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October 20, 2017 12:04 PM

Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber are masters of design now, but things weren’t as picture-perfect when they tried decorating for the first time as a couple.

“Yeah, that was hard,” Crawford, 51, tells PEOPLE. “I definitely came from a more traditional aesthetic and he came from more of this, like, contemporary thing.”

Gerber, 55, kept mum on the first house he shared with the supermodel, as it was technically Crawford’s and he “didn’t feel like it was his place.”

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“Then when we really had to merge, it was definitely…we didn’t agree on everything,” says the Silestone spokeswoman. “And we still don’t!”

Instead of throwing one person’s preferences out the door, though, Crawford and Gerber made it work with a little mixing and a lot of compromise.

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“I’ve learned when to give in, and I think he’s learned to give in,” she says. “We push each other, so I think we would both agree that our combined projects are more layered and interesting because they have to make room for both of our aesthetics.”

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The couple, who share son, Presley, 18, and Crawford’s mini me, 16-year-old Kaia, are house flipping machines, most recently picking up OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder’s Beverly Hills home in September. And although her tastes are “a little more thoughtful, a little more elevated,” thanks to years of experience, she always remembers the golden rule of decorating (which she definitely learned the hard way).

“When I got my first apartment in Chicago, I remember buying my first sofa,” she says. “I measured the wall, but I didn’t measure my apartment, and they went to deliver the couch and it wouldn’t fit! So that was a good lesson.”

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