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    Don't expect your decor style as a couple to be finalized by the time you're back from the honeymoon; it will evolve over the years just as your relationship does, says designer Michael Payne.

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    Michael Payne is host of HGTV's Designing for the Sexes.

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    When you're showing your partner the interiors you like, explain what it is about them you like, suggests Payne.

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When you're showing your partner the interiors you like, explain what it is about them you like, suggests Payne.


Payne on Simplicity

“There is real beauty in simplicity, and I think the cleaner you make a room, the more beautiful it becomes,” says HGTV host Michael Payne. 

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  • His and Hers Décor

    Michael Payne of HGTV's 'Designing for the Sexes' shows how to marry two styles into one home.

    by Jennifer Sellers

    Soon-to-be-married couples receive all kinds of advice leading up to their nuptials—spiritual, financial and more. But interior designer Michael Payne says yet another area needs to be covered with couples: style. "I need to start a school for pre-marital style counseling," he jokes.  

    All joking aside, Payne has advised couples on how to stylishly and harmoniously design their homes. As host of HGTV's Designing for the Sexes, he regularly shows men and women how to compromise and create beautiful spaces. Here, he advises couples on how to create a look both sexes will love.


    Get on the Same Page

    If you haven't married or moved in with your partner yet, the best time to discuss style and décor is before you start your registry.

    "These conversations are absolutely critical," says Payne. "All kinds of stuff is going to come floating into your lives. These can be things that one of you might love and one of you might hate. So every time you sit down for dinner at night, you're holding knives and forks in your hands. And that's one of those things on the gift list that somebody is probably going to give you. So you've both got to agree you like it. And the same with the china and the same with the glassware. You've got to have conversations about this, and it all comes from your sense of style."

    To come to an agreement on a mutual sense of style, Payne offers a bit of homework:

    • Go on a shopping trip together. Visit a furniture store and see which styles each of you gravitates toward. Does she like traditional? Does he prefer contemporary? What are some shapes, colors and fabrics that you both like?
    • Browse magazines and websites. Pick up a home magazine or look through a few of's image galleries. "I want couples to see pictures of interiors—pictures of complete rooms," says Payne. "They can use post-it notes to flag the ones they love." (On, you can save images and articles you like to the "My Ideas" folder.)
    • Communicate. When you're showing your partner the interiors you like, explain what it is about them you like. Tell him or her if you like something because it's eclectic or because it reminds you of the home you grew up in. It's important that you each understand the reasoning behind the other's likes and dislikes, says Payne.


    Showcasing One Style Over Another

    Sometimes you and your partner can agree on a look, while other times you may have to agree to disagree. To avoid rooms that are too busy or don't look well thought out, you might need to let one spouse's style win out.

    "The husband might favor a more clean, contemporary look, and the wife might love traditional design with lots of details," says Payne. "So how do you merge those? What I've found is a little extreme, but it's effective. I've worked with couples where a room is predominantly one style with touches or flashes of the other.

    "Visualize this: You've got a really contemporary room, and it's very minimal," continues Payne. "Then, against a wall there might be just a beautiful secretary from the 18th century. It's as if it's an art piece. In the contemporary room it looks even older and more fabulous. And it makes the new furnishings around it look even more contemporary. It's the juxtaposition of the old and new, which can be so powerful. "

    Payne says another example would be a completely traditional room with a contemporary painting over the mantle. "It's an absolutely traditional interior, and on one wall there's this Picasso-like piece of art," he describes. "It surprises the eye, and at the same time, it emphasizes the subdued quality of the traditional furnishings and décor. 

    "I've found that couples can exist very happily in rooms like I've described, because each of them at least has a splash of what they want," he continues. 

    Ultimately, whichever look you as a couple decide on, you should keep it consistent in the public areas of the house, advises Payne. But feel free to use other rooms of the home as places one or the other of you can express an individual style preference. 

    "If it's a contained room, like a bedroom, that room can be anything you want," says Payne. "Most of your house can be designed in a fantastic Georgian style, then you open the door to a bedroom that's 100 percent Asian. It's all about finding a way to be happy with your space."


    Enjoy the Journey

    As a couple, your style won't be settled by the time you're back from the honeymoon. It will evolve over the years just as your relationship does, says Payne. "You're starting a lifetime voyage together," he says. "As the years go by, your course changes a bit from time to time. But as long as you communicate and compromise, you'll always be heading in the right direction."