Decorating Your Marital Home


Made with Love

The do’s and don’ts of primping or merging your home together
to create a space that suits both of your needs

by Janet Armstrong

The planning and excitement leading up to the “big day” are exhilarating and not without stress, but following the wedding day, there is another big aspect of your happily ever after — your marital home! This can be an equally exciting prospect; decorating your first shared home is thrilling!

Whether you’ve combined your households prior to the big day, plan to do so afterwards or are renting or buying, there are a number of factors to take into consideration regarding the style and décor of your home.

Where to spend, where to save

When we look at design and décor websites and magazines for inspiration, we find rooms that are stunningly turned out with the ‘perfect’ pieces of furniture and décor elements such as lamps, artwork and embellishments. The majority of us do not have budgets that enable us to achieve these looks immediately when we are newly married and starting our lives together. But where to begin? What items should you invest in and where can you economize?

The foundation pieces of furniture in your home are a place where it pays to invest. Getting the best quality and durability you can afford in pieces like a sofa and chairs or a dining table and chairs will help you create that foundation. These are items that are not likely to be replaced very often and are also the pieces that will be used most frequently and will sustain the most wear and tear. Also purchase ‘classic’ pieces in neutral colours and patterns that can adapt to seasonal décor changes and your colour palette (your tastes will evolve and change too!) Trendy styles quickly become dated and are not as easily adapted to new décor styles.

Once you have the foundation pieces in place you can start to ‘accessorize’. This is where you can economize as we typically change out our décor accents and accessories seasonally, by holiday celebration or because we tire of them. This is where you can incorporate what is trendy without blowing your budget. It also allows you some flexibility to inject hits of colour that are fashionable at the time and reflects the décor style you have chosen. Accessorizing is where you can think outside the box while having some fun. Try adding some whimsy to your décor that reflects your personality — that unexpected item that makes the viewer smile. I love using items for unexpected purposes too; a candle holder or beautiful dessert bowl as a soap dish, a serving tray for stacking bathroom linens, a coffee mug tree for jewelry — you get the pic!

In terms of sourcing décor accents and accessories, there are a number of big box stores that have items at very affordable prices. Don’t forget to check the big box craft store too — they have an increasing number of décor items (and coupons to boot!). I love thrift and second hand stores for décor accents as well. There are some outstanding finds that may be used as found or could be updated with paint or embellishments and repurposed.

Combining styles

Learning to live with each other’s quirks and habits is a big adjustment for every couple. But how do you ever combine décor styles or decide on the décor style you want? What I love about décor today is that there is no one ‘right’ style; they can be adapted to reflect your personal flair. Combining styles can be a really unique and funky way to reflect your style preferences. I have seen French country chic with a touch of industrial or coastal with overtones of Boho — it can work and result in stunning and sophisticated rooms!

Start by looking online or through magazines and identifying the looks you each like. Note which elements of the styles attract you and identify colours that you each like. Determine what would be good for the walls and what colours would be best for accents and accessories. Inevitably, there is bound to be that one colour that becomes a line in the sand. However, it can still be incorporated into your room. For example, if one of you loves lime green and the other finds it a bit too energetic, perhaps it can be used as an accent colour in throw cushions or a vase.

If you are each bringing furniture pieces in varying styles and colours that you have to live with until you can invest in other pieces, provide continuity and cohesiveness with neutral coloured throw cushions and curtains, clear glass or white lamps with neutral lampshades, white vases, candle holders and candles, etc. These neutral and white colours will calm the ambiance and draw the eye away from the mismatch. When you have invested in your longer term items, these accents and accessories can coordinate and work with what you purchase or be used elsewhere in your home.

Take your time

It takes a while to furnish a home and get all of the items we need or want. I am a huge believer in taking your time — there’s no rush! You need to determine what I call the patterns of living: how do you use each of the spaces; which space is used the most; do you like to entertain family and friends or prefer a quieter, laid back home? This approach pays off in the long run. Taking your time helps to ensure you get pieces you are completely happy with and will get pleasure from for a long time to come.

Interior Designers can assist and support you with the decision-making process, sourcing and subsequent purchases of furnishings. They are also available to assist, support and work with you by evaluating your living space and making recommendations for creating a functional and comfortable space that suits your needs. W

Janet Armstrong is the founder of Simply Swank Decor (, a graduate interior designer from the Interior Design Institute and a member of the Canadian National Association for Decorators and Designers (CDECA).

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