Jon and Michelle Chronister moved into a new home this summer, but that doesn’t mean they won’t keep some of their favorite design cues from their old home, many thanks to interior designer Kathy Shenk.
One of those features they plan to keep is an exhibition wall of old golf clubs, a nod to Jon’s passion for golf as a coach at Hempfield High School and principal of the Lancaster County Junior Golf Tour.
Michelle is on board with a golf setting and, on the other hand, Jon has learned to appreciate the floral images she loves.
“The only thing Michelle and I do is we know what the other person may like and are willing to go beyond our tastes to incorporate what the other person may like,” says Jon. “I would never hang a picture of flowers, but they are very beautiful. … My styles have changed to respond a bit to what Michelle likes and, again, it’s Kathy pushing us a bit.
As the owner of interior design studio Interior Fancies, Shenk says the challenge of helping couples create beautiful and practical spaces that reflect their two voices requires more than just design know-how. It also takes a little psychology.
“It’s really about listening to both partners and being their advocate and their voice so that they both feel like they won in the end,” she said. “I can say that in all my years of working with couples, they all had a good end result. There is a compromise with both parties throughout the process, but that is the raison d’être of marriage. “
While Shenk doesn’t have a five-step agenda for bringing instant harmony to a couple’s design project, she has discovered a few important lessons over the years:
To be present
She remembers a couple who hired her several years ago to redo the entire ground floor, including all the new furnishings. The husband traveled a lot, so the wife made all the decisions about the furniture. He didn’t like any of them. From that moment on, Shenk insisted that he come to all the meetings. “I find it so important that both husband and wife are part of the process,” she says. “The house will reflect the two of them. I don’t think you want anyone to take a back seat.
Make a list
Shenk advises couples to write down their desires and goals. What are your must-haves and what are you ready to live without? Consider your lifestyle and how you want to use a particular space. If you redo a kitchen, do you cook a lot or order all the time? Do you entertain in the kitchen or is it strictly functional?
Know what you like – and what you don’t like
Couples unfamiliar with the home industry often have no idea what words like “transitional” mean, let alone whether they prefer a sofa with armrests, armrests, or socks. . Shenk has visual cues that can help couples salute or dismiss things like clean lines or metallic finishes.
“Sometimes the best answer is a no,” says Shenk. “They don’t know how to tell me what they like, but they can tell me what they don’t like.”
The Chronisters joke that Shenk is very good at taking no for an answer.
“I have no problem saying no to him,” Jon laughs. “For example, in the house we live in now, she started talking about lining the dining room ceiling and she knew she was pushing me a bit. I finally said, ‘No. The ceilings are white.
Make them both happy
Whether a couple are newly married or planning a design overhaul after decades together, it’s likely that they don’t all share the same likes and dislikes. Not all couples are like the Chronisters, who say their tastes have become more similar over the years of their marriage.
Shenk says she spends a lot of time asking couples questions and reading their responses. It helps him see who is more vocal and visual, and who is the decision maker. An important part of her job, she says, is listening to the person who is speaking the least in a relationship and making sure their voice is heard. The house, after all, belongs to both.
“I want them both to enjoy it and feel like it’s a reflection of who they are,” she says.
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