Trading Spaces

When we first moved to or house in the boonies, I discovered the Home and Garden Network on my new cable box/best friend. We were renovating the house on a “budget”, as in cheaply as possible without making any real progress that money would require. Channel 43 became my bestest friend outside of General Hospital which I maintained a relationship with far longer than is admittable here.

So HGTV housed all the tips, inspiration, and TV personalities I could handle. My favorite shows were ones where a room would be redone in half hour and included Design on a Dime andDecorating Cents. But my very favorite was the unforgettable Trading Spaces from TLC. Even before I was a was a Design Star fan, and it’s more upscale brother Bravo’s Top Design, I was devoted to Trading Spaces. It premiered 3 months after we moved. And had an impressive seven year run.

This was a reality show produced with the premise that two neighboring families would switch houses for 24 hours and completely redecorate one room in each others houses with the “help“ of a designer. It was crazy and fun. I recently found myself thinking about the show as I contemplated a gallon of Venetian plaster I have yet to use.

Venetian plaster was a favorite medium of designer Doug’s. Those poor homeowners up all night polishing, sanding, and waxing those Venetian plaster walls into the perfect sheen that Doug impressed himself with in his design. He was always right. Until that time he painted everything in the couples’ room white.

Doug and Hildy were known for designing for looks and not for comfort. Many a person walked into their “new” rooms and wondered how they’d be comfortable watching their TVs. Where was their TV anyway?

But the designers who cared about comfort, Vern and Genevieve specifically, ended up with their own shows. I loved Genevieve’s style. From papering the walls with pattern tissue pieces to drawing her own charcoal bull for artwork (did I mention the budgetary factor?), she always valued the artistic and the aesthetic and the comfort for the homeowners.

Design should be both visually pleasing and inhabitable. The most talented designers figure this out within the parameters of the homeowners tastes. And surpass their expectations. And I do so miss the drama that was Trading Spaces. I can not even watch HGTV anymore with all the house selling and buying shows.

Apartment Therapy did a pretty comprehensive retrospective and homage to the show back in 2011 that you can find at this location.