Relationships are supposed to be more enlightened these days, what with the myriad forms of headshrinking now available. Despite it all, many couples are still dreadful at communicating their design opinions tactfully.
|"Your idea is a real riot, Alice!"|
(Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows in
I once sat through a meeting between two married couples collaborating on the design of a shared vacation house. Very early on, one of the wives enthusiastically outlined her idea for some sort of covered veranda. When she cheerfully looked to the others for feedback, there was a respectful silence. Finally, the husband of the other woman replied:
“I think that would look really stupid.”
Net points for tact: Zero.
One thing architects learn early on is never to cast their client’s ideas in a negative light, however dubious they may be. It’s a wise approach for couples, too. Here are some tips to help stave off design-talk debacles:
|Your project won't get far at|
this volume level.
“We could try that. Or—how about if we did something like this . . .” Very often, the original idea is mercifully forgotten when a new and more promising choice presents itself.
• If you and your partner can’t seem to agree on a particular design issue, try to find the root of the disagreement. Is it the idea’s functionality? Its aesthetics? Its cost? It’s much easier to seek a compromise solution when you know exactly what your partner’s objection is. If this approach doesn’t solve the problem, temporarily set aside the area of contention and move on. If the disagreement is so fundamental that it precludes further discussion, take a few days to cool off and reflect on the best course. A little introspection can work wonders here.
|Sorry—not the architect's job.|
However, if a technical ruling by your architect can decide the issue—“I’m afraid that, despite what you’ve seen in Snob Digest, you can’t have a staircase with no railing,”—then by all means solicit his expertise.
• Finally, a warning: Few things can nuke a relationship as quickly as a remodeling project. Be prepared for disagreements—in fact, expect them. Allow plenty of room for discussion, and remember that open-minded, freewheeling design debates can frequently yield the most splendid results.