Interior Designing for Couples

By Cathy Hobbs, ASID Created: October 24, 2012 Last Updated: October 24, 2012
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Decorating as a couple can be as rewarding as it can be frustrating. Start with defining your individual styles and picking some focal pieces for the space. (

Decorating as a couple can be as rewarding as it can be frustrating. Start with defining your individual styles and picking some focal pieces for the space. (

In my interior design work, I encounter newly married couples who “don’t know where to start.” To assist in determining their design style, I often ask them to rip images from a magazine to use as inspirational images. It is a great start, but so often clients don’t even know how to define their own design style. This is where it all begins when creating a first home that appeals to both him and her.

Here are some tips I offer newly married couples on how to get started:

Identify Personal Style

Begin with identifying which of these four categories each person’s personal style falls into. Nearly everyone’s design style falls into one of these four categories, and then there are sub-sections from there:

• Country Chic
• Contemporary
• Modern
• Global

After identifying each person’s basic design category, narrow it down a little bit more and define the couple’s style more specifically. 

Each Selects a Signature Piece

Next, each person should select a signature piece that defines them individually. It can be an area rug with a big, bold graphic pattern, a fabulous piece of artwork, or a gorgeous chandelier. 

Whatever piece each chooses will serve as the anchor for the room and help to fill in the rest of the blanks of the décor. By having each select a signature piece that is personally special, it helps ensure harmony and serves as the foundation from which to build a design palette that will appeal to both. 

Furniture, Then Accessories

Purchase large pieces first, and then accessorize. The signature pieces that best represent his and her personal taste and style will serve as the design inspiration. Next, choose the largest pieces of furniture. Remember: Furniture enhances the space, and the accessories enhance the furniture.

Accent with Universal Artwork

Instead of having photos of one family dominating the other, the couple should together purchase artwork that they both can agree on and love. 

Great art doesn’t need to be expensive. When my husband and I were decorating our first apartment together, our first purchase was actually a piece of artwork as opposed to a piece of furniture. We bought it from a small gallery and it wasn’t very expensive—it was just unique and an original, which is what I love about art. I am not a collector by any means and can’t say I have a vast knowledge; my home is filled with small art pieces purchased from street artists, small galleries, and art students. 

Five-time Emmy Award-winning television personality Cathy Hobbs is the founder of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes, a New York City-based firm specializing in interior design, home staging, and home staging training. Go to to learn more about Cathy, or to ask her a home staging or design question, send a tweet to @cathyhobbs.

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