Combining Households

You may be in love with your partner, but you don't love his furniture. How do you bridge the gap in tastes as you mesh your lives with each other? It seems unbearable that his fake suede reclina-rocker will need to share space with your Louis XIV armoire.

Le Pissoir

The good news is that there's always a workaround. Well, almost always.

How do you work around his whisky decanter? The one that is modeled after Le Pissoir and urinates single malt scotch?

In many ways, it seems, blending your design styles may be more challenging than getting along with your mother in-law or looking the other way on politics or religion. But there are ways and means to compromise. If you hate that book shelf coated with heavy black lacquer, you can place some plants or decorative screens in strategic areas to minimize its impact. He keeps the shelf, and you have helped it recede into the background, in an act that is a serious compromise. You are back to Power Couple status in no time flat!

Take Stock

But let's roll things back a bit. Take stock of your combined possessions: lamps, sofa, chairs, bedroom furniture, dining room table, and figure out the common denominator between these furniture items. Can you put them together to get a clean, minimalist look, or are things veering in the direction of shabby chic?

Much Worse

Or maybe it's much worse than that (of course it is, or you wouldn't be reading this article). What you need to do is rate the seriousness of the situation. Can you use any of your items together or will you need to start anew?

If your budget doesn't allow for a complete overhaul, try to salvage the biggest items, such as the sofa or the bed. If there are two sofas between you, keep the one that has the most life left in it and see if you can't use it as your design centerpiece. If the color or the style is a complete mismatch with your other items, get a slip cover you can both live with. Now that you have your major design focus for the room all settled you can begin to see where your other pieces fit in if at all and make the decisions of what to add or subtract so that you end up with a room that works.

If you decide that your budget allows for a few purchases, the same rule holds: go for the big pieces first, the sofa, or a dining room table, and invest in the best you can afford. Use these as central design features and accessorize with less expensive items. And remember, love will conquer all, even interior decorating issues!