Back in 2007 when I was blogging everyday, I was approached by www.queerty.com to write an article for them.
To be fair, they didn't really know much about me other than the fact that I had blogged for Project Runway on Bravotv.com and when I got the assignment, that became crystal clear. They wanted me to write about home decor when gays cohabitate. True, I had cohabitated for several years but was hardly an expert at decorating anything.
What I would discover over my 6 years of blogging everyday on my own site as well as other sites, hoping to be discovered, was that my writing was more about social commentary as interpreted through the lens of my eyes and mind. And more than anything else, my "tagline" became more and more true - "Like Tab Cola, I understand I'm an acquired taste."
Reading the article again though, I think I did a damn good job of addressing the topic, staying true to me and being the gay Erma Bombeck a bit. Their loss for not asking me to write for them again, your gain for getting to read it here!
What to do when you and your mate have decorating tastes on opposite ends of the rainbow!
My parents are so similar to the couple from the Green Acres TV show that I guess it was only natural when I found a mate; history would repeat itself (especially when it comes to our taste in decorating). How could it not, I’m a short Jewish boy who had a bar mitzvah and my guy is a six foot tall black man who was an altar boy. (We are THE poster children for hate crimes!) So while we have much in common (believe it or not) there are times when I definitely feel as though my guy Michael is much more Eddie Albert singing about the glory of the outdoors while I feel like Eva Gabor saying, “Darling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue!”
We met doing theatre so we both had a love of certain things in common, you know the important stuff, Broadway, MGM movie musicals and the arts in general. I’m not sure if you could call it love at first sight but I will tell you that the first day I met him I had a feeling we would become very important in one another’s lives and here we are almost nineteen years later (we met when I was ten – okay we didn’t but I don’t want you to think I’m in my nineties either) and we’re still together. And though through the years we’ve grown alike in many ways our design aesthetic remains very different from one another. Though I must say that we’ve found a way to create our own sort of aesthetic and as Martha Stewart would say, “That’s a good thing.”
Michael is very much your classic kind of guy. Having grown up on the east coast in Catholic schools he’s not a big one for fads or anything that could possibly be here today and gone tomorrow. I, on the other hand, grew up in Arizona and spent most of the 80’s in parachute pants, doubled up Polos (which are back in, by the way) and once had purple hair. (Cue music: Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract”) So naturally when it came time to settle in together and build our home, there were (and are) some challenges to overcome.
Art Will Lead The Way…
While we both have an appreciation for art, I’m more about the Museum of Modern Art while Michael is more of a Michelangelo kind of guy. If he could, I think he would choose somebody like Andrew Wyeth’s real life paintings to live in while I would like to be living in the world of Shag Art.
So how can two completely different design styles live in the same place at the same time? My first suggestion would be to look for an artist that you both like. This happened before we were actually living together when Michael introduced me to the work of Maxfield Parrish. While the lines are classic, the saturated colors are bold and appeal to my modern visual senses. That said, you’ll be hard pressed to be able to design your whole home around one artist’s work or color palate but at least it’s a start.
Size Matters Here Too…
As I said before, I’m short and Michael is six foot. This means that on top of decisions such as watercolor or Warhol, we deal with a height difference that can affect what we choose for our home from a practical as well as style perspective. From where the sofa hits you on your neck and legs to deciding whether or not to go with a “Gathering Table” height table for the dining room; we invest a lot of time deciding what will be comfortable for both of us. 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.
When looking at dishes, Michael always says, “I don’t like a dinky plate.” What this translates to is that everything in our kitchen is larger than life (causing the cabinets not to close in some cases). And yes, sometimes it makes me feel like Jack having just climbed up the beanstalk and entered the Giant’s castle. The good news is that we agree on color choices when it comes to the kitchen, everything there is cobalt blue, bright yellow with enormous red glass plates. The bad news is that we still haven’t decided on silverware after all these years so we have an eclectic mix of silverware that neither of us is happy about. It’s a constant work-in-progress.
Everyone Goes To The Bathroom…
Sometimes it helps to start small. Bathrooms are ideal for this because of their size. They’re easy to change more often than say your living room or boudoir because you get a new set of towels or choose an art piece and you’re basically off and running. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to have more than one bathroom you can divide them up and both have your own say (the more bathrooms the merrier in design and de-life with a mate).
Currently one of our bathrooms is done in black and white Broadway inspired prints and the other is based on a great print by Scott Ward (a friend of a friend who sent me a piece of artwork www.scottwardart.com) his whimsical style is great and we both love it. He sent me a fabulous canvas of a woman with a seahorse float around her tummy and appropriately bathing capped up. This inspired our second bathroom and once again, I say, all flows from art…or at least a lot of it when it comes to decorating!
Finishing Touches Not Touche’s…
Here’s the deal, compromise happens. I don’t care what they say in ceremonies about two becoming one, that’s a load of crap. Part of what attracted you to one another in the first place is that you enjoyed one another’s differences (unless you’re one of those couples that look exactly alike, in which case don’t rule out therapy for why you’re screwing yourself). But compromise doesn’t mean you have to give up yourself or what you like entirely if you’re both willing to work at it. I love our plates because they’re red and he loves them because they’re as big as a charger. We both won on that one but understand that it isn’t always going to go that way.
As the old song goes, “You say, potato and I say, potatah…Let’s call the whole thing off.” 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. “You are my life…Good Bye City Life…Green Acres We Are There!”
Scott Rosenzweig lives in Las Vegas with his partner Michael and their two cats (Elphaba and Fiyero – confused? See Wicked). He was the Ultimate Fan Blogger for Project Runway Season 3 on bravotv.com, is a guest blogger for outzonetv.com and his own blog, “Don’t Get Me Started!” was voted one of The Advocate readers’ top ten blogs in 2006. Read more Scott at his site, Some Like It Scott