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Reality show helps Fallbrook family clean up

Lost in a household maze of clutter, longtime Fallbrook residents Doug and Wanda Mitchell, and their sons Nick and Cassidy, were rescued last week by the Style Network show “Clean House.”

The crew of this makeover and interior design reality show arrived during the week of January 12, and within an amazing amount of time, transformed messy mayhem into pristine pleasantness.

Like many homes in Fallbrook, the Mitchell residence is nestled in a rural, farm-like setting with a few critters roaming the property.

Niecy Nash, the host of “Clean House,” had her own unique way of describing it.

“It was like hell on a farm when we got here,” Nash said. “This is the first time I have ever seen animals living better than people, and if I had to live here, I would want to be a cow or chicken or something, because the family isn’t faring too well.”

Having lived at this address for 17 years, Wanda explained that the clutter had gotten out of control over the last couple of years.

In the midst of a remodel, Wanda said, her father-in-law died and then her husband became ill due to surgery to repair a double hernia.

“From there, everything went downhill,” Wanda said.

As Nash pointed out, in any situation, clutter is an outward expression of an inward problem. “So,” she said, “I am on the journey right now to help the Mitchells figure out the inward thing that got them to this place.”

After visiting the Mitchell home, the “Clean House” team decided on three areas that would be part of their focused transformation project: the living room, dining room/kitchen and outdoor front porch area.

“Getting my kitchen finished is what I am looking forward to the most,” Wanda said.

The kitchen has been unusable, as have the other lower-level areas of the home. Immense stacks of clutter have taken on a life of their own, leaving a sliver of walking space in the interior rooms “Clean House” was tackling.

Beginning with the front porch area, the “tour de clutter” consisted of multiple barbecues, motorbikes, wheelbarrows, chairs, a broken stove, old furniture, an unused and dismantled refrigerator, stereo speakers, lawnmowers, rusted car parts, rolls of fencing, mailboxes, a bale of hay and assorted metal items rusted beyond recognition.

As the sightseeing continued indoors, the kitchen/dining room and living room spaces were piled high with empty and dated product boxes, broken appliances, clothing, linens, sewing machines, garbage bags filled with whatnots and an old television.

With Nash, other transformation experts included interior designer Mark Brunetz, “yard sale diva” Trish Suhr and “go-to guy” Matt Iseman.

The crew from the show arranged to sell the Mitchells’ clutter at a yard sale on the property. From the money earned, “Clean House” would match those profits up to $1,000. The money would then be used toward renovations and decorating.

In a total of six days, the show is filmed and the makeover is completed.

“The days are long because as we are shooting the show; the actual work is underway,” said Renee Simon, Style Network’s vice president of current programming. “For the two days before the yard sale our crew is cleaning out the house, separating what will be sold…and what will be kept.”

The goal of the show, said Simon, is to rescue families from the overwhelming clutter that is dominating their lives and affecting their relationships.

The intent of “Clean House” is to do more than a professional cleaning. They focus on the family unit as well.

“We give the families a good clean start <and> give them tools to manage the clutter and to begin repairing their relationships,” explained Simon.

When “Clean House” was entering its seventh season, Wanda had the opportunity to watch an episode of the show. Last year she decided it was time to contact the network for help.

“I first contacted the show last May and they came out,” she said. “I then e-mailed them again in November and asked if they were still interested.”

As luck might have it, they were. The farm setting, along with the fact that the Mitchells used to own an antique store, attracted the show.

“When we decided to do the ‘Messiest Home Tour’ we revisited them during our search for families in San Diego,” said Simon. “The producers and my team screened a variety of entries along with the Mitchells and thought they had the best story and would be the best choice for this particular episode.”

As Simon clearly put it, the Mitchell family was “drowning in clutter” and the family members were being affected. They needed help to find a clear path out of it.

Thankful they were chosen, Wanda called being part of the show a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Doing this was also a gift to my neighbors,” added Wanda.

Following the garage sale on January 18, the Mitchell family moved out of their home for a couple of days.

Upon their return, they were thrilled to discover that after the cleaning, painting and redesigning, their once muddled residence was radically changed into a “home sweet home” destination.

The Mitchell family’s “Clean House” episode is expected to air in mid-May. For show information, see http://www.mystyle.com/mystyle/shows/cleanhouse.

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