When it comes to relationships, there’s a common saying that opposites attract. While that may be true, when two very different types of people are attracted to each other it also brings along a lot of challenges across all areas of life. And this certainly includes design styles that you bring into a shared home.
When two people with very different design styles decide to cohabit, it can be difficult to find a happy medium that incorporates both person’s preferences. Even if you both appreciate modern design, there are many varying styles within a modern aesthetic that may seem impossible to harmoniously blend together.
We reached out to interior designer Laura Umansky of Laura U Interior Design for some guidance on how to marry two different tastes into a modern home.
Before you even get started on picking finishes, fixtures, furniture and colors, be open and willing to compromise. Both of you can’t get exactly what you want in every room, so identify areas where you are willing to compromise. Compromises, Umansky suggests, include “settling for a softer color palette one loves paired with bold, colorful artwork from the other’s style. Or try selecting modern furnishings paired with traditional accents such as rugs, accessories and lighting.”
In this high rise master bedroom, Umansky combined Art Deco and contemporary styles. Since a master bedroom needs to complement both styles, Umansky used organic textures and deep moody colors to create the space. Dark navy, greys, and purples add a masculine touch that is tempered by the curved edges on the desk and headboard. Luxurious textures and layers were used to add elegance to the room. She describes the final result as “a compromise of sleek, modern and organic lines, complemented by contemporary details.”
Your home should be an environment that you love. Injecting the space with pieces that have personal meaning for each of you will enrich your environment and infuse it with personality. Umansky recommends including heirloom pieces, collectibles and art that can be focal points in the room. This is also a great way to bring in pieces that represent your life together by displaying something you purchased together on a special occasion or vacation.
Umansky designed this high rise guest bedroom to “mix her clients’ love of modern design, sleek lines, and a vast art collection full of bold colors, textures, and prints.” She used a pastel color palette to complement the art, and the engaging prints on the textiles add just the right amount of depth and texture to the room. Final touches on her design include a sculptural pendant light and the Ghost Buster Side Table by Kartell. Umansky says these unique touches, complemented by luxurious accents, are the key elements to this serene design.
Deciding on Lighting
Start making design decisions together with something simple. Lighting is the perfect opportunity to express your style while making a statement. From simple pendants to more elaborate designs, today’s lighting styles offer something for everyone. Thanks to advances in LED design, modern lighting has taken on a more sculptural look that can really bring a wow factor to any room. Finding lighting on which everyone can agree is often one of the easier selections to make.
Niche designs can be particularly challenging, even for designers. Umansky recommends sticking to a single color palette to help make things easier. Since design styles change over the years, a neutral foundation will allow your personal style to stand out when used on furnishings, fabrics, lighting, art and décor pieces.
Bold colors and sleek lines really make this kitchen pop. For this design, Umansky was inspired by her client’s British heritage and love of color. She used large-scaled windows to bring natural light that highlights the brightly colored furnishings. The cabinetry and walls are very clean without a lot of detail for a minimalist quality, while the warm wood tones ground the space. The Watson Mini Pendant Lights are fun and a bit edgy without being over the top; Umansky describes them as “giving a nod to industrialism that complements the contemporary lines and simplistic surfaces.”
While it may seem difficult to combine a more traditional design style with modern elements, it can be achieved with the right combination of pieces. In the following example you can see how Umansky paired structured lines, with heirloom pieces to create a very personal space.
The natural color palette combined with traditional pieces, antique pieces and pieces the client collected on their travels could easily result in heavy design that seems outdated. However, with modern statement pieces, structured lines of the sofa and lounge chair, and the reflective surfaces of the Flora Metallic Floor Lamp and the side table, this room takes on a modern flair Umansky describes as a “Euro-Asian inspired pied-a-terre.”
So, it is possible! While it may not be obvious–or easy–to blend different design styles together, by keeping these tips in mind you should be able to create a space you’ll both love.
Nicole is the Sr. Site Merchandiser for Accessories, Kids, and Textiles at YLiving. She is obsessed with great design in all forms with a special love for jewelry, wine bottle labels, and tableware. When she’s not exploring the many museums and art galleries of the Bay Area, Nicole spends time looking for and visiting obscure and unusual destinations (locally and abroad) while practicing her photography skills.