Advice from Charlotte’s PBS home guru: Express yourself

02/27/2014 3:23 PM

03/03/2014 10:49 AM

If there is one consistent message Vicki Payne has shared with her legion of viewers and fans over the years it is that each of us should feel empowered to express our personalities and unique sense of style in our own homes.

Payne is host of the long running nationally syndicated home improvement show airing on PBS and cable, “For Your Home by Vicki Payne.” Her mantra for her viewers is: please yourself first and foremost. Whether it’s accent pieces acquired on vacation, one-of-a-kind furnishings purchased at an estate sale or a color scheme reminiscent of a childhood home, expressing a custom personal look allows us to fully enjoy our living space.

Payne, 64, is plain-spoken and no-nonsense in unleashing advice that makes our homes and gardens true personal refuges and oases of comfort and livability.

“They should be an expression of our personal style and reflect who we are from a personality standpoint and say something about how we like to entertain,” said Payne who moved to Charlotte in 1994 after growing up in Texas and living in Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit. “My show is geared at professionals who care about their home, not in a way to show off but as a form of personal payback for hard work.”

Airing since 1996, “For Your Home” is the longest-running home and garden show on television. Last year the show averaged 2.5 million viewers per episode in 530 TV markets across the U.S. All of Payne’s shows are shot “in the field” and Charlotte and environs serve as Payne’s primary location. Area viewers may recognize regional locales such as Atherton Mill and Market, High Point Furniture Mart and local garden stores in her episodes.

Payne keeps things relevant for her viewers by staying true to her core style beliefs of not chasing trends. She prefers to work with design anchors that reflect “classic, good bones” and timelessness. Moldings, paint, tile, floors and foundations are all primary elements on which Payne cautions viewers not to skimp and to stick with classic and basic design.

Payne recently downsized from a 7,000-square-foot home in Ballantyne to her current 3,000-square-foot home in SouthPark. Her renovation project took nearly a year and served as the backdrop for eight episodes of her program in the most recent 13-week season. Viewers accompanied Payne on her journey as she has torn down walls, refinished floors, established a casual and breezy outdoor living and entertaining space, and created a lovely garden.

“A cornerstone of PBS is education,” said Payne. “That element has to come through in all aspects of my show. Part of that is an obligation I feel towards professionals in the building trade. If I can have an experienced do-it-your-selfer learn some tricks from a pro flooring installer, that’s great. If in seeing what’s involved, a viewer decides they need to hire a specialized professional, there is value in that too.”

Payne’s advice regarding furnishings and accessories also emphasizes a classic, elegant design that offers utility.

“I look for unique pieces of furniture that will fit in different rooms of the house,” said Payne. “I like to mix things up and move furnishings around. You never want to buy a singular suite of furniture that looks like it came off a showroom floor. I also have multiple sets of dishes that I’ll alternate depending upon the season. By offering a different look I can change the mood or the décor to better match the time of year or style of entertaining.”

Dump what doesn’t work

One of the greatest surprises Payne sees in working with friends or clients is the tendency for people to hold onto things that just don’t work for their home. She tells the story of hunting for hours with a friend for thousands of dollars worth of upholstery fabric to match certain pillows that cost a few hundred dollars.

“It was crazy,” said Payne. “I finally told her to get rid of the darn pillows and start with the upholstery. Sometimes people just don’t want to admit they’ve made a mistake or have lived with something for so long they feel they can’t part with it.”

Payne clearly finds great joy in sharing the hospitality of her home. Her hope for those who take pride in their homes is to share their home with others.

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