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  • Nancy Freier

Balancing yin & yang when decor tastes differ

In feng shui, we recognize the most important criteria in determining good design for a couple is to be sure they each have their own personal space within the home. Without having a designated space to ‘hang one’s hat,‘ chaos and discord ensues in the relationship. 

A few years ago I got a call from a woman who asked if I also staged homes for sale. She was on the verge of divorce from her husband, an avid game hunter who loved the hunting lodge look with rooms full of his taxidermy trophies. Her tastes in decor could not have been further from his. She loved pretty pastels and lace and clearly a more feminine look. By time she called me for help, her husband was worried he had to choose between her and all of his deer heads and moose antlers! I looked the situation over and found they still were committed to each other and wanted the marriage to work, but were doubtful anything short of a separating could resolve their dilemma. 

This may be the design problem that inspired the idea of the man cave.* I suggested he claim a room of his own to display his antlers and alligator end tables. We turned his home office/den into ‘just his space,’ which was hands off to her. He was completely happy to create that room into his personal retreat in which to work, relax or watch a game without disturbing her. She had the rest of the house to do as she wished. And you know what? She could decorate it to her heart’s content with her beloved hearts and flowers, without any complaints from him. A month or so later I returned to see the results of their project and found them to be very happy with the way things were going. He didn’t mind her ultra feminine decor, and she made peace with the animals now in their “cage.” A win, win!

Another client had a similar situation. She and her husband lived in a huge house that was too big for just the two of them. When I arrived for the appointment, she explained that she needed help to stage the home as they were getting a divorce and selling the house. She was in tears. She didn’t want her marriage to end, but she didn’t know what she could do to fix things. 

I looked around (with my feng shui marriage-saving eyes) and saw, first of all, as lovely as the home appeared first glance, the house was way too big for this couple. When I took a closer look, I found there was no place two people could sit and talk without shouting across the room to one another. All the artwork she had chosen depicted lone figures statuary and large paintings depicting single women. One predominate painting looked like a woman crying in the rain. Clearly it was all her art and nothing of his was on display. I would have assumed a single woman lived there. When we went to her basement that stored more decor items, I reached for a beautiful orange glass vase that would be perfect to stage the dining room table. It had been down there awhile because it was very dusty. When I grabbed it, she burst into tears. It brought up a memory of the day he gave her the vase as an anniversary gift, and she admitted it had been on the basement shelf ever since. She had never given his gift a place of honor! When he came home that evening, 

    I wasn’t sure what to expect, if he’d be happy about the changes we made, angry we’ve moved things around, or indifferent as she had suggested. I was happily surprised to see his enthusiasm! He loved seeing his vase on the dining room table! He went and got the ladder we needed to reach an item hung high on their living room wall. Clearly he was all in for saving his relationship and eagerly helped us rearrange the furniture to support it. Finally, there was seating in both the kitchen and living room where they could talk and share their lives with one another in a cozy, intimate setting

Their home became a reflection of both of them. When all was balanced they realized they were still in love with one another. It was almost instantaneous! Where there’s a will there’s feng shui to light the way to living in peace and harmony under the same roof!

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