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The Zen of Sharing Space and Merging Styles

Moving in or sharing space with a friend or partner is not uncommon. Practicality, for one, is the biggest factor that brings very different people under one roof. This convenient setup also comes with a set of challenges that requires compromise—one of which is merging design styles.

Coming up with a cohesive place that still reflects your individual preferences is tricky, but here are few tips that might help.

How to merge design styles without losing your sanity

Get rid of the unnecessary

Make a list of all personal items and tick off what you don’t need. Next, take a look at each other’s list. For the same kind of furniture that you both have, choose to keep the quality, timeless pieces. Surely, one of you has better, long-lasting furniture. An antique table made of mahogany versus one made of composite wood? Keep the former and put the latter up for sale. You can always use the extra money to buy a new piece of furniture that both of you want and need.

Play with patterns and textures

Can’t get rid of a classic piece of furniture which sticks out like a thumb in your new shared space? You can always reupholster it. Traditional chairs and sofas can look chic and modern with new coverings. Replace the busy patterns with solid, bold colors that complement contemporary pieces. If you decide to stick to ornate seats, choose a center table with solid lines to avoid the feel of a busy room. Softer upholstery can complement even the most masculine of all leather furnishings. It’s all about striking a balance with patterns and textures.

Invest on new pieces together

If you’re looking to bring in new furniture, invest in items that define both of you. A decorative or functional piece that reflects each of your design styles can bring harmony to your space. Fuse your preferences with a few focal pieces, such as a timeless piece of wall art or a classic bookshelf.


Go for comfort

As much as you’d like to let your style shine in a common area, you also have to consider that you’re sharing it with another person. Merging design styles entails a small amount of sacrifice to make sure all parties are comfortable. The idea is to complement, not overpower, each one’s preferences.

Complement each of your design styles

It is a misconception that combining two different design styles won’t work. For example, ornate pieces such as French antique furniture marry well with Asian or Victorian decor. Interior designers also swear by the 80-20 rule: as long as majority of your design styles complement each other, you can keep things interesting by introducing different elements in your interiors.

Experiment with the extremes

To be safe, most people moving in together just forego their extremely different design styles and settle with neutral tones and pieces. Although it is considerably much less of a hassle, wouldn’t it be more rewarding had you experimented and found unity amidst your unique tastes?

The key is to push the limits. When dealing with dramatic furniture and modern fixed pieces, you can successfully achieve an eclectic mix by juxtaposing the old with the new. You don’t need to keep that mirror with baroque detail holed up in the attic. Hang it up against clean lines and see how it complements your modern chairs.


Consult a professional

If unsure, you can always consult a designer that can help you combine and merge your design styles. An expert’s’ eye can make you see what seemed impossible, without compromising each of your preferences. Meet with your professional designer at the same time to avoid confusion. Make sure you have communicated want you want but be open to new ideas.

Learn the art of compromise and everything will fall into place—even that antique piece of furniture. As long as you agree that this new space is a shared, then there is always room for different design styles.


About the author: Angie Cole is a fan of everything vintage and admires the true old-world craftsmanship. She is a fan of Antiques on Old Plank Road, home of antique desks and other French antique furniture.