TV revivals aren’t just restricted to scripted series like The X-Files and Will & Grace. TLC is bringing back one of its most popular shows ever, Trading Spaces, a decade after the series, which helped kick off TV’s home renovation and design craze, went off the air.
While TLC had talked about a revival in recent years, “it felt like this was the right moment; there was a swell of nostalgia hitting the media,” Nancy Daniels, president and general manager for TLC, said at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. She added that the show was “a cornerstone” for the network, and she and her team had been asked about the return for years.
“It felt like the right time, and from the moment we announced it [during last spring’s upfront], we know it was the right time,” Daniels said.
Trading Spaces will return on April 7 and will be preceded by a Trading Spaces reunion special at 9 p.m. The show will follow two neighbors as they compete to redecorate a single room in each other’s homes. Each team has only two days and a $2,000 budget to complete the redesign with a professional designer and carpenter.
The show includes several returning designers and carpenters from the original series, including Doug Wilson, Carter Oosterhouse, Frank Bielec, Genevieve Gorder, Hildi Santo-Tomas, Laurie Smith, Ty Pennington and Vern Yip. They will be joined by other design experts and carpenters, including Brett Tutor, Joanie Dodd, John Gidding, Kahi Lee and Sabrina Soto.
Yip said the time was right for a revival because in the midst of such political uncertainty, “a lot of people are looking for comfort, and a lot of people have been seeking that advice on how to transform the most important space in their lives, which is their room,” he said.
When TLC first made the announcement, “none of us knew if we would be part of it,” said Paige Davis, who is returning as host. In the days after the announcement, she said, she felt “an overwhelming wave of happiness and well-wishes.”
“It was really powerful to know that people were remembering the show with such fondness,” she said.
The show “is a variety pack of really interesting cereal boxes that all have different flavors,” Pennington said. “Each show is very different depending on what the cast is.”
This time around, the renovation budget has increased from $1,000 to $2,000 per room, which “represents a manageable and tangible budget for people who are looking to redo rooms in their home,” said Davis, adding that the show spotlights “attainable, relatable designs” that audiences can attempt in their own homes.
When Trading Spaces first premiered in 2000, “we put the tools in the hands of the homeowners for the first time,” said Pennington. Added Bielec, “We gave people permission to play … and the permission to fail.”
Back then, “people wanted to emulate a very specific look,” recalled Yip, like a page right out of a catalog or a Tuscan kitchen. Now, homeowners are comfortable with “physical manifestations of who they are.”
Between Pinterest, design shows on networks like HGTV and design magazines, “people have so much more at their fingertips” when it comes to options and ideas for design, which “is both a plus and a minus,” said Yip. All of those options “can become incredibly overwhelming” to homeowners, and it’s up to the designers to help them determine which choices are best.
Oosterhouse did not appear on the panel, but Daniels said that wasn’t because of sexual assault allegations lodged against him in December.
“We did look into the allegations,” Daniels said, and “we feel very comfortable with Carter continuing.”