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. 




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.


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. 


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.

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.

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.

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.”

 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.

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

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. 

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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58 thoughts on “The Truth About Men & Decorating

      • Marlene says:

        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?

        • Cyndi says:

          Well, here I am! Another wife married to the guy who thinks he can decorate and it’s sucking the life out of me. I am embarrassed by his choices and feel disrespected.

        • Lucy says:

          I am sorry, but men just need to butt out! I allowed my husband to dictate what furniture we would get and have a say in how we decorated. What happened was I would point out everything I liked and then he would point out other things he liked until I settled for something he liked. I ended up very depressed and actually felt defeminsed (not sure if that is a word). I grew up with my Mom as a homemaker and my father would never have involved himself in that stuff. It was the way she showed love for all of us. So, in fact, my husband controlling the the decor kept me from showing love for my husband and my family. I put my foot down! I told him he either lets me decorate or I need to get a house of my own to decorate because he had robbed me of that right as a woman, wife and mother. Call me old fashioned, but my counselor confirmed women have a psychological need to nest. She told me you pick two fabrics and ask him “this one or this one?” That’s as far as it goes. Not “Ok, well I guess if you don’t like it I can go with this masculine choice”. I am not surprised that this is an issue where the demarcation between the sexes is becoming more blurred.

    • MommaT says:

      So. Much. Truth. Just had a huge argument with the husband tonight about this very thing. Colors, shape and style matter very much to me and was trying to get some input on one thing and it escalated into this huge situation. I think I might be better off just doing and decorating I like and if he doesn’t like it too bad!

  1. Jen C. says:

    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!!!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      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 . . .

  2. Naturally Carol says:

    Hi Kristie..a clever post and to a large extent very true. Funny thing 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!

  3. amanda says:

    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

  4. Donna Frasca says:

    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!

  5. Linda says:

    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 long as it’s not “too dark”.

  6. 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.

  7. Kelley says:

    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.”

  8. Meg says:

    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!

  9. 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!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      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!

  10. Chris says:

    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!!

  11. Monique says:

    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!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      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.”

  12. Michelle at Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust says:

    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

  13. 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.

  14. cecilia says:

    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!

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  19. Maria says:

    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

  20. 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.

  21. Kemper Martin says:

    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 !

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  23. 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.

  24. Tracey says:

    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!

  25. 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!

  26. Frustrated wifey says:

    Great article 🙂
    My husband and I have been living apart studying and now that we’ve moved in together, I find that he’s having a difficult time transitioning to an ‘adult’ decor that involves assembling furniture in a more ‘standard’ way. For example, he likes the bed wedged into a corner, even if this blocks access to the closet or obstructs the furnace. While we both care about comfort, his idea of ‘comfortable’ can include stacking furniture items in front of each other to free up space elsewhere. I try to de-clutter and enjoy having unoccupied space in the home but he sees any extra floor space or closet space as an opportunity to ‘store’ unused furniture/appliances/etc even if it is right next to the living room, or part of the bedroom.
    I feel as though he thinks he is still living in a bachelor apartment or a dorm and it’s driving me crazy. If I change things around he gets upset and claims it ruins his productivity or sleep or something else that’s important to him.
    How do I live in a home that is presentable and keep my husband ‘comfortable’? I have been avoiding guests for months now because I can’t stand the sight of my own home.

  27. Bryan says:

    I’m going to explain some things on a male point of view, regardless of how long this article has been out, and I will start with the pictures from top to bottom.

    On the first image (after the floor scrubbing one, as from what I can see, I can dig that space, with all of the wood), First thing that pops into my head by looking at that room is, “holy crap, so much fluff!” What is wrong with simplicity, that room screams sensory overload, from the puffball flowers, and the stack of books that aren’t for reading, but for accent. Where is the function in the room, what can you USE the room for, and ultimately, why is there so much filler.
    Why are there no dark colors to offset all of the cream/white pallette that this room revolves around, it has no contrast, and as you can see by the photo, the windoweded area seems to wash out immensely.

    Next Image: None of this furniture looks comfortable, and I bet that I can’t use the pillows as pillows because they are only decorative throws, this draws upon function again, if a chair is uncomfortable, why would I want to sit on it.
    I get a similar washed out pastel wall color, and there is no energy, the vases on thewall are a definate imrovement, The add a bit of fluff, but the flowers on the table are in the way, if you were to use this room for guests, how are you going to see around these flowers to maintain eye contact with the people you are trying too talk to.

