This is the question I often think when I have couples arguing over the design of a home. Actually, it’s not really a question, but more of a statement about control.
For example, why does a husband want to have way too much kitchen design input when he doesn’t ever cook a meal? Let it go, dude. Go hit golf balls or something. Okay, this is very 1950’s of me. But, you get my point: It has to go both ways!
There are many times where my “point person” on a project is in the home more of the time and requires it to work for them (e.g. men who cook and love certain appliances over another; one partner who works from home and needs ample quiet and space, etc.). Everyone needs a place (even if it’s just a room) they can call home. And, everyone needs to be heard. Couples therapy 101, y’all. But in many cases, I find that a particular family member feels the need to give more input when the choices really don’t involve him. Okay, I used the pronoun “him”. In my experience, this is usually the dynamic of most relationships. Sorry not sorry.
To be fair, I’m a pro at controlling my environment. My therapy is cleaning and organizing when things in my life feel out of control. I want my home to speak the right message to me: everything is going to be okay. I get control.
My husband and I use to fight over control of house stuff. Poor guy. I’d like to think I’m more flexible and I’m sure he’s just capitulated altogether. But, what I’m hoping is that we’ve learned the lesson of “stay in your lane.” When I wanted to buy our current home, he put up a huge stink and dug his heels in with a lot of (invalid to me) excuses. I held firm. I mean, I know houses. That’s what I do. So he went to yoga and came home and said, “okay, buy the house”. THANK YOU yoga. While sweating away at yoga, he concluded that he wasn’t sure why he was trying to control our house choice. Laura knows houses, he thought. Why am I doubting her? Update: He absolutely loves our (forever!) home. He lets me design small and big spaces over and over again; he puts up with me rearranging furniture on a weekly basis. He even doesn’t complain anymore when I ask him to haul shit around that’s been moved 200 times already. He’s a happy husband, I’m a happy home designer in my own home.
On the flip side, my husband is into tons of hobbies I’m not into: concerts, bikes and biking gear, all things hockey, camping equipment, technology and car stuff. I could care less so I stay in my lane. One area where we clash is the basement. My husband’s idea of decorating looks like a mashup of the CBGB bathroom (google it, folks), a college dorm room and a hockey locker room circa 1980. I cringe. He wants band posters everywhere. He wants his drums set up in case he has time to jam out on any given occasion (eye roll). He wants all of his HABS jerseys framed and hung during hockey season. But, I get it. That’s his sanctuary. He needs a place to call his.
So, I used my best couples Therapy 101 teachings and listened. And I think I’ve taken his dorm room basement tastes to a new level, incorporating all the things he loves in a very cool and sexy way. And he loves it. And I love the rest of the house – a fair and appropriate 90%-10% split, lol.
The lesson is: during the design process, care about the things that are important to you and let the rest go. As a designer, I’m here to help! Part creative, part therapist. I promise to be fair.