Last Updated on January 14, 2019 by Kristi Linauer
Y’all remember Trading Spaces, right? It was the show where homeowners swapped houses for a weekend and decorated a room in each others’ homes on a $1000 budget with the help and guidance of an interior decorator or designer. It was an American show based on a British show called Changing Rooms, and it aired from 2000 to 2008.
Well, the show is returning next year with the same host, many of the same designers, and same carpenters, with a few new faces joining. And I honestly don’t know how I feel about that.
I was a little late to the Trading Spaces bandwagon because I was living in Turkey during its first season, but when I moved back to the States, I got caught up as fast as I could, and became obsessed with the show just like millions of other people. What I loved about the show is that it made decorating, design, and DIY seem accessible and doable for the average homeowner. And I remember at the time being absolutely amazed at some of the makeovers. I thought they were incredible, especially the ones from Genevieve, Laurie, and Vern. They were always my favorites.
But then there were the “what the heck were they thinking?!” rooms, and the majority of those rooms were the products of one designer — Hilda Santo Thomas. Who can forget the time she literally brought sand into the house to give the room a beach cabana look…
…or when she stapled 7000 silk flowers to a bathroom wall…
…or when she glued hay to the walls of a living room…
…or when she painted a big ole mural of her face on a homeowner’s dining room wall.
And those are only the most outrageous, but there were plenty of truly hideous rooms revealed on that show, and there wasn’t a single designer who hit it out of the park every single time.
Even with Hildi’s craziness (or perhaps, in part, because of it), I loved the show. It was equal parts good clean fun, good design ideas (at the time), and potential trainwreck in progress — the perfect ingredients for a hit TV show.
But it was also a groundbreaking show at the time. Like I mentioned above, it made decorating and DIY seem accessible to the average homeowner. That was needed…fifteen years ago. That was a world before Pinterest, before Instagram, and before the internet was saturated with thousands of decorating and DIY bloggers who not only showed, and continue to show, that design, decorating, and DIY are accessible to everyone, but who have raised the bar considerably in the last ten years. (Case in point right here.)
But for the life of me, I cannot even imagine how that show has anything to offer in today’s world of Pinterest, Instagram and blogs, without some major changes being made to the format — changes that would essentially make it a brand new TV show rather than a reboot of Trading Spaces. I mean, to even hold a candle to the bar that has been set now, ten years after Trading Spaces went off the air, I personally think those major changes would have to include:
Surely they’re not going to stick with a $1000 budget, right? Even in 2000-2008, that $1000 budget was kind of ridiculous. If you go back now and take another look at those rooms you thought were so amazing back then — looking through your 2017 Pinterest- and Instagram-colored glasses — you know what you’ll see?
You’ll see rooms that look exactly like what they are — sparse and cheaply decorated rooms that were thrown together in a hurry by amateurs, many of whom had never even so much as picked up a paint brush before being on the show. I think you’d be hard pressed to find even one of those rooms that has stood the test of time and lives up to today’s standards of beautifully decorated rooms.
So I can’t imagine how today, in 2017, a $1000 budget could possibly create anything worth airing on TV.
In 2000, watching someone glue hay to a wall or cover an interior floor with sand and calling it decorating may have been entertaining, but I have a hard time imagining an audience in 2018 putting up with that kind of nonsense, even for the cheap thrill of the “trainwreck in progress” aspect.
Today’s audience is more sophisticated, and expects more of people who claim to be designers. We’ve been spoiled by watching some really talented folks like Chip and Joanna transform ugly houses into beautiful homes that most of us would be proud to own. The thrill most design and decorating enthusiasts seek today is to see a truly transformed and beautiful outcome, rather than seeing a homeowner in tears at the prospect of having to rip down and replace ruined drywall in their room.
All that to say that I hope the designers (yes, Hildi, I’m looking at you) take their jobs more seriously this go ’round. I also hope they’ve upped their DIY game, because seeing rooms filled with old furniture draped in ill-fitting cotton slipcovers isn’t going to impress anyone, either.
I know they probably won’t change this aspect of the show, since it’s a main part of the “game.” But I’d love to see the homeowners given more than two days to complete the room.
Let’s be honest here. If you’re going to completely redo an entire room and give it a brand new look, you need one of two things. You either need a lot of money (which we already know they won’t have) or you need a lot of time. You can put a beautiful room together in two days IF you have a lot of money and can buy all new furniture and accessories, hire someone to paint walls and trim, etc. Or you can put a beautiful room together on a very tight budget IF you have a lot of time so that you can properly (key word here…properly) paint and reupholster furniture, make artwork, do a lot of comparison shopping to make sure you’re getting the best deals possible, paint your walls and trim, sew curtains, etc. And doing quality work on any of those things takes time.
But a small budget AND only two days is how you end up with rooms like this…
Would anyone be impressed with that today? 😀 I think the answer is obvious.
So I’ll be anxious to see how the producers of the show fit a 16-year-old show concept into today’s Pinterest/Instagram/Fixer Upper world in a way that will impress viewers’ more sophisticated tastes and higher expectations.
I’ll at least give the first episode a chance just out of sheer curiousity. How about you?
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
I hope you’ll join me on my DIY and decorating journey! If you want to follow my projects and progress, you can subscribe below and have each new post delivered to your email inbox. That way you’ll never miss a thing!