6 Tips for better conflict resolution

Coats are very important on the farm. Mine are always not dry enough, not warm enough, or not dirty enough for going into the chicken house. So when I'm on the farm I just wear one of the farmer's coats.

1. Clarify personal needs that are threatened by the conflict.
And hats. Do you see the red hat in the picture? It's from Amsoil Lubricants. When I first met the farmer I thought it was hilarious to have a hat that said lubricants. So the first time he dumped me I tried to get the lubricants hat as a relationship souvenir.

Later I realized that he would dump me a lot. It was his way of coping with the feeling that intimacy is scary. So then I focused more on learning conflict resolution and less on who gets the hat.

2. Accept conflict as a natural part of personal progress.
In fact, most of life is about conflict resolution. It's either internal conflict or external conflict, but if you don't have conflict then you are probably not trying to do something interesting with your life. (Not that interesting is everyone's goal, of course.)

Michael Stainer, who writes The Great Work Blog, once told me that if you are not annoying someone you are not doing anything new. I think this is true. (Sometimes I think it could all come down to this: you either scare your mom by creating an unstable life or you scare yourself that you are living merely the life your mom wants for you instead of the life you want for yourself.)

3. Assert your needs clearly and specifically.
My goal is that I want to have baby chicks this spring. We did it a year ago. And they were so cute. And we took 500 photos and spent hours each day cuddling with the chicks under the cozy glow of the heat lamp the farmer set up in my garage.

The kids were so happy, and I was happy that the kids were happy, and the farmer was still in good-behavior-dating mode, so when I didn't want to clean up caked-on poop and dead chick residue (yes, some of the chicks died) the farmer did it. He says it's too much to make room for me and the kids at the same time as helping me and the kids hatch chicks.

4. Learn what works for other people, and practice in an honest setting.
Today companies are standing out by being more transparent. Bridgewater, for example, is a hedge fund that video tapes every meeting they have. This allows you to see what you are like in meetings, and get better at self-coaching, but it also allows you to see a meeting where a co-worker got a bigger bonus than you. Now you can figure out why (and then record yourself screaming at your boss about it.)

The transparency trend shows in transparent conflict at home, too. People blog about fighting with a spouse, and they even do real-time public spousal fighting on Facebook. Remember how sex got better when we all started talking about what we are doing? I think the same is true of conflict. When we see other people arguing, we get better at doing it ourselves.

John Gottman is the king of fight. Well, the king of reading them. He can look at a couple fighting and tell if they will get a divorce. Really. And now he's a millionaire for writing books that tell you how to fight so you don't get a divorce.

The farmer and I are working on that.

5. Focus on building consensus.
Researchers have found that conflict within a company makes the company smarter and more innovative. That's why companies with diversity—people from different backgrounds —are more successful than homogenous companies.

But this is not true for small, fast-moving startups. Management consultant Frans Johansson found that in the case of a startup, there is no time for conflict because there are too many decisions that have to be made very quickly. So diversity is not productive in that situation.

Do you see the woodwork in the photo of the coats? The farmer doesn't want to paint it. And I said okay, because I thought he cared about it more than I did, and I think of us in startup mode right now, and the less conflict we can have the better.

6. Laughter eases conflict and promotes cooperative negotiating.
But then I talked with my designer, who specializes in color (Maria Killian— I love her) and she said that the wood is very limiting. Unless we paint it white, the wood functions as orange in the house, and very few shades of paint will match orange.

I told Maria it's going to be a big fight.

She said that tons of couples fight this fight. Maria explained that men have an odd affection for their woodwork. She said it's worth it if I want strong colors on the walls.

So I explained the colors to the farmer.

And he brought up that the pink bedroom is also bugging him.

And I quoted a study that I wish I had read but I sort of only heard it third-hand which said that men feel more masculine in a bedroom that is very girly. “You'll have better orgasms if we paint the woodwork,” I told him.

He laughed. And then agreed to paint the wood white, and the bedroom pink.

“But,” he said, “no baby chicks.”

115 replies
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  1. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Check point 4 again…you left a couple of “LH” (I’m assuming this means link here?) that I think were unintentional.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I fixed it. Thanks, Andrea.
      And so, there’s a little insight into the mind of an obsessive linker. I write links as I write the post. They come up in my head. But I put in so many LH’s that I don’t actually find the link until the piece is edited — I don’t want to spend any more time on links than I need to because it already takes me about an hour a post.


