personal: Design Compromise: How to Design Spaces with Your Significant Other

Happy Friday, friends! We are moving right along on our bathroom projects- the basement AND the powder room refresh (I was serious when I said this is shaping up to be the year of bath makeovers, ha). Those reveals are coming soon, and I’m excited to share more! In the meantime, I wanted to tackle a question I get allllll the time…”How do you and Emmett compromise as you design and renovate spaces? Does he weigh in or do you just go with your own plan?” Click through to read how we work together, as I answer these questions. I’m also sharing some tips on how to work with your significant other or spouse. Maybe they’ll be helpful for your next big project.

Be Willing to Meet in the Middle

Did you catch our basement media room updates this week? Well, if not- there was a very big design compromise in there… the leather recliner! Emmett has been begging for a reclining chair for YEARS (ok, basically our entire marriage). I took a trip to HomeGoods earlier in the week and made all his leather chair dreams come true!


I’ll admit I wasn’t super excited at the thought of a recliner (they’re typically super bulky and don’t exactly match our aesthetic), but seeing that one at HomeGoods was meant to be. It has clean, classic lines, is a nice cognac / tobacco color, and it has a nice nailhead trim detail… which feels more representative of our style. The big lesson for me was this…  I needed to give recliners a chance- both because when have I ever let a design challenge stop me in the past, and because it makes Emmett SO happy. Seriously, he hasn’t left that chair since we put in the basement!

Think through why you don’t like the idea of something (like a recliner, in my scenario) and how you can find an item or solution that appeals to the both of you. It’s honestly all about compromise. I never thought I’d buy a recliner, but here we are! Stranger things have happened, I suppose. My point being… meet in the middle. I’m very stubborn and strong willed, so this one can be challenging for me.

Think About Your Strengths

This is a big one for us! Emmett is very analytical (he’s an accountant, by trade) and is a great big picture thinker. I’m a total detail-oriented creative person, which is actually helpful when we think through projects together. I focus on all of the little things and he is always taking a step back and thinking big picture and budget. It helps us think of things from all angles.

I want everything to be aesthetically pleasing, but also functional. Believe me when I say- it IS possible to have both in a space… even in a tricky bathroom renovation (remember my Form vs Function post on bathroom essentials?). I’ve come to find, when Emmett and I each weigh in on a project, we come up with better solutions and the project ends up exceeding our expectations. Two brains are always better than one! However, I will say… Emmett leaves 95% of the design plan to me (again- he knows my strength is design and creativity). He’s more likely to chime in when discussing the budget, building, or functionality. Sometimes it’s good to have parameters- they force me to be more creative and think outside the box, and he’s really good at setting those boundaries for us.

Talk About the End Result

Speaking of results, dreaming of how you want your home to look and function is SO important! We’re constantly talking about what rooms we want to tackle, and how we envision using them in the future. If we go on a dinner date, we always end up brainstorming and dreaming up new ideas for our home (because we’re both super passionate about it). It just gets us excited. We’re obviously tackling our home renovation room-by-room, but that doesn’t mean we’re not considering other spaces that are on the longterm agenda. It’s very rewarding to plan, think about, and discuss a space in the present, then see it come to fruition months or years down the road. I feel proud of us a couple when we accomplish our home goals together!

Each room in your home is connected and is apart of the bigger picture (this is where Emmett excels), so thinking about how spaces come together as a single unit under the same roof (aka- your home) is important. Renovating our kitchen meant thinking about the formal living room and eventually the dining room, when we get to that project. Rooms don’t have to match, but they need to flow together and work with your lifestyle and aesthetic. Emmett is great at planning and setting us up for the next room renovation. He tackles things behind the walls (like plumbing) that leads to a domino effect for future remodeling. When I said he’s a big picture thinker, he thinks ahead… here’s a good example: he made sure to check plumbing and electrical issues off his list while the walls were opened up, that way we don’t have to demo the drywall a second time and worry about those issues when tackling the dining room. I appreciate his efficiency. It makes the end result much easier!

Celebrate Your Wins

Have you and your significant other tackled a big (or small) project together with an incredible result? Make time to celebrate your victories! Whether that’s going out for a fancy dinner or inviting friends over for drinks, we always make sure to give ourselves (and each other) a pat on the back once we’re finished. Lots of people ask if it’s difficult working with your spouse. Once we figured out how to communicate efficiently in a work environment (renovating), it’s honestly not bad! If anything, I feel like it makes our marriage stronger, because we make a great team and can be proud of our accomplishments together.

I will say- taking the time to step back and appreciate all the things you’ve done together is a great way to motivate yourself for the next big project. Our mentality is work hard, then play hard. I can’t say we’ve perfected our work / life balance, but we’re doing a lot better. We tackle a LOT of projects around here, but we also take a lot of breaks in between and plan fun things together. Whether it’s a weekend camping trip, kayaking for the day, driving up in the mountains to ski, or taking time to lounge and simply watch a movie together- it’s nice to be on the same page and know we’re both working equally as hard, so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Speaking of working together, Emmett and I are ready to finish up the tile in our basement bathroom this weekend. I think we’re on the homestretch and should be ready to share the big reveal within a week or two! Do you and your spouse work well together on projects? What are some of your biggest hurdles? Disagreements and comprising is totally normal- renovating can be stressful, but the important thing to remember is to keep communicating. I hope these tips help you with your next home project. Have a wonderful weekend!


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