What it's really like to live and work with your other half

Emma (far left) and Jade have been together 10 years
Emma (far left) and Jade have been together 10 years  Credit: Leo Davut

Living and working with your other half might seem a romantic prospect, but  what’s the reality? Olivia Lidbury meets three creative duos to find out

Emma and Jade Shone-Sanders

Emma and Jade have been together 10 years and married in 2018. In 2016 Emma left her job in retail design to launch Design & That, an interiors consultancy, before opening a studio and store in east London last year. Jade works on its PR and events.

Emma: Working together has made our relationship stronger. We have different roles, so we’re not telling each other what to do. If Jade’s having a down day, I take care of her; and if I’m having a bad day, she snaps me out of it. She always says, ‘It’ll be fine!’ When we met, our tastes didn’t align, but as we’ve travelled and built homes, I’ve realised how much we love the same things.

1. Monochrome cushion, £59. 2. Candle, £68, Alexandria Coe x Evermore. 3. Mushroom table lamp, £198. All Design & That (designandthat.com) Credit: Alexandria Coe x Evermore; All Design & That

Jade: If we were told, ‘Go for dinner but don’t talk about work,’ I don’t know what we’d do! It’s all-consuming. We have different passions: Emma loves pared-back contemporary furniture, whereas I’m focused on bringing in local artists and designers. I’m quite happy-go-lucky while Emma is more worrisome. My advice to any couple embarking on a project would be: make sure you love what you’re doing so it doesn’t become a drain.

Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead

Jordan (far left) and Russell were both actors when they met. A sideline in selling textiles at markets led to a creative commission for a hotel and, in 2014, they set up their interior-design practice, 2LG. They have been married for nine years, and live in south-east London with Buckley, their miniature dachshund.

'Russell and I push each other’s boundaries' Credit: Megan Taylor

Jordan: Russell and I push each other’s boundaries; he is much more considered. Colour is our common ground – we’re passionate about its positive impact. Our design studio is in our kitchen, so we’ve set a rule to never work in the living room. In the early days we worked constantly, but now we’ve taken our weekends back. Buckley is good at telling us when to stop: at 6pm, he’ll get off his bed and jump around – then we down tools.

Russell: Jordan and I have different aesthetics: I’m more minimalist in my approach, whereas Jordan is instinctive and loves bold statements. I’d never have considered certain choices we’ve made if it hadn’t been for him. We clash on speed because I’m the tortoise and he’s the hare. I’ll always think about the function and practicality, whereas Jordan has already reached the finished look, so I sometimes have to play the bad cop. What working together has taught us is that we didn’t realise how much we rely on each other for certain things. We value that now instead of taking it for granted.

1. Flatweave rug, from £550, 2LG x Floor Story (floorstory.co.uk) 2. Wallpaper, £60 a roll, 2LG x Graham & Brown (grahambrown.com) 3. Sofa, £4,198, 2LG x Love Your Home (love-your-home.co.uk) Credit: 2LG x Floor Story; 2LG x Graham & Brown; 2LG x Love Your Home

Their book, ‘Making Living Lovely: Free Your Home with Creative Design’ (£19.95, Thames & Hudson) is out 30 April.

Kam and Emma Young

As a husband-and-wife team, Kam and Emma launched their design consultancy, Kiwi & Pom, in 2008. They specialise in hospitality and restaurants, and have worked on projects for M&S and Waitrose. They are also the creative directors and co-owners of Falcon Enamelware, and live in Islington with their three children.

'Our skills are very complementary'

Kam: Emma is bolder and more intuitive when it comes to colour, whereas I always revert to the unfussy, straightforward, functional and modern. Our studio is a short walk away from our house and it feels like 
a second home. When you’re working with your partner it’s all about harmony: you need to know each other’s limits and what you’re good at and have that respect because you’re living together too.

Emma: The first time Kam and I met, we discovered that we both studied product design but very nearly became dentists – it was a weird coincidence. Our skills are very complementary: I am obsessed with colour, texture and materials, whereas Kam is passionate about how things function and how they’re made. We share a mutual appreciation for natural materials.

1. Bake set, £79. 2. Apron, £35. 3. Pinch pots, £5 each. All Falcon Enamelware (falconenamelware.com) Credit: Falcon Enamelware 

Often, our design sensibility does clash, but it’s in the details rather than the overall aesthetic. In very simplistic terms, I’d say I’m a dreamer and Kam’s a doer. People wonder how we manage working together, but I can’t imagine not doing so – we’re aiming for the same goals, so it helps us appreciate the pressures that come with work.