  2. jim
    jim says:

    I’m about as un-rustic as men come, but even I wouldn’t paint the woodwork in the farm house.

    I think back to my first apartment, in a 1900 house, with foot-tall shellacked woodwoork and spires in the corners. It was gorgeous. The walls were all in neutral colors. I brought in color via wall hangings and furniture.

    Now, at my 1969 ranch house in old suburbia, somebody before me painted all the woodwork. So be it; it’s colors aplenty for my woodwork.

  3. MichaelG
    MichaelG says:

    I hope you are leaving him some sort of “man-cave” room for him to decorate as he wishes. Otherwise, you’ll drive him insane.

  4. Siddhartha
    Siddhartha says:

    Overcoming conflict is something we have to work on our entire lives. Because we're never quite sure when to give in and when to stand our ground.

    That's why crying is so important, it's a visual signal of just how much the other person wants to get their way. Men should cry more.

    But then it would just be a race to see who could work up tears fastest.

    I guess there's no real solution besides maybe trying to understand other people's priorities. What would that look like?

  5. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Don’t paint the wood. It’s the first thing I admired in the photo. I didn’t even *see* any red hat.

    A farm house doesn’t need strong colours. Just look out the window. It needs calm light colours. Your colour advisor lives in the city, no? City rooms need strong colours because outside is grey.

    I’m with the farmer. Don’t paint the wood. Soft colours on the walls. No pink in the bedroom.

    You do know that they paint prison walls pink to keep inmates zoned. It kind of neuters them.

  6. Jan Hogle
    Jan Hogle says:

    PT: don’t paint the wood trim white! Within days, you will see smudgy hand prints on every white surface — the prints will be about the size of your kids’ hands and about their level. Natural wood tone is so nice!!

    Great post; love the photos; life & work are basically the same!

  7. Rita
    Rita says:

    No no no! Don’t paint the woodwork! And here is why:

    1. That wood is gorgeous, and fits on a farm. White woodwork reminds me of coastal areas and suburbs.

    2. What do you touch when coming in that room to hang up your coat or take off your boots? The wood on the door frame. If you paint it white it is going to have grubby farm fingerprints all over it within the week, and after a couple months certain areas of the woodwork will be permanently scuffed and gray. Varnished wood holds up much better. I grew up on a farm and if we had white woodwork my mom would have had time to do nothing but scrub the door frames and baseboards.

    Farms are dirty – just living on a gravel road means every time you open the door you’re letting in more dust and dirt than you do in the city. And during harvest? You’re going to see the “bees-wings” from the corn sticking to everything. Don’t paint the woodwork.

  8. Kate
    Kate says:

    I remember looking at the chicks in Agway when I was about nine. In a rural area of NJ (this is a shocking concept to many). They were so unbelievably cute, and so very unattainable. So I understand the desire.

    Good fighting is definitely underrated. Sometimes I actually want to fight. My fiance doesn’t understand this impulse. But you learn a lot from it, and it can be invigorating. I’m a little afraid, as I write that, because it sounds so unacceptable.

    Also: Your boots are great. I know they’re not mentioned in this post, but they’re great.

  9. Kseniya
    Kseniya says:

    “if you are not annoying someone you are not doing anything new”

    -I suspect today was one of the many days when I annoyed a specific person at my workplace. Their way of dealing with this is by stonewalling, which is rather unpleasant in a cramped workspace. The quote above made me smile after an exhausting day. Thanks.

  10. Laura
    Laura says:

    Penelope – do not paint the woodwork!!!! Trends come and go and when this paint thing passes you will really regret your decision. Stripping paint from trim is a grueling job; the farmer will be furious if he is asked to strip it in 10 years! If your designer doesn’t like the orange hue on the wood then change the stain on the wood. Give up on the painting and fight for the chicks.

    • Sansa
      Sansa says:

      Amen! I’ve stripped painted woodwork and cursed the fools who painted it in the first place. You need to listen to the farmer more. He knows what he’s talking about even if he’s not from Manhattan or LA.

  11. Livgladen
    Livgladen says:

    It’s making me crazy – I saw that picture and the first thing I thought was how much I admired the woodwork. Don’t paint the woodwork, and fire your designer. Why? Your designed is charging you a lot of money to tell you stuff she made up, and besides, It will always have a tendency to appear dirtier if it’s painted a color. The wood in that house has a patina that took many years to develop; if you paint it, you will eventually come to your senses and want it to be wood again,and then, the amount of work required to put it right will be incredible. I wish you happiness in your new life, but please, don’t paint the woodwork.

