I’ll never forget the first time I went over to my (now) husband’s “cowboy bachelor pad.” I hate that term, but to be honest, it fits in this scenario. He was a 29-year-old man living alone in a three-bedroom house full of hand-me-down furniture. But who hasn’t lived in a space full of hand-me-downs, right? It’s a right of passage into adulthood. It was more so the layout and “decorative” touches. He had the same bedsheets from when he was a child. Sure, they were solid color, it’s not like they were covered in Power Rangers. But the point is, they were decades old. He had a corner unit media stand placed smack dab in the middle of his living room. There were guitars and amps everywhere just waiting to be picked up and played. It was messy, sure, but to him, it made sense. Everything had a function and was easily accessible.
Now, hop and skip over to my two-bedroom apartment at the time of being a single 24-year-old, fresh off a long-term breakup. It was the polar opposite. There were floral prints galore. In the cabinets, I stocked only pink glassware and dinnerwares. Bonus points for the heart-shaped stuff I usually found around Valentine’s Day. My style has evolved tremendously over the past 9 years, but I still hold the same value for aesthetic over function.
This drives my husband absolutely insane. It took awhile for us to figure out our groove, and both of us had to cave a little. First, I should start by sharing that my husband is 6 feet 6 inches tall. He’s a big dude. And something you don’t realize when you’re not that tall is, as he constantly says, “The world wasn’t built for tall people.” And I’ve discovered he is right, to a point. He has to duck under most doorways in our little 1940’s house. We have a California King bed to accommodate the extra length his legs take up. Every piece of furniture we buy has to be tested rigorously to make sure he would be comfortable on it. Even when we were car shopping, each vehicle had to pass the “tall guy test.” But let me tell you, the majority of stylish home goods were not built with tall people in mind, and this was something I came to admit after much trial and error. I’m almost embarrassed at how much money I have spent on furniture that I bought on a whim because I liked how it looked, only to have to get rid of it because it wasn’t comfortable.
But, tall guy facts aside, my husband is also far more reasonable than I am. He likes things where they can be easily accessible, even if that means creating an eyesore. I would rather hide clutter and only put out pretty, decorative objects. But I’m not unreasonable. And my husband isn’t an unstylish toad. In fact, rather the opposite. He cares about art and design in his own way, he just values functionality more. He told me the other night that I have “inspired him to care more” about the aesthetics of things over the course of our relationship. But he has also inspired me to merge style and function to the best of my ability. Over the course of the past decade, I’ve learned some tips that I’d love to share with you now.
Let go of the need to “curate” your life
I know we live in an Instagram world where everyone has beige living rooms and beige bedrooms and it all looks so minimalistic and clean 24/7. But it’s kind of a crock of shit. Especially if you have kids. No one’s house looks like that all the time, we’re only seeing the clean highlights they choose to share with us on social media. Once I was able to get over the need to curate my home like the one’s I saw on IG, it made everything a lot easier. Because, guess what? You spend 99.9 percent more time in your home than your Instagram followers do. So instead of trying to curate a specific look, design your home around what truly brings you joy and fits functionally into your day-to-day life.
Find something you both value as décor
For my husband and I, it’s records and books. Now, would I have the large record display we currently have if I lived on my own? Probably not. But for my musician husband, it brings him joy and it’s something we use daily. And our house is filled with books. My husband and I both read a ton, so having books serve as a large part of our décor makes sense for us. That doesn’t mean I don’t rainbow coordinate every bookshelf in the house, because you bet your buns I do. Compromise, baby, compromise.
Less is more
We live in a small house, under 800 square feet. So you may be reading this and thinking, “Why don’t you both just decorate with what you want?” Because it isn’t an option. Our two-bedroom tiny house is already taken over by toddler crap, we don’t have any surface space left for crowding knick-knacks and such. If there’s something displayed in our house, it’s because it’s something truly important to either my husband or myself. There’s no cheap décor for the sake of filling shelf space. By paring things down and only using what really means a lot to us, we’re able to keep the overall décor of the house functional, yet cozy.
Really do your research
We are so lucky to have so many options at our disposal these days. If you have a certain space in your home you’re struggling to decorate, chances are there’s a piece of furniture out there that fits perfectly. The key is doing your research. Follow brands on Instagram and Pinterest who have similar styles to yours. And for goodness sake, measure something before you buy it. You can find quality, affordable furniture that fits both your style preferences and your functionality needs. But it takes some digging. Read the reviews and really think about the pros and cons of the piece before you buy. Focusing on research has really made our ongoing design process run that much more smoothly.
Let me end by saying, not all functional home décor is unsightly. I’m not that unreasonable 😉. But it is definitely easier to marry the two with these tips I’ve learned throughout the course of my relationship. I bought a bunch of crappy furniture so you wouldn’t have to. xx
Main + featured image photographed by Brooke Aliceon.