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15 Hilariously Fun Facts About Trading Spaces — Then And Now

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15 Hilariously Fun Facts About Trading Spaces — Then And Now
Entertainment And News

Let's just hope Hildi leaves the straw at home.

Trading Spaces first aired on October 13, 2000 and started a revolution. It had a simple premise: Two neighbors exchange homes for two days and have $1,000 to renovate a room in their neighbor's house. They had the services of a designer and carpenter as well as an ill-fitting brightly colored shirt to wear. 

Trading Spaces put TLC on the map. Long before Honey Boo Boo and Little People, Big World, a ragtag band of young designers set Americans' passion for home design on fire. Without Trading Spaces, HGTV would not exist. 

No one knew what to make of this show back in those early days. This was long before HGTV, Joanna and Chip, and the Scott Brothers. The show became an overnight sensation and catapulted its host Paige Davis, designers, including Ty Pennington, and carpenters into celebrities. It's also credited with starting the craze for home renovation and home design shows.


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Who can forget Hildi's straw walls? Or, for that matter, the times she glued feathers, CDs, and fabric flowers to the walls of people's houses? During the reunion special, it was revealed that if a contestant found out Hildi was in their house, they often broke down crying. 

And now... THEY'RE BACK! After 10 years, Trading Spaces is producing new episodes! Paige, Ty, Carter, Vern, Frank, Genevieve, Laurie, Amy, Hildi and Doug are all back. And don't worry, Hildi and Doug are as crazy as ever! This time, they have $2,000 to spend to redecorate a room in their neighbor's house. 

Let's take a look at 15 fun and awkward facts about Trading Spaces from then and now. 

1. Does anyone remember the original host?

A post shared by Vern Yip (@vernyipdesigns) on Apr 7, 2018 at 6:57pm PDT

While Paige Davis has become synonymous with Trading Spaces, the perky redhead wasn't the original host of the home design show. During the show's first season, Alex McLeod was the host. 

She wasn't the only cast member not to be asked back for season two. Some of the designers, including Roderick Shade and Dez Ryan, also did not return to the show. Starting in the second season, Paige Davis took over as the host. 

2. Paige Davis is her stage name. What is her real name?

Paige Davis was born Mindy Paige Davis. In 2001, the same year she started hosting Trading Spaces, she married Patrick Page, with whom she'd starred in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. This officially made her name Paige Page. 

3. Paige Davis was fired by TLC.

In January 2005, TLC let Paige Davis go. At the time, they claimed that they were revamping the show and going with no host. However, the prevailing thought at the time is that Davis' photoshoot for TV Guide, in which she wore nothing but wallpaper and her faux striptease for a charity event called Broadway Bares/Equity Fights AIDS, caused TLC to fire her.

Officially both Davis and TLC insisted that there was no correlation between Davis' near nude appearances and their decision to let her go. By November 2007, TLC was courting Davis to come back to the show. She became the host of Trading Spaces again in January 2008. Fans of the show didn't take to the Davis-less episodes. A new network president called her firing shortsighted. 

4. Why is Genevieve Gorder always barefoot?

I don't know about you, but I always cringe when I see designer Genevieve Gorder walking around the job sites barefoot. She insists that was more out of necessity than any sort of fetish for being barefoot. She didn't want to ruin her shoes.

At the time, Trading Spaces was a tiny show on a network that few had heard of. It didn't have a wardrobe budget for the designers. That was the only reason. Also, she realized that if she had put shoes on in one house because she was grossed out by the house, that would have been obvious. She chose consistency over possibly hurting a homeowner's feelings. 

5. Why is Hildi Santo Tomas so crazy?

Let's review the things that designer Hildi Santo Tomas has nailed or glued to clients' walls. There was the hay on the walls of a family room that reportedly took 17 hours to remove and was paid for by the production company. There was the bedroom with the feathers all over the walls. There was the bathroom with 7,000 fabric flowers nailed to the wall. (All I could think about that was that it would be a nightmare to dust).

She painted a mural of herself on a client's wall. She put sand on the floor of a client's living room. She glued furniture to the ceiling of another room. We're not sure why they still let her design rooms. 

