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LIKE A KID IN AN UPHOLSTERY STORE Meet Michael Moeller. Not only is the HGTV Design Star contestant easy on the eyes, he can also work wonders with little more than a sketch pad, a paint swatch book and some raw building materials. T E X T John Hobbs

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IT’S REALLY no surprise that Michael Moeller landed a career in interior design. After all, as a teen growing up in upstate New York, he spent his time alone, raiding the attic for old tapestries, scarves, wallpaper and half-used cans of paint to design—and re-design—his room. So when the opportunity to do HGTV Design Star came knocking, the now30-year-old Moeller (an interior design business owner) answered. What was your strategy walking onto the Design Star set the very first day? It was to squash everyone like a bug! [Laughs] I have a very competitive personality by nature, so my strategy was to keep everything in context. It’s a game, and I was there for one very specific reason, and that was to win, but also, of course, to showcase who I am as a designer. As a competitor, what do you feel is your biggest strength and conversely what is your biggest weakness?

I don’t have any weaknesses. [Laughs] My strengths: I have constant creative thoughts that just pop into my head out of nowhere. I could be in that right-before-a-dream state of sleep or I can be at lunch with a friend, and I just have this random thought that will pop into my head, so this was a real opportunity to cultivate those ideas. A weakness: I have some really strong opinions, so it was definitely a worry of mine if others were going to get along well with me or if they were going to think that I was just really bossy. What would you say to our younger readers who might be pulling up carpeting to expose the beautiful hardwood floors in their sisters’ Barbie houses as we speak? Be yourself. My mother just got an incredible letter from my art teacher in high school. I was out in high school—I came out at 14—so I think it was even a little harder for me that I wasn’t hiding who I was. This art teacher was a big support to me, and she sent this letter to

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my mother that was all about how she saw me get kicked around in high school— being beaten down and called “faggot” on an almost daily basis—and it broke her heart because she knew I had talent. She knew that I had this drive and that one day I’d get to show that to the world, and the last line she wrote was, “And look at him now. I bet those people are kicking themselves in the asses.” And she’s right. [Laughs] How has being on the show compared with your expectations of what it would be like? It was one of the most exciting, ridiculously crazy experiences I’ve ever had in my whole life. I loved every second of it. That first episode, I went in thinking that I was going to be this very polished, creative person with a little bit of a sense of humor and great style. That suddenly turned into I have paint on my face and I’m sweating ridiculously and there’s a camera right there in front of my face and I can’t hide it.

Watch Michael Moeller work his magic on HGTV Design Star every Sunday night at 10 p.m. . And be sure to see more of our extended interview with this HGTV hottie at instinctmagazine.com/web-exclusives.

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Like A Kid in an Upholstery Store