Balancing your personal tastes with a partner in your home always involves compromise. From choosing furniture pieces to deciding what color to paint your walls, it requires a few conversations and possibly even a debate or two to figure out if you should commit to a major decorating decision. Now imagine what that same process is like if both you and your S.O. are interior designers.
When tasked with styling their own homes, these creative couples have a wealth of information and talent. But obviously, they are human and have disagreements too! Even if they're always in sync while working with clients, there's something about curating your own home that makes styling a space even more personal.
We asked a few cool design couples to share what it's actually like to decorate their own homes together. Read ahead to see how each stylish pair completes the perfect curation.
Brandon Quattrone & Mat Sanders
As the co-founders of the interior and product design studio Consort and as a real-life couple, Brandon Quattrone and Mat Sanders are constantly finding a balance between their two styles. “Let's just say I am always bringing things home, and Brandon is always finding a way to clear them out,” shares Sanders. "If it were up to Brandon, we'd live in a white box and if left to my own devices, we'd have nothing but a room full of pillows. I think where we meet in the middle is very livable and fun." Quattrone adds, “The reason why our relationship works both romantically and professionally is that Mat is always pushing me to take things further and I'm always boiling things down to necessity. The creative tension keeps things lively, that's for sure!”
While designing for their own space is one thing, bringing these disagreements to a professional setting is another story. “Clients expect us to be aligned in our vision, but, as you can expect, we sometimes differ on our opinions of what works in a space,” says Quattrone. “We keep the conflict lighthearted, and I think our clients get a kick out of seeing one of us squirm and the other be the victor.” Sanders explains, "At home, we each basically do whatever we want and see how long it will take before the other either gets sick of it and changes things around, or caves and decides to compromise. It's a loving collaboration!”
A piece of advice from the couple? “The best way to design harmoniously with a loved one is to acknowledge each other's strengths, empower each other to play into those skills, and then each stay in their own lane,” notes Quattrone. “Design road rage only leads to design road kill.”
Oliver & Jean Pelle
“Designing together is just like having a conversation,” share Jean and Oliver Pelle, the co-founders of their eponymous design studio PELLE. “Sometimes it’s a quick thought and we’re both in agreement. Other times, it can be long and drawn-out discussion with lots of back and forth and building thought upon thought. The end-product is like a physical manifestation of conversations we’ve had in a span of minutes or even years! We both enjoy the process of talking it out, going through all the possible options, and then agreeing on something good in the end.”
When it comes to their personal tastes, the married couple each has their own approach to design. “I embrace high and low, old and new, and love to mix pieces from different time periods and places,” says Jean. “I also like color and texture. I feel my problem is that I like too much of everything! I generally don’t have any rules when it comes to decorating, but I don’t like clutter at all.”
“I like the idea of recreating the home in Germany that I grew up in,” explains Oliver. “I tend to be drawn to the way my parents decorated their own home which was filled with art, books, and lasting pieces of furniture. It was modern and warm at the same time.”
When approaching any updates to their shared home, the Pelles take it one step at a time. “We generally focus on individual pieces that will make some overall impact in our home and then worry about composing it all at a later point," the pair share. "We’ll usually shop at used furniture stores and hunt for ‘buried treasure.’ It’s always feels adventurous and it really tests your ability to determine what’s actually good versus bad! Even if it is a bad piece of furniture, you can always alter it by reupholstering it or repainting it, so really, it’s not too much of a commitment."
Shea & Syd McGee
As the co-founders of the successful interior design firm Studio McGee, Shea and Syd McGee are constantly collaborating together. “I’m the CCO of our company, but I try my best to look at the creative vision of our home as a partnership," explains Shea McGee "Luckily, that partnership is built on trust, so Syd is letting me take the wheel on the design as we build our home. I consciously make an effort to make our home feel like ours, so I like to involve Syd with a part of the decision making. That system looks a little like I present options and he helps me to narrow them down.”
The McGees have seen firsthand through all their design projects how couples work through decorating a space. “There’s always a bit of give and take and we see that even more with our clients," she says. "Typically, the compromise comes with a more moderate shared living spaces and giving into individual styles in private rooms, offices, and even bathrooms."
“For us, I’m going a little more glam and girly in my daughters' room and Syd’s getting a killer office and a half pipe in the basement! We try to make the home work for everyone and at the end of the day have both people of a partnership say, ‘this home is my style.’”