6. So, was Hildi's room on the reunion show crazy?

Yes, yes it was. It looked like what being trapped inside a music video from the 1980s would be like. She was designing a room for the homeowner's 70-year-old mother and somehow thought blue, yellow, black, and white graphic printed walls and a ceiling were a great idea. 


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7. What has Hildi been up to since the show ended in 2008?

People reported that since the end of the original run of Trading Spaces, Hildi Santo Tomas has never been on another show. Her Wikipedia page used to say she lives in Paris and is rarely seen in public, but appears to have been recently edited. I can believe that. Her Instagram is full of esoteric travel photos and none of her day to day life or design business. 

8. What was up with Doug naming his rooms?

Who can forget the "Prison of Love" room? Doug made someone's bedroom look like an actual prison complete with a solitary confinement chamber, a mural of prisoners, and a bench that used toilets as its legs. And that isn't even close to the most infamous Doug Wilson moment on Trading SpacesHe is the man responsible for "Crying Pam." 

Remember the woman who really just had one request: do not touch her beloved fireplace? Did Doug respect that wish? Of course not! This resulted in the most awkward moment of television in eons. Pam left the room crying. Paige Davis had to hold onto her husband's arm to prevent him from walking off the set too. 

9. So, was Doug's room on the reunion show crazy?

Surprisingly, it was not. He glued brown burlap to the walls and it sure seemed like it was going down the path of insane, but in the end, he pulled it off. He was going for a tropical theme and, in my opinion, he pulled it off. It was a cozy, pretty room. It was tasteful. I was shocked. 

10. How did level headed Vern Yip get mixed up with this crowd?

A post shared by Vern Yip (@vernyipdesigns) on Apr 14, 2018 at 1:22pm PDT

Vern Yip did some of my favorite rooms on Trading Spaces. He has taste, refinement, and an impeccable sense of space and texture. So how did he end up on this show? 

One thing is for sure, the original producers cast the show for maximum drama and Vern was the dose of sanity. Since the end of Trading Spaces in 2008, Vern has been on Design Star with Genevieve Gorder and hosted HGTV's Deserving Design for four years. He lives in Atlanta and is raising his two children with his husband.

11. Is being hot a requirement for being a carpenter on Trading Spaces?

Two words: Ty and Carter. No disrespect to Amy Wynn Pastor, who is a badass, but the ladies were turning in for Ty Pennington and Cater Oosterhouse. (And the new carpenter, Brett Tutor, is easy on the eyes as well!)

Ty Pennington had the biggest post-Trading Spaces job. He left the show after four seasons to host Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for nine seasons. Carter Oosterhouse replaced Pennington. The carpenter-model has been busy since the end of the show in 2008. He is the face of Nautica's "Voyage" cologne and launched two series of his own: HGTV's Carter Can and the DIY network's The Inside Job. He's also hosted a number of shows. 

12. What has lovable Frank been up to in the last decade?

Frank Bielec has stayed in the design world since leaving Trading Spaces. He started a craft supply business called Mosey 'N Me with his wife Kate. He continues to help young designers break into the business. He's also a grandfather now and loves spending time with his family.

13. What has Laurie Smith been up to?

Laurie continued to work in design as well as created a home lighting line, a fabric collection for Hancock Fabrics, and published her first design book: Discovering Home with Laurie Smith: Find Your Personal Style. More recently, she's been a stay at home soccer mom raising her two kids with her husband in Jackson, Mississippi.

​14. How did carpenters Ty and Carter do as designers?

Surprisingly well, actually. For the second episode of the new Trading Spaces, Ty and Carter acted as the designers and mentors to the new carpenters. Ty took on a family room renovation for a couple that didn't like bright colors. He used bright colors. Surprisingly, the homeowners liked it.

A post shared by Wayfair (@wayfair) on Apr 15, 2018 at 6:42pm PDT

Carter was decorating a "babe cave" for a new mother. He did an ombre treatment on one wall in shades of pink. Overall, his room was beautiful and cozy and just what the homeowner wanted. 

15. What is the anti-aging secret of this cast?

Seriously, only Ty Pennington seems to have aged at all. The rest of the cast looks remarkably the same as they did when Trading Spaces ended 10 years ago. I want to know what moisturizers they're using! Look at Laurie Smith! She hasn't aged a day!


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Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. She doesn't Tweet much, but you can find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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