Don't argue with a partner about sharing space. Express yourself with a personalized room instead.

Q: I’ve been reading about new homes where husbands and wives have separate rooms built for many purposes. What is this all about?


A: Everything cycles. At the end of the 19th century, husbands and wives had separate bedrooms. Men had libraries or smoking rooms they retired to after dinner, and the women had their own drawing rooms. Women had sewing rooms and hobby rooms, and men later had their garages and workshops. Separating the sexes was common.

During the 20th century, men and women joined together in their activities and interests. So, sharing space became comfortable. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. Today, spouses are looking for self-expression. It is not a means of isolation as much as a way to get in touch with how they would like to live and not have to compromise.

No longer is it his-and-her sinks; now it’s his and her bathrooms, dressing rooms, bedrooms, project rooms, kitchens and garages. This is happening so that everyone can express their personal needs and wants. You really can have it all — just the way you want it.

You no longer have to argue. You can have what you want and enjoy it in peace. This is helpful when people have different habits and ways of doing things. Of course, these homes and rooms will cost more and take longer to build. They also require more decisions, research and self-exploration. But the rewards may be worth it.

Give it some thought and answer the following questions. With your tastes formed, how would you create your own personal living spaces? How would you change what you have? What would you keep the same and do all over again? Consider the activities you enjoy and how you like to enjoy them. Are you outgoing or a loner?

Next, talk with your partner and see how he or she would answer the same questions. Through your answers, you can determine where your tastes can be joined and blended. It’s also an opportunity to decide if creating separate spaces could work for you.

Last, it’s a question of family living. It’s a matter of how you want to relate and share with one another. These decisions take family discussion and exploration.

Here are some things to think about when deciding on the global look of your home. If both of you have definite ideas of how you want to live and what you like, it works well to consider the following:

How you want to live: What activities are most important to you at home? Are they activities you enjoy doing by yourself or would you rather share the experience? How important is self-expression to you? How important is sharing your interests with your significant other?

What you like: What types of wood do you prefer (dark or light color, heavy or light grain)? Do you like harder surfaces, like metal (chrome or brass, shiny or brushed)? What colors do you want to see every day (bright or subdued)? What do you want in the way of textures (subtle or heavy)? Do you like patterns (bold or subtle, geometric or floral)?

These questions are just a beginning — a way to explore the preferences of you and your partner. 

No matter what questions you ask or answers you give, make sure they are your heart’s desire. Remember, rooms have no feelings. You do! JN


Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is a Phoenix-based interior designer and the CEO of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for interior design. Visit for more information.

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