Living Smart: 5 tips to avoid home-design arguments

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Sharing your life with someone is a beautiful thing, but that doesnít always mean you share the same design and style preferences when it comes to your home. Whether youíve lived together for one year or 20, use this advice from highly rated interior designers to stop the fights that have kept you from painting the walls or tiling the floors.

1. Start with a design plan

Jodi Schavone, owner of Dťcor Coach in Apex, N.C., says to make a list of how the room has to function for each person before embarking on a design project. This will help couples and families prioritize and understand why one idea might be better than another.

Think realistically about how youíll use the space, along with whether you have a big family or like to entertain. Look through pictures online or in magazines, and talk openly about your likes and dislikes.

2. Listen to each other

Communicate openly, and donít forget to listen. Interior designers say the majority of their job comes down to listening to clients. Sometimes your spouse or partner might just want his or her ideas heard. Discussing concerns helps to avoid conflict, and will help you determine what he or she likes about a particular color, pattern or piece of furniture.

3. Blend your design styles

"A home is like a marriage," Schavone says. "It wonít work if itís one-sided." Not everything has to match. There are ways to mix style preferences, according to Schavone. This could be as easy as using one personís color choices with the other personís fabric selection. You want your new space to reflect both of you.

4. Give and take to keep the peace

There are usually places in the home where each person can have it their way, says Kathy Tufts, owner of Beyond Design in Clifton, Va., For example, choose neutral themes and colors for your common area, but allow some creativity in personal offices, bedrooms or hobby rooms. Youíll have to compromise many times throughout your life. This is good practice.

5. Hire an interior designer

Bringing in reinforcements often helps you see eye to eye, but could cost you between $100 and $200 for an initial one-hour consultation. "A big part of my job is being a marriage counselor or peace mediator," Tufts says.

Schavone agrees. "In listening to my clients, I detail whatís most important," she says. "If I address the important parts of their ideas, they can usually give a little."