The Art of Living With An Aesthetically-Opposed Lover

The Style Issue: Designing For Two

Relationships can be a real bitch, especially when the lovers in question have opposing tastes. After the jump, Scott Rosenzweig of Some Like It Scott offers some tips on how to settle with a lover whose style ain’t your cup of tea.

My parents are so similar to the couple from Green Acres, it’s only nature my partnership would end up as oddly coupled, especially in terms of interior style. How could my and my man’s style not be opposed? I’m a short Jewish boy who had a bar mitzvah. He’s a six foot tall black former altar boy. Yeah, we’re totally the poster children for hate crimes. While we have loads in common, there are definitely times when I feel like Eva Gabor saying, “Darling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue!”

Michael and I met doing theatre, so obviously we both enjoyed Broadway, MGM movie musicals and other gay-friendly arts, but even nineteen years later, we’re still trying to work out the style kinks. He’s very much your classic kind of guy. Having grown up on the east coast in Catholic schools, he’s not big on fads or timely trends. I, on the other hand, grew up in Arizona and spent most of the 80’s in parachute pants, doubled up Polos and purple hair. Thus, when it came time to settle in together and build our home, there were (and are) some challenges to overcome.
While we both have an appreciation for art, I’m more about the Museum of Modern Art and Michael leans toward Michelangelo and other classical artists. If he could, I think he would choose somebody like Andrew Wyeth’s real life paintings (above) to live in while I would like to be living in the world of Shag Art (below). So, how can two completely different design styles live in the same place at the same time? Discussion, consideration and perhaps a bit (okay, a lot) of irritation.

My first suggestion for you settling down types would be to look for an artist that you both like. And of course different tastes don’t always mean entirely divergent views. For example, Michael’s always loved the classic lines of Maxfield Parrish (bottom). When he introduced me to Parrish’s work, I instantly fell for the bold, saturated colors. Perfect! Sure, you’ll be hard pressed to design your whole home around one artist, but at least it’s a start.

Like so many things, size matters in home interiors, too. As I said before, I’m short and Michael’s a relative giant. So, on top of decisions such as watercolor or Warhol, we deal with a height difference that affects what we choose for our home from a practical, as well as style perspective. From where the sofa hits you on your neck to deciding on a table’s tallness, we invest a lot of time deciding what will be comfortable for both of us. It’s a frustrating process, to be sure. The main thing here is to not make yourself crazier than you need to be. Just resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting, standing, sitting and standing again to find furniture that is exactly right for both of your eyes and your asses.
Speaking of size, sometimes it helps to start small, like the bathroom. Redecoration the toilet’s a snap, because you only need a new set of towels or a fresh painting and you’re done. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one bathroom you can divide them up and both have your own say without wasting any energy battling. Currently one of our bathrooms is done in black and white Broadway inspired prints and the other is based on a whimsical print by my friend, Scott Ward (see above jump). Luckily, Michael’s as a big a fan as me, so now fights there. We have, however, had some doozies. The only way to settle such squabbles comes from – shudder – compromise.

I don’t care what they say in commitment ceremonies about two becoming one, that’s a load of crap. Compromise doesn’t, however. mean you have to sell-out your style. You just have to be willing to work it all out. You are going to have differences in opinion, especially if you’re as different as Michael and I are (from upbringing, height, race and taste), but there’s no need to call anything off if you remember that if a lamp is a deal breaker between you and your spouse then most of the time it’s not about the lamp at all, it’s about the relationship. Step back, breath and remember to choose your battles wisely.

You’re not always going to win and he’s not going to either but at least fight fair and do your best to try and reduce the drama if at all possible. Back in my performing days, my mother always used to say, “They’ll forgive you anything if you have a strong finish.” Well, hopefully we have many years to go but I’ll forgive a lot when it comes to style choices if we have a strong finish together.