When HGTV’s Angelo Surmelis (sir-meh-LEASE) was a little boy, he took to moving the furniture around in his family’s Chicago apartment. At first they protested, but then they realized he had some pretty good design ideas.
So it was probably no surprise that Angelo grew up to be a professional designer with his own Los Angeles design firm, Swell Space. But who knew he would become a TV star?
He helped launch two design shows in 2003, TLC’s “Clean Sweep” and Lifetime’s “Merge,” before signing on to be the head designer of HGTV’s “24 Hour Design.” And in June, he launches another HGTV show, “Rate My Space with Angelo Surmelis,” based on the popular website.
I caught up with Angelo recently and asked him:
1. What’s the biggest misconception people have about working with a professional designer?
That we will impose our style. Most of the designers I know aren’t interested in creating the same rooms over and over again. We really want to give you the best possible space for you and your lifestyle.
2. You’ve described yourself as a neat freak, and far different from the clutterers you met while starring on TLC’s “Clean Sweep.” But is it possible to be too neat?
It is! I think too far in either direction (compulsively neat or cluttered) is the same problem just manifested in different ways. You have to live comfortably and in a real way in your home. Having a basic organizational plan and system in place gives you a realistic foundation to live comfortably. I am working on being less “neat freak” like.
3. How have you introduced “green” concepts and materials into your own design business, Swell Space?
I do it in manageable ways so that clients (in my show or private business) don’t feel overwhelmed. The “green” conversation and general awareness has made it easier to talk about the products available. I introduce clients to the green options in almost every aspect of design that feels appropriate for our overall design plan and budget…from construction materials to wallpaper and paint. I am so excited about all the new green, gorgeous products that seem to be popping up every week. Also, finding ways to reuse materials during demo and construction is an easier conversation to have sometimes since it can mean saving some money.
4. You do design work all over the country. How are people in Los Angeles and Southern California different from people in other parts of the country? Or are they?
They aren’t. People all over the country (and world) have the same needs and wants…to have a beautifully designed, comfortable, well functioning home. The slight difference, we’re a bit more eager to try new things (materials, design concepts) in Los Angeles.
5. Describe what we can expect to see in your new show, “Rate My Space with Angelo Surmelis” this summer.
The viewers’ having a voice about design. The most exciting thing is that on this show we get to see what HGTV viewers across the country have tried, how they have been inspired by other designs and they get to have an exchange with the homeowner’s they have inspired. It’s what the essence of design is all about for me, inspiration and how each of us interpret it.