  12. neko
    neko says:

    Renegotiate with The Farmer: You’ll ditch the pink if he’ll help your boys raise baby chicks again! Way cute.

  13. Tzipporah
    Tzipporah says:

    Marriage is not about getting your way. It’s about getting there together.

    Congratulations, and good luck.

    (also – don’t paint the woodwork!)

  14. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I think conflict is very productive when exercised in small doses and stays focused on the original objective. The key to successful conflict in my opinion is it should never become personal and somehow lead to maligning the character of an individual. Argue, conflict, or whatever but always respect. I would recommend taking small steps to start the process of renovating the interior of his domain. Build trust and credibility over time with the interior design. It’s still the farmer’s house because he has lived there for much longer than you. As time goes on that argument becomes more mute.

  15. Olivia
    Olivia says:

    Great article Penelope.

    You are right you don’t want to “win the battle only to lose the war”.

    I loathe confrontation so #2 doesn’t sit quite right with me. I used to have a lot of conflict in my life. I love now the freedom of having considerably less. Though I don’t feel that this change means I am not personally progressing at the same rate.

    Thank you for the valuable lesson on 5. And 6, well that’s just magic isn’t it. Injecting humour in the heat of the moment is like a bucket of water on flames. Works miracles.

    Re colour, best make sure you get the hue of pink right ;-) http://www.colormatters.com/body_pink.html

    This is a pretty cool tool. An interactive experience of colour communication and colour symbolism http://www.mariaclaudiacortes.com/#

    Have a wonderful time on Saturday!!

  16. Olivia
    Olivia says:

    Great article Penelope.

    You are right. Pick your arguments carefully. You don’t want to “win the battle only to lose the war”.

    I loathe confrontation. So #2 doesn’t sit quite right with me. I used to have a lot of conflict in my life. I now love the freedom of having considerably less. Although I don’t feel that this change has slowed my personal progression at the same rate.

    Thank you for the valuable less on 5. And 6, well that’s just magic isn’t it. Injecting humour in the heat of the moment, is like a bucket of water on flames. Works miracles.

    Re colour, beware of the hue of pink… http://www.colormatters.com/body_pink.html

    And here’s a really cool tool. An interactive experience of colour communication and colour symbolism http://www.mariaclaudiacortes.com/

    Have a wonderful time on Saturday x

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s a really interesting link about pink. Thanks.

      It reminds me of when I was in high school, and the national debate topic was about criminal courts. I did a lot of research about the impact of paining the courts different colors. Some people think juries are more likely to come to to a consensus if the court rooms are yellow.


      • Olivia
        Olivia says:

        Apologies for posting a response twice Penelope, I thought the first one didn’t go through?! When you can, check your email titled “No need to respond” there are some colour examples I think work well blending both chic East tastes and the homely West. White/ off white/ egg shell- with natural wooden and colour accents might just be the elegant compromise the farmer and no doubt your readers are hankering for. Earthy and modern rolled into one.

        What ever you decide looking forward to seeing you top and tail covered with paint in any colour ;-)

        I love weddings. So excited over here for you xx

  17. Sacha
    Sacha says:

    Have you checked out Imago? http://gettingtheloveyouwant.com Read the book, cruise the website, see what you think. The Huz and I attended a weekend workshop that was wonderful — he was skeptical and left feeling grateful that we went, if that tells you anything — and now occasionally see that counselor for sessions. It has been wonderful in giving us communication skills that create a real feeling of safety in our relationship.

    Good luck!

  18. Ann
    Ann says:

    Great article (I like all your blogs)! However don’t paint the wordwork. Interior Decorators always want to paint the woodwork so in 5 years they can get you to paint it again and then in ANOTHER 5 year strip all the paint off. Natural wood is always beautiful and matches every color.

  19. Jorge Lazaro Diaz
    Jorge Lazaro Diaz says:

    My wife and I work retreats for couples getting ready to get married. Our saying, “The important one is the other one.” I wish I had come up with that one. Three months after my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, I wrote this post at http://www.careerjockey.org/job-hunt-marriage-pain-does-it-have-to-be-that-way/. Hope it can help you, the farmer and everyone else that gives it a read. It supports exactly what you’re saying here.

