5 Couples Share Their Hacks for Merging Design Styles Without Breaking Up


If there’s anything true about interiors, it’s that they’re deeply personal. Largely, this is what makes designing a space so exciting: finding the layout and pieces that scream your name, creating a physical extension of the beauty you see in the world. It’s a thrill like no other. That is, of course, until someone else steps into the picture.

Merging design styles with a partner who has different tastes is objectively hard. However, it’s not impossible. Because we’re all about love and want to see homeowners succeed as much as we want a glimpse into their great spaces, we consulted five couples to learn about how they managed to pull off bringing their different preferences into the same home. We rarely say this out loud, but they’re all truly the epitome of “relationship goals.” Here’s what they had to say.

Vivid Wu & Aden Wang

Location: San Francisco, California Relationship Status: Married Style: Scandinavian minimalism meets retro postmodern

The key to a Vivid Wu space is color and shapes. Step into the stylist’s San Francisco loft and you’ll see it in the Gustaf Westman curvy mirror and the Rotganzen bouncy chair—in a muted salmon pink reminiscent of a fresh Ticonderoga eraser. You can find her touch in the orange and turquoise checkered Studio The Blue Boy rug and the green granite-esque Kiosk48th box stool. She uses words like retro, postmodern, and midcentury to describe her tastes.

Meanwhile, product designer Aden prefers a more minimalist space, something Scandinavian-inspired with lots of functional pieces. His favorite things in their shared home are the Vitsoe shelves and some of the Herman Miller items. “I would say our styles are totally different,” Vivid says. Despite their contrasting tastes, they didn’t think much about it until they bought their first home together in 2020. “That’s when we started to really invest in furniture and trying to make it look pretty,” Aden says.

Starting completely from scratch, the couple scoured Instagram, Pinterest, and the pages of magazines for inspiration for what their shared space could look like. When one of them saw something that they liked, they would share it with the other. If they both agreed, then they’d buy it.

While the system ultimately worked well, the couple said they made some mistakes at the beginning. When they were only buying things they both liked without a specific direction for the home, some of their early purchases didn’t work out and had to be sold. “When we were more clear about what we wanted to have in our space, that’s how we slowly put together our home,” Vivid adds.

“We don’t really say one particular piece belongs to one of us,” Aden says. Some things might represent them both equally and others lean more towards one individual, but no matter what, there’s a sliver of both of them in everything in their home.

Daniel Scott & Ronn Richardson

Location: Washington, D.C. Relationship status: Dating Style: Modern minimalism meets mixed textures and clean lines

Daniel Scott was not ready to get rid of his brown leather couch. “I trust Ronn and his vision,” Daniel explains. “But I knew when merging he was going to try to get rid of a lot of my things, which he did.” The couch may always be a lingering ghost of beloved pieces offered up as sacrifice to Facebook Marketplace.

The cofounders of Space home fragrances had been in a long-distance relationship for four years; Daniel was living in Cincinnati, and Ronn in New York. So, when they moved into their current D.C. apartment, it wasn’t just a new space, but a new beginning for their entire relationship.

Ronn is a devout minimalist. He loves black and white with stone and metal accents. “Very simple, very chic, very clean,” he notes. Daniel, on the other hand, also likes pared-down aesthetics, but not to the degree Ronn does. “I really like incorporating woods and brass and mixing textures,” Daniel adds.

“We’re both kind of stubborn, to be honest, so I wondered, ‘Who’s going to be the one that backs down or lets the other take the lead?’” Ronn says. Luckily, as the couple started putting the home together, there was a third voice to act as a tiebreaker when their visions clashed: the space itself.

As they mapped out the floor plan of the apartment, some of their previous items just didn’t fit. Other items, for one reason or another, didn’t feel right. Originally, they’d put Ronn’s black marble dining table in the home, an item they both loved, and within two weeks, the apartment was begging for something new. “We just realized it didn’t work,” Ronn recalls. So, they grabbed Daniel’s black glass table. “I had to admit that it actually worked a lot better,” he adds.

Over time, they found compromises, and the home came together seamlessly. They had a “master mood board” that they’d both agreed on upfront, so anything they brought into the space had to match that template. “It doesn’t really feel like this is Ronn’s place or this is Daniel’s place, it feels very cohesive, one complete unit,” Daniel says. Ronn doesn’t hesitate to emphasize, “It’s ours now.”

