HOME WORK

Porter Wagoner gives his bachelor pad a makeover - and now he's living in style!

It's an early morning summer day, but Porter Wagoner is already up-and-at-'em. The 76-year-old Grand Ole Opry star is sitting intently at his living room computer, making CDs of some of his classic tunes to give to his good friend and former duet partner Dolly Parton.

"Before you get too impressed," begins Porter with a laugh, "that's about all I know with the computer. I just use it for my benefit - I have all my music stored on here. I don't even know how to get on the Internet!"

What Porter really wants to show off is his newly redecorated home, which has turned his former self-styled "bachelor pad" into a true showplace.

"I hadn't done anything to the house in probably 15 to 20 years," he explains. "I had just gotten so tired of looking at the same things every day, and I had thought about remodeling for some time."

But instead of hiring some fancy decorating firm for the spruce-up, Porter turned to a more comfortable source - his own family.

"I was visiting my sister in Springfield, Missouri," he begins, "and my niece Diana joined us one day. She is an interior decorator and she said she'd come down and do the whole house. She wasn't going to charge me, either," he adds with a sly grin.

Porter's niece took charge of the project in September of 2002 - and the results were like night and day.

"She picked out new furniture for my kitchen, den and front room," says Porter. "I had been to some places in Nashville, but they had some pretty wild looking stuff that I didn't care for. But she found some furniture in Springfield that I thought was just perfect for me.

"I also told my niece I didn't want anything gaudy or showy, so she picked out the right colors for the walls, like off-white and brown. I am really happy with it!"

He's happiest of all with the living room, where a guitar shape is woven into the rug. On the newly painted walls hang rows of vintage photos, which chronicle Porter's life and career without looking like a museum.

"This is me in my early Elvis days," he jokes, pointing to a photo of himself in a leather jacket.

Another picture, depicting an overalls-clad, 12-year-old youngster, gives him an extra kick. "Yep, that's me!" he laughs. "See the pencil in my pocket? I think I put it there so I'd look like an executive."

Today Porter doesn't keep an executive's long hours, but he's still a busy, in-demand star, especially after being elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame last year. "That adds a lot of extra bookings, or at least requests," he says. "But Glenda Knipher, who runs my office here at the house, tries to keep that to a limit where I won't wear myself out."

Porter does keep himself in shape, mainly by playing golf and walking his horse, Rex, around the grounds. "I spend time with him every day," says Porter. "Can you believe Rex is 29 years old? And he's still a good, strong horse."

"Whenever I'm out here shoveling horse manure," he continues, laughing, "I always think, 'Man, look at this big star, don't he live a glamorous life.' Seriously, though, I enjoy it. It gets me outside, away from everything."

Back inside, Porter brews up a fresh pot of coffee in the kitchen. "I keep that going all morning and afternoon," he confesses. "I drink a lot of coffee, even though I probably shouldn't."

Porter's culinary skills actually extend beyond the coffeemaker. "I cook a lot for myself - my spaghetti is out of this world," he says, smiling. "It's healthier to cook at home and, besides, I just get tired of eating out. And after remodeling the kitchen, I feel more comfortable in here."

Porter fills his cup and looks around his kitchen. "The whole place is just so much more attractive," he declares. "I still can't believe it!"

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