  20. Joe
    Joe says:

    No don’t paint the wood! Painting wood is the easy way out and short term thinking as your living in farmhouse not a Manhattan Penthouse! The wood is part of who the house is, and we all know that a silk purse can not be made from a sow’s ear! Accept it for what it is rather then trying to make it something its not…

  21. liza
    liza says:

    John Gottman, not quite a predictor, just an analyzer of data.
    (IOW, he took the first step of analyzing expressions and arguments,
    and seeing what interactions precede divorces, BUT, never took the scientifically crucial second step: analyze interactions, and actually predict what will happen in the future.
    A small, critical distinction b/w what he says he did and what he did.


  22. paul
    paul says:

    You’re wrong about the woodwork. Stain it and leave the natural grain showing; that will look better than any color you could ever paint it.

    Additionally, a girly bedroom does not promote better orgasms- exercising the PC muscles does.

  23. Margaret G.
    Margaret G. says:

    I love the living-life-according-to-mom comment. That is so true. Right down to our hairstyles.
    As for painting the trim white: go for it. It makes everything so much cleaner and crisper, and the wall colors really will be so much brighter, too. Too much dark wood is depressing. And if you have a paint can and some brushes stored away, it’s so easy to touch up when grubby paws leave their marks, which so often can be wiped off anyhow, especially with high gloss paint.
    I live in a hotel. There’s constant paint touch-up. It’s not that big a deal, if you expect it.

  24. john
    john says:

    Please explain to me how this post is about conflict resolution when all I read is different scenarios where you got your way? A more appropriate title would have been how to push your own agenda through and masquerade it as conflict resolution or compromise.

  25. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    As a former Iowa farm girl, I have to comment on the clock above the coats because it reminds me of my childhood. My mom and dad still have the clock, and I’m pretty sure it was a gift from Pioneer! Thanks for the nostalgic moment!

  26. Jonha @ Happiness
    Jonha @ Happiness says:

    Hi Penelope,

    “….startup mode right now, and the less conflict we can have the better. ”

    Gotta agree on that

    You are right, start ups need to avoid conflicts as much as possible so it would grow. Once it do and need to level up and some spice, that’s probably when it becomes ready for some conflict to make it stronger. Did the farmer mean no babies at least for now, or do I have to take it literally?


  27. Pen
    Pen says:

    The first thing I noticed in the coats photo (besides the charm of being able to hang coats on hooks instead of in a closet) was the woodwork. Classic and gorgeous. If we were friends I would be imploring you not to paint it! I don’t usually try to talk people out of their plans but…. this time I would.


  28. Charmaine
    Charmaine says:

    To avoid conflicts normally, I would remain cool and calm even though the other party blew his top. I always believe that hot temper people are not constructive and when we blew our top we cannot think logically.

  29. Cathitude
    Cathitude says:

    For the love of little green apples, stop with the listing and enjoy the fact that you are Getting Married! Not everything has to have an inherent lesson. Enjoy these moments; they are not a Learning Experience.

  30. Playstead
    Playstead says:

    “Sometimes I think it could all come down to this: you either scare your mom by creating an unstable life or you scare yourself that you are living merely the life your mom wants for you instead of the life you want for yourself.”

    Okay, now it feels like you’re just trying to freak me out. Man, I get a lot from this blog.

  31. love old houses
    love old houses says:

    Do. Not. Paint. The. Woodwork!

    Stained woodwork is original to your house. It’s what makes it special and unique. Anyone can have cheesy, painted trim (how cliche) but original southern yellow pine is to be coveted.

    Check out southern yellow pine. It’s a threatened species.

    If you paint your woodwork, you can never go back. Sure, you can strip it, but you’ll always have paint deep into the grain that just doesn’t come out.

    Be brazen. Don’t be faddish, be original. Don’t paint the woodwork.

    PS. God’s blessings on your wedding. May you have a wonderful life together always.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for the link. I’m surprised by all the home decorating gems you guys are coming up with.

      Also, it seems that your advice: “be brazen, don’t be faddish, be original” might actually apply to painting the woodwork white. That is, people think I should leave wood how it is because wood is nice. And I think I should ignore that conventional advice and pay more attention to what color I want the walls (very bright) than if the wood is nice or not.


  32. Erin
    Erin says:

    I live in a farmhouse and so do my parents. The woodwork was painted in my house, but is natural in my mom’s house. Her house is way more gorgeous. The previous owner spent MONTHS stripping the wood and said it was the most grueling job in the world. I so envy her those natural wood frames.

