I never thought my husband would have so much input on the design of our home.
Growing up, my mom decorated the entire house exactly as she pleased, without any resistance from my dad. It has been thoughtfully decorated by a Southern woman with excellent taste, and it is completely gorgeous. I thought I would have the same domestic freedoms…not so much.
When my husband and I purchased our apartment, I quickly learned that he had strong opinions about how he wanted our home to be decorated. At first, I was pretty confused and a little disappointed that I wasn’t going to get to do what I thought was best for our home.
After all, when I met my husband he was living in an apartment in Brooklyn that was the farthest thing from “homey” I had ever seen. His room had hideous yellow walls that he never bothered to paint over. He never hung (or even stuck) anything on the walls. He chose to walk to the light switch every night never instead of getting a bedside lamp, and he had a cardboard box for a hamper! I’m sorry…you have opinions on decorating?! Who are you?!
I swallowed my pride and started working together (making a ridiculous number trips to Home Depot for sample pots of paint) to choose the paint colors that you see on our walls. I was very impressed with his specificity and vision. When I wanted to settle, he made sure we got it just right. I was shocked. My husband had surprisingly good taste and an interest in creating a home with me. I did not want to squander that spark of creativity! (My husband is a banker – creativity is not his speciality).
Our decorating options were pretty limited in the beginning, as we were on a tight budget. To add to the challenge, my husband let me know that he did not want to own another piece of furniture that we had to construct ourselves (farewell to any and all dreams I had of IKEA hacks, Overstock deals, or cute Target look-alikes). He wanted quality wood pieces, AND (get this!) he wanted to leave the city with nothing in a few years. Now that’s a tough order!!
I did not expect to be following such strict rules in my decorating adventures!
So where did I begin? As always, my creative process began with Pinterest.
I began pinning photos of rooms that evoked an emotional response from me: happiness, calm, welcoming, warmth. I specifically looked for examples of blue and green color schemes, and for small but homey spaces that looked similar in shape to our living room and kitchen. I looked past floral patterns and monograms (mostly) and tried to stay as classic and gender neutral as possible.
Then one night, when he was in a REALLY good mood (I recommend a few beers)…I asked him to look through some photos with me so I could understand what he was looking for in a home. His ideas seemed to lean toward the upscale bachelor pad – of course. He was into leather couches, big bookshelves, industrial design, and yet – bright and happy colors (thank goodness!). There were a number of photos that we both really liked. I had somewhere to start!
Now, for this Southern, college sorority girl, who loves pink and sparkles and monograms I have to admit…he couldn’t have been a better design team partner for me!
I know that’s probably not what you were expecting me to say.
I know that without my husband’s strong sense of personal style and demand for quality items in our home, our apartment might have ended up like my college dorm room: (I’m going to regret sharing this).
Obviously, my taste has changed a lot since those days. Wow.
There was (and is) a lot I could learn from my husband’s sense of simplistic living – cardboard boxes excluded. I now enjoy the calming effect of our subdued color palette and appreciate the unfilled spaces of our home as they allow the eyes to rest. Similarly, I think he’d agree that he’s learned the value of investing money in creating a decorated space that feels like a home worth coming home to at night. (This is something to cherish in a stressful city like NYC).
As our apartment continues to gradually come together, he’s now proud to invite friends and colleagues over for dinner, drinks or game nights. Inevitably, one of his friends will say that our apartment is “cute.” He used to take this as an insult, but then one of his friends went on to explain that he wished his apartment was a little “cuter.” Recently, even our out of town friends (with cars and “real homes”) commented on the cuteness of the cozy little spot we created within our shoebox apartment. He just smiled and said, “Thanks, my wife did it.”
I know that this apartment would not be what it is today without the brakes he’s pumped or the ideas I’ve spilled over him in waves. Sometimes he likes my ideas, and sometimes he doesn’t. In the end, knowing that my husband loves and admires our home as much as I do is far more rewarding than doing exactly what I preferred without his opinion.
I’m proud to say, I followed his furniture standards and stuck with our original blue and green color scheme. Since moving in with our mishmash of belongings, we’ve acquired 3 new pieces of furniture – all are real wood and solid pre-constructed pieces.
His stipulations may have slowed the buying and acquiring process, but in the end I’m not ashamed to say that our home is more thoughtfully and richly furnished because of it. (Though I am hoping he changes his mind about not moving it all wherever we go next).
Who would have thought that I could learn so much about decorating from my husband? I’m so grateful he spoke up and challenged me to decorate our home as part of a team. Marriage is a pretty cool thing!
Have you asked your husband what he thinks of your home lately? His style might impress you!