Oy! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been put in the middle of couples drama over a home design or renovation. Very recently Gregg and I were asked to take a look a home in the Hollywood Hills built in the 1940′s and prime for renovation. The couple, who had been living in the house for over three years were STUCK on what to do with the property, simply because they could not agree. We offered to meet with them at the home and then again the following weekend to see if we could help create a mutual vision for their property. We rarely do this with no commitment from these potential clients, but we created a scheme based on what WE would do to the property for ourselves. This scheme was also what we felt would be the best possible return on investment. The follow up meeting was set, and we presented our terrific proposed design to them…except, only one of them showed up. The problem with this couple is that, only one of them really wanted to do a project at all and therefore, the ‘no show’ spouse held all the cards. Obviously, we ran for the “hills”. Shortly after this unfortunate experience, I was introduced to Michael Bova from Chicago (my home town), and he presented us with this idea for a guest post which we are happy to share.
Design Disagreements Causing Family Drama?
Compromise without Losing Your Vision:
There are few things in life more stressful than remodeling your home. Sure, it’s a first world problem, but big renovations can cause very real tension between couples and family members.
Living amid dust and debris and having limited use of parts of your home is quite trying, but perhaps the most difficult part of the process comes long before demo. It’s likely that you and your significant other have different tastes and preferences when it comes to design, and even more likely that you’ll butt heads during the planning stage. It’s important not to let your disagreements get in the way of a great end product or sour the experience, which should be fun and exciting. Here are a few pointers that will help you avoid a civil war over countertops.
Plan Early, Plan Often. Before the dust starts flying (literally and figuratively), you should sit down together and have an open discussion about what you envision, in a big picture sense. Come up with a few adjectives that sum up your ideal aesthetic for the project and see how they jive with your partner’s words – if yours are, “vintage, quirky, and artistic,” and your partner’s are, “modern, clean and minimalist,” you know you’ve got some work to do before you delve into the details.
Don’t feel like as if you need to plan all the specifics upfront. You’ll easily become overwhelmed if you try to decide everything at once. And, if you have very different visions, making too many choices at once could bring the whole proceeding to a standstill. If a planning session becomes too fraught with disagreement and tension, it’s best to hit pause and circle back to the issue later. That’s especially true because your opinions can change after you step away and return with fresh eyes.
Embrace Contradiction. Some of the most beautiful and striking designs present a unique juxtaposition of multiple design aesthetics. Just because you and your significant other don’t have the exact same style in mind doesn’t mean you can’t end up with a gorgeous space that represents you both. Instead of battling one another to see whose vision will reign supreme, figure out a way to work in elements of the two visions together. Maybe those industrial, concrete countertops your husband wants would look amazing with the traditional crystal chandelier you’ve been eyeing.
Pick Your Battles. In design, as in life, it’s important to decide what’s most important to you and prioritize those things. If you and your partner are fighting one another on every single detail, you won’t get anywhere. You should each make a short list of things that are super important to you and things that you’re willing to bend on. This way you can get the mosaic backsplash that makes your heart sing, and your partner can get the dark wood floors he or she has been drooling over.
Stay Open. You may start out with a very particular idea about how everything will be, but if you are unwilling to compromise, you might as well quit now. Your first choice is your favorite, but that doesn’t mean that every other option is worthless. You owe your partner a genuine and serious consideration of their choices if you expect them to do the same for your preferences. And you never know – you very well could end up being happily surprised by the fact that a different choice turns out to be the right one.
Don’t Design Angry. Major renovation projects usually involve pretty big financial and time commitments, so the process should be enjoyable. After all, this arduous process should end in your dream room. If the planning conversations in your family all end up in tears or shouts, it can have several negative consequences. First, your inability to make decisions may end up creating unnecessary delays – you wouldn’t want to halt work while you fight about the color of the cabinets. Also, this kind of acrimony will create long-term resentment. If decisions are made in anger, you could end up hating the sight of a light fixture for the next 20 years of your life.
There’s no doubt that trying to meld two people’s very different renovation visions can test the limits of a relationship. When you know that you’re going to be living with the design choices you make for a long time, each decision feels monumental. But, remember that no matter how passionately committed you are to a certain color or style, getting your way sometimes just isn’t worth the trouble.
Michael Bova is the general manager of Top to Bottom Construction, a full-service general contractor specializing in interior remodeling, insulation, commercial construction, and roofing in Chicago[AG1] . They’ve been serving the Midwest for over 10 years with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. For more information, visit http://www.toptobottomconstruction.com/.