'Clean House': Matt Iseman Previews the New 'Messiest Home in the Country'

matt_iseman_about.jpgOn Wednesday, June 30, the newest edition of the "Clean House: Search for the Messiest Home in the Country" comes to its conclusion on Style Network, with a reportedly apocalyptic mess in a home in Lynwood, Ill.

Below find a Q&A with the show's "Go-To Guy" Matt Iseman ("Sports Soup") -- who's also a doctor, by the way -- discussing  the home, the challenges, the family and letting Mark Brunetz into his home (plenty of "Messiest" background info in the embedded links -- and click here for Mark Brunetz's preview of "Messiest" over on Zap2it.com).

Q: Does this family compare at all to last year's?


A: Well, compare is a tricky word.  In terms of clutter, our family this year can go toe-to-toe with any of our three previous "Messiest Homes." When I found my head brushing the ceiling in their bedroom because the entire floor was covered in over three feet of clothes, visions of Sharon Baglien's basement danced in my head. But, I think the self described "frigid Viking B%*^h" ensured her spot of infamy in the pantheon of "Clean House" families because of her stubborn refusal to admit she had a problem with clutter. Viewers really seem to respond to emotional train wrecks and, last year, we went off the rails.


But this year's family, the Hayes, stands in stark contrast to all three previous "Messiest Home" families in that they readily admitted they had a problem and that they wanted help (it was quite refreshing, actually). When I look back at the Lorias, the Wheelers and the Bagliens, I recall moments of genuine hopelessness dealing with them during their makeover (I could feel the back of my hand tingling... wanting to lash out and knock some sense into them). But the Hayes family met us every step of the way, so, in that sense, no comparison.

Q: What was the biggest challenge for you in this project?


A: Without giving too much away, I will say that dealing with the basement was a huge challenge and not just as a Go-to Guy, but as a doctor. We had serious medical issues raised and had to make a hard decision (I proposed a flame thrower as a solution but was shot down for fear of torching Niecy's weave).

Other than that, the volume presented the biggest challenge. We normally do three spaces on Matt_Iseman_beanie_lussier.jpg a "Clean House" makeover, but, for the "Messiest Home," we do the whole house, which means we have to completely empty the entire house. Given the incredible volume of clutter they had stuffed in their house, it was a massive project. Normally, we allot seven days for a makeover. We were in Lynwood for closer to four weeks - four very long weeks.


Q: Were these folks really worse off than the people along the way on the "Search"?


A: Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that their clutter dwarfed all the other families in our Search this year. They really had a staggering amount of stuff in their house (notice I am running out of synonyms for clutter before I simply resort to four-letter words that I really want to use). But, the encouraging aspect was that, as a family, they were still incredibly caring and supportive of one and another and still, relatively speaking, very highly functioning.  That's not to say that the clutter wasn't impacting them, it certainly was and far more than they knew. But they still were close as a family and that made helping them much easier.


Q: In your mind, what distinguishes these people in your show, and especially on the "Search," from the folks on A&E's "Hoarders"?


A: I think the biggest difference is their level of function. Every family we've ever dealt with on "Clean House" has had issues with clutter but have still been, at least on some level, functioning members of society. I think in "Hoarders" you see people who have totally given in to their space.  In other words, "Hoarders" is "Clean House" without the happy ending. And, yes, I want a happy ending.


Q: Will you ever let "Clean House" designer (and author) Mark Brunetz design your space?

A: He has already been to my house and his first words were, "Do you want me to tell you that I like it or do you want to hear what I really think?"  I chose the latter, and any illusions I had of ever being a designer are now shattered on the floor hidden beneath a gorgeous area rug with a subtle color palette that invokes the calming nature of the ocean. His suggestion.

(BTW, "Clean House" won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Special for the "Messiest Home in the Country." Click here for a video.)