The Home Design Wars

Couples tend to spat over money, sex, children, and in-laws, but who knew that home decorating could be a bone of contention between two halves of a happy couple? Believe it—behind every gorgeous room exist the ruins of many unhappy, heated squabbles between two otherwise loving people. It makes no difference whether you used your admittedly amateur home design instincts or brought in an expert. You may even be a professional decorator, yourself. Making a home beautiful for two wonderful people can be a nasty experience when both are opinionated about home décor.

Family Feuds

Georgia-native Elaine Griffin, whose expertise lies in home design outlines the issue: "After the clothes that you wear, the house you live in is the most personal style statement you can make." Griffin is often forced to witness family-feuds while working with couples on design projects. "More often than not couples do clash. It makes perfect sense."

Griffin does feel that a home should reflect the personal taste of all those who live therein. But it's inevitable that a couple will have to compromise. Also, one needs to keep in mind that there are basic differences between men and women.

For one thing, the sexes may not agree on the way furniture is used. Women may see a perfect Saarinen womb chair as an objet d'art, while a man wants a comfortable chair for long hours of contented television-viewing. Men tend to think only of comfort and won't want to pay for a chair that isn't doesn't fit the bill. A couple can compromise by buying more than one chair. That means having something comfortable for him, and something that represents a striking design feature, for her.

European Flair

Griffin worked in Paris as a fashion publicist for many years before turning to a career as a home designer. She likes eclectic style, but wants a bit of European flair. She developed her style over long years of living alone in an apartment setting. Then she met and married Michael McGarry, a psychoanalyst.

The couple hit it off right away and by their fourth date, knew they were going to get married. Griffin, now 45, was quite relieved to discover that McGarry's bachelor quarters had few furnishings. The studio apartment was situated on New York's Upper East Side. As Griffin recalls, "I knew I could marry my husband when I saw he only had a studio. That’s what I call the ideal fiancé—furniture-less."