Designing For Couples

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Over the years, I have led many couples on their journey of “couple design discovery.” By connecting their individual vision for their home, they create a style that is unique for them.

For this to work, it is essential that both people be involved in the design process. It doesn’t mean that they both must like everything; however, they must be willing to accept the needs and desires of the other person as long as their own needs and desires are met, too.

Couples can begin by assessing what they enjoy together. These similarities play a key factor in developing their combined style. They can express together in ways that are creative and often unexpected, and the unexpected may be the most important. This is when new information about each other can be gathered, which then leads to better understanding of each other’s needs. This thoughtful creative process helps design a home that speaks of the couple and makes new memories in their shared environment. I like to say that 1 + 1 = 3. A new and unique style.

Acceptance of each other’s taste comes with understanding. It’s important that both people explain their reasons when making design choices. It’s not just about a particular style, color or pattern. These choices are about each person’s unique reaction to them. Once we understand why we feel a certain way, we are able to explain it to our partner. Then we are able to create something that contains our shared beliefs, goals, and dreams.

Here are some questions to discuss. Be sure to sit in a comfortable, quiet place to share your feelings:

  • What are the things you like doing together?
  • What are the things you like to do alone?
  • What is your favorite room in the house? Why?
  • Do you have or need a place to be alone?
  • What are the things you agree about in the home décor? Why.
  • What are the things you don’t agree about in the home décor? Why.
  • Are you expressing what is important to you or are you wanting to please the other person.

As you discuss these questions, others will come up. It is necessary to hear each other’s answers. Once you know the reasons for the feelings, both yours and theirs, you can come to a place of compromise and make mutual choices.

Recently, I worked with a couple who were redecorating their home. They anticipated being at odds with each other as they were when they initially decorated their home years earlier. I suggested they go through their house separately and make a list of all the things they absolutely wanted to keep and the pieces they no longer wanted. They were surprised and amazed that they had the same items on both lists. I wasn’t surprised, because after 10 years of marriage their tastes had blended, but they hadn’t realized it. They were overjoyed with the outcome. We proceeded with the project designing for their taste today and eliminated the rest.

Finding harmony between two people who live together may not be easy, but it is rewarding. Especially when you honor both yourself and your “room” mate.

Always remember that rooms have no feelings, YOU do.

Barbara Kaplan, Allied ASID, IFDA, an Arizona based interior designer, CEO of Design Dimensions, and Barbara’s Picks, a design and lifestyle influencer, and author of The Bajaro Method, Rooms Have No Feelings, You Do! Visit or

Photo by deborah is lola on / CC BY-NC-SA

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