The Truth About Men & Decorating

I have been married for fifteen years and have spent a lot of that time decorating the homes I’ve lived in during that time.  My husband and I have restored four old homes during our marriage, doing everything from gutting and rebuilding a kitchen on our own, adding bathrooms, tiling, wallpapering, laying flooring – you name it. 

  woman cleaning ceramic tile floor via missionstonetile The Truth About Men & Decorating

source

 

My husband has an opinion about decorating – most men do.  Some things are pretty man-standard.  They don’t usually dig the idea of painting wood (see my post all about that by clicking here).  They hate the idea of wallpaper – mainly because they have experienced wallpaper-removal trauma at some point in their life.  They don’t “get” why the wifey might get the itch to move the furniture around every few years.  They don’t like change.

  white room via bhg The Truth About Men & Decorating

Better Homes & Gardens

 

Through all of our experiences, I have learned something.  Mr. Man has an opinion about decorating if I ask him.  An opinion about colors, furniture, space planning, etc.   But guess what?  It doesn’t mean anywhere near as much to him as it does to me, and after it’s all said and done, he barely notices it anyway. 

  green living room via bhg The Truth About Men & Decorating

Better Homes & Gardens

 

I occasionally work with a client whose husband’s lack of enthusiasm significantly alters the plans she and I have spent many hours developing based on a thorough investigation of all the options.  But that’s usually because the client is so excited and goes and shows her husband what we’ve come up with and he isn’t overly wowed or excited like she is.  And she wants him to like it as much as she does, so she starts feeling guilty that he doesn’t.  This makes her doubt the choices, and she decides it is paramount that her husband also LOVES everything that is going into the house, too.   I’m hear to tell you, if he says “I don’t hate it,” that’s GOOD ENOUGH.

blue living room via bhg The Truth About Men & Decorating

Better Homes & Gardens

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT saying you shouldn’t consider your husband’s desires and wishes for your home.  Afterall, it’s his home, too.  But stop thinking he is ever going to feel as excited and over-the-moon about the perfect shade of gray-blue for your bedroom or the lovely quatrefoil fabric you’ve chosen for the living room chairs.  He cares, he just doesn’t care THAT MUCH.

paneled walls via bhg The Truth About Men & Decorating

Better Homes & Gardens

 

When you ask him a million questions about this or that color, or fabric, or chair style, you overwhelm him with minutia that means very little to him – until you bring it up.  Then he’s going to have an opinion.  But hear me – he still really doesn’t care in the long run as long as he has a comfortable chair, a decent view of the television, and a happy wife.

yellow bedroom via bhg The Truth About Men & Decorating

Better Homes & Gardens

 

Last week, I took it upon myself to paint the wood frame of a vintage sofa we have had since we were married.  My husband is pretty used to things changing color around here, so I didn’t expect much of a reaction about it.  However, he told me he really didn’t like it, even that he felt like I had ruined it and it made him a little sad.  Well, I was up half the night feeling really bad about making him sad about painting that sofa, kicking myself for ruining it.   The next day he said,  “Look, I really don’t like the way it looks now, but here’s the deal – I don’t really care about that stuff anyway.  It doesn’t rank high on my list of things to concern myself with.  It just really doesn’t matter to me the way it matters to you.  It’s not like I’m thinking about it all the time, or that it really affects me at all.  I’m not like you.”

white shabby chic living room via bhg The Truth About Men & Decorating

 Better Homes & Gardens

 

Oh, yeah – they’re not like us.  They didn’t play house when they were kids.  They didn’t dream of the day they got married, of the dream home they would live in, the picket fence.  Women nest.   We obsess over the details of decor and fabric and colors.

white picket fence house via america1985blogspot The Truth About Men & Decorating Dream of the White Picket Fence 

 

Men played with legos and made guns out of sticks and threw balls.   They dreamed of fast cars, adventure, of changing the world.   Men aren’t as concerned about the minutia of nesting, they just want a comfy place to come home and settle into at the end of the day.  They are more concerned about something being well-built, comfortable, and familiar

frasier chair via maeby tumblr The Truth About Men & Decorating

If he cared about decor, Martin Crane wouldn’t have insisted on this chair.