    I guess because I am too lazy to critique all of the spaces, I will tell you the secret. Men want comfort and function out of our living spaces, we could care less about an extra this or that, we want a comfy recliner chair, a sofa for friends and family, lot’s of wood and stone, and some dark bold colors every now and then…

  28. Michelle says:

    Well yesterday my husband and I got into a pretty serious fight which ultimately surprised me since we normally do not fight, maybe once in a blue moon. What started it was my mother had just past away within the year and I started to shop for stuff to deal with the sadness I feel for losing her. So we are no way by means rich, but I now at 50 years of age, have some extra money to spend on things. I recently found a GoodWill oulet here within a couple of miles of my home and found it to be a therapeutic experience for me to spend some time there just hunting for a treasure. This place gets all the unsold items from other regular Goodwills which doesn’t mean they are not really nice things, but are there because it wasn’t found by the person looking for it. At Goodwills, they get stuff everyday, so they cannot have stuff sitting on their shelves too long or else the store will look like a junkyard. So what they do is they place a price tag of a certain color for the month that they receive it and remove those items the next month to send to the outlet stores whether they are really garbage worthy or beautiful finds. At the outlet, you pay by the pound for all your items. Prices vary by item such as clothes are $1,99 a pound unless you buy more than 20 pounds then it goes down to about $1.50 a pound. All furniture or of the liking is a flat $10. Housewares stuff is like .59 cents a pound. So if you were to spend say $20, you could fill 2 shopping carts full of stuff and a piece of furniture. So, I am more of a clutter- free kind of person and really neat and organized, but I found myself having fun finding really nice treasures there one in a while for hardly 5 dollars. I still have in mind that I cannot just get something unless I felt I would be using it. So the other day, I was upset at how my father just eliminated all of my mothers things the day she died. I wasn’t ready to let all of her stuff be taken out of the house. He basically got a 56 inch tv and mounted it on top of his fireplace, got a new bed and a recliner. He is so happy which I am glad. He went through everything my mom had which were very nice and expensive stuff and just gave it all away right after the hour she died. I told my husband that it was upsetting me that he could just get rid of her so easily by getting rid of her stuff. My husbands response was “He doesn’t need all that stuff. He’s perfectly fine with having a tv, recliner, and new bed. That is all you need. So then I asked him if he felt that way too about our stuff that we had bought together all these years. He said, “I don’t need all this stuff we have in our house. As long as I have a TV, couch, bed, and a small kitchen I’m fine. The rest is your stuff because you want those thing, and there would be no reason for me to keep it like your dad when you’re gone. ,,,please also note that a few days earlier i was complaining that I had so much stuff to do around the house and also trying to decorate; both my husband and son replied with “You bought it! We didn’t buy any of it.” You see like many other housewives and mothers who are trying to keep a nice home for the family and no getting much help from the spouse and child to do their share, I became aware that all this ” keeping the nest” really is not important to them. They would be perfectly fine eating out of the same pot of spaghetti so they didn’t have more dishes to wash. Either that or paper plates. I a not exaggerating. My husband tells me that he allows me to buy things just to keep me happy, otherwise he wouldn’t have all this crap. The crap I have?..Family room: One entertainment unit with a tv, one couch, two sofa chairs, a cocktail table, a rug, two medium size pictures. On top of the fire mantel I have 2 ceramic birds and a plant. That’s it. No end tables, no lamps. Our master bedroom we have a dresser and a bed, three photos in frames, an alarm clock, and a phone. Oh yes and curtains. The rest of the house is pretty much the same. You see I am an artist who likes to home decorate, paint, construct projects, a DIY dreamer. But I don’t have a house full of stuff because I know I’ll be the only one fussing about it. And when I do, I hear “Well it’s all your stuff, you bought it.” So my question is are men just that way and I’m an idiot for doing all of this for nothing ? I’m seriously thinking of selling our home of 25 years and moving to a one studio apartment so I don’t do stuff that he has to put up with.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      I know that must be incredibly frustrating. I think many of us who work on making a house a home often feel the same way. For me, it boils down to this: is it worth it to me? do I derive joy from decorating and keeping my home looking a certain way? Even when or if it doesn’t matter to anyone else, does it matter to me? My answer is YES, it matters to me and it’s worth it to me. And that has to be enough. Blessings on you and your home, Michelle 🙂

  29. Britney says:

    Hi Kristie,

    Thank you for this post! I recently got married and move into my dream house. I’ve had this house decorated for years in my mind and have been obsessing with all of the details. My husband has different taste and hasn’t liked anything I’ve done so far. It’s been pretty frustrating without his support and I’ve begun second guessing all of my plans. I was thinking about returning some beautiful lanterns from Pottery Barn (wedding gifts that I carefully registered for and have plans to decorate with) because my husband thinks they are weird. This post has made me feel so much better! I’m so glad I found your blog online :).

    Thank you!!

  30. Carmen says:

    This is such an unnecessarily gendered viewpoint. Men grow up playing with guns and wanting to change the world. Women are…..only concerned with nesting???

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