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Trading Spaces returns in 2018: a look back at 7 memorable reveals

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The iconic show is getting a reboot

Designer Hildi Santo-Tomas in a Trading Spaces room she covered in newspaper.
Image courtesy of TLC

After 10 years, the most iconic show on The Learning Channel—better known as TLC—is getting a reboot. Trading Spaces aired from 2000 to 2008 and introduced the world to a cast and crew that remains ingrained in the psyches of all design-obsessed, reality-show addicts of the early aughts. A new season is set to begin April 7.

In the original hour-long episodes, two sets of neighbors were paired with a professional designer, given a meager budget, and asked to redecorate one room in each other’s homes. Chipper host Paige Davis held court over it all, overseeing 13 carpenters (including one Ty Pennington, who later went on to host Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) and 21 designers—farm boy turned big city designer Doug Wilson, crafty Frank Bielec, the ever-so-chic Vern Yip, the polarizing Hildi Santo-Tomas, and others.

Some of the designs were over-the-top, some were thoughtful remodels of previously boring living rooms or bedrooms. As Brock Keeling, editor of Curbed SF, recalls, “With the exception of a few (like the beach room and hay room), most all of the design reveals were better than what the couples began with.” And nearly every admittedly formulaic episode of Trading Spaces was damn entertaining TV.

Now, the successful Trading Spaces format is back, and little has changed. You’ll see plenty of familiar faces—including a few new designers thrown in for good measure—and the main difference is that homeowners now have a larger, $2,000 budget. But the over-the-top reveals, intriguing designs, and brightly colored button down shirts are all there.

In honor of the show’s premiere on April 7 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST, here are a few of the most memorable moments from the original Trading Spaces.

A living room filled with sand:

In one of Hildi Santo-Tomas’s most memorable designs, she brought in sand to create an “oasis” in a family’s living room.

The transformation of a fireplace:

In this clip from an episode in 2002, homeowner Pam cries after designer Doug Wilson covered her brick fireplace with a white wooden facade. Pam and her husband John had asked Wilson not to touch the fireplace, and the reveal became enshrined in Trading Spaces—and reality show—history.

When straw was used as wallpaper:

In the above clip (jump to 2:00 minutes), Hildi put straw on the walls and stuccoed pink ceilings in a house with young children.

An elegant new children’s bedroom:

Designer Nadia Geller helped transform a basement bedroom into a little girl’s elegant retreat.

A bathroom covered in flowers:

In another over-the-top renovation, Hildi stapled 7,000 silk flowers to the walls and painted the cabinets and moldings gold.

A geometric red and white room:

Photo via House Beautiful

Doug Wilson used homeowner’s Teri and Hogan’s red-and-white pillow as inspiration for a bold geometric pattern in a small Los Angeles apartment.

When furniture ended up on the ceiling:

Another infamous Hildi design, this Escher-like room hung furniture on the ceiling and Hilidi painted the walls all black.