And doing it beautifully.

By Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee
October 15, 2018

So, you've decided to move in with your significant other-congrats! While this may feel new and exciting at first, chances are her worn out rug or his collection of ceramic gnomes will start to bug you as time goes on. Luckily, newlywed interior designer, and star of "Trading Spaces," Genevieve Gorder, says blending your personal styles into one space doesn't have to be hard (or lead to drama over, say, paint choices).

"For me, it's all about moving into a new chapter of your life," says the 44-year-old design expert-who tied the knot this fall with furniture designer Christian Dunbar in a glam destination wedding in Morroco. The two share a New York City home with Gorder's 10-year-old daughter Bebelle. "It's about compromising your egos, and being open and ready to mold and shapeshift."

Having also recently teamed up with T.J. Maxx for The Maxx You Project, a series of online classes to help people decorate and embrace their personal style, we decided to ask Gorder to share her tips on, not only being true to your style, but then blending your taste with a significant other. Read ahead for her advice.


Though this one may seem obvious, Gorder says it isn't as common as it should be when it comes to making decisions about sharing a space. "That conversation between you and your partner isn't one that is thoroughly communicated that often. Usually, there tends to be one partner that bulldozes the conversation." However, if you want to create a home that both of you love, you both need to vocalize your needs, from wanting an office space that's just yours to finding a new home that gets natural light. "It's important everyone is heard. This way, you can find out where you overlap." So speake out upfront about what's important to you in a home and it'll help you identify what needs to be prioritized (a clean kitchen at all-times?) and what can take the back burner (you don't really need a walk-in closet).


For Gorder, creating a beautiful space isn't just about a Pinterest-perfect aesthetic-it's a personal experience. That's why when it comes to figuring out what look you and your partner want in a home, she recommends getting to know each other on a deeper level. "Think about where you're both from. What's the weather like? What did it feel like?" Start to dissect [the answers to these questions] into landscapes of colors and textures," says the Minneapolis native. Do his Midwestern roots ignite cozy-plaid vibes? Is your West Coast upbringing all about sunshine and surfing the waves? Find ways you can embrace the best of both worlds to inspire one unique style.

SEE: How Paint Dramatically Transforms This Living Room


When it comes to finding your design theme, try thinking about where you overlap and what new design opportunities you can draw from. For Gorder, whose husband is also a designer, it's about finding a new style that highlights both of their passions: "He's more mid-century and I'm more Scandinavian-Morrocan so Scadinavian-modern is where we do really, really well together." And if you're debating what furniture to keep and what to nix, first stop to see if anything can be kept, but refreshed.

"Take a piece, say an arm chair, that may not fit with your new color palette, but could once it's re-covered," she explains. "This way you have something that feels familiar, but is new because it's now an ‘us'. Make something new that's better together!" The best part? Finding new ways to make older pieces feel fresh doesn't just score you DIY points; it's also a budget-friendly way to decorate as well as an eco-friendly one.

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In the beginning-especially if you're both moving into a brand new space together-it can feel overwhelming to find the perfect couch or chose the end-all, be-all wallpaper. But Gorder reminds us (and rightfully so): "Design shouldn't be forever! We constantly evolve as people and our homes should reflect that. Just like you wouldn't wear the same pants now that you wore as a teenager." And down the line, when you find that you have begun to grow together, she says change doesn't have to mean a $5,000 renovation either. Instead, focus on accents like art work or textiles.


If you and your partner are finding yourself on opposite sides of the design spectrum (minimalist meets mass-collector, anyone?), Gorder's advice is to stay open to change. "There's always going to be a big edit. And truth is, a large percent [of your belongings] won't matter as much anymore once you start a new life with a person." As you begin to combine your styles, try and look at each other's strengths in new lights. "Perhaps her collection of 2000 ornaments may look like clutter on their own. But when highlighted in a more stark minimal environment of steel and chrome, they can become more powerful and feel more celebrated." In short, remember: Opposites need each other.


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