 

So, yes – consult your husband about the comfort level of the chair he will spend the majority of the time sitting in, the overall style of the house, and the “feel” you are trying to create in this homelife you are building together.   But don’t waste your time and his trying to get a design agreement on every little thing. 

orange living room via bhg The Truth About Men & Decorating

Better Homes & Gardens

 

Think about it, would you really try to get his approval on every article of  clothing or make-up products you purchase?  It’s not his thing, and that’s OK.  Don’t expect him to get all excited about decorating or design.  Just because he’s not as in love with a piece of fabric as you are, doesn’t mean he hates it.  He just doesn’t really care about it like you do, and he never will.  If you are in the Nashville area and want to get advice from someone who DOES care, contact The Decorologist to schedule your appointment!

Also, if you know someone who needs to read this post - please share it with them or post on Facebook.  Thanks, loves!

 

 

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Comments

  1. This is your BEST post….very inspiring for all us women who are married to men! it is all so true!

    • thanks, dianne! :)

      • Hi Kristie,
        Just googling this morning on men and decorating and saw this interesting take on men and decorating. I am sorry to be completely unlike all of you other women in the comment section. My husband is totally all about decorating. He insists that everything be his way and is hands on when contractors come to paint or repair things too. Two decorators have quit on us because of his overbearing may way or the highway attitude about decorating. In our house if he isn’t happy no one is happy. After I read most of the comments I certainly realized I am unlike most women but probably not alone. My home is drab, depressing, and certainly does not represent me from the entrance to the back door.
        I look all the rooms shown in your article and appreciate your interest in this subject and everyone’s comments.
        Any advice?

  2. Good Morning Kristie… I love this post ;) Did you finish the vintage sofa? I would love to see pictures, or did I miss that post? XoXo

  3. This is interesting, because it’s probably the one way that my husband is *not* like most husbands. He cares very, very much about the look, design, and feel of our home. But, then again, the style of our home is not exactly feminine (despite the five to one female to male ratio here). Who would have thought that a former pig farmer from southern middle TN would love architecture and modern design so much? I think for both of us, it’s all about feeling very comfortable in our space. Maybe most women wouldn’t like it, but I love that we have something like this that we can share. And I love that he gets just as excited about a trip to IKEA as I do. After all, only someone who loves me that much could possibly hang with me on a 14 hour shopping trip there. :) But even with all of our passion for home design, we still desperately need the Decorologist to help us bring it together!!!

    • Mr. Man is into architecture and “the look and feel” of a place – but just not the details of colors, patterns, extra. He needs things to be well-built and well-done. That’s his big thing. That, and it feeling comfortable and familar. And he sure doesn’t like it when I move his dresser . . .

  4. Hi Kristie..a clever post and to a large extent very true. Funny thing though..men can get a hang up about a particular thing in the decor. My husband fancies himself as a painter so loves to be consulted about the paintwork. He doesn’t care however what colour cushions I put in the room or how I arrange the room either!

  5. You are so right. I Love this post.

  6. Oh this is too funny Kristie! My husband has an opinion on EVERYTHING but only after it is done! hahah And I too would stay up half the night if he didnt like something because it made him SAD! Oh the guilt!!! hahah

  7. It’s funny when it comes to men and decorating. When I’m at my client’s home I always ask what colors “he’d” like and for the most part it’s, “he likes whatever I like”, or “he doesn’t care” or the occasional, “oh he’s colorblind so it doesn’t matter.” Either way, it’s always nice to include the MR. when it comes to color – after all – it’s his house too.

    In my home, my husband has a little too much to say about the drapery, dishes, furniture and the color of the shower curtains. Really? Does he not know who he’s married too? Seriously though, it’s nice that they offer opinions but when the wives are in the design field, it’s certainly touchy grounds – at least in my house. I see it this way, you know it’s going to look great so just trust me on this one :-)

    Great post Amanda!

  8. Great post Kristie. I’ve been married 29 years and as long as it’s not “too dark” my husband is happy. I’m lucky that way because he knows how much design and decorating means to mean so if I like it, he likes it..as long as it’s not “too dark”.

  9. Very well put Kristie!! I actually never thought of it this way before!
    Jennifer

  10. Pam Barnett says:

    I really like pic #5. The “striped” looking paneling w? metallic hints. I’m not commenting on Mr. Man – he does have lots of opinions.

