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Settle home decorating decisions in 4 steps

By Zak Stoiber

September 2016

So you’ve broken up with your apartment, saved up for a down payment, found your perfect home (with or without the help of a real estate agent) and are finally moving into your first home. The only thing left to decide is which new couch will adorn your living room.

You want leather because you grew strangely attached to your family’s leather couch and, therefore, associate an inanimate object with home, warmth and affection. Your partner is vegan and doesn’t want to sit on repurposed animal skin. The natural compromise is settling on pleather, but the word pleather makes both of you uncomfortable. So now what?

The best option, of course, is still to compromise even if it makes you a little uncomfortable. Maroon 5’s Adam Levine said it best: “It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along.” You trust Adam Levine, don’t you?

Follow these 4 steps to help settle any home- or décor-related decision, and the only thing you and your partner will be arguing over is how to pronounce Lycksele Lövås.

Step 1: Find common ground

To find common ground quickly, start out general and then get more specific – you and your partner will be on the same page in no time. For example, when it comes to couches or sofas, break it down into broad categories: shape/configuration, material, and color.

If you can agree on whether you want (or don’t want) an L-shaped or corner sofa in your home, you’ve already narrowed down the list. Our hypothetical couple has already debated the material, and neither will budge on leather or pleather – that leaves fabric. Lastly, there’s the color, which you can also break down into categories: muted, bright, pastel, earthy, etc. You may not agree on everything, but you’re on the path to compromise!

Step 2: Make a list

At this point, it’s not about finding your favorite choice, but simply finding options that you both can live with. Continuing with the couch example, you can either search online or walk through a store together to look for couches that fit you both find acceptable. Take screen shots or photos so you can remember your favorites.

Once you have 10 or so options you can both live with, you’re ready for the next step. 

Step 3: Rank your lists separately

Choosing from the list you created in the last step, you each separately rank the options from most to least favorite. Then assign your favorite option ten points and descend from there, with each option getting one less point than the last (e.g., first option gets 10 points, second gets 9, third gets 8, etc.).

Now you’re almost ready to make a decision!

Step 4: Combine lists

Compare your ranked lists and add up the points. The option that has the most points is the “winner” and best option! If you and your partner are still arguing, just remember that this process is very scientific. You can’t argue with science.

Alternative methods to making home decorating decisions

Sometimes compromise doesn’t work, and you just have to make a choice. Luckily, I have a solution — 4 of them, in fact. These techniques allow for civil and entertaining decision-making for the most difficult décor dilemmas.

Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS), aka Paper-Scissors-Rock (PSR)

Some things you learned in grade school stay with you the rest of your life. Like the perfect ratio of peanut butter to jelly or the insightful motto, “boys rule, girls drool.” RPS has historically settled a range of disputes, ranging from which team goes first in kickball to more important matters like settling on a new color for the living room. Just make sure you both agree on when to “shoot.”

Rhyme Time

This one’s for the bookish types out there. Simply say a word, and then take turns rhyming the previous word with your partner/opponent. If you repeat a word or can’t find a rhyme, you lose that round. Best two out of three, obviously. NOTE: Trying to start a round with a word that doesn’t rhyme, like orange or purple, leads to immediate disqualification and brings shame to your family.

Sock Wars

Some disputes are best settled by diffusing verbal warfare with a light physical competition. The goal is simple: Whoever can wrestle both socks off of the other first is the winner. Would not recommend “socking” after Thanksgiving dinner, or while pregnant. This one’s nice because you can make it a “Royal Stumble” by adding a third or fourth person in there if it’s a group decision. Just make sure you put away the china.


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Zak Stoiber is a digital marketing program specialist at MGIC who enjoys reading books, some of which do not contain pictures. He recently became a homeowner mostly to house his board game collection.
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