who’s making the decorating decisions?

by | Nov 19, 2020 | All Things Home, Decorating | 51 comments

I get random articles about decorating e-mailed to me on a weekly basis.  They cover everything from giving your kitchen a makeover with paint in a weekend (amusing notion) to kitchen trends to the latest design house triumph.  I usually just scan them briefly before they are deleted.  I received one earlier this week that got me thinking…  It was about decorating decisions and who makes them in the household.  Is the decision-making split between spouses or does one or the other make the bulk of the decisions?  The article asserted that 45% of couples make decorating decisions together.  It didn’t further specify if that was referring to large decisions like renovations, installing flooring, etc., or smaller decisions like where to place a lamp or the number of pillows that are reasonable for a sofa.

So, let’s talk about it!

Who’s making the decorating decisions in your house?

In our house, I think it’s pretty clear that I make about 95% of the decorating decisions!  I actually get asked about it quite a bit…  “What does Jeff think about xyz?”  “Does Jeff ever disagree with you about painting something?”

The fact is, Jeff doesn’t really care what I do as long as I respect a few requests.

milk painted dresser as night stand | miss mustard seed

milk-painted dresser tutorial | mirror 

1.) He doesn’t want a lot of decor on his nightstand or around his sink.  He can handle a lamp and a stack of books on his nightstand, but if I start really decorating and arranging it, that’s over the line.

2.) Furniture has to pass his POJ (piece-of-junk) test.  If it’s wobbly, gives someone splinters, can’t be used, etc. then it’s a piece of junk and cannot be in our house.

3.) I can’t paint the built-ins in the basement.  You can see what they look like HERE.  I’m still sore about this one.  Although I haven’t waved the white flag, yet, I am resolved to not paint the built-ins as long as he’s instant about it.  And alive

Moving on.

Other than those requests, he pretty much gives me free rein.  We make big-ticket renovations decisions together, although that has more to do with the budget than aesthetics.  When we’re doing something like replacing flooring, counters or renovating a bathroom, I’ll show him my picks and just make sure he doesn’t have any objection.  We’ll review the budget and make sure we’re on the same page.

installing and finishing hardwood floors | miss mustard seed

installing hardwood in the living room

He used to object and asked a lot more questions about what I was up to in the house, but after 20+ years of marriage, he’s learned that he usually loves the choices I make and trusts me to make timeless decisions.

blue and white bed pillows | fabric bed crown | master bedroom decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

master bedroom pillows & bed crown | mirror  | Aviary Toile fabric

While I drive the decorating aesthetic, I do keep those living in my house in mind.  Free rein doesn’t mean I’m going to steamroll everyone else.  I would make many decisions differently if I lived alone and it was 100% about my own preferences.  As I’m decorating, I keep in mind how each room will be used and what will be not only beautiful, but also practical and comfortable.  I try to strike that balance.

The boys also have full say over their rooms.  I let them pick out the wall color, how to arrange the room, what furniture is used, etc.  They both like more modern things, so their rooms are definitely a departure from my personal style.  They did pick a deep blue for the walls, though, so that made me happy!  I really would’ve painted them any color, but my love for blue has rubbed off on them.  That being said, neither of them are all that interested in decorating.  We’re just working on keeping rooms reasonably tidy and not smelling like feet.

linen slipcovered chaise tutorial | miss mustard seed

linen slipcovered chaise | tutorial & sources

I think having to compromise, even a little bit, forces me to be practical and get creative.  I might not be able to paint the basement built-ins (yet), but I’ve found some beautiful inspiration for pairing a blue/gray wall color with dark built-ins.  The room might end up being better for Jeff’s boundaries.  I hope to work on the basement as my big project next summer.

So, how are decorating decisions made in your house?  What would you do if you didn’t have to compromise?

Before I go, thank you to everyone who shopped my art sale last night.  My apologies for all of the technical glitches.  I was there watching it all happen and I know it must’ve been frustrating as a shopper.  We will be fixing those issues for the next sale and, until then, I’ll be busy painting!


  1. judith

    That link doesn’t take us to the built-ins in your basement 🙁

    • Marian Parsons

      I fixed it! Sorry about that!

  2. Helene

    Can’t connect to basement built ins. The link is a white chair???

    • Marian Parsons

      I fixed the link! Sorry about that!

