Unlike some television show hosts, Matt Muenster is an accidental star; he’s been a designer for almost 20 years and never meant to make TV a part of his career. Now he’s a popular television host and star of a hit bathroom renovation show, and he recently launched Matt Muenster Exclusive, a luxury line of bathroom vanity suites he designed for Decolav.
Muenster grew up on a farm outside of Green Bay, WI, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned his design degree. In order to forge a solid career after graduation, Muenster knew he’d have to move to a larger metropolitan are, so he set his sights on either Chicago or Minneapolis. Following the future Mrs. Muenster to Minneapolis where she attended grad school turned out to be exactly the right decision.
“I knew I was going to have to move to a major metropolitan area like Chicago or Minneapolis if I was going to make this design thing work,” he said. “Given where my career and my life have gone since moving to Minneapolis, I’d say I made the right decision, including marrying my wife.”
Nine years ago, Muenster was working at a small design firm when the phone rang, and he answered it. Representatives from a local production company were calling because they were looking for a designer to potentially host a bathroom remodeling show they’d successfully pitched to a cable network. While researching various firms in and around Minneapolis, they stumbled upon the firm’s website which featured photos of the staff and decided to see if any of the designers there would be interested in answering a few questions on video.
“It wasn’t even an audition, really,” Muenster continued. “We went into an empty restroom and hung an ‘out of order’ sign on the door and they asked me a series of questions. My video was thrown on the pile of the 15 or 16 other videos they’d made with other local designers, and a few days later I found out I had the job.”
Since then, Muenster has remodeled more than 250 bathrooms, most of which are in homes located in and around Minneapolis, where he’s based. Being on television has opened a number of doors for him, he said, including his line of bathroom vanity suites for Decolav.
“Doing this show opened up a whole new world for me,” he explained. “I used to hate public speaking, and I was never very comfortable in a room full of strangers, but now I love public speaking and all the interaction with fans of the show. If anything, doing TV has shown me that I should trust and try new things, like Decolav.”
Designing a room or a custom vanity for a client or a family on television is definitely something in his wheelhouse, he added, but designing an entire product line is something else entirely.
“That’s a crazy experience, a scary but exciting thing to do,” Muenster said. “Decolav would not have happened without the show, and I am extremely grateful.”
Working with the team at Decolav has been a dream, he said, because of the collaborative
nature of the company. Muenster works closely with Rob Mayer, owner of Decolav, on finding materials to use like the dark Wenge wood on the Ethanpointe vanity or the purple macassar of the Rylan Falls piece.
“Rob is really helpful, traveling around and blowing up my phone with a bunch of flitches he’s found,” he said. “That’s how Rylan Falls came about; that veneer is purple macassar, which is a really deep, beautiful veneer. I wanted to design a vanity around that veneer so Rob bought all the purple macassar he could find, and we figured we could make 500 vanities.”
The limited number of pieces that Decolav can make from the purple macassar veneer is what put the Rylan Falls vanity into the collection. Once the veneer is gone, Muenster explained, it’s gone and there is no getting more of it.
Naming the pieces in his first collection was also a team effort, he said. During a visit to the Decolav offices in Florida, the office had a brain storming session.
“That’s what I love about Decolav; they’re big players but not a big company,” Muenster stated. “We asked around the office about people in their lives who are meaningful. Rylan Falls is named for the daughter of a vice president, and Ethan is the son of someone in the customer service department. That’s the collaborative nature of what I’m involved with at Decolav, and I love that.”
Muenster acknowledges the higher price point of his exclusive collection but said fans should keep an eye out for a second group that will aim for smaller pieces at a lower price point without sacrificing quality or style.
“The bathroom that measures 80 square feet or even 60 square feet is a lot of people’s reality, so the next collection will address that with vanities that are only 18 inches deep or 24 inches wide that are modular,” he explained. “With this first collection, we said, ‘Let’s shoot the moon,’ but now it’s time to go a little bit deeper.”