  11. Great post! And such good advice. Love it.

  12. So true, so true. This was a great post! I’ve tried to get my husband’s opinion on home decor, and I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusion as you did: as long as he’s comfortable and can find his stuff, as long as the decor isn’t too girly or impractical, I can do whatever I want.

    I wish he could understand my excitement though, instead of shrugging his shoulders and saying “whatever.”

  13. Wow — couldn’t have said it better! The funny thing is, I recently had a conversation with my husband and in-laws on this very subject… After quizzing my father-in-law on the contents/colors of his newly decorated bedroom (and him getting EVERYTHING wrong), we all came to the conclusion that the ladies of the house could decorate however they wished! Since the men can’t even recall what’s in their own houses, it was evident as you said, that it really doesn’t matter that much to them!

  14. Jennifer Driver says:

    You know that my husband was so resistant to change. After we changed our great room though, he really liked it. Now he knows that Kristie Barnett is the professional and he will do whatever she says … within reason and budget! :) We have both loved all of our changes!

    • Thank you, Jennifer- that is so good to hear!!! I think most clients’ husbands are initially scared I’m gonna come in and do some crazy stuff ala Trading Spaces. I have to earn their trust- but once I do, they’re on board. I need to see the bedroom now that the window treatments and art are up!

  15. I was nodding my head the whole time I was reading this.
    You are extremely intuitive and you have helped me relax about decoratoing my home now.
    Thankyou from the bottom of my heart, youv’e changed my life!!

  16. Kristie, you are so right on this point. Most men don’t care about decorating. My friend more or less told me the same thing, when I asked what he’d like for this or that room. In the end, he is happy if the room looks nice. Of course, “nice” is a relative term but he hasn’t complained so I guess I must be doing OK.

    Also, I wonder if some women want their husband’s approval concerning major changes because the hubby’s income is either paying for some or most of the household expenses. There’s lots of dynamics in a marriage that would probably take years to figure out.

    By the way, your husband is a real keeper. Not many men out there like him. A true gem.

    Happy Labor Day to you and yours!

    • Yes, he is a true gem. He is so good about trying to bring the design dreams in my head to fruition – we’re a team like that. I’m like, “I’ve got this idea – I want to do this and that and put that there and make this out of that.” And he’s like, “Sounds ridiculous, but I know it always turns out good, so let me go get my saw.”

  17. Now I want to see a photo of the sofa! As I’ve worked with clients, I’m often surprised how much the hubbys like & enjoy the changes we make. I often feel like the mediator as much as the decorator – trying to find the happy medium between what each member of the family wants. I’m also glad my Hunny lets me make a lot of the changes I want to make–it’s one of my favorite ways to learn!

    Warmly, Michelle

  18. My Hubby is just glad he’s not blind. That’s how much I move things around!

  19. Susan McCabe says:

    To further support your claims about men not being that “into” decorating, and the fact that most will “warm up” to their wives unique decorating escapades over time, it shoud be mentioned that in one of the last “Frazier” episodes (or maybe it was THE last one), Martin comes back to Frazier’s apartment for a visit, sits in the expensive designer chair ( which has finally replaced his ugly, worn-out recliner– the chair which has been a source of contention between father and son for more than ten years ) and simply says, (paraphrase) ” Hey, this wouldn’t have been so bad.” The moral of this story: Ugly furniture makes for great laughs in sit-com land, but not-so-much in real-life. I say, “Keep calm and carry on”… with the decorating, that is.

  20. My hubby doesn’t really care, as long as I don’t paint the bedroom pink or something!! He wouldn’t care if all the walls were white. I can’t stand ANY wall white (trim and ceilings only please!). I also want to see that antique sofa of yours! I HIGHLY doubt that you ruined it with your awesome designs!