      • Tonya

        In the beginning of our marriage, he had very strong opinions that usually weren’t in alignment with my ideas. So I would gently make a suggestion and let the idea marinate. About 99% of the time, he would come back about a month later and say, “you know I think it would be a good idea if you did….” And as time went by he began to trust my instincts. Sometimes I still get a bit of push back and I just give him the baby yoda face and then I get to move forward with my new project. Despite all of that which I find humorous, he always ends up saying, “wow, the house is looking really good.” And I reply, “Not a house, our home” All the choices, ideas, and decisions are about creating a home where everyone feels safe, secure and loved. The art of homemaking is kinda nice.

  3. Karen

    I make all the decorating decisions in our house and my husband doesn’t really care. Although back in the 80’s when cute country stuff was in he absolutely hated it, me being a new bride I jumped on that train just to fit in. Now that I’m in my 50’s I do what appeals to me and certainly don’t follow the crowd. I tend to like a classic look. I’ve learned to love my home and not follow trends or let other dictate what my house should look like.

    • Cathy

      Well I’m cohabiting after living alone for 28 yrs. it’s tougher than I thought. I didn’t know my Fella would have such strong opinions given his house was well not really decorated per se. plus he’s red/green color blind. I thought he liked my taste but he doesn’t seem to trust me that “bandaid beige” is not a great color for the entry way🤦‍♀️So, I think I’d die to be in your shoes and I wouldn’t pick those beautiful built ins to be the hill I’d want to die on. I’d consider myself quite lucky to have such a lovely home

  4. Deborah Raney

    Your division of decision-making sounds almost exactly like it is in our house. My husband draws the line at having to move furniture before opening a bookcase or drawer and since he’s an artist, he likes to have a say in the paintings we hang in our house, but other than that, I have pretty free rein to do what I like. (And like your Jeff, Ken trusts my taste and often compliments my choices.) Our decorating is definitely most influenced by our budget and the fact that as much as I enjoy decorating, I’d rather take a trip than have a new sofa. Fortunately, I find it more challenging to work with the paint colors and architecture that were here when we moved in than to do any big renovations. And I adore furnishing our entire house from budget-friendly flea markets and garage sales.

  5. Cheri

    I was just thinking about this subject as I painted the built-ins last weekend. Kirk and I are pretty much on the same page as you and Jeff! Budget first! I always ask his opinions and thoughts. It is rare that we disagree all these almost 40 years!

  6. S Fuller

    My husband and both happen to like the same things and styles (with the exception of barn doors) which makes things go smoothly when renovating or decorating. He is color blind and defers to me on color choices, but his eye knows when something doesn’t look right. We usually both make any decision about these things together. Sometimes I get a crazy idea and he talks me ‘off the ledge’ but sometimes I get my idea across to him and they’ve worked out fine. When we were redoing out living room he wanted carpet. I didn’t. I relented on it, because I had my way on many other ideas. I had a laugh out loud moment when you mention your husband not relenting on the shelves…and the word ‘alive’ had me chuckling about my lack of fondness for the carpet.

    P.S. I’ve said this before, but thank you for being my reprieve from the craziness of this world. I said it once right after my father died and I truly mean it now that the world is as crazy as it is.

  7. Betsy

    I missed out on a painting yet again.I think I’ll just wave the white flag and be happy with your blog. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  8. Missy

    I make most of the decorating decisions in our house, although my husband has no qualms about chiming in on things he hates-like too many pillows on the bed. Many years ago, early in our marriage, I completely switched out the furniture between the den and living room. I even recovered some chairs with a very different fabric. (He was on active duty and gone for a few days). It took him a week to notice the change! I couldn’t believe it. So, I mostly do what I want.Lol.

  9. CJ

    Our only limitations are budget and the structure of the house. He trusts my design choice and is a good sport with helping to paint etc. He even agreed on removing part of a non-supportive wall, but it’s not high on the to-do list 🙂 New to us, 70’s rancher with original everything……the work is endless, but not the money!

  10. Karen

    Can you tell us info about the rug you bought for your newly refinished living room…I can’t seem to find it anywhere on your blog. Thanks!

  11. Karen

    Nevermind I just found it! Sorry!

  12. Danielle

    I feel like I may be an odd one out here. My husband has opinions about EVERYTHING. While I can make some decisions on my own like buying a few decorative items, and in my own craft room, we need to come to some sort of compromise on everything else. Even when we were planning our wedding, he wasn’t a typical groom who said, “Whatever you want dear”. Sometimes I get pretty frustrated when I feel that I’m right or he’s dismissing a great idea just because he can’t visualize it like I can. But I’m also the first to admit that it pushes me to make smarter choices, and that in the end, when we use some of his ideas, some of mine, and compromise on others, that the end result is something even better and something we both love and feel ownership of. But every now and then I still dream of having free reign, ha!

