk into the room, but also it means that you are creating something entirely unique to you as a couple.

Embrace it

If both love polar opposites, one likes dark and the other likes light colours and textures, why not have the best of both worlds and go eclectic. Some of the best interiors are a mish mash of styles and trends.

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