    I have white woodwork and like Jan/Rita and everyone else said, it is CONSTANTLY grubby from little boy finger prints and unthinking man prints. I am wiping all the door frames down at least once a week. If you aren’t used to cleaning door/window frames CONTINUOUSLY, get used to it. You will with white. Ugh.

    Sometimes natural fits the house better and is just more practical (i.e. think mud/poop on little boy shoes/clothes/hands/face/hair, etc. LOL).
    Just my .02 :)


    P.S. Congrats on the wedding! Love the boots.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward says:

    The wood is not “limiting”. The designer’s willingness to work with it appears to be limited. Sorry, Maria, but you are not thinking about the function of this house, you are all hung up on appearance. You are the sort of person who would be tip-toeing across a barnyard in your Italian heels, dodging cow plops and whining, because the wellies you were offered clashed with your outfit so you didn’t wear them.

    The marvelous part about old farmhouse wood is that it is so resilent and forgiving of the chicken poop, the udder crud and just plain grime that comes on on the Farmer and you and the kids. It conceals a lot, and the finish can be refreshed with a swipe of tung oil.

    How much time do you want your client to spend scrubbing the grunge off the woodwork to keep it “crisp”? A working farm with kids needs forgiving color in the areas where most of the grunge happens. That’s why the farmer’s wife hat the parlor, all crisp white woodwork and pale florals, where visitors were received.

    • maria - €™s friend
      maria - €™s friend says:

      what bitterness!
      no one should talk that way of people they don't know.
      and i know you don't know her because i do.

  34. Maria Killam
    Maria Killam says:

    The photo of that entry is so charming, maybe we should leave the wood in there unpainted. Earth tones and more muted colours look great with wood trim (I’m writing a post about that coming soon) but Penelope wants fresh and bright colours. (in the winter it get’s dark and gloomy at the farm she said)

    The decision to paint wood trim is based on your own individual decorating style. There is a LOT of heavy orangy wood trim in this house which would not look the best with clean and fresh colours in raspberry, yellow, blue and pink.

    When a woman arrives in a mans life and decorates a house with beautiful colours, soft lighting and comfortable furniture, the man tends to forget about little things like painted wood because suddenly he gets happy just walking into the house because a look and feel has been created which equals atmosphere.

    If there is conflict it means we’re communicating. And the only thing that moves life forward is communication. When no one is talking, nothing is happening.

    I love your blog Penelope and the way you communicate without a filter. It’s the way I am and people always have a strong reaction to me as well. The people that are my friends love that they always know where they stand with me because I am not afraid to have an uncomfortable conversation.

    So my vote is to paint the woodwork because my commitment is that we create a space that fills you with happiness when you walk in!

  35. JR
    JR says:

    Your own comment from 3/24:

    “@everyone. About the pink. No pink. Okay. No pink. Thank you for a collective voice of sanity on that one.”

    But, the pink bedroom is back, despite his protests. You win again. Does he ever get to win one?

  36. Diane
    Diane says:

    Why don’t you stain the woodwork dark and then paint the walls a lovely neutral gray-beige? I don’t like that shade of the wood either, it is too orange, but I adore dark wood – it can be used very effectively as an accent and is not a limiting color. Also, be very careful with pink, if you’re like me you will get sick of a vivid color like that in about two years anyway and then want to re-do it, but it takes longer for me to get tired of neutrals.

    I recommend spending some time with the Benjamin Moore paint colors that the Pottery Barn people use – look for beautiful neutrals and historic colors. You will probably want to get samples and paint squares on the walls because the same color can look completely different in different rooms, depending on the light. Also keep in mind that Benjamin Moore has a lot of beautiful colors that you might like better in “half strength” or “quarter strength” if the room in question is small or doesn’t get a lot of light.

  37. Editormum
    Editormum says:

    Oh, PLEASE don’t paint that lovely woodwork! I promise you will regret it, and you can never put it back …

    I live in a house with painted woodwork, I can tell you that you will have perpetual smudges at kid-level and adult-level. You live on a farm, and people’s hands get grubby. Gray or muddy fingerprints on white woodwork is yucky. On natural wood, you don’t see it so much.

    Also, stuff goes in and out of your doorways all the time. There are kid-height nicks and gouges in my woodwork at EVERY doorway … and when the white paint gets nicked or gouged, you then have a white doorway with gray and muddy handprints plus naked wood showing through.

