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When She’s Frilly (and He’s Not)
It’s not always the case that women like things frilly and feminine and men are the opposite (I’ve actually had male clients who liked things typically considered more feminine, like delicate, curvy, light-colored furniture, while their counterparts preferred darker, heavier, more linear pieces), but it’s the classic stereotype and it bears out more often than not. When the places we live in are all about us and no one else, we can obviously do pretty much whatever we like in them. When it comes to couples sharing spaces, it’s not as easy.
Is it possible to give both genders what they want? To a certain extent, yes. There’s almost always some compromise involved, just like there is in any good relationship, but it’s definitely possible to create interior spaces that both sides can enjoy, relax in, and feel good about.
Bedrooms often abound in florals and ruffles, and they’re a good place to start when it comes to merging styles. There’s often no need to entirely get rid of the flowers and flounces, but corralling them a bit can go a long way. If the first thing people notice about your bed is the vast collection of accessory pillows (and there’s quite a bit of partner grumbling about having to remove them every night and replace them every morning), think about paring them down to a more manageable level, say some large shams and a couple of cleaner-lined accent pillows. Combine them with a sleek bedspread or duvet in a pattern and color that you both like (or can at least live with) and maybe a soft accent throw at the foot of the bed, and you’ve got a quick fix that will also give your bedroom a more serene, sleep-inducing look and feel. Something as simple as replacing an ornate window valance with something with cleaner lines can also help merge the feminine with the masculine in a way that can make both sides happy.
For tackling larger spaces or entire homes, one very successful approach is to have a meeting of the minds with a trained mediator, in other words an interior designer, who can advocate for both sides and come up with a plan that incorporates what both partners feel strongly about. This is my preferred method, as it can help couples reach consensus on what they like and don’t like fairly quickly and help them determine the things they need to compromise on in a fairly neutral setting.
Interesting things can happen in these meetings. Some couples, especially ones who have been married for a while, come to realize they’re not that far apart on what they like. Bringing them together can be as simple as rearranging furniture, improving color flow throughout their home, updating some window coverings, maybe reupholstering a favorite chair or two. Some couples come to me bound and determined that battle lines must be drawn, that he’ll have his spaces and she’ll have hers and never the twain shall meet. It isn’t always possible to bring them to accord (see accompanying story), but I’ve found that even the toughest guy can usually tolerate a ruffle or two, and even the most feminine woman can learn to live with properly framed sports memorabilia prints in the den. It’s all about striking a balance, and isn’t that true with just about everything?