When Trading Spaces premiered on TLC on October 13, 2000, the world of design TV was a fairly new place, and the show’s instant popularity is credited with sparking the nation’s now-obsession with home design programming.
The formula of the reboot is the same as the original – two sets of neighbors get two days and $2,000 to transform two rooms, with the help of a designer. Many of the original stars are back – Vern Yip, Ty Pennington, Genevieve Gorder, Paige Davis, Hildi Santos-Tomas – as well as some guest designers.
John Gidding (Designed to Sell, Curb Appeal: The Block) is one of those guest designers, and he took time with Nashville Interiors ahead of the premiere to talk about what to expect from the reboot, how the original show inspired his career in design and what design trends he could live without.
How did you get involved in Trading Spaces?
I got involved two ways. First of all, they were looking nationally for new designers, and my agent set the whole thing up, but my best friend in the whole world is Genevieve Gorder who, as you know, is one of the original cast, ‘the legacy’ as we like to call them, and I think she put in a good word for me. It couldn’t have hurt.
How was filming your episode?
First of all, it’s a well-oiled machine. They’re recreating the show very much in keeping with how it used to be, so they really know how it works. I’ve been in television for so long at this point, sometimes, when you’re creating a show from scratch, there’s so many questions you don’t really know how it’s going to edit together. You don’t really know how to pre-produce everything. In this case, everything was like butter. It’s very fast, so the shoot takes two days total. Normally, for any shoot, I’m there a week or something so, in many respects, it was easy and fun, lots of good vibes. The neighbors were great. I had a great time.
Was the experience different, not being one of ‘the legacy’?
It was like a storybook. As I was walking onto set when I did my episode, it was surreal because I watched the show when it came out, and it introduced me to television, or design in the public sphere, so that when I graduated from school, I actually was into this. It’s really influenced me, this show, so that first day that I walked onto set, I almost felt like time was slowing down and that I could appreciate something so linked to my history and my career. It was a really positive experience.
What did you like about watching the show originally?
I was in college and graduate school. The things I liked about it, from a design perspective, there were so many different designers that you could sort of pick and choose which details you liked the most, which styles you liked the most. Oftentimes, with shows, you get one, maybe two, designers, and it’s the same style over and over again, so what I really liked about Trading Spaces is you could see many different styles and not just lump them up into one term, like ‘traditional’ or ‘transitional,’ but lots of flexibility within them. I also really liked the drama. There’s a sort of embedded drama between the two neighbors. Sometimes, they’d want to do good for each other. Sometimes, they want to be a little more mischievous, and that’s super enjoyable, I think, for a viewing population to see. The end result is a couple of thousand dollars spent in a room so the opportunity’s there to have fun, to be creative, and you can be sure that the producers tell us, as designers, to force the boundaries a little bit.
Do you think the reboot will appeal to viewers who are not familiar with the original?
I think a big part of it’s definitely going to be nostalgia. Back in the day when “Trading Spaces” first aired, nobody knew it then, but it caught a lot of viewership because it was so original. These days, all of the television design shows out there have created a very … I’m not jaded, but a knowledgeable viewing base, so Trading Spaces won’t be as novel as it once was, but the bones of the show are so clever because you’ve got designers that change every episode. You’ve got two designers, so there’s a fun chemistry there. There’s a sense of camaraderie meets competition, which is always great. You get two different reveals every episode, which doubles the bang for the buck.
What will be new?
Ty (Pennington) and Carter (Oosterhouse) are doing both carpentry and design work, and the new carpenters are super fun. Hopefully we get renewed, and we can actually start getting applications from all over the country. That’s kind of an exciting thing. A lot of times, shows are sedentary.
Will we see any straw on the walls?
You have this tendency in Trading Spaces, because it’s a low-budget show and because it’s fun to play with neighbors and stuff, to really push the boundaries of design. Obviously, Hildi made a name for herself by doing this by putting straw on the walls. The rest of us are kind of tasked with trying to think outside of the box as well, because we need to make it interesting and fun and show people how they can use small amounts of money in creative ways. That usually leads to designs that really haven’t been seen before, and I think that’s bound to be popular, whether you’re familiar with the show or not.
What’s one of your least favorite design trends?
There’s so many – where does one begin? For countertops and solid surfaces, I’m a huge fan of patina, and I like to see the age of something over time, so I’m actually not a huge fan of the granite craziness. I feel like it’s a little bit boring. It doesn’t allow for as much variation in stone type. You can pick colors, of course, but you can’t really pick the patterns so I’m not huge into granite. And not a big fan of the black faucets that are really popping up everywhere now.
Want to be on the show? TLC is now casting for Trading Spaces homeowners! To be a part of the show you must be neighbors. If you live across the street from each other that’s good, but next-door neighbors are even better. It’s also important that you have a relationship with your neighbors and that you know them well. For more details please go to www.tradingspacescasting.com.