By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer
As an interior designer for over 35 years, I’ve often been asked to consult with clients who are merging households so they can create a common vision, avoid unnecessary arguments, and create a path forward together.
Read my recent article: The Dueling Downsizers
The bottom line, both parties want to feel heard and have an experience that is bonding, one that will enhance their relationship as they move forward together.
While blending two households, two different aesthetics can be challenging, there are some simple logical steps that can be taken to anticipate and manage the potential obstacles.
1. Open, honest, and respectful communication
Blending household can be a test for any relationship because it requires that each party to:
- Speak up, use their voice
- Express their priorities i.e., needs for togetherness, alone time, and privacy
- Be flexible, open-minded if your partner wants something and he or she does not be willing to make choices that will work for both parties.
2. Create a unified vision/look
As a designer, I often request individual consultations to understand both party’s wants, needs, and “wish list”, as well as their priorities.
- We discuss style, aesthetics, and preferences, and how they want to live, work and play.
- We also discuss what’s negotiable and what’s not.
- Together, we determine what “home” looks like to them.
Individually, and collectively we help them clarify their vision, goals, and priorities.
3. Create a reality check
What fits? What doesn’t fit?
- The process includes a thorough field measure of the new space, an inventory/photo/measure of any existing furniture each of them wants to bring with them.
- It also includes creating your ABC list. (“how to” know what to keep, dispose of, and donate)
4. Managing emotions
When it comes to “mine or yours”, you don’t have to love it too, but you do have to be willing to negotiate, compromise, and look for a middle ground.
You will likely not get 100% of everything you want, so it’s important to discuss what you could live without and what you could live with.
Look for creative options to build a middle ground.
- e., could the piece of furniture that you don’t love be reupholstered?
- e., could that piece of furniture that you don’t love be repurposed and used in a completely new way?
5. Shop together for new items
Part of the bonding experience for a blended family is to discover what they both like that can be added to their new home.
Since they now share a common vision for what their home could look like, it’s fun to shop together for new pieces of furniture, artwork, and accessories to make them “ours”.
6. Worst case scenario
Scrap it all, start over. Sell or donate the furniture.
It’s not worth an argument or damaging the loving relationship…
After all, it’s just furniture!
Need help identifying what the “right-sized” home is for you?
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When in doubt, consult with an Interior Designer who is experienced
in working with blended households.