Special Nonexistent Furniture

4 couples and friends on cohabiting with clashing interior styles

It doesn't get more personal than the home, and finding dynamic decor pieces that reflect who we are can be a total thrill⁠—until someone else steps in. Whether you're shacked up with a partner or live with friends who sway in a different aesthetic direction, trust us when we say that successfully merging interior styles can yield results everybody loves. Here, we chat with the couples and housemates who’ve made it work.
Stylist Drew and his partner Nick.

Nick and Drew

Relationship status: Partners.
Style: Eclectic art collector meets stylish neat freak.
Interior influences: "I love art and design, which gives me lots of inspiration," says Drew. "Working as a stylist, I dip in and out of many interior styles and tend to pick and choose the things I love from the looks that resonate the most."
Meanwhile, Nick likes to focus on function as well as form, noting that he is "more about how I will use the space or specific piece. I am also a very neat person, so clutter is hard to deal with!"
A high-contrast colour palette features throughout the living room.
Personal preferences: "Luckily, both of us tend to like a high contrast look, such as deep colours against a more minimal base," explains Drew. "We just painted our interior the perfect shade of greige, so now our artwork and decor really make a statement." Drew is also a collector, big on vintage glassware and Scandinavian art glass. 
Nick fluctuates between being drawn to moody tones and light and airy hues, "but always with a pop of colour, texture and personality," he adds. "I love using plants to soften up a space and bring the outdoors in, and style-wise, I’m drawn to mid-century modern pieces, but I’m not afraid of mixing them with elements from varying decades."

Styling together: Drew prefers buying bigger pieces of furniture and art for their home but says that he "always sends images of things I love to Nick, so nothing comes as a shock if it appears." The couple have found a great balance with Nick taking charge of bedding and tableware styling, which Drew gets his fill of at work most days. "It's amazing that Nick does it on the home front," he says.
A perspex box fitted over Nick's Lego transforms it into a piece of art.
On compromise: "I owned quite a few artworks that I loved when we met, and after six years, I think Nick has grown to love them too," says Drew. "Nick has a collection of Lego that he wanted to display, which I was against, so we came to the compromise that he would choose his favourites pieces, and we had perspex boxes made to fit over them. It gives the Lego a sculptural art feel that fits right into our place!" 

Tiarna, Rhi and Rubi outside their coastal terrace house.

Rubi, Tiarna and Rhi

Relationship status: Housemates.
Style: Boho greenhouse meets Victorian-era heritage.
Interior influences: "We are lucky enough to live in a Victorian-era terrace house in a coastal town, which influences our relaxed and charming interior style," explains Rubi. "We are all in our twenties, so we also try to keep things fun and lively through colourful accents that tie into our bright blue kitchen and pink courtyard."
Personal preferences: All three friends love greenery and have plants spread throughout the house, which they complement with earthy furnishings. When it comes to differences, Rubi notes that "it would be the amount of colour we each bring into our bedroom."
Greenery gives the old-school interior a fresh feel.
Styling together: "We are lucky that our interior styles are similar," says Rubi, "so when one of us brings home a piece of decor, it is easily workable in the space. If someone brings home something that isn't cute, it tends to be a majority rule situation."
Sabina and Lewis.

Sabina and Lewis

Relationship status: Partners.
Style: Mid-century meets contemporary.

Interior influences: "We love to entertain friends and family, so creating an inviting atmosphere for our guests is important to us," explains Sabina. "We also have two dogs, so we need to keep it practical."

Showcasing mementoes from their overseas trips helps create a homey vibe.

Personal preferences: Lewis likes to focus on function over form, but when it comes to looks, he is drawn to dark earthy tones. "I appreciate pieces with old-timey character and enjoy blending them with modern elements for a fresh look," he says.
Sabina also likes to lean into dark tones. "I love contrast," she says, adding, "black is definitely a feature colour for me at the moment. I also enjoy a relaxed, homey vibe and love collecting interesting decor from our overseas trips and featuring it throughout our home."

Styling together: "We often share inspirational Instagram accounts or specific products that we like to gauge how the other person feels before we purchase," says Sabina. "I’ve also been known to put together a mood board or two to pitch a purchase to Lewis⁠—it really helps sell it!"

Benji the whippet takes a snooze in front of the couple's new coffee tables.

On compromise: "Ah yes, the recent coffee-table debate. We purchased a pair of reclaimed wood stools to use as small coffee tables as we don’t have a lot of space in our apartment," explains Sabina. "I was really into them and thought they matched our overall style, however, Lewis wasn’t happy with the functionality of these 'unstable' handmade items. So we compromised and went for a larger, more sturdy option in black, which is perfect."

Housemates Sophia and Caitlin.

Caitlin and Sophia

Relationship status: Housemates.
Style: Colour, colour and more colour.  
Personal preferences: "I am a big fan of postmodern architecture, pops of colour and one-off pieces offset by loads of plants," says Caitlin. "Our dining table was a great postmodern find on Gumtree, as is the huge philodendron. Sophia's choice in design is endless clashing colours, prints and textures, such as mint, pink and paisley, teamed with vintage furniture, often of the shabby chic variety."
Styling together: Caitlin explains that the duo "go down the rabbit hole on the T&W website, searching for niche pieces with lots of character." Their favourite finds so far are "the White Janella Terrazzo Outdoor Coffee Table, Aerial Serving Bowl, Artemis Bust Sculpture Soy-Blend Candle and the Desivy Banker's Lamp."

Caitlin is drawn to eye-catching pieces, such as her standout orange dining chairs.
On compromise: "We're lucky that we're both pretty open to letting each other try new styles and pieces," says Caitlin. "For me, adding more plants made the living room feel complete, and for Sophia, the addition of art made for another clashing colour combo, which we agreed framed the room well." 
The friends love looking to artists for inspiration, including Ken Done, Yves Klein, Kandinsky, Basquiat and Keith Haring.

Tips on how to blend decor styles


Be prepared to compromise

When there’s another person involved, you’re not always going to get everything you want, so try to find a middle ground throughout the decorating process to ensure you end up with a home that makes everyone feel comfortable.

Create a mood board

A mood board is a great way to visualise how your styles work together before attempting the real thing. You can afford to be adventurous here, so jumping on Pinterest will also help you explore the different ways your tastes can combine to create a look you both love.

Decide on colours

Look for commonalities between styles like overlapping colour palettes, which can help unite disparate decor. If you’re all about clashing colours and they love neutrals, you can always start with a neutral base and introduce vibrant accents through accessories.

Decorate room by room

Tackling the whole house at once is a big job, so start gently with a single room, and you’ll soon figure out how you best work together. 

Embrace the style mix

The best thing about mixing styles? You’ll land on a unique look that feels far from one-note, so embrace it! Plus, bringing together your variety of outlooks will lead to a style that feels warm and welcoming because it genuinely reflects its residents.
Natalie Mell 02 May, 2022

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