‘Trading Spaces’ Is Back — And Still Unwilling to Compromise

TRADING SPACES: 9.01 “Not Our First Rodeo”

There’s always room for compromise but not in this situation.

Trading Spaces is back on the scene after a ten-year break, and very little has changed. Paige is back as our host. Many of our designers and carpenters have returned. And neighbors still swap houses for two days, so they can redo a room in each other’s houses.

What has changed? The budget has doubled—they now have $2,000—and Wayfair has sponsored a tent, so couples can choose one item that must go in the room, whether the designer likes it or not. (At least, I don’t recall this freebie tent from the show of yore, but correct me if I’m wrong.)

But what makes a show like this entertaining (or annoying) is the one thing that will likely never change: The designers have a design in mind, and they’re unlikely to ever compromise that vision. It doesn’t matter if the couple balks, refuses, or simply runs out of time, the vision comes first.

In this particular case, we have Hildi, one of the original series designers, who—no matter what—will have a hideous design painted on a ceiling. Similar to how some of the designers operated on the original series, she came in with one piece of fabric as a focal point that leads the design for the entire series. The black, white, yellow, and blue design wasn’t terrible…until it was described as a “deconstructed penguin” and she said they’ll  be a painting the design on three out of four walls, as well as the ceiling. While my mind was screaming “accent wall!” they went on to paint it all, despite the homeowner’s sister’s reservations, creating what appeared in the end to be a clown’s worse nightmare. Certainly, if you visited that a guest room, you’d have your own set of circus dreams.

I did appreciate that at one point the couple helping Hildi tried to push against this, claiming they’d just paint slow, so they wouldn’t have to do the ceiling. I’m not entirely sure that they followed that plan, given that they worked until 4 am and finally ran out of steam before doing the ceiling. Not that they got to hear the end of it from Hildi, who complained repeatedly that they didn’t do their homework.

Now, there were some good parts of the room. The Murphy bed was a great idea for the room, and I even liked the chairs (before she put the slipcovers on). But overall, it came out just as you’d expect for a Trading Spaces room: Off-the-wall walls with a strange homemade art piece that would be incredibly difficult to paint