Cleaning House with Michael Moeller

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We pick the brain of the East Village-based designer on his show helping New Yorkers declutter their homes

By Marissa Maier

Michael Moeller co-hosts The Style Network's Clean House New York, which debuted in October. In an episode that aired this week, Moeller and his partner in design, Nina Ferrer, helped West Village resident Paul, whose apartment was so jam-packed with belongings that he slept on the floor. The pair cleaned out his place, helped him sell items at an auction and a yard sale and later redesigned the space to make it functional.

We asked Moeller about the key to successful design and how New Yorkers can go about clearing out their homes.

What is your design background?

I have been doing interior design for a little over 10 years. I worked on high-end residential properties for a firm, but then I wanted a change and I went into hospitality design.

About three years ago, I decided to go out on my own and I have worked on decent-sized projects. I have been concentrating on residential properties-not super high-end, more of the starter-outers, the thirtysomething artists and people who work in finance. I work with an amazing group of clients who could run their own reality show.

It seems like, with home design, you really need to have an intimate understanding of what your client needs, since it is their home.

Of course. When I meet a 29-year-old finance bachelor, I have to think that he wants a place to impress girls and for his friends to hang out in. While, with a couple in their thirties, they might want to take that extra bedroom and make it into a nursery at some point. The key to success is knowing what clients want.

How much does psychology play a role in your work, especially when working with a client like Paul, who has a very strong attachment to his possessions?

For me, I don't get as personal as my co-star, Nina Ferrer. I read people and I try to formulate what they want. Paul is single, lives in the West Village and wants to work from home; that was the program in my head. For him, he was so distracted by so many things that I wanted to minimize those distractions in his life.

My sister is a psychology major and we have endless conversations about how design relates to psychology. To create an environment for someone, you have to understand them and how they live.

What are the best ways for people to go about cleaning out their apartments?

The one thing people buy a lot of, I think, are clothes. I have a system. For me, if I have gone a full season and I have not worn something, I throw it away. I'm the same way about shoes. If you get a good season out of a pair of shoes you spent $100 on, then throw them away.

As far as collections go, I understand that people want to collect, but people should start collections that make sense for them. If you love to have friends over, you might want to collect vintage cocktail glasses.

What about the show most excites you?

I am excited to see people get into it. A lot of people all over the country will have a chance to see how New Yorkers live.

Michael Moeller helps New Yorkers clean and organize their urban-and pint-sized-abodes. Photo courtesy of The Style Network

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