Noted designer Michael Payne was host of HGTV's Designing for the Sexes. He also has several branded home furnishings and accessories lines.
Behind the momentum toward modern furnishings and decor is the desire of many Americans to simplify their lives.
There is a definite shift—a gradual shift, but a definite one—toward a cleaner, more contemporary style.
Michael Payne on Uncluttering and Contemporary Design ...
"I'm convinced that keeping it light is becoming the way of the world."
Contemporary, the New American Classic
Designer and HGTV personality Michael Payne shares philosophies and tips on the direction of home décor trends in the United States.
- by Jennifer Sellers
Michael Payne has a dream. And in this dream he's driving down a country road in the Midwest, where he comes across a red barn—not exactly an unusual site in rural America. What is unusual is what he imagines seeing in that barn. Not cows. Not horses. Not hay bales. No, he sees a chic, modern home filled with contemporary furniture and accessories. This particular design fantasy takes quintessential Americana in a whole new direction. One where modernism and minimalism rule.
"There is a definite shift—a gradual shift, but a definite one—toward a cleaner, more contemporary style," says Payne, who hosted HGTV's Designing for the Sexes.
"It's not as though everyone living in country-themed houses are saying 'yeah, we're going to go contemporary. Let's get out the catalog for the latest Italian furniture.' It's not going to happen that way. It's not going to happen overnight; but in 10, 15 or 20 years I really believe it is."
Moving Toward Modern
Behind the momentum toward modern furnishings and décor is the desire of many Americans to simplify their lives. When information, responsibilities and commitments demand your attention day in and day out, your fatigued mind doesn't want to come home to more fussiness and busyness.
"These days, we don’t have the time for a lot of stuff—whether that 'a lot' is literal, like collections of things, or visual, like floral prints—our brains don't always want to deal with the extra nonsense," says Payne.
Contemporary Design = an Uncluttered Mind
If you, like Payne, can imagine yourself getting comfortable with a cleaner, simpler design, take this first step: unclutter.
"By uncluttering our homes, we're uncluttering our brains and our lives," he says. "Cut down on what you have to worry about and have to fuss about. Say your house is filled with figurines or numerous collections. You have to clean them; you have to move them around. It's a challenge to make time for those things anymore."
One way you can cut back is to let go of "style memories," says Payne. "The things you liked and bought 10 years ago probably don't represent your current style. When you bought those things, you loved them. That's great; they served their purpose in your life. But just because you once brought something into your home, doesn't obligate you to keep it there forever. The truth is you don't like it anymore, so it's time to move on."
Once you've started paring down, you can start exploring other elements of contemporary design—from furniture to wallcoverings to light fixtures. If you're looking for inspiration, start with our Contemporary & Modern image gallery.