    If you go with the white, you are going to spend a lot of time cleaning and touching up the paint. Stick with the lovely wood tone, and it won’t show so much.

    As for the bedroom, I am surprised that someone with Asperger’s Syndrome would even consider pink. While the initial reaction to pink is calming, studies have shown that as a person becomes accustomed to the colour, it creates greater agitation. I would think that such findings would cause you to avoid pink, except as an accent. (Besides, if your man hates the colour, how are you ever gonna get him IN that room?)

    In the spirit of compromise, perhaps the Farmer would be happier with a very pale shade of pink, something like Farrell-Calhoun’s “Cotton Candy,” “Vienna Dawn,” or “Baby Blossom.” I painted my bedroom in a shade similar to “Cotton Candy” — the pink is so subtle that most people are shocked when they see it in the right light and realize that it’s pink. They think of it as white. With white and blue as the decorative colours, I designed a light, comfortable, calming room that is perfect for relaxing and sharing intimate moments.

    Now, step away from the computer and go enjoy getting married!

  38. Susan
    Susan says:

    You “love” the farm but the first thing you want to do is change it. Will you still “love” it if you change it? Is the barn next? Is he next. I think painting perfectly good wood is a sin. What a patient man to sit back and let you take over his world and change it. Didn’t you want to be a part of his world, won’t changing it to yours defeat that. Does he want this or are you pushing and pushing and calling it compromise and conflict resolution? There is a lot of dirt and muck on a farm and a farmhouse needs to be decorated in a way to deal with that not in “clean and fresh colours in raspberry, yellow, blue and pink,” nor with the foo foo furniture I saw on the other blog. This isn’t compromise it is take-over. Best of luck on your relationship at this rate you will need it.

    • Rita
      Rita says:

      Like Susan, I’m confused about why you want to change the farmhouse so much. You talk so often about how much y ou like it! I know that if you’re going to live there it needs to feel like your space too – you don’t want to feel like you’re always a guest in someone else’s house.

      But won’t that feeling come from having your stuff there? And maybe some better decorations or some updated (but still practical!) furniture? I don’t think it’s necessary to or advisable to completely change everything when you move in. Take it little by little – building consensus, as you say.

      I also think the comments here are a good way to learn what works for other people – lots of farm girls here telling you that farmhouses have varnished wood for a reason. Believe us. Assert your needs – push for the chicks. But scale down the decorating plans.

  39. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    I wouldn’t paint woodwork in an old house. You lose the vintage quality and it is a total pain to get paint off of wood and brick. I know; I tried it in my house. It takes hours of labor and then it still doesn’t look that good.

    Part of the charm of living on an old family farm is that it isn’t brand new but has some character.

  40. Molly
    Molly says:

    Oh, please, please don’t paint the woodwork! I recently visited my childhood home that had the most beautiful dark smooth finished woodwork and wood floors, and it’s all painted or carpeted now. Blech. It hurts me to think about.

  41. Sheila
    Sheila says:

    You know what I love about your posts? The fact that I gett to know you personally as well as professionally. Interwoven into the 6 tips for better conflict resolution are your own conflicts and learnings!!!

    On another note, Happy Wedding Day! I love the wedding boots.

  42. angie
    angie says:

    I agree with the farmer- no pink in the bedroom (unless as accents) and no painted woodwork. Maybe a darker, richer stain on the woodwork could cover the problematic/clashing orange undertones, without losing the natural beauty of the woodwork?

    Also, a gradual takeover works better than an immediate, drastic overhaul- give him some time to adjust before you change anything else. In other words, wear him down a bit first, haha, and he won’t even notice anything is different.

    Get rid of that clock before anything else- my parents have that one, too.

    Congrats and best wishes!!!

  43. Bob
    Bob says:

    I agree with you, all of this remembers me when I lost my job due to conflicts with my previous team. Unfortunately the environment was not so very good for having a good communication so I had to quit.

  44. Wendy Ellis
    Wendy Ellis says:

    Sheesh, what a lot of jazz about a paint choice! Using plain wood in this farmhouse in the first place was to save money, not as a style choice. But people seem to attach much emotion to the IDEA of plain wood and the authenticity it represents. Some plain wood is ugly…I will guess this wood has changed color over the years too.

    To my eye, dark woodwork chops up spaces something fierce, lowers ceilings, and usually makes rooms feel smaller. But sometimes this effect creates coziness and a quaint feel.

