Mark Brunetz is Ready to ‘Clean House’ at Orlando’s Home Show
Handsome, often hilarious Mark Brunetz is best known as co-host of Style Network’s hit show Clean House, which airs in over 30 countries. But the multi-talented Cleveland native, now 49, also co-starred in two of Jane Fonda’s exercise videos, and worked with producer Sandra Bullock on Hope Floats and Practical Magic. He has his own line of home furnishings, and founded an organization that conducts makeovers in developing areas of the world.
The Emmy-Award winning Brunetz will share his creative ideas and de-cluttering expertise with guests during appearances at the Orlando Home Show Oct. 5-7. He spoke with Watermark from his home in Glendale, California.
An epidemic of clutter
Brunetz was ideally suited to the challenges of Clean House, in which he assisted participants in de-cluttering their homes – and inevitably their lives – make way for a better future. His no-nonsense, inside-out approach to design teaches clients how to bring affordable luxury into their homes.
In his book, Take the U Out of Clutter, Brunetz explains how people can shift their focus from acquiring and keeping, to creating a healthy, streamlined lifestyle.
“Think of home organization like weight loss,” he said. “Everybody knows how to lose weight, eat better food and exercise. So why are we a nation of obese people?”
Brunetz said there are at least 100 million people in the U.S. who suffer with some form of dysfunctional clutter in their lives.
“People know how to get organized, just like they know how to lose weight,” he stressed. ”But there are more people living with clutter then there are obese people in this country.”
After nine years on Clean House, Brunetz says he gained a unique insight into the barriers people face. He determined that most people think the problem is their “stuff,’ but for most the problem is the story they have around the stuff.
“I realized, after working with so many people, that there are five common stories that people tell themselves that cause the clutter,” he said. “Two examples: “I’ll feel guilty if I get rid of that,’ and “I might need that some day.’
So Brunetz’ approach is to teach people how to organize their stories so that they can tackle the task of organizing their stuff.
“Let me tell you,” he enthused.…”If you can get the stories straight, the stuff works itself out.”
Design, on-screen and off
Most designers work with a single client at a time. On television, Brunetz notes, you have several: the homeowner, the network and a huge and opinionated audience. Some love the final product, others loathe it. It makes for memorable viewing, like the infamous episode featuring Toni Dragon.
“She hated what we did so much she literally melted down on camera,” Brunette remembered.…”I was new to the show; it caught us all off guard. She just wasn’t ready, which is key. She could not be pleased.”
Another favorite was the show’s first gay couple, Devon and Matthew.
”Yes, gay people have clutter‚ we’re all human beings,” Brunetz said. ”But we played that up on the show, and we learned that Matthew had been disowned by his family.”
Brunetz’ solution: use the opportunity to help the couple create a nurturing home for themselves, on a physical but also emotional and spiritual level.
”It was so sweet,” Brunetz recalled. ”There was this moment at the end where Matthew his partner and our crew said, “Wow, I feel like I’m at home.’ It’s incredibly special to me to be able to create that for someone.”
Brunetz was also moved by a woman who lost her husband in a tragic car accident four years earlier, and remained stuck in that moment.
”She had the dry flowers from his funeral on the mantle, and the mangled license plate on a table near the front door,” Brunetz said. ”We transformed her entire house, and afterwards she lost 50 lbs and ended up selling her house and moving to Oregon, where she always wanted to live.”
Brunetz has also worked with several A-list celebrities. He says the approach remains the same.
”I bring the same basic principles of design into every project,” he said. ”And that starts with getting to know my client.”
Serendipity in design
Brunetz didn’t start out to be a style guru. At East Carolina University he studied a pre-med curriculum, and after post-graduate work became the staff exercise physiologist at the Jane Fonda Workout in Beverly Hills. He introduced Fonda to step aerobics, and then created and co-starred in two of her most popular exercise videos: ‘Lower Body Solution’ and ‘Step Aerobics & Abdominal Workout.’ That’s him in the tank top, lycra shorts and highlighted hair.
“Come on – it was the 90’s,” Brunetz laughed. “What’s embarrassing is when I’m at yard sales on the show and come across those videos.”
Brunetz eventually started his own personal training company, developing products for celebrities like Suzanne Somers, Sheena Easton, Florence Griffith-Joyner and Kim Alexis. And that’s how he met Sandra Bullock. Brunetz not only helped her produce movies, he remodelled her homes and discovered a love of design. After a stint as creative director and event producer at the huge Mandalay Bay complex in Las Vegas, he moved to Los Angeles and founded Mark Brunetz Designs.
”Within a year, I was discovered by some MTV producers in a shop on Melrose,” Brunetz recalled. ”That was the beginning of [my career] in the whole makeover genre.”
In 2001, he became the host of Crib Crashers, a show where unsuspecting fans have their rooms transformed to look like their favorite star’s crib. Since then he’s appeared on AREA for Style Network, Outer Spaces for HGTV and Faking It for TLC. His skills in front of the camera also landed him gigs on Reality Remix for Fox and 50 Most Outrageous TV Moments for E!.
From med student to exercise innovator to television designer, the path seems linear to Brunetz. The common thread, he says, is presence, artistic vision and a passion for self-improvement.
”Throughout, I’ve always been a strong creative force,” Brunetz said. ”I’ve always had a voice, always had an opinion. And that opinion typically reflects my desire to help people attain a better life.”
In 2008, Brunetz founded Design Without Borders, an organization that conducts makeovers in developing nations. The first was in Cape Town, South Africa. And Brunetz was recently named a spokesperson for the International Design Guild’s program to connect designers with local charities to make over their spaces.
Since leaving Clean House last year, Brunetz says he’s spending quality time with his partner of 13 years, Eddie Flores, and their two dogs. They are discussing children, but that’s not the only idea in the development stage. Brunetz is also working on five new shows that will all utilize his areas of expertise: design, lifestyle and the reality format.
”I feel like it’s my responsibility to help change people’s lives,” says Brunetz. ”I want to keep doing that.”
Who: Mark Brunetz of Style Network’s Clean House
What: Orlando Home Show
When: Friday Oct. 5, 6 p.m.; Saturday Oct. 6, 12 p.m. & 5 p.m; Sunday Oct. 7, 3 p.m.
Where: Orange County Convention Center
Tickets: $10 at OrlandoFallShow.com
Originally published by Watermark Media, Inc.