    • Sarah

      Haha this is my hubs too Danielle and I agree about it helping with end result but yes sometimes I do want free reign

    • M2nmom

      I am so glad I am not the only one who has a very opinionated Hubs!! Totally right about the pushing us to make smart choices and when we can blend the ideas, we love the results. I would love to have it happen more often than once a year, lol!

  13. SueA

    Ha ha! When remodeling the kitchen, my husband wanted white and I wanted dark ebony. He wanted warm “natural” bamboo flooring, I wanted a cool gray. We compromised and have a “tuxedo” kitchen with warm bamboo flooring and it is really great. All white or all dark would have been too much. The warmth of the bamboo is complemented by a counter and bench of butcher block. The blend is perfect and we love it.

  14. Dianne

    We’ve been married over 50 yrs. and lived in this house over 40, so things have certainly evolved. It is cabin in the woods, maybe not the cute little cottage I might think was more me. I love Marion’s style, but it just doesn’t go in this house. After years of decorating with plates, collections, things I love; I have put away most of it and given a lot away. Everything is more rustic now with hints of crystal and pretty. It is a good look and I know my husband loves it. He always has been very supportive. Our five kid’s rooms evolved into offices, a sewing/ guest room and library/ guest room. It works perfectly for us.

  15. Diane

    We just purchased new outside lights. Our usual technique is…One of us comes up with an ideal, we wait years to put it into action. Then I start trolling on-line after hitting up the local stores. I save and present my choices to him. Force him to give me his input. (This one time launched into a full blown argument over shades of white and, or wooden blinds)….
    Then he gives me a nod when we agree on the details. He has definite ideas so i am careful about what i ask him and what i just go ahead and do. We value one another’s opinion, but have learned in the end to trust one another.
    Non-negotiation-able . Is painting “nice wood”. But We are both wood junkies.
    Me60%. Him40%

  16. MaryJo

    Are you ever going to show us the crown on your bed? I’m redoing my bedroom and I’ve looked at some crowns and have not been very impressed with how they have been done. I have the feeling you probably knocked it out of the park. I love your soft cozy rooms and your fabric combinations. Just lovely!

  17. CarlaS

    I know what I like when I see it but my husband can envision the final product before the pieces are in place. We work well that way. I showed him photos of what I like for our kitchen remodel which helped us when picking the cabinets, flooring, paint color, etc. We both love antiques but like newer furniture for the upholstered comfy pieces. Sometimes I have champagne taste on a beer budget but he lets me splurge on the important stuff that will be around for a long time. Thanks for sharing Marian! You are always an inspiration (I love my civil war era cutlery).

  18. Jo Telfer

    I noticed straight away your large finished oil painting, hung above the fireplace! I think it’s extraordinary and can’t wait to see the full painting!! Stunning and beautiful and inspiring! Thank you! xxx
    p.s. Looking forward to more painting tutorials?!

  19. Stéphanie

    Oh, what a beautiful find ! I remember my grandfather, a french soldier who had a Rembrandt pastels box in his military bag during WW II. Years and years after the end of war, he gave this box to me, telling me that he was loving my drawings. He passed away 20 years ago, I still have the box. I used the pastels, but I kept tiny pieces of each old, and the new one are stored in the same box. The pastels and the fact that someone truly believed that I deserved them are a priceless memory. Oh, and I love using pastels on velvet paper, it brings an amazing texture !

  20. Charlotte

    I think mine doesn’t care as long as it’s not all stark white and it’s comfortable. Plus, he has free rein of the basement.’lol I am bummed about missing the sale. I tried to wait till 830 but because of my work schedule, I had to go to bed. I’ll catch it next time!

  21. Vikki Nay

    My husband used to fight me on some of my decisions, but after 19 years he finally trusts me. One of the first things I painted that he wasn’t sure about was our front door which is solid oak. He now loves it and now when I say I am going to paint something he just trusts me to do a good job of it. So mostly anything I can do is fine with him. Where we usually disagree is when something is really expensive, like the hardwood floors I had wanted for years. He finally caved when I refused to replace my 15 year old car and told him I would rather have new floors. We have now had them for 2 years and he loves them as much as I do.

  22. Trace

    My dog doesn’t seem to mind what I do around the house as long as he gets his food and his place on my bed, he’s cool with it.
    I’m a lucky girl!

