With the end of Fixer Upper on the very imminent horizon, it’s a tough time to be a home improvement television fan. But there’s a silver lining that more than makes up for that: Everyone’s favorite makeover show (and the program that arguably launched the entire home improvement TV industry in the first place), Trading Spaces, is coming back. The 10-year hiatus is over, and the reboot officially premieres Saturday, April 7.
The show, which ran from 2000 to 2008, was the first to really capitalize on televising interior design in a way that was relatable and enjoyable to watch. The cast, which at some point included as many as 13 designers, carpenters, and a host, was incredibly tight-knit for so many people. It was that family dynamic that built a cult following, and it’s that family dynamic that’s a big part of why we’re so excited to see the reboot.
Now, despite a few minor changes—the budget is higher and the cast is even bigger—the show is back. It’s peak nostalgia television, and if you’re as impatient as we are to see the return, we have you covered.
Ahead of the premiere, we spoke to the show’s returning host, Paige Davis, to get the scoop on all things Trading Spaces. Plus, check out the above video to learn the one renovation tool each designer can’t live without.
The best place to start would be at the beginning, so how did the reboot happen?
You’d have to ask TLC that! But I do think it was very wise to jump on what appears to be a pretty incredible nostalgia bandwagon. There’s definitely a wave of television shows coming back that taps into our really positive feelings of nostalgia.
Why bring back Trading Spaces now? Was there a gap in the current home improvement television industry for it?
Trading Spaces is different from all the other shows that it essentially spawned. There’s a higher level of jeopardy with our show; there’s certainly no guarantee that the homeowners are going to like the finished product, and you never know if they’re going to finish on time. I think it’s really important to know that what we’re presenting is 100 percent real. It really is done in two days with the budget allotted, and the neighbors have no idea what’s happening in their own home. It’s all completely authentic.
I think too that there’s an unrest in our country right now because there’s a political divide. In the same way that people reach for comfort food when they’re upset, they reach for comfort television when they’re upset. They want something that’s not going to disappoint. They want something that they love and that cheers them up and makes them feel great.
That comfort food analogy is a great way to put it.
That’s an element that I think helped Trading Spaces’s success in the beginning; we were sort of surging right after 9/11 when many people wanted to nest with their families; they weren’t wanting to travel, and there was more of a focus on home. Eighteen years later, that’s happening again.
What will be the same from the old format?
Everything is the same! Except the budget is definitely increased to reflect inflation and the time gap.
Besides the budget, are there any other changes?
There are two carpenters per episode, so each designer and team get their own carpenter as opposed to having to share. And there’s a cool sponsored element that’s different, although it’s a very small part of the episode. The neighbors will get to choose an item from a tent that the designers have to put into their design, which is neat because it [puts] more influence into the hands of the neighbors, as opposed to the designers having complete control and final say.
We do have five new faces as well, and they all fit right in!
Did those new faces alter the group dynamic at all?
They really fit right in with us. There was a fun digital series we shot before we went into the episode that was called Training Spaces; we put the new people through a Trading Spaces bootcamp and sort of hazed them a little bit… which none of them needed, they’re all successful designers in their own right! But it did prepare them for the level of mocking and teasing and ribbing they were going to get through their colleagues when they got on set, because we are ruthless with each other. We have a sibling type relationship, and we liken ourselves more to a family than friends. We’re really that close. We have that intimacy with each other that comes from natural chemistry that was automatic, and the camaraderie that comes from [bonding] over this really cool thing that happened in our lives.
Home and design fans know you as the face of Trading Spaces, but your background is actually on stage, performing. Those are two fairly different industries; what drew you to the gig in the first place?
I wish I could say it was interior design that drove me to it, but it really was just a friend who told me about the audition.
Has your interest in design grown since?
I always had an amateur interest in it; my home was always important to me. My mother actually studied interior design when I was in high school. We moved a lot, and our homes were her canvases wherever we went. I always thought that was super cool of her—she painted crazy designs and did wild things with baskets… our homes always looked great, even though they were different from what most people had.
She actually was a fan of the show in the very first season, and already knew about the show and everything. When I called to tell her I would be hosting, she flipped her lid because she was one of the original fans of the show who discovered it, and was watching it when it was still on daytime television!
So the relationship you built with the other cast members is what made you want to come back, more than a passion for interior design, right?
Oh, and a job—let’s get real! (Laughs)
But no—I love hosting. Trading Spaces was the first time I hosted anything, and at that time, this idea of [being] a host of a reality show, that wasn’t really happening yet: I was one of the first. I certainly never pictured that. But when I started doing that, what I realized is that I love interviewing. I became personally invested in every episode. It meant a lot to me to be really connected. I remember they had a trailer for me that was meant to be my “hangout” place until I was needed on camera, and I never used it. I wanted to be there experiencing it with [the cast].
Do you have a favorite on-camera moment from past seasons?
The screams [were] always great. It was always pretty incredible when you say, “Open your eyes,” and you just hear screeches of joy. I’ve been elbowed in the face, I’ve been smashed into a wall [as a reaction]—not necessarily pleasant in the moment, but it actually is a wonderful thing because you know the designers just hit it out of the park.
How about a favorite off-camera moment?
Honestly my most favorite off-camera moments were all with the crew. I just remember playing poker with M&Ms in a Holiday Inn Express lobby… those were really my favorite times!
If you had to sum it up in a few words, what can people expect from the revival?
I hope they can expect the show that they know. They can expect to go down memory lane and share with their kids this great show they love. I hope the new generation will love it just as much. I hope they get a kick out of how fun it is, and how real it is.
Tune in to TLC at 9 pm EST on Saturday, April 7 to catch the premiere of Trading Spaces.
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