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Designing for the Sexes - Michael Payne Red Carpet Appearance

Culver City, California (September 16, 2006) - My husband, tiring of conversation, flung the words over his shoulder as he exited the room, taking his plate of apple pie crumbs to the room with bare walls where our kitchen once existed. He was kidding, of course. The HGTV interior designer who has made quite the name for his British-American self with the show "Designing for the Sexes", works wonders negotiating peace treaties between couples whose tastes are so disparate that their remodeling projects can't get off dead center. But the last I heard, Payne doesn't make house calls to overwrought couples in Southeast Texas whose kitchen remodeling project has them hissing at each other when they cross paths. But wait.

The day after my husband made his offhanded remark about the only person alive who might save us from impending divorce, I was on the telephone with Michael. Yep, we're on a first-name basis now. As it turns out, Michael is coming to Beaumont Saturday to present two seminars at Howell's Furniture and to promote his new line of furniture. How positively providential. Why not, I thought, call his publicist and see if he'd grant an interview? He answered his own telephone. "I think I've got Michael Payne on the line," I said to him, as if there could be any doubt about that lilting British accent. "You do!" he said, just like that, with an exclamation mark on the "ooo."

After talking with Michael about his upcoming appearance, we chatted about our personal kitchen crisis. He asked me to e-mail details about the vastly different looks we wanted and offered to make suggestions to bridge the gap. My husband was leaning toward light painted cabinets with a washed finish, travertine floor in a neutral shade, granite countertops in a light color and cream-colored tumbled marble-like ceramic backsplash, I told him. I was looking at cabinets with a warm cherry stain, a light cork floor, dramatic, heavily-veined granite in a rich color and a backsplash with colored accent pieces. We e-mailed two photos that represented our design concepts.

Michael praised my husband, saying I am lucky to have a man who pores over design magazines and has the channel number to HGTV memorized. As to our different styles, he thought my husband's design concept was elegant, but a bit too monochromatic. We were right to put such emphasis on choosing our granite, he said, because it is the focal point around which all else should revolve. Choose your color, he said, then go with a cabinet color that will provide contrast. Happily for me, he agreed that veining in granite adds interest. It should look like granite, he said, not a speckled imposter. The backsplash, he said, should complete the contrast to the cabinets. For wall color, be bold, he said.

Since Michael's opinion carries a lot of weight with my husband, it looks as if we'll be making one more trip to the granite yard - and hopefully, all else will fall into place. If not, I still have Michael's number - and I'm not afraid to use it.

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