5 Ways to Create Iconic Interiors and Avoid a Battle of the Sexes

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5 Ways to Create Iconic Interiors and Avoid a Battle of the Sexes

Interior Design is an art.  One that is tailored to the individual wants, needs and desires of the client.   But oftentimes “clients” come in pairs – or rather couples – and each of them has their own viewpoint on what they want their interior design style to be.  

This is compounded by the fact that men are playing a more active role in interior design, according to Freshome Design & Architecture, it's one of the top 10 interior design trends for 2013!

As an Interior Design, it can sometimes feel like you are playing the role of “referee”.  If you are the spouse or partner in question you may be wondering how to infuse your interior design vision into your home and please your partner. 

It may be easier than you think – so let's look at 5 ways to create an iconic interior that will please everyone!

1. Understand your Top 3-5 Priorities

According to Interior Designer Leslie Hassler, of Luxury Living for the Home Interior Design, in Dallas, Texas, the first goal is to understand what your individual priorities are when it comes to designing your interior.  She also recommends making these lists separately. 

Keep your list short, no more than 3-5.  When making these lists think about the rooms of your home, that are most important to you and the most important elements in those rooms, to you.  For example to have a particular cabinet style in mind for your gourmet kitchen?  Are you dreaming of wide plank oak hardwood flooring in your Great Room?  This can help you prioritize where each person's design ideas will apply.  Leslie points out that there is often “one rooms that has a shared priority and then there is the room that is just not as important to one person as it is to the other”.

This creates an opportunity to prioritize the interior design schedule for each room, starting with the mutually important rooms, and designing the secondary rooms later in the schedule.

2. Focus on Quality, Durability, Comfort and Functionality

Women prefer light, and often brighter color schemes. They like carefully coordinated rooms with more artistic and design detail in the furniture, upholstery, and decor.  

Women appreciate comfort, but they also want to create a more luxurious decor.  Will they focus more on aesthetics than quality to create the right “look”?

On the flip side of this is men's preference toward clean, uncluttered and open spaces, with natural tones and less artistic detail. 

They want more comfort in the furnishings, fabrics, and accent pieces and more function in every room.   If that pillow or table doesn't serve a purpose it doesn't need to be there.   Will that table last 100 years?

When it comes to the big interior design items in the home, like the furniture, cabinetry, appliances, and wood floors you want to focus on quality, comfort, durability and functionality. 

  • Will the product last and have a low ownership cost? 
  • Will the product create a more comfortable space? 
  • Will the product be durable for a new couple starting out, starting a family, introducing a pet and various social and family gatherings?

If you take into account these four attributes you can please the woman by creating stylish decors that still feature some of their favorite design elements.  You can please the man too, by making the spaces functional and adaptable to a changing lifestyle – while filling the home with timeless architectural elements that won't need replacement, or carry a high maintenance cost down the road.  And everyone loves that!

3. Blend Colors

As I mentioned earlier men and women can have very different opinions when it comes to color.  Men prefer muted natural, earth tones, and combinations of simple colors like white and black.  While Women also love these natural tones, they also want to infuse their spaces with colors.  To please everyone, you can start with a neutral pallet in a neutral tone like ivory, beige, and other earth tones, and blend in color in some of the smaller details:

Wood Floors

wood floors, hardwood flooring, dark wood floors




Accent Rugs





Walls Colors/Artwork and Decor








Lighting Fixtures


















4. Give Each Partner Their Own Space

The term “man-town” or “man-cave” inspires the imagination as you envision the hidden cave-like retreats of men everywhere, complete with pool table, flat screen TV, wet bar, and more.   This could also be a music room or trophy room for all the hunters out there.

The term “powder-room” may have very little meaning to men, it's just a “bathroom” to them, but for women this can be the small, private oasis that every guest gets to enjoy and where she can let a little bit of her creative juices flow.   This could also be an arts and crafts room, or a “princess” room where she gets ready every morning. 

Giving each partner a special room that they design to their own exact design and specifications, may help release stress or tension about not having all their needs met in the rest of the home.  If you just can't get your oversized leather sofa for the family room, it's would make a great fit for the billiard room!  If you agree on using a painted island in the kitchen, focus on what you can agree on and look for a space in another room to incorporate more color.

5. Communicate and Negotiate

As with all things related to marriage, communication is key.  As it learning the art of negotiation.   Understand that you “can't get everything you want” but you can look for compromises where each of you gets a little bit of what you were hoping for. 

Readers post your comments:

  • Have you designed an interior recently?  What were some of the harder design decisions you had to make as a couple?  How did you make a final decision?

  • Are you an interior designer?  Do you have any other advice to diffuse the “battle of the sexes” when it comes to interior design?

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