Till decor us do part – How many cushions can a marriage handle?

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Home decor

Blogger Mary B investigates the décor disasters and colour compromises of a newlywed couple…

Does sharing a home mean sharing the same tastes in the way that home should be decorated and interior-designed?

Well, yes, that would be nice. But in truth, marriage is all about going out of your way to accommodate different ideas about the good things in life, even if it means one of you has to put up with the other’s love of retro curtains, scented candles, and crazy colours.

It all started with the wedding gifts

Yes, we asked for cash and, no, not everyone decided to take our many hints. So we ended up with some rather interesting items to disperse around our flat. And by disperse, I mean proudly display some of them, attempt to hide others, and try to quietly re-gift the rest.

But that’s beside the point. What the wedding gifts did was reveal how vastly different my taste in decor is from Etienne’s.

You see, the wedding gifts I was happy to spread across our flat were pretty much the exact ones that made Etienne grimace as he unwrapped them. And the pieces he thought were awesome were the exact ones that didn’t match my colour scheme, my room themes, my carefully curated array of curios – heck, nothing!

But here’s where it gets really awkward

I’ve been living in our flat for much longer than Etienne – it was my property originally, and Etienne has since adopted it. Which means the flat started out very much as my space, filled with pieces I had chosen, colours I love and decor I wanted to live in.

So Etienne and I had never particularly discussed his home-building tastes and ideas compared to mine. He kinda just moved in and made himself at home, which amounted to bringing all his gadgets along, and, of course, a TV far too big for any room in the flat. And that was it.

But now, as we’ve been reconsidering the furniture, the pictures, the decor, it’s become very clear that Etienne had been living in our flat hating pretty much all the interior all the time.

And there was me, super proud of my matching cushions and curtains, my perfectly evenly spaced candles (yes, they’ve never been lit, but hey, they look good – ok?), and my rows and rows of shoes lined up along the bedroom walls.

He hates bright colours…

Now I’ve discovered Etienne hates bright colours (the lounge is scattered with vivid blues and greens), detests ‘un-functional’ trinkets like scented candles and picture frames and those ceramic figurines I thought looked really cute at some touristy shop on holiday.

And don’t even mention the antique tea set I’ve never used but haven’t the heart to give away.

Etienne is all about utility and muted, non-offensive (can I say boring?) tones. I’m all about pops of zesty colour and pretty things with sentimental value that serve no function other than to make me smile.

But while Etienne may loathe the cushions that edge him off the couch, and hate the bizarre things lining our shelves, I’ve also discovered that he’s not willing to do much about them.

Sure, if I do a spring clean or go shopping for paler cushions or decide to move things around, he’ll be happy. But if I ask him to clear out any of my decor he doesn’t like? Well, let’s just say it’s still sitting there, weeks later.

Does he pitch in?

In our marriage, I’m definitely the homemaker, the decor do-er, the one who will spend my own money and time turning our house into a home. Does Etienne have opinions on the colours and furniture and trinkets I use to get the job done? Sure. But is he interested in pitching in? Almost always, no.

And as stereotypical as it may be, I do think it’s a male/female thing. Does Etienne enjoy living in a beautiful, homey space? Of course he does. Is he deeply invested in its creation? Not at all.

I’m the one who gets house-proud, who loves to organise and re-organise the furniture, just because I can. I’m the one who could browse in home stores for weeks without getting bored. I’m the one who is invested.

So I’ve created a new decor mandate for our flat, and for any home we own together in the future

You don’t like it? Feel free to change it. But whoever gets the job done first, wins. And whoever complains but doesn’t opt to do anything about it, has to keep shtum about everything. Yes, even about those garishly patterned curtains. (For the record, they’re retro, and not at all nauseating.)

That almost always means that I’ll be the one who gets to pick the colours of the walls and the coordinating bed linen, and the number of cushions per couch and the kind of pattern on the curtains. And yes, this is Etienne’s home too now, so I do have to shop and plan and imagine with his tastes in mind (a little less colour and a little more minimalism).

But I do think that since I’m the one invested, the one pouring energy into the small flat I call home, my happy place away from work and worries and wacky in-laws , I do get final say.

The day Etienne notices the walls are now a different colour, and then (shock, horror!) goes out to buy a different shade of paint, is the day we can talk about a more mutual decor mandate. Until then, those retro curtains and scented candles and crazy colours are here to stay.

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