  21. So true that I need to comment . My husband does not care about a thing, zero, nothing… I can paint the hose purple with multicolor polka dots. When I asked him if he was ok with me painting the master bedroom taupe/pink he said , sure, all I want is to sleep and the color has nothing to do with my sleep. His only opinion about house decorating is the least stuff the better,and that for a practical reason, a lot stuff, a lot time cleaning, a lot time cleaning is time wasted. But I have a lot and he does not care.
    Only three things he cares about our home: me, the children and food. He does not like to get home from work and we are not here yet, does not like coming to an empty house. He loves the children running to the door when they hear the key.
    Like father, like son, my eight year old boy yesterday made fun of me at the dinner table when I commented on how pretty the new juice glasses are. He copied me, than laughed and gave his opinion about glasses” who cares what the glasses look like, the only thing I care about glasses is that they are big so I can have a lot of juice.” He made me laugh!!!!!!
    Now, even though my husband does not care about decorating at all, he helps with all my projects, ( my friends laugh that I can transform I piece of furniture into something else, completely different, I tell him my idea, he does the transformation part and I do the painting), moves furniture around, pick up craigslist buys, etc…
    Know what? I love that he does not care and say “this is for the lady” I love it! And the lady here get to have a lot fun with the house without worries.
    A very good friend of mine can not even change the trash can without husband’s approval. He has a say on everything decorating… she does not like it, but he lives there too and is the man she loves and treasures.
    Love your blog
    Maria

  22. Carol Daniell says:

    I’ve found sometimes you have to use major TACT. My husband REALLY went for the BIGGEST, UGLIEST recliners, and just wouldn’t take no for an answer. He was very hard on them, though, instead of simply moving back gently, he’d YANK on the handle and SLAM back into position, Consequently, he’d go through them like a prom queen goes through quarterbacks. I couldn’t say, listen, Mike, you’re just too FAT for a recliner, so I suggested a that a nice leather chair and ottoman might be more versatile in the living room, we could use it for seating if necessary, and it wouldn’t encourage him to fall asleep, where he would be without his mask for sleep apnea. He mulled my suggestion over awhile, tried a few chairs, and it worked! Incidentally, the SMALLER big screen is now OFF CENTER in our living room, and is the only TV in room, and he agrees it looks much better! I will now begin my approach to the Salon way of hanging pictures. Let’s see if I can get away with that! Hmm. I’m thinking maybe you should omit my last name from now on. My “fat” comment might get back to someone.

  23. Being a married man I would have to agree for the most part with the comments about men and decorating. But I know plenty of real men of many interests including myself who are very visual and want to be included with putting together a comfortable home and lifestyle. Its not always about the man cave even when I was single my homes had diversity and style that even interested alot of women to look into me as a person more. Maybe only a small percentage of us but more than you think !

  24. Oh, honey! This one is right on the money. Great article!

  25. Sharon Charboneau says:

    I have tweeted this post & the one on men not wanting to paint wood: they both made me laugh out loud!!

    The wood thing I was hit with early on in our marriage as my husband was a journeyman carpenter in his younger years, knows wood & treasures the grain, etc. So, his feeling about not painting wood made some sense to me.

    This blog, also very well written, I have also experienced, and my husband & I have shared the same renovation history as you & your husband.

    He came up with an easy solution for us when we were first married. We pooled expenses, as we both worked full time outside the home, and at this point I was making more $$$ than he was. He said, if I don’t like something you bought, I won’t share the expense: you then have the option of returning it or keeping it & paying for it yourself.

    This worked for me & saved us from constant, endless debates. And the best, there was only 1 instance where he exercised his option!

    I luv your writing and all the fabulous information you share. Thank you from a fellow designer who is not great as a colour consultant. I just know what I like.

  26. My husband and I have also shared many years of renovating and decorating. When I was younger (a lot younger and much much more idealistic about everything) I would seek Mr Man’s opinion about the colour schemes for every room. We’d mix our own colours and I even reliquinshed total colour control on one room. It became ‘the blue room’ and was never used again for anything useful apart from storing things you didn’t want anymore. The blue was overwhelming and quite demoralising. I put up with it for about a year until we both agreed that colour and decorating was my thing he could leave me to it. We’ve lived by that rule-of-thumb for the last couple of decades and it’s worked out quite nicely.

    He is however quite good at blowing my budgets on things of exquisitely good taste – like tumbled marble tlles for the kitchen splashback. Go figure, he’s hopeless at some decorating things and totally brilliant at others!

  27. Yes, because clearly every man is the same.
    You are a sexist bigot.

  28. Debbie Morgan says:

    Great post I am new to this blog but well said. I think more often than not however, I have run into the husbands that want to control the project, for whatever reason, and change everything that the wife and I have worked on for whatever reason, finances, power, fear………ugh…. really takes the wind out of my sails. Now, I insist that he be there if he has any final say in the matter. Learned that the hard way!

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