Friday, May 29, 2009

On Design: Designing for the Sexes

"Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden" by Titian

It's the true "he said/she said" dilemma - negotiating between two spouses - who do we listen to, are they even listening to each other and how to create balance and get the most out of the client/designer relationship.

What about you? Have you ever snuck a little something in the back door???

22 comments:

Chris said...

What a great topic , I had a client the other day ask me if I check with my husband before changing things in the house , I said never , he does not CARE about it like I do , exactly what Joni said , I think about the house all the time , he never does , that is how we both came to the agreement that the house is mine to play with how I choose , now when or if I ask his opinion he can give it , but that doesn't mean I will change according to his input .
Not too many men I know really need to give that input i think .

Anonymous said...

I was relieved to hear laughter after the "A man's life is the office. A woman's life is her home". Not that I completely disagree with that statement, but my husband's office also happens to be our house.

I would LOVE to be given full control and envy those women who have carte blanche, but my husband truly cares about how our house presents to his clients and friends. For his profession, it needs to be a little more hip than The pretty "Southern Accents" look I gravitate toward. My home is SO important to me, but "winning" a design argument is a hollow victory if it does not make him happy too.

In the end, I am so glad I married a man with whom I can have an intelligent conversation about art and design. It is a constant struggle and a constant challenge to get what we both want out of our home, but our house is more unique for it. His hipster friends may find a level of sophistication in what I add. My sorority sisters think we have cool taste because of what my husband brings to the table.

Great topic!

Mirrored furniture said...

Great topic, women from Venus, men from Mars. In 1000 years time, people will still be talking about these same things.

LIBERTY POST EDITOR said...

So..who would be the one with control in a gay (female) partnership?...and in a male gay relationship? (The males probably wouldn't need to hire a decorator!)Aw...I'm just slap happy..The only thing that bugs me is when a man has absolutely no interest in decorating but insists on being in control..that is just wrong!!! (kick him in the shin)

Megan said...

Ahhhh - you'd be so proud of me girls! When we bought our new house I told my husband yes on the condition we spent another $100k doing it up - which he agreed to. Mind you he knows I've got too much Scottish blood to be a spendthrift! Because I'm at home, I am doing all the internal painting myself (except for the kitchen cabinets and the double height hallway) which will save quite a bit in labour costs. The majority of the money will go in new flooring tiles and carpet and bathrooms (2). A weather eye on ebay has also snaffled some good furniture pieces too. It all evolves over time - instant decor tends to look like a showroom rather than a home - it's always evolving......

Judy said...

This was a fun post! Just great....I'd love to hear about your experiences with the "best friend" of a client. Sometimes the friend is more of a trouble maker than any husband ever encountered. It's difficult to work with an insecure client with a strongly opininated friend....Thanks so much for doing your radio show!

VictoriaArt said...

Today it felt like a good old fashioned comedy radio show...
Seriously, I have a lot of husband /wife "teams", they fall in different groups, commonly I find woman more active in the decorating department, but most men want to be heard at least.
I usually now asked upfront about the partners input in it, since I had a situation very early in my practice where the wife selected happily, we ordered and a few days later everything went back to the shop to be returned after the husband vetoed...I had believed that she was in charge.
After a couple of weeks I had to stop. I never saw the guy, since he worked long hours and I felt extremly odd.

They had to managed on there own to find common ground first.

Now often I feel like a psycologist...
And I think it is importend to engage both partners, since it is the home for both( or all incl. children) and not right to make it dominant in one way or other. Like in a good marriage it is about compromise, give and take, often we devide, there are things importent to guys, usually to do with media, often kitchen (Joni, believe or not)bathrooms and the overall feel of the house and outdoor space. Details are often left to the woman. Sometimes I check back after my first consultation and we go over the general plans together. Unless one partner clearly states he/she is not interested to participate, I insist on having both at least ones at the table together. Often I feel the man are afraid of an unknown finacial strain and I am extremly cautious to stick to any given budget, but I am clear about what is realistic as well.
Honesty, trust and good communication are absolutly importent.
In todays world, where most of my clients both are well educated and working the money is not so much the subject, since they both contribute, but style is the issue.
As designer/decorator/architect we are mediators as well.

