Perhaps you’re just moving in together; perhaps you’ve been cohabiting for years but still can’t figure out why little things get on each other’s nerves. Whatever the circumstance, home decor and organisation can play a surprisingly significant role in your relationship. Do it right, and both partners end up feeling respected and relaxed in the space. Do it wrong, and one partner may feel like their preferences don’t matter to the other (cue the resentment).
Read on for tips from a home expert and a relationship therapist to find out if you’re guilty of any of these blunders — and if you are, how to fix them.
NEGLECTING TO TALK ABOUT THE SOFA
It may sound oddly specific, but the sofa is where you and your partner spend much of your time outside of the bedroom. Because of this, it should be agreed upon mutually. “The most common mistake I see is one partner who either buys the sofa he or she likes and expects their partner to also like it, or brings their own sofa into the shared home,” says Jane Greer, a New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. “Also, they tend to put the sofa in the area they want it, rather than consulting their partner’s preference.”
If you’ve never considered this, it’s not too late to ask your partner: “Hey, I know I brought this sofa from my place, but what do you think of it? Would you ever want to buy a new one, or are you happy with the one we have?”
DISPLAYING BORING LANDSCAPES AS ARTWORK
Art shouldn’t just be used as a filler. Instead, it should reflect both you and your partner’s personal tastes and bring a sense of excitement to your home and relationship.
“It’s important that throughout the entire home, the chosen artwork is a collaborative effort,” says Laura Benko, founder of The Holistic Home Company and author of The Holistic Home: Feng Shui for Mind, Body, Spirit, Space. “It’s powerfully uniting when the artwork is loved by both, especially if it has a story behind it that involves your relationship. In the bedroom, be sure to swap out boring landscapes for imagery that pleases the senses and awakens your sensuality.”
NOT HAVING ANY PERSONAL SPACE
Yes, you love you partner, but we all need a little space to refresh and be by ourselves. Establish one zone for each person to call their own, and dedicate it as the “personal time” spot.
“Every home should have a comfortable personal space for each person to retreat to,” says Greer. “For example, a study or office, a section of the bedroom where you can kick back or a special chair in the living room. You want this place to be somewhere you can relax, read and watch TV to get some much needed ‘me time.'”
A NIGHTSTAND THAT DOUBLES AS A CATCH-ALL
Remember, your nightstand is the first thing you and your partner see when you wake up, and the last thing you see before hitting the sack. That means if it’s also the designated spot for to-do lists, unread books and charging cell phones, it’ll subconsciously induce stress in you both.
“All of these items take you out of the moment and deplete energy between you and your partner,” says Benko. “It could even lead to needless arguments.” Charge your phone somewhere else and only keep a book you’re currently reading near the bed — instead of reminding yourself of everything you haven’t gotten around to doing.
HAVING ONE PERSON’S INTERESTS EVERYWHERE
Of course you want to celebrate and appreciate your partner’s hobbies, but you are living in each other’s spaces. “You should never have one person’s personal hobbies or collections all over the place and out in the open,” says Greer. “If you love guitars, don’t leave your collection all over the living room, or have a guitar photo in every room of the house. Balance the space with both partners’ hobbies and activities.”
LEAVING THE DINING ROOM TABLE CLUTTERED
The dining room table is a common site for messes, and can create stress the instant you or your partner walk into the house. “Stress is decreased by maintaining a clear dining room table,” says Greer. “Things [like clutter] raise stress and anxiety and can make one or both partners uncomfortable with the arrangement.”
Though the dining room is a common place for messes, this same idea applies to other spaces in the home. Even if you claim to be relaxed when it comes to messes, disorganisation can subconsciously cause you to feel frazzled — making you and your S.O. more prone to fights.
LETTING ONE PERSON’S STYLE DOMINATE
Let’s say you love a traditional aesthetic, while your partner is more on the modern side of the spectrum. Even with opposite styles, it’s important to find a way to compromise so one person’s tastes don’t dominate. “One person may feel controlled or like their tastes are discounted,” says Greer. “In the long-term, partners can grow resentful and angry, feeling like what matters to them isn’t important to their partner. It can make them feel devalued and create a grudge if they think there isn’t room for their preferences in their shared home.”
Try discussing which parts of the house can showcase each style (perhaps modern bathrooms are most important to you partner, while you’re dying to incorporate French country elements in your kitchen), or create an eclectic theme that draws from both of your preferred aesthetics.
KEEPING REMNANTS OF PAST RELATIONSHIPS
This may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people have a hard time letting go of home pieces from a past lover. “One client had a large picture of her ex under her bed and was struggling through the same, similar patterns in her new relationship,” says Benko. “She said she wanted to keep the frame to use it for a picture of her and her new boyfriend, and was literally keeping the ‘framework’ from one bad relationship to another.”
Bluntly put: Just get rid of it. Plus, it’ll make your partner feel far more comfortable knowing your smiling ex is not under the bed.
FLUORESCENT LIGHTING IN THE BEDROOM
While you probably don’t have office-grade fluorescents beaming into your room, even a too-bright lamp can be off-putting for your love life.
“Get rid of fluorescent lighting — it’s horribly unflattering and unsexy for everyone,” says Benko. “Change out all bulbs for incandescent and install a dimmer.”
NOT HAVING ANY SHARED PIECES
Go ahead, brave furniture shopping together. Though you both naturally have items from your past, a few shared pieces can help you feel more united in your overall home.
“Respect each other’s tastes and preferences,” says Greer. “Expect there to be differences, and find a strategy to balance them by being open-minded and trying things your partner likes.” Besides, you know you’ve hit a couple milestone when you start negotiating flatware.
As seen on elledecor.com
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