Marriage 101: Love Me, Love My Owl Lamp – The “Do’s and Don’ts” of Decorating Together

City Living, House And Home, Lifestyle

If you’re new to meeting the Urbaneer team, you should know we joined forces based on our love of Toronto real estate and our overall awesomeness. We also come from surprisingly different backgrounds, which allows each of us to add our unique perspective, makes us collectively stronger and better suited to address the needs of our equally diverse clientele.

The Urbaneer team proudly includes an acclaimed professional musician and the owner of the hippest design hub in Cabbagetown but did you know we have a legitimate newlywed in our ranks?

Yup, Kellye MacMillan can claim all the “I Know” when it comes to everything “I DO!”.

Including negotiating the urge to merge, as she shares with us her tale of transition from one to two…

It’s a special moment when a couple makes the commitment to trade two living spaces for one. Yet despite the joy of imminent cohabitation, combining two households is a recipe for stress as it requires you and your lover to reconcile your divergent tastes. When my fiancé and I decided it was time to cohabitate, we chose to start fresh in a place that was new to both of us. Personally, I think this is the best course of action, for a new space can be shaped together. A worse course of action is moving into a beau’s and seeing them offer up two drawers for your stuff. 

I love our home and the opportunity it gave us to make it our own. The process of deciding what to keep and what to toss out went surprisingly well. Like many newlyweds-to-be, we used our merge as an opportunity to upgrade a few items.

If I could go shopping for housewares and furniture every day then I would be a happy girl. My husband, Iain, is decidedly less enthusiastic but he puts up with my shopping penchant- yet makes his opinions known. It went quite swimmingly considering the sheer volume of stores I made him visit repeatedly. I knew we were bound to hit a point of contention – it’s inevitable for any couple – but I never thought we would come to an impasse over an owl lamp and painting of drums.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from decorating our first home together, straight from the domestic trenches.


Give your partner’s taste a chance:

It’s a given that you are going to like different things. Try your best to be respectful of your partner’s tastes no matter how surprising they might be.

Case in point: the owl lamp.

During our epic multi-store sofa hunt I fell in love with a lamp from West Elm featuring an owl on a branch. Much like when I met my husband, I wasn’t looking to ‘fall in love’ but you can’t always control these things (side note: Do be careful with your choice of metaphors when trying to convince your partner. They may backfire horribly). This particular piece was very much my taste (the earthy whimsy of it!) and very much not my partner’s taste (“It’s an owl lamp?  As in, a lamp with an owl on it?” An owl?”)


Don’t laugh at your partner:

Clearly, if someone takes you to West Elm multiple times solely to persuade you on the merits of this lamp then maybe they are serious and do in fact love this d*mn owl lamp. 

Be open to new ideas:

Just before we moved in together my guy finally showed me some serious enthusiasm about decorating our home. He discovered this amazing project, The Art of Drums, pairing professional drummers with visual artists creating visually arresting results. As a fellow drummer, Iain was so excited by this project – particularly when he saw the work of one of his favourite drummers, Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction. I would have never discovered this project on my own and loved that he was so happy about it. 

Take your partner’s opinion into consideration and DO give them time to respond:

Each drummer created a series of images (produced in limited, numbered edition) with a wide range of colour and images. There was a lot to consider and I was very pleased when Iain asked me to send me a list of my favourites. I needed some time to view them but luckily tossed out a quick “no purple!” email to get the ball rolling. I don’t care for purple and am very happy I added this caveat (you’ll soon see why). 

Do (very) occasionally do what you want regardless:

I sent Iain a list of a few pieces I particularly liked in the Stephen Perkin’s series.  In his apparent judgment-erasing-excitement, he simply could not wait one day for my email and went ahead and ordered his favourite print. Of course, it was not on my list of favourites. Sigh…

Don’t panic:

It was done and charged to the Mastercard. He was thrilled. I am now co-owner of this work. Chastising him is not going to change the situation. We talked it out and he explained to me why he loved this piece in particular. In brief, this is the only piece in the series that showcases the drum kit in light. As a performer, its essence captured him, which he rather eloquently shared with me until I clearly understood his point of view. In a piece that was purely aesthetic to me, there was some magic for him. And, in discovering its meaning for him I embraced it. After all, what could be a better reason for having this art in our first shared home? 


Do use this to your advantage:

We now own an original Stephen Perkin’s print AND an owl lamp! 


Don’t push your luck:

Know what is better than an owl lamp on my nightstand? An owl lamp with a matching monkey lamp on his nightstand!  I thought the issue might be bird-specific, not lamp-specific and that perhaps switching to a mammal might soften my dude’s resolve. I was mistaken. 


Do exercise your veto power: 

Before you start shopping agree on a fixed number of “no questions asked” vetos and save them for the important decisions.  A 60-inch flat screen television in a 12-foot wide living room?  VETO!  Absolutely darling textured wallpaper?  Sadly, also a veto (sigh…).

Do embrace your new shared life with some sweet décor ideas celebrating your love:

You will never be this honeymoon-y and cheesy again.  Run with it! Need some inspiration? Etsy is a great resource for all things “Mr & Mrs”, “Mr & Mr” and “Mrs. & Mrs.”.  Or, if you love West Elm as much as we do then check out this page for discounts and coupons!



Want to hear more from our resident newlywed?

Check out Kellye’s wisdom on “open house-ing” as a team and working together to figure out your joint housing needs.

~ Steven and the Urbaneer team



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