Today's cuppa: Bewley's Dublin Morning tea
As guest-host of Style Network's "Clean House," Lisa Arch faces the daunting task of filling in for regular host Niecy Nash, who is currently on the road searching for the "Next Messiest Home in America" and doing regular episodes in other parts of the country.
I met Arch last weekend at a "Clean House" yard sale in Burbank — click here for details and photos — and she was kind enough to agree to answer 10 questions via email. So, here they are:
Q: What's been the biggest surprise of seeing "Clean House" from the inside as opposed to just watching it on TV?
A: I'm genuinely surprised about how messy these houses actually are. It's not made up! It's real! And I don't think I realized how much people's lives are changed once you go in there and give them a fresh start. You can see the difference in them from when we got there to when we leave. I'm also blown away by all the work that goes into changing the rooms.
Q: Do you have a personal cleaning/clutter philosophy? Has the show affected it?
A: I've always been a cluttered person. Let me clarify. The houses we go into make my house look like the neatest house EVER. But, I'm not the most organized, neat person. And I tend to hold on to things too long. Since hosting "Clean House," I've gotten rid of more than half my closet, and I throw things out the second I realize I don't need it anymore.
I also go through the mail the second it comes in. I shred it, toss it, or put it in its appropriate file. I'm still not perfect, but I'm okay with that. By the way, my son's room is always neat and organized, and I intend to make sure it stays that way.
I guess my philosophy would be to always be CLEAN, even if you're not the most NEAT you can be. And give yourself a break. Nobody's perfect.
Q: What's been the most challenging aspect of being host of the show?
A: It's hard coming into someone's home and telling them the truth, the way I see it, about how they're living. And it's really interesting to sit them down and almost have a therapy session with them. But I use whatever I've learned in my own life, and I remind myself that anything I can help them with is my responsibility.
I don't do the design; I don't do the cleaning…so, it's up to me to talk to them and help them learn what they're doing wrong and how to fix it. I'm humbled by that, and I take it very seriously. I'm obviously not a psychologist, but I'm a human being who's willing to listen and help.
Q: What qualities do you have that help you the most in doing this job, and which ones present a bit of a challenge?
A: I guess the fact that I love people, and I love finding out about their lives…that's the quality that's helped me the most. I think I'm also fairly good at making people feel comfortable. And THAT is very important, considering this is probably the most uncomfortable situation they've ever been in.
What presents a challenge? The fact that I can smell things very well! And the fact that I have very little credibility when it comes to organizing. Also, I'm the least stylish person I know, and I'm on Style Network. That is a challenge.
Q: Did you ever expect to wind up where you are now?
A: My 11 years in the business have trained me to never expect to wind up anywhere. I"m always surprised.
Q: Are you a yard-sale patron in real life (and have you ever bought anything at a "Clean House" yard sale)?
A: I have never bought anything at a yard sale. I have a hard time getting over the "used" aspect. Stupid, I know. But I love HAVING yard sales. When I throw one, I have coffee and donuts out. I love haggling. I'll tell someone a price, and if they try to cheap me out, I'll tell them I'd rather give it to charity.
Q: What's the thing you want to know most about the people that are on the show?
A: I want to know if they're unhappy deep down inside, or if this is just a thing that happened over time. I always hope that when we leave, they're turning over a new leaf.
Q: To date, what's the strangest thing you've had to do for a "Clean House" episode?
A: Rollerblade down a hill yelling, "Clean House Yard Sale!"
Q: Growing up, did you ever imagine yourself as the host of a show you liked?
A: I always knew I wanted to be on TV ,and I always knew I wanted to make people laugh. Like I said before, I've never really known what I'd end up doing…and I still don't! Every job is temporary, even if it lasts for years.
I'm always so grateful to be working and always excited about what's coming up next, but I never have any idea what it will be. The fact that I was a FAITHFUL viewer of "CH" before becoming the host is just one of life's little bonuses. It's the icing on the cake.
Q: Do you consider "Clean House" just frivolous entertainment, or do you think it really does some good for the audience?
A: I think it's both. It can be great eye candy and a chance to take your mind off of things. But if you really watch and listen, and you're in the right mindset, it can do a lot of good.
As I said, It has absolutely improved the way I live my own life, and I can only imagine that it's doing the same for others.