Couple new home
Interior design

How to combine interior styles with your partner when moving in together for the first time

The most important advice is to respect each other’s differences.

One of the biggest relationship milestones is the beautiful moment when a couple decide to move in together. But, despite the fairytale images living with a partner might conjure up, there’s one big hurdle that needs to be overcome: the decor. Unless their sense of style is indistinguishable from each other, chances are there will need to be some compromise, which isn’t always easy. That being said, if approached in the right way, both sides of the party can come out on the other end unscathed.

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Nottingham-based couple Wingshan Smith, 26, and Alexander Huntley, 28, moved in together at the start of the pandemic. “We were completely thrown in at the deep end with regards to settling into a new home as a couple, but the intensity of the situation really made our relationship stronger,” say the curator (Wingshan) and fantasy miniature sculptor (Alex).

The pair have been dating for almost four years. “Being confined to a one-bed flat over a global pandemic also helped us realise the importance of our home as a sanctuary, and we had a wonderful time over the following months making our little nest,” they say. They later purchased a Victorian two-bed terraced home.

“The most important advice is to respect each other’s differences,” says Rachel Epstein, creative director of furniture company CARME Home. It’s easy to assume that your preferences are better than your partner’s, but chances are they’re thinking the same thing.

“It’s all about finding common ground, and not stressing about the small stuff,” adds Harriet Wetton, founder of Narchie, a marketplace app that dubs itself ‘the Depop of homeware’. “Buying pieces together both second hand and new helps to combine tastes and over the years you build a collection you really love and can work in different properties.”

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Wingshan and Alex agree. “There were lots of discussions drawing out what we individually liked and how to balance our two personalities,” they say. “Our home is filled with tons of items of sentimental value. We’re also lucky to be friends with artists and creative people so most of the artwork in our home is made by people we know.” They also both enjoy collecting “special things” from charity shops and when out in nature. “However, this is a double-edged sword, and we have to be extra careful not to hoard too much clutter.”

Both experts suggest finding a way that seamlessly blends each person’s character. “The antique and modern combination often works well, combining a family heirloom with modern furniture and bold artwork,” says Wetton, while also noting that a gallery wall is a simple way to create something that resembles each person. “It is a great way to combine memories and interests.”

“Pointing out interiors in films and TV that we liked became a habit whilst planning for our new home,” says the couple. Wingshan also spent hours scouring Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration and making mood boards. “Luckily for the both of us, we have very similar tastes. We both love knick knacks with an aesthetic flair, mid-century furniture, and wood and warm, cosy colours.”

They also used moving in as an opportunity to allow Alex to explore his decorating style. “Wingshan was more into interior design and aesthetics; she was worried that her tastes would dominate the space too much,” Alex adds.

But, Epstein notes that working together doesn’t necessarily mean the whole house needs to look the same. “If one of you is a minimalist and the other a maximalist, for example, pick a room each as ‘yours’ to style – there’s no rule that says just one aesthetic has to be used throughout the home,” she says. “Pick the rooms that suit the desired look the best – minimalist might look better in a kitchen, for example, with more clean lines and a sleek look, whereas a lively and eclectic taste is more suited to a living room, where you can go to town with colour, prints and patterns.”

“Before worrying about how you want your home to look, first consider together how you want your home to feel,” add Wingshan and Alex. “Is it more important that your home is a cosy place to entertain or would you prefer a bright space to inspire your creativity? Or somewhere that feels bright and peaceful to retreat to?”

“Remember, decorating should be fun, especially if it’s a first home together,” says Epstein. “So don’t take it too seriously, focus on items you both love and your space will feel like a perfect home no matter how different your tastes.”

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