Merging styles can be a challenge for new couples and for those who are building or remodeling and wanting a combined new look. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing with you how you can find a happy, stylish common ground with a little bit of compromise by using my golden rule of layering and repetition.

My clients out in Hawaii Kai had a home with features that reflected their individual tastes. But given the haphazardness of two completely different styles, their space was incohesive. They were ready for a change.


Firstly, he’s a waterman who loves anything to do with the sea and fishing. He likes clean, contemporary lines and a comfortable look. As for her? She loves color, especially blue, and leans more toward an elegant style.

I could already glean something about their tastes from the glass chandelier she picked, the ohia post he chose and the natural wood flooring they both decided on.


With his love of the ocean and her love of the ocean’s color, it was easy to go with blue as an accent. Right away I knew how they could meet in the middle. I’d mix the chromes and white lacquer she loves with earthy sisal rugs, masculine gray upholstery and an abstract of the sea on the big canvas wall to bring in his preferences.


On the opposite wall, laid out in an organic pattern are natural wood slices and mirrors to reflect the ocean painting (not shown in photo).

In addition to the white table, I brought in a natural feel with the baker’s rack, which also serves as additional storage when they entertain. This, I decorated with the little novelties that make a house a home. Some of the objects tie in with the sisal rug and the candlesticks on the lacquered table.

So, they both got what they wanted, and just as importantly, both felt they were heard. They have a comfortable, sophisticated living and entertaining environment that they both feel reflects their individual, as well as their shared, personalities. All that from just a bit of compromising and a little layering and repeating!


Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit And keep up with Cathy’s dream home makeover at her photo blog, Homefront.