Mike Mousel has mastered the art of starting over. When he bought a 1940s bungalow in Devonshire six years ago, he embarked on a major renovation that included moving walls, remodeling bathrooms, and installing new flooring. But a short three years later, he was at it again.
“The house was bought with two people in mind,” Mousel says. “But then, as life goes, things turned a little sour. That relationship ended, and I was stuck with this house that was half full of furniture.”
So Mousel scrapped the remaining furniture—save for one midsize French sofa—and started fresh. He redid both bathrooms again and removed the large mantel from the living room fireplace. “My neighbors thought I was absolutely crazy,” he says. “At all hours of the night, I’d always be dragging something in or out.”
The one couch that made the cut did not do so unscathed. Mousel reupholstered it in a “God Bless America” graffiti print that transformed the sofa as well as the living room. Above the now-minimalist mantel, he hung an abstract painting that helped guide the rest of his decorating decisions. “I love the texture of it, and I love all the colors,” he says. “That was kind of a map for the color story of the whole house.”
Mousel calls the final result sophisticated but not stuffy. “I think I ended up with an eclectic mix of beautiful, classic pieces,” he says.
“Whatever period they are, they will stand the test of time.”
But before Mousel knew it, he was starting over again. He put the house on the market, and the offers came posthaste. Soon he was packing up his belongings and rearranging them in a new place.
Luckily, that’s what Mousel loves most. After 20 years in the fashion business—which included a stint with Ralph Lauren in New York, some multiline sales representation, and the launch of his own clothing label—Mousel is ready for his second act. Although he’s been helping friends and family with their houses off and on for years, recently he’s kept busy doing interior design work for a growing list of clients.
“I have a dual role right now,” he says. “But I would like to think that in the next year or so that I’m a full-time interior designer. I know where my passion is, and that is in spaces. And it’s with connecting with people. And it’s with taking people’s homes and making them into places that they are really proud of.”