28 April 2008

The Art of the Merger

There is an art to merging two established households. It’s not simply a matter of what looks good, but rather what functions for each person.

He favors contemporary design and loves his leather couch. She prefers traditional and treasures Grandma’s nightstand. How do you unite two distinctive tastes to create one mutually enjoyable lifestyle?

1. Assign “attachment value” to everything in the house.

Before you can combine your households you need to understand which items have sentimental value, which are practical and which were too expensive to want to part with. List everything in the house (even candles, towels and beer mugs) and assign a value of attachment to them. 1-5 you would purge it. 6-8 you would refinish it. 9-10 merge it or store it.

2. Determine what styles you can and can’t live with.

Next make a list of decorating styles you would be comfortable living in: country, contemporary, beach house, ethnic. Then, decide which colors you dislike, like and love. It is easier to discover what you love but first eliminating what you do not. (Think of how you read a menu to decide what to order for dinner).

3. Compare notes and compromise

The key to combining households is to maintain your identity while creating a space that is yours. Review each others’ notes. Items with the highest ratings should be saved, the lowest numbers donated. But what if both couches score a 9? Listen to why his couch is important to him. Suggest keeping it by reupholstering it in a fabric that you both like. If you compromise on his favorite furnishing, then he can compromise on yours.

4. Finishing touches to combine your styles.

Register for accessories that will pull the look together. Pillows wed your couch to his rug. Linens unite his headboard with your bedside table. Patterned salad plates mix his dinnerware with yours.

5. Good design functions.

Understand how you live. Do you like to entertain? Have pets? Plan on having children? Select furniture, fabrics and accessories that make sense for your lifestyle. If you like buffet style parties, register for different size serving bowls and lots tongs.

6. Take advantage of your bridal registry.

Create a wish list for what you need to fine-tune your home’s style. It’s ok to add unconventional items to your list like tile and faucets for the bathroom. After all, this is your list for turning a house into a home. How much will your husband-to-be love a Home Depot themed wedding shower?!?!

7. Don’t be hemmed in by definitions.

Register for gifts that have multiple uses. A cake stand doubles as a candle base. A champagne bucket functions as a cache pot. Ice tongs work as asparagus servers. You’ll get more enjoyment from your ifts and won’t store them as much.

8. Enjoy your gifts.

Register for a variety of plates, linens and stemware so you can create various tablescapes when sitting down to dinner. It’s so boring to see the same thing every night. If you don’t want to use linen napkins, register for monogrammed tea towels. They’re more elegant than paper napkins and so easy to maintain!

9. Telling your story.

Your home should reflect your life. Display important photographs in silver frames and keep the rest in a gorgeous album on the coffee table. Showcase collections by grouping like objects together on a shelf or a wall. Arrange flowers in vases from your wedding.

10. Eliminate the stress of returning gifts.

Take your wish list with you when returning gifts. No need to worry about how to spend that gift certificate when you know you still need towels, pillows or ice cream bowls.