Often the first disagreement between newlyweds isn’t about money, household chores or even the in-laws.
Instead, the issues that pop up are more likely to involve the “small stuff” - things like whether the toilet paper roll faces over or under; if that loved, well-worn recliner is going to be part of the living room décor; or whether their first furniture purchase together will be the bedroom ensemble she adores or the large, flat-screen television he can’t live without.
As longtime couples know, compromise is a big part of marriage. Newlyweds setting up their first home together also quickly come to that conclusion, having to adjust to each other’s living habits and home décor styles.
For Carol Campbell, it was also about getting used to calling his house their home. Born and raised in Fenton, Campbell was divorced for eight years before she married her husband Gary last June. They moved into his house and decided that Carol, an event designer with an eye for color and home décor, would re-paint. They ended up re-painting almost every room. If he was undecided about some of the color choices, Carol put color samples on the walls for a few days so he had a better idea of what the room would look like.
Interior designer Melinda Bierman has helped many newlywed couples navigate home design situations during her tenure at Fenton Home Furnishings. She has some words of advice for this summer’s brides and grooms:
Develop a couple style
Some guys really get into the design element of home furnishings while others rather leave the details to their bride. To develop a style that represents both partners, Bierman suggests browsing catalogs and websites to discuss different aspects of home furnishings.
When it comes to sofas, for example, talk about the design as well as the material and color choices. Sometimes both can fall in love with the design but have differing opinions on the color.
“Try to narrow it down before you go into a store,” she said.
Bierman and her fiancé have followed that advice themselves. By discussing furnishing choices, they discovered that style is very important to her, while he is all about comfort.
“He likes the craziest stuff,” said Bierman, who is set to be married next month.
On merging households
Many couples have their own furnishings that they bring into the marriage. Other items they will acquire through wedding gifts, secondhand contributions from friends and family members and new purchases together.
Since both were married before, Gary and Carol had everything they needed to furnish their home. However, Carol had replaced nearly all her furnishings following her divorce, so she brought many of her items with her into their new home.
Likewise, for Bierman and her fiancé, the choices were also relatively simple. Since home décor plays such a big role in her career and life, many of her furnishings are fairly new and were incorporated nicely into their home. His stuff consisted mainly of hand-me-downs – except for the electronics.
“The guy always has a good TV,” she said.
Her fiancé’s remaining items were put in storage until they purchase their first house and need to furnish a basement, guest space and other rooms. However, one chair will always have a place of honor in their home: A chair given to Bierman’s fiancé by his grandma as a gift.
A chair that Gary loves also remains in their living room. Although Carol called the chair big, she said it goes with the color scheme in the room and he likes it.
“It makes him happy, so that’s OK,” she said.
Make first purchases smart ones
Consider a new mattress as the first purchase together. Bierman’s reasoning is simple: People spend more time in bed and use the mattress more than any other piece of furniture in the home. Many newlyweds also bring into the marriage a mattress that is too small for a couple or too old after hanging on to it since high school.
Discuss the level of support and the firmness of the mattress and then take a trip to the store to find one that works for both partners.
“It should be all about comfort,” said Bierman. “Sleep affects so many parts of our lives.”
Newlyweds should also discuss what defines them as a couple. If they love to entertain, perhaps a large dining room table is more essential to them than other furnishings. If they already have children, maybe a bedroom retreat makes more sense.
Compromise is key
When it comes down to it, compromise is important. Carol Campbell said she and Gary had to get used to each other’s living habits, but it was easy for her to be OK with things like him loading the dishwasher a different way than she does it because she is grateful that he takes care of the household chore. She is happy with her home and her marriage and knows that she and Gary are meant to be together.
After their first date, which included them talking for three hours before they even ordered dinner, she drove away knowing that her life was changed. She said aloud to herself in her car that evening that this was the man she was going to spend the rest of her life with.