If you’re a newlywed couple in a new home, you’ve likely been thinking a lot about design. To that end, picking investment pieces you can share for a lifetime — and choosing a design scheme to ensconce them in — can be a very fun proposition. But if you and your partner don’t have a similar aesthetic and mutually agreeable personalities, designing your home could result in the dreaded “first fight.”
Hoping to help you avoid that, we went to an expert, Nick Olsen, for a little advice. Since his Deal Hunter days at Domino, Olsen’s vibrant DIY style has attracted a roster of cool young newlyweds. Here, the interior designer (and former protégé of designer Miles Redd) walks us through the process of how to build your nest, from mixing “his” and “her” styles to the marital bed Read on for his tips, and then check out Gilt’s big bridal event — everything from dresses and suits to reception packages and honeymoons — which kicks off today.
Q: You’ve worked with lots of engaged and newly married couples. When it comes to feathering their nests, what is the single most important thing that couples tend to overlook?
A: A comfortable bed. I know so many couples that still sleep on an old mattress from college — and they’re young and fun! Upgrade to a queen or king mattress with a bed skirt and a great headboard. It’s the marriage bed; why not make it fabulous?
Q: If you had to tell a newly married couple to splurge on one item—the archetypal “investment piece”—what would it be?
A: I vote for a comfy, high-quality sofa, especially if you like to lounge around. If your sofa looks like an unmade bed after one year, you should have spent more on it. If its bones are good, meaning hardwood construction and hand-tied springs, it will last forever. All you have to do is reupholster it. As my old boss use to say, “Buy the best; you only cry once.”
Q: For some newlyweds, choosing dinnerware is a war of attrition. Any advice for couples on picking patterns they’ll both appreciate?
A: Stay away from anything too contemporary or out-there. Go for classic, timeless styles that aren’t too trendy or complicated.
Q: Let’s talk about merging “his” and “her” styles—the bachelor pad with the feminine flat. How do you do it?
A: Both husbands and wives need to feel taken care of. It’s important for each to have a dedicated space, like a man cave versus a walk-in closet. Even if it’s just a small valet where he puts on his shoes everyday. My father has his office in the garage, and no one is allowed to touch it.
Q: But what if you’re moving into a tiny one-bedroom?
A: Compromise. Most men don’t want to live in a “pretty princess” room. They love anything with an earthy, wood grain, natural quality. So you each get your moments. Mix a masculine headboard with a frillier curtain. If you love French antiques, get something in there with raw wood and a wrought-iron base.
Q: And what if their colors clash?
A: Again, pick your moments. If she loves animal prints and he loves rich, deep colors, apply them in small doses, like pillows and throws.
Q: Which brings us to the television. How do you incorporate a big flat-screen into your décor?
A: Find a beautiful piece of furniture to disguise the wires and stash his video games. Or mount the TV on a wall and surround it by works of art and books. Make it feel cozy.
Q: Finally, let’s talk about bedding.
A: I love plain white or ivory linens with colorful embroidery. If you choose a super feminine upholstered headboard, offset it with something masculine, like triple-stripe embroidery. Compromise is your best bargaining chip for future arguments.
(Photo by Timothy Kolk)