It was again fun to listen to you all!
XX
Victoria

LindsB said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is your best discussion yet!! Everything up to this point has been great but now (hopefully) I will be able to do what I want and follow your advice from the previous posts :)

My boyfriend is in Asia for the next three weeks and I just sent him this to listen to and told him it was important to take the time to do it- I cant wait to hear what he has to say.

Oh, and Joni you are my hero! I have been dreaming about my house since I was a little girl, not even as wedding like most, but how my house will look and how I will decorate it. You've given me the power to just do what I want, thank you!!

VictoriaArt said...

Dear JONI, LINDA and MEGAN!, Thank you for taking my suggestion and making it into a wonderful podcast on May 19th...
Can you believe it: I missed it on time, since I was working away from home and so occupied otherwise. Hurray, now I found it and your kind mention of my blog!
You must have thought, here she writes how to find readers and she is not even listening....
Thank you, you are the best!

XO
Victoria

Jojo said...

This was the best discussion every. I have always felt a bit guilty about my "secret" checking account that I keep just so I can buy things without having to explain the price but after listening to this podcast, it seems there are more like me than I ever knew.

custardbydesign said...

what a fantastic post...

i'm always fascinated by the gender / sex debates concerning stereotypical and archetypical issues in design and architecture...

i presented a dissertation on a similar topic for my honours degree...

fascinating read...

Anonymous said...

I took Joni's advice last night and tried to reason (over drinks) why I, the woman should be in charge of the home. Well, he looked at me like "when did you become the spoiled princess?". We got in a huge fight and are still not speaking to each other. Different generation/zip code/socio-economic ways of thinking I guess.

Not to blame Joni. I know she meant well and I wrongly thought her line of reasoning was worth a shot to get my way. Just a warning to women who have an "equal partner" at home. Now I am totally going to have to give in to some hideous italian leather sofa just to make up with him.

Style Redux 2 said...

I would never have married a man who would dictate the decorating in our home. A man like this does not need to spend money on a new doormat; he already has one. Great job again you three!

Linda Merrill said...

Oh - Anon - I think Joni has her Southern wiles to support her take no prisoners attitude about the home! Perhaps us lesser mortals should stick to other methods!!!

I'm curious with everyone why it's always such a black and white situation?? A man wanting input isn't dictating. Obviously - anytime one person is dictating a situation, there's a problem. But, I'd just like to stress that I'm all for input from both spouses - so long as it's constructive and open minded.

I was talking to my Mom about this and said I'd mentioned them in the podcast as my Dad was always highly involved. But, involved didn't mean dictating. They had similar tastes and he never brought something in without discussing it with her, and vice versa. His taste tended towards a darker palette than hers, but they both ultimately agreed. However, Megan's point that men will spend $$$ on out door things was so true of my Dad as well! He spent a fortune on the mailbox, lamp posts and a lovely little garden gate in their yard. And yes, his eyebrows were raised to the heavens at the price of window treatments. That said, he was always willing to spend on quality furniture. So, my personal experience is with the give and take of a relationship - no one person dictated the interiors.

Really - isn't a woman who insists she be the only one who makes interiors decisions a dictator as well?

I know, I know - I'm not actually married and my house is all about ME - so easy for me to say!! But, I will say that when I moved into my condo, my boyfiend at the time moved all my stuff in for me one day (I was at a family meeting regarding some medical issues of my Dad's). I was gone all day and he moved everything in from the garage after the new floors were in, he unpacked AND decorated with what I had. He made art projects and came up with creative vignettes. When I drove home after a long, weary day of dealing with serious issues, to have had someone take care of me by thoughtfully putting everything together was the nicest feeling. And, aside from rehanging the drapes I'd taken down from the previous owners (haha), everything was lovely and I would have easily taken his input were we to have eventually gotten married. He's Belgian (and we all know how fantastic Belgian design is!), so perhaps that's the difference, he was actually into it and cared about his environment, as opposed to many American men.