    Long story short: why not paint some woodwork, and leave some plain throughout the house, depending on the room’s desired feel? There’s no hard-and-fast rule about woodwork all being the same throughout a house…that’s just a modern convention. Dark wood might make sense in an Entry, for example, but let his homeowner use her bright colors with white woodwork in other rooms. (MAybe if the woodwork in some rooms stays unpainted, a darker stain on it would allow clean, bright colors in there too…)

  45. Jessie
    Jessie says:

    OK another comment about the wood.

    I’m a professional interior designer and have worked for some of the best design firms in New York and London. I also paint large canvases and create abstract wood sculptures. Any color specialist who says that wood comes across as orange doesn’t even understand her specialty. Some woods are cool, some are warm. If you know how to work with wood, you will get a more beautiful interior. The Japanese have known this for thousands of years; hence Japanese design’s timeless appeal.

    The right wood can go with any color.

    I had a quick peek at Maria’s website and not to sound like a snob, but honestly, her taste will be dated in a few years time.

    Did you know that natural materials create negative ions in the air which help to boost your well being? Don’t paint over wood if you don’t have to!

      • GR
        GR says:

        i am stunned at the nastinest of some of the comments.
        i have news for you lady, everybody's style of today will be dated in a few years. i thought a fancy designer like yourself would know that.

  46. Marlo
    Marlo says:

    Penelope – €“ I have to comment on the wood.

    I say follow your heart and paint the trim and walls with all the colours that make YOU happy. Not all of us like wood trim – €“ I don't like it at all and I wouldn't have it in my house. I agree with the designer, using fresh & cool colours with the warm wood trim wouldn't look right with the look you want to create. Yes, you might be able to come close to what you want if you don't paint the wood but it won't have the same look and feel as what is in your heart. Yes, the wood is warm and yes it reads orange – €“a muddy orange. If you wanted to paint the walls a clear, cool blue it would look off with the warm, muddy orange trim.

    Not painting the wood because it's good for hiding dirt isn't a good enough reason to make me want to keep it. It's like saying that all the windows should be frosted so that we can't see the farm dust; it'd block the sunshine and we can't enjoy the beautiful view but hey, it'll hide the dirt. At least with white trim I can see the dirt and wipe it down. I don't want to hide germs and dirt; not these days.

    Some of us tend to always play it safe – €“ out of fear. We choose safe sofa colours, safe drapery colours, safe wallpaper colours, safe car colours, etc. Are we going to live the rest of our lives playing it safe? Are we going to not paint the wood trim because it's another safe choice? If we don't like wood trim, we paint it; plain and simple. If the patina from the wood trim is an issue, we can add furniture with beautiful patina. We don't have to have patina on every surface.

    We all have different tastes – in cars, artists, house features and designers. I don't like the homes decorated by some well known international designers but some people do and that's fine. What gives me the right to judge these designers just because it's not my taste? Same goes for artists. How many times have we looked at art and said "I don't get it"? But someone does get it and has it hanging in their home and they love it.

    Decorate your home the way you love that's what will make your heart smile every time you're in it.

    • Susan
      Susan says:

      Marlo, What if The Farmer wants to follow his heart, what about what makes him happy? If you read here much you would know that by Penelope’s own admission she’s been pushing remodeling since before October 2008, “he always feels like I'm pushing” (him), and “he was so distracted dealing with me”. See a pattern here. If I am reading things right, they are not even really getting married because of her tax problems. She admits he does not want to paint the woodwork or have a pink bedroom, so why would you tell her to go with her heart and what makes her happy in his house.

      • Marlo
        Marlo says:

        What I was trying to say to Penelope, and perhaps I failed, is to do what she and the farmer agreed to and not to listen to some of the harsh comments. The way I understood Penelope's post is that after a long debate they finally came to an agreement that the wood would be white and the bedroom pink – €“ and no baby chicks. The farmer agreed to it and she can now follow her heart while we offer our support. If some of us disagree, that's fine; we can say it nicely without any bashing.

        Legally it's the farmer's house. But it's not just a house, it's a home. He invited Penelope to live with him and so now it is her home too; their home. Treating her like a guest because the house is not hers will not help them bond as a couple. A piece of paper doesn't hold the relationship together, they do. They made a commitment to be a couple and all couples know how much compromising there is. He compromised on the painting; she compromised on the baby chicks. Tomorrow they'll compromise on something else.

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