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    Noted designer Michael Payne was host of HGTV's Designing for the Sexes and has created several branded home furnishings and accessories lines.

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    Men should feel they have input in the decor of nearly every room of the house, suggests designer Michael Payne.

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    When it comes to designing for both sexes, black and shades of grey are often universally appealing.

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    If your guy finds decorating decisions to be overwhelming, try giving him a few limited, pre-approved choices.

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If your guy finds decorating decisions to be overwhelming, try giving him a few limited, pre-approved choices.


Role Reversal
While the tips in this article are aimed at getting men involved in home decorating, they work equally well for women in households with the reverse challenge—a male with more decorating interest trying to get his partner involved.




Melding Styles

When bringing together two different styles, one or both partners may have to let go of some old furnishings. If this is the case in your home, sell your furniture and then use the proceeds to buy a new piece together.



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  • Michael Payne on How to Design for Both Sexes

    HGTV's host of 'Designing for the Sexes' shares tips for getting men involved in home design.

    by Jennifer Sellers

    If your significant other's decorating input to date has been limited to the color leather on his favorite recliner, that's OK. We're not here to bash men or their man caves—that basement domain of leather easy chairs, big-screen TVs, nerf basketball goals and dartboards. After all, guys deserve to have a realm of their own, unaffected by throw pillows and scented candles. And while it's perfectly acceptable to maintain a hubby hideaway, it's probably best to avoid turning your home into "his" and "hers" zones. Both partners should feel comfortable in every room of the home, says Michael Payne, expert on designing for the sexes.  

    "I think that there is a value to a man cave," says Payne. "I think having a place a man can genuinely call his own—whether it's a basement, a garage or a spare room—is a good thing, but it cannot be exclusively his. It has to be a place where she is welcome even though it really is his space."

    Likewise, the rest of the house should have some of the man's influence even if the female partner directs most of its style. 

    "He should feel that he has some input in most every room of the house," continues Payne. "On my show [HGTV's Designing for the Sexes], that is something I worked overtime to achieve. To ensure that the man had a voice, that he had the ability, sometimes for the first time in his whole life, to choose and express his style." 


    Getting Him Involved

    Realistically, not all men have a desire to decorate. Generally speaking, it's just not a subject the masculine gender tends to be interested in. "Sometimes they're reluctant to make design decisions," says Payne. "Ask a guy which is the best truck to buy and he will have an opinion. On the other hand, ask him if he'd like to have chenille on the sofa, he's going to look at you as though you're talking Chinese."

    Of course, the fact that men may not be as interested in design as their partners doesn't mean they have no opinions about how their homes are decorated, says Payne. "Now, he might say 'I don't care honey, do whatever you like,' but if she's got a sense of humor, she could say something like 'ok, so you're saying if I paint the whole house pink you'll be fine with it?'" Payne jokes. "I'm not a gambling man, but even I would bet a substantial sum of money that this guy is not going to want to live in an entirely pink house. So, he actually does have an opinion—he has an opinion about pink. So dialogue is still important even if his interest level is lower than hers."


    Style Solutions

    Actually, the solution to dealing with a style-stunted spouse is simple and can be a win-win for both partners. The key, says Payne, is to offer him limited, pre-approved choices. To do this, select a few "finalists" you like—whether they're fabric swatches, paint colors or sofa styles—then ask him which of your choices he likes best. 

    "When he looks at your choices, I bet he's going to prefer one," suggests Payne. "It simplifies it for him. If you came back with 27 fabrics, that's too many choices. Get it down to a manageable level, three or five at most." 

    The beauty of this tactic is that the décor-minded partner can do most of the choosing, but without leaving her partner out of the process. "He gets input in the final decision, and when he walks into that room, he will remember that is the sofa he preferred, that is the fabric he liked and that is the wallpaper he thought was really cool. That way he is part of every decision. And since she's only showing him the things she likes, he's always going to choose something she likes. They're both going to choose and they're both going to win." 


    Active Participants

    Of course some men want more of a role in choosing décor and furnishings for their home. If this is the case with the man in your life, Payne has some tips on making him an active participant in the process: 

    ·         Take a shopping field trip. Show him what you like, and take note of the styles he prefers.

    ·         Develop a style language. "You can say something like 'I noticed you liked furniture with simple, clean lines, that means your style is probably more contemporary.'" says Payne.

    ·         Look through home décor magazines (or image galleries, like ours here on and you both can select the styles you personally find most appealing.

    ·         Find a compromise. "If you prefer a more decorative, traditional style and he likes contemporary, a good style compromise is transitional—clean and simple enough for him, but enough decoration to please your eye," recommends Payne.


    "We've got to start with the bedrock of the home, which is the word 'style,'" says Payne. "Then you bring in that word 'compromise.' When the man and woman both have those two concepts in mind (style and compromise) then you can create harmony and beauty in the home."