    • Marian Parsons

      Can your dog talk to Jeff about painting our built-ins? I feed Jeff and he has a nice bed, but he’s not as compliant. 🙂

  23. Mary S

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments from your viewers. But the best was the word you used : “alive”. I actually laughed out loud. What a hoot you are.
    And, as another person asked, do we get to see the finished master bedroom now that it’s all finished? Thanks for sharing your home with your readers! BTW.. saw the layout in the magazine, women who create. You had about 8 pages and the pictures were beautifully done.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I’ll share some more of the bedroom. I’m trying to keep full rooms a little bit of a mystery, so they can be a fun surprise when my book comes out.

  24. Eileen Jareo

    I tried to get a painting but unfortunately missed in the frenzie.
    Yes the built-ins need to be painted. Tell him I said so! 🤣

  25. Shelly

    Ha Ha……my husband could not care less! I bought and had delivered 2 beautiful new chairs for our living room. That was over a year ago and he still hasn’t noticed them! But… We mostly hang out in our bedroom, and company normally ends up in the kitchen, but he does go in and through there! He hates to paint, so we really could use some painting to be done, I would need his help, so no paint yet! Too much moving things around for him!

  26. Kelly

    I can see why Jeff likes the built ins as they are. The space is warm and masculine. My husband doesn’t usually care what I do as long as he doesn’t have to move an excessive number of pillows when he wants to sit down. 🙂

    • Marian Parsons

      Yeah, they are pretty, they just don’t feel like me. They are a little too “suburban” for me. 🙂 But, yet, I can paint the walls a nice, rich color and I think they can work.

  27. SoCalLynn

    My husband is mostly fine with what I choose for our house. I get his opinion on major purchases, and we decide those together. Only one time he really disliked a couch I wanted to buy, so we didn’t get it. He lives here too. Some home design blogs are so feminine it looks like no man lives there when I know there is a husband there. My husband doesn’t want to live in a feminine home, he wants to be in a space that acknowledges he lives there too.

  28. Rita

    I’m like you and have all boys. Not sure what it is about men not wanting wood painted but that’s mine. He definitely would not paint those built-ins. I have to say they are a beautiful rich color, so a rich color on the walls would be striking. As far as decorating decisions, we split when it comes to big decisions. Everything else is my decision.

  29. Maxime

    Sadly, him 95%, me 5%. He will NOT budge on his opinions. Which is why I spend so much time looking a decorating websites. But he does have stupendously good taste and the skills to DIY it. I always love what he does. So I’m not complaining. I must add that since I was a kid I’ve been told I have appallingly bad taste; I do have a secret passion for Dolce & Gabanna. The closest I get to it is two leopard tapestry chairs in our beautiful elegant home.

    • Marian Parsons

      Well, at least he has good taste! 🙂

  30. Wendy Y

    Ha ha! Love the POJ test and the crack about the boys rooms smelling like feet! 😆. Like the ad where the mom goes into her son’s room and they say they’ve gone nose blind. And the next thing they show is giant gym socks on the walls 😂.
    Yes it took a few years but my husband learned to trust me with the decorating decisions too. At almost 46 years married now we enjoy working on projects together, but I make most of the design choices inside and he’s in charge of the landscaping.

  31. Jeffrey Favreau

    I make most of the decisions in our house. After 20 plus years my Husband has learned to appreciate what I do. We are like you and yours as we do large reno decisions together. I could go on and on but you understand the just of it. Thank you for sharing this article I love the thought of it.

  32. April

    Boy, a lot of comments on this one. My husband never noticed my decor changes, etc. If he did he would only question the money spent. I would then remind him of the thousands of dollars I was saving by thrifting. If he questioned the time I spent thrifting, I would remind him that I wasn’t spending my time drinking in bars or doing drugs in ally ways. There is always a way to handle husbands…lol.

  33. Kate

    My husband works at home, so I can’t surprise him with redecorating. His usual requirements are that a project does not cause too much upheaval. He is not handy at all, so he appreciates the effort I put into projects. I do ask his opinion quite often, just to confirm my ideas. Sometimes I know he’ll be negative because he doesn’t like change. In those cases, I just go ahead and do it without his input. Sometimes if I really want to make some changes, I tell him my plans and explain my reasons. For instance, the previous owners of our 100 year old house had taken doors off some of the rooms. The doors were in the basement and I really wanted them put back on since I don’t like open concept rooms. He wasn’t quite sure about it, but he is really into restoring the house to its original state and helped me put the doors back on. The previous owners had also removed a mantel from the living room non-functioning fireplace and it was his idea to replace the mantel and restore the space instead of putting bookshelves in front of the gaping hole (which I wanted to do). His idea was better and it’s the beautiful focal point in our living room. There was some exposed brick behind a wood burning stove in another room that I thought would be better painted white. He wasn’t quite sure, but I went ahead and painted and he admits it looks better. He is adamantly against painting the beefy baseboards or window molding or any built-ins, so I’m not going there. He doesn’t like modern pieces of furniture and has a definite opinion about the decorating being sympathetic to the age of the house, so everything I bring into the house has to be old. We make decisions together about where furniture should go and I do all the small decorating.