Shelby & Spencer Ramirez

Location: Phoenix, Arizona Relationship status: Married Style: Midcentury modern meets earthy organic

Shelby and Spencer, the owners and founders of wellness company Mount Sunny, grew up very differently. Spencer had an interior designer mom and a dad who bought and sold vintage furniture. Living near Palm Springs, California, his childhood home was bright and styled with vintage Eames and Herman Miller pieces, the near definition of midcentury modern. “Growing up with that in the house—naturally, it trickled down to me as well,” he says.

It took Shelby much longer to find and define her tastes. She didn’t come of age engulfed in design the way Spencer did and fully credits meeting him as her introduction to that world. “From there, my style took a more organic, earthy shape—definitely, pieces that have more feeling over statement,” she says.

There are a few things that help the couple make design decisions. For one, they tend to divide up different rooms in the house, giving the other free rein. “Like the kitchen—because I spend more of my time there, I get to do whatever I want in there,” Shelby explains. The office space, meanwhile, is much more Spencer; it’s got his art and bright colors, reminiscent of his boyhood home.

They’ve also found that it works well to look at pieces based on their purpose in the space. Spencer tends to focus more on larger statement pieces. Shelby takes over when it comes to the smaller finishing touches that make it feel homier. It’s no surprise that their favorite things in the home fall along these lines too. Shelby loves her collection of candleholders, and Spencer can’t get enough of their new couch. “It’s bright, makes a statement, and fills up the whole room,” he adds. “Very my style.”

Emi & Remo Moore

Location: Richmond, Virginia Relationship status: Married Style: Vintage minimalism meets natural emphasis

Luckily for Emi and Remo Moore, their interior tastes, though different, are largely complementary. “I like to take my time with a new space and fill it with pieces I love,” says Emi, the founder of Casa Shop. “I want our home to feel inviting with lots of wood accents, neutral colors, and pops of green.” She likes a mix of vintage finds—many amassed on her Casa Shop sourcing trips—and new pieces.

Remo prefers a space that frames the outdoors. He likes to use “high-quality natural materials that create a sense of calm and joy,” he explains. When the couple first met, his apartment was leaning more towards a masculine-industrial vibe.

Moving in together, they decided to start with a clean slate. They both sold most of their items and only kept a few vintage mirrors and objects, some artwork from Remo’s dad, and a collection of books. To fill a shared space—their home is in Richmond and they’re currently designing and building a cabin in the state too—they have a pretty simple system: talk to each other.

“We have conversations over every piece we buy,” Emi explains. They often take turns suggesting options for the other to choose from. “If the first round is not successful, it’s the other person’s turn to suggest another option,” Remo adds.

It’s not just their design styles that go well together, it’s also their respective strengths. “Remo is great at building, thinking big, and sourcing materials,” Emi says. “I like the finishing touches, finding special pieces or finishes that make our house feel like a home.”

Kimberlyanne Mendoza & John Vincent Salcedo

Location: Newark, New Jersey Relationship Status: Engaged Style: Simple black meets pops of color

John Vincent Salcedo, a marketing executive at Columbia Records, says that when drawing the apartment he shares with his fiancée, Kimberlyanne Mendoza, it “looks like boxes [grouped] together.” The couple has filled their home with very straight, rigid, parallel lines, maximizing the space in their Newark unit. Long before the couple moved in together, they already had a creative partnership outside of their relationship, jointly running various businesses. That, in John’s opinion, made the design process relatively easy.

Their home, in many ways, is the amalgamation of their 14-year relationship. They still use pieces that they’ve had since their childhood bedrooms and college dorm rooms—things they’ve fallen in love with as much as they have with each other.

John Vincent loves black; it’s the only color he wears and his preference as a self-described minimalist. Kimberlyanne, founder of the clothing brand Girls Who Dress Like Boys, likes black, but “I still love color at the end of the day,” she adds. The solution to this is really quite simple: black furniture with subtle pops of color.

With a universal and versatile choice like black as the base, nearly any palette can fit in. “There’s blue and a lot of red because I gravitate towards red for some reason,” Kimberlyanne says. “The tone is very dark,” John Vincent adds. “But you’ll [see] her flair of color.”

They say it all comes down to communication. Not just so both parties are involved, but so each one understands how the other thinks. Kimberlyanne says, “It sounds super basic, but honestly, it’s the truth of it all,” As John Vincent puts it, when everyone is bringing ideas to the table, “the other person’s vision grows a little bit more.”

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