Jo-Ann Capelaci on Designing and Decorating Your New Home as a Couple Image

Jo-Ann Capelaci on Designing and Decorating Your New Home as a Couple

By Lucas on Feb 06, 2015

For our first feature about living together as a couple, we interviewed one of our favourite interior designers, Jo-Ann Capelaci, about the challenges that couples face when trying to decorate and select a floorplan together for the first time. Capelaci has over 20 years of experience helping couples design their homes and also offers her services to builders looking for model home design, digital renderings, decor centre set-up, and space planning.

On to the interview!

NIH: Have you had any nightmare experiences designing a home for a couple who hadn't lived together before?

JC: Fortunately no….I have been blessed with fabulous clients! First, I listen to their preferences, we discuss new ideas, then we carefully plan the project keeping an open mind. We compromise when needed and always have respect for one another. That’s not to say there are never problems, however I do my best to adapt the sayings “there are no problems, only solutions, and no question is a dumb question.” When a problem arises, that is my clue that we need to look at things another way.

S1 Ground Floor S1 Ground Floor

When designing floor plans for a community made for single people, couples, and families, how does your approach to each floor plan differ? Do you have any specific examples?

In a word, versatility; from floor plans to furniture. Designing for a community made for singles, couples and families can and is often different. Let’s take Uptownes by Geranium Homes for example, and both the S1 and S2 model homes. I believe one of the reasons for the success of this project (85% sold) is that they appeal to many homebuyers. For singles, couples and families they offer optimum space for entertaining and cocooning at home. Some of the furniture does double duty or expands and decreases as needed.

We showed a sitting/guest room in one model and an office/guest room in another model, which works well for singles or couples. With the addition of a younger or older child, those bedrooms can easily be converted to suit. Similarly, the ground level of the units were designed to suit a single person or couple who may want a dedicated office space, workout area or media room. We also showed people how they could use that same space as a playroom for a child.

Singles and couples may become a family in the future. I think it is important for people to ask themselves “where do I want to be in 3-5 years from now?” That way your design plan for now will work for the future.

What should a young couple in search of their first home look for in a floor plan design?

I always preach the importance of planning to my clients. They should keep in mind what their goal is over the next three  to five years so they can grow into the plan if necessary. For example, are they planning to have a family, or to work from home? When looking at floor plans think how their furniture will be laid out in the room. When homebuying, a young couple can make a list of what they want such as could haves, should haves and must haves to suit their specific requirements. That being said, some people are unsure of what they want or how to lay out furniture in a space. For that reason, I worked with Geranium Homes at their Uptownes’ site to create an interactive design resource book, helpful hints videos and informative Pinterest boards that have helped new homebuyers to learn how to plan a space and to recreate a model home look in their home. They are helpful for anyone, not only Geranium purchasers.

S2 Bedroom S2 Bedroom

From a décor perspective, what do couples look for in a home that differs from a single person?

Single people can choose a décor that is more gender specific. For example, a bachelor may prefer dark kitchen cabinets with a dark colour stone top. A single gal may prefer pastel colours with more accessorizing.

Couples may want a décor that combines; light and dark and soft and strong. They may want a separate room to retreat on their own to read or watch TV, or a dedicated room to do a craft or hobby.

What's your stance on having a "man cave" in a home? Is this an outdated idea, or is it still relevant to today's homebuyers?

Hmmm….I think it is more about honouring each other’s preferences and creating spaces to live together harmoniously based on each person’s top criteria.

What are some common challenges that couples face when deciding how to decorate their new homes? How can they overcome them?

Couples can disagree about what they like in design and decorating. It can be challenging for couples to mix together their varying tastes and budget ideas. One problem I have seen is a male client preferring carpet to his wife’s preference to hardwood. That was easily solved with hardwood flooring and area rugs. If budget was an obstacle in that same scenario we could have used laminate flooring instead of hardwood. In a nutshell, look for ways to compromise.

S1 Rooftop S1 Rooftop

Is Pinterest a good online tool for couples to combine their decor dreams?

Absolutely! I am using Pinterest extensively with my clients with great results. There are a plethora of ideas that can be categorized and it makes it really easy for me to communicate ideas to my clients and to know their preferences. We create secret boards for each room of the home. We choose “add others to Pin” option where more than one person can “Pin” ideas to the board. Then we can comment on what we like on the “Pins” so each person can view the response.

What are some decor trends that couples should watch out for?

Three trends to look for are:

  1.   Gold, copper and brass metals prominent in furniture and décor
  2.   Eggs in the form of sculptures or light fixtures, as well as bird themes
  3.   Wood is still a main attraction with the incorporation of resin that adds a gloss and conveys a more contemporary feel. It also makes the furniture shine. Pun intended!

This may be too big of a question - but, based on your experience, what is the key to living harmoniously as a couple?

I believe that in designing a space, as in life, people want to be heard and to be treated with respect. If couples discuss the things that are most important to them and their partner really listens and does their best to compromise, then most things can be worked out. When there is a road block in a decision that is when a professional can really help. In most dealings with couples, I mediate decisions that they cannot come to common ground on. I do my best to point out the reason why one decision is better than another and often try to inject some humour to create relief in stressful times.

A big thank you goes out to Jo-Ann Capelaci for sharing her expertise and knowledge with us. To learn more about her experience and services, visit

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