How to Decorate Your House as a Couple

A couple paints an empty room with plastic on the floor; the one on the right wear a grey shirt and jeans while using a pain roller on the wall while the other stands on a ladder in overalls, stirring paint in a can.

Whether you’re moving in together for the first time or tackling a home redesign project as a couple, combining styles or working on a cohesive decor plan can be a challenge. With so many options, we've gathered some of the best tips to help you work together.

1. Talk Out Styles.

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Clear communication is essential for couples, and decorating a home together is no exception. Set aside some time for a casual talk about both of your favorite styles, any styles or decor items that are a definite no, your expectations about decorating and what you consider priorities.

Having a real discussion can give you great insight, and you’ll both buy new pieces in the future with each other in mind. Celebrate common ground and individuality. For example, I love a dark yellow, but that is not a color my spouse likes enough for a whole bedding set. However, we can compromise with a yellow pillow or two added as accents.

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If you both already have pieces and items you’re now combining in one space, you both need to be honest and realistic about what should stay and what should go. For example, anything broken, like an old armchair or a TV, that you’re not planning to repair immediately should go. The same can be said for something damaged, such as a rug you spilled coffee all over or towels that are threadbare with holes.

Things can get trickier if one of you is a collector. If your space is limited, talk about the possibility of storing that comic book or vintage toy collection somewhere safe and out of the way. Or designate a room in your new home where those pieces can be showcased.

2. Function Over Form First.

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Once you have some style guidelines laid out, you can make a list of what you need. Take stock of the furniture and decor items you currently have and are keeping, and add any gaps to your list. Maybe you need a bigger bed or new sheets and comforters. Maybe with your books combined, a new shelf would help keep them organized. Do you have enough towels? Is the end table in need of an updated lamp? Figure out what you need to function before you begin to think about style.

As another real-life example, my spouse often gets cold and likes to have throw blankets handy near the couch. We needed somewhere to store them, so we bought a seat that opens at the top for storage and put it by the window. Now the living room has plenty of throws neatly put away for him to grab, and we have an extra seat for visitors.

3. Decide on a Budget.

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When you know what items you need, you can discuss how much you are able to spend on them. Being on the same page financially is important for a couple, so before you start searching for furniture and decor, set a price range. You don’t want to fall in love with a custom dining room set you found only to be disappointed when it’s not within your budget. Having realistic expectations about your budget will not only help you filter your search but save you from disappointment or conflicts as a couple.

When we needed a new mattress, my spouse and I did a lot of research on the pros and cons of each option and compared prices that were in our price range. We wanted to get the best quality for our budget, but we immediately crossed off any mattresses we found that were over what we wanted to spend. Since we got a bigger mattress, we also upgraded our bed frame. However, we were much more frugal about the frame so that we could spend more on our main priority, the mattress.

Also, don’t count out yard sales, thrift stores and online swaps, and keep an eye out for sales. You may be able to snag some pieces on your wish list for much less if you’re willing to wait, and then you’ll have more room in your budget for other things. You could also find pre-owned ones in great condition. And if you or your partner have the skills and tools, you can also refurbish an older furniture piece to stay on budget.

4. Get Inspired.

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Here comes the fun part! Find inspiration together, save your favorites and share ideas. Read style and decor blogs, make a Pinterest board, cut out finds from magazines, bookmark online results, and take photos when you are out and about in stores. Together you can take all the inspiration you’ve collected to plan out rooms and see what pieces fit the style you both decided on.

For example, you may love a velvet mid-century modern armchair at a store or a minimalist coffee table you saw online. But if as a couple you decided on industrial farmhouse for your home style, these inspiration piece may not fit into your vision and should be crossed out.

5. Choose a Color Palette.

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During the inspiration stage, settle on a color palette you both like. This will make it easier to narrow items down if they clash with that palette and keep true to your vision. Use the color palette for your choices in paint, fabrics, patterns, wood stains and accents. Remember, if you both decided on incorporating more jewel tones, a neon green rug won’t be the best investment.

Also, neutrals are always a safe bet for bigger pieces or if you both need to reach a compromise. However, avoid choosing everything in neutral colors (Unless those are your favorite — I love grays and browns!) as you may find it makes the space plainer than you wanted. And if you both love lots of color options, you may want to look at styles like boho or eclectic. There is no reason to shy away from color, but just like in a relationship, it’s all about balance.

6. Start with a Focal Point.

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Now that you are ready to start decorating together, decide on a focal point piece first. Picking out the focal point of the room can help you build the rest of the space around it. Do you have an art print you both love? Hang it above the fireplace mantle in your living room, and you can match other items to some of the colors and textures in the painting or photo. Add some drama to your dining room with a new chandelier or pendant lights over the table. Or you can use a large headboard as the focal point in your bedroom.

Choosing your focal point together can ensure that you both enjoy the space and make it feel more like an “ours” home instead of “yours and mine.”

Keep these tips in mind and enjoy collecting pieces as a team! Congratulations on making a home together, and if you need more ideas as you move in, check out our Inspiration page to see some of our favorite decorations and designs in our Clayton Built® homes.

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