  34. Katie Blakeley

    Please show us your sons bedrooms! It would be great to see the “real” side of your home — one we can all relate to if we have sons 😉

  35. DAF

    Too much contrast with the basement cabinets. Try a darker wall color so they don’t scream so much.

  36. Melody

    I don’t have any input about our shop. It’s a big 2 story building full of tools and that’s his space. Our home is my space to decorate. This arrangement works out well for us! He always notices garages and work sheds and work shops that have been decorated by the wife and we laugh about it because that would drive him nuts. He has learned in 30+ years to trust me and my ideas and he loves our home and how comfortable, clean, organized and “us” it is. I sketch things, hand him the paper and he disappears into his shop to build it. We are so happy with this arrangement!

  37. Alice

    My husband would decorate our house in a masculine traditional style full of dark wood if I left it up to him, but he knows I spend all my time at home & love to decorate, so I get pretty much free reign within our budget. I have to point out even big changes as he doesn’t notice anything on his own, which I find hilarious. We’ve been married 3 years and just bought our first house this year after living in a lot of apartments, so he’s finally seeing my vision materialize and he likes it! I’m very lucky— he even let me paint our bedroom pink (got that out of my system and now I want it white lol). Hopefully our son will be as compliant! I’m a minimal shabby chic girl at heart, gods help me if I have more sons lol.

  38. Nicole

    The commenter Danielle, summed up my husband and I perfectly. He has an opinion about everything, even with design. He has pretty good taste, but we both have our own ideas so even painting the hallway takes forever for us to come to some sort of agreement. Fortunately, once we do, the projects always come out looking great. After 16 years of marriage, he has finally let go of little things, like some of the decor on the bookshelves, and I’ve learned not to fall too much in love with a design before getting his opinion!

  39. Lynnett Ratchford

    My husband and I have been married 29 years and this is a second marriage for both of us. From the beginning I tried to make it “our home” even when he was moving into the place I lived when we wed. Together we blended our belongings, tweaking them over the years. The decorating and renovations have been an ebb and flow of both opinions.

    Often I think up a project, but he is the one to carry it out except when he tells me what I want to do is against the laws of physics. He is handy, not a fine cabinet maker, by any means, but he is a great handy man and a Mr. Fix-It. He cuts me slack for my feminine flourishes. I give him space like his own office and the garage (pretty much; I do tread into it with stuff).

    He has become more appreciative of heirlooms, antiques and family keepsakes which we in turn are trying to instill in our grandchildren. I am a pack rat who can get sentimental over a plastic butter tub. He has a hard time with clutter, but he puts up with me. On expensive purchases we both make the decision, but on the final finish, color or style, I usually make the choice. If he balks, I reconsider.

    Lately I was searching for a certain robin egg blue for an accent color in the yard. What I chose washed out in our bright sunlight. I would point out items, and say, “See that ceramic flower pot? That’s the color I am looking for”
    Finally he said he could mix it with paint he had on hand. It was the perfect shade I had imagined and complemented our peach and marmalade potting shed when he used it on the trim. So he named it “shed blue”. And shed blue it is.

  40. Jody

    As a child decorating play houses until today tweaking little things around my home I have loved decorating. Many years ago I was painting my dining room yet again, when I overhead my neighbor ask my husband how many times had I painted and rearrange the furniture in our house and didn’t it bug him. My husband said no it did not bother him as he realized that I was an artist and that our home was my canvas. It was an aha moment for me as I had never realized until I heard him say I was an artist that decorating my home was my art. And I was always tweaking my art so that it reflected who we were as a family. My husband had a few rules such as no flowers on our bedspread and leave his recliner alone, and if I could figure out a way to pay for it I could do it. I have lived alone for a few years now and I still do not have flowers on my bedspread! You have a lovely home and your blog is one of my favorites.

  41. Louise

    My husband grew up poor, not having enough to eat poor, so he thought it the height of luxury to be able to afford two matching end tables with two matching lamps, and anything brand spanking new from the furniture store. Then I came along with crazy ideas about mixing and matching and painting
    old pieces of furniture. I just used to bamboozle him with hundreds of magazine photos, literally stick the magazine under his nose and say “doesn’t that look great” because I think he just needed to know others were out there like me, and I wasn’t certifiably crazy. He eventually came to like my ideas about things. I just had to brainwash him.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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