Anyway - a rambling addition to the podcast!

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and input - such great conversation!!!

Cote de Texas said...

anon 6:37

I feel your pain. Go read my blog today. I right with you sister. soul sista. oy.

this happened to me after we recorded the skirted roundtable on Monday.

sorry it didn't work for you, but guess what, it didn't work for me either.

Joni

s.w.design said...

Doesn't it sometimes feel like the battle between the sexes is right out of an episode of "I Love Lucy" ? It's always amazing to me that some women (myself included at times) still have to justify the expense of a new lamp, or whatever it may be. Does he have to justify his new fishing rod? So frustrating!

Terry said...

Home and family run on women's rules. Husbands know that, but it seems like we have openings sometimes. But maybe you are just humoring us. "Why did you ask my opinion if you've already made up your mind?"

Design is the most intrusive profession. A designer knows what's in your messy closest. What is it like to fight in front of the designer you hired? I've had these fights. It not like fighting in private.

Part of the problem is the "love triangle" of design. One designer, one husband, one wife. 2 against 1 is not good for family harmony.

Our designer friend talks a lot about post project divorces. Often a project is a marriage's last stand, or last hope. Sometimes the strains push a working marriage over the edge. (Sometimes the wife falls for the contractor.) In any case big projects can be bad for families.

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

Linda...I love the additional info and story about your boyfriend...what a sweet guy! I know a lot of women who basically have full reign of the decorating in the home, but give their DH that one room somewhere to do as he pleases...you know...the Man Cave! I think every marriage/relationship is different...sometimes the man may actually be the one with the great design sense...although I know it's more often the woman. Thanks for another great podcast! Susan

All that is Pie said...

I often give thanks that my husband has stepped back from decorating. He has seen how bad the results are when men (or women) try to involve themselves in design. I think they want to buy stuff for their wives that their buddies can see (diamonds, cars, and so on).

Sarah's Fab Day said...

I just have to say that yes I have snuck many purchases in the back door. :)

My strategy is have all of my ducks in a row and then talk about what needs to be done fairly regularly. Because I know when my husband says, "let's go look at sofas" that means we are buying a sofa. While my husband usually lets me make all of the design decisions he does like to at least be consulted before I do anything major. It's like some weird passive/aggressive thing with us, he has to approve and I have to have the final say. Weird, but it works.

Vanilla Lavender said...

Joni, I totally agree with you when you said about being our nature, nesting, caring and decorating our home. My hubby never complains about a thing I move around the house. I actually get to do whatever I want when the subject is decorating. He has a "shed" yes a shed outside the house where he makes all the mess he wants! And he's proud to say "Daddy's room". Anyway the only I can move around are his guitars... they're hanging one on each side of the wall in my bedroom... not the kind of accessorie I wanted in my bedroom but it's ok. I have the entire house myself!

Anonymous said...

Great topic ladies! I must say that I am in total control of the decoration of our home; I don't agree that it means there is some "marital imbalance"...my husband trusts my choices and has always been pleased with the outcome; he likes to fish and play golf; I like to decorate...big deal. We agree on a budget and that's the important thing. If I go over...well, then I pay from my account. It doesn't mean there are communication issues; I feel we are very much equal partners. I agree with Joni...my husband spends most of his time at his office (of which I decorated by the way) and my "office" is our home, which I feel reflects our entire family unit; not just myself. It's a home designed for the way we LIVE AS A FAMILY! I work as a designer as well and very rarely is the man invovlved (maybe it's a southern thing). The husband is, however, always complimentary and pleased with the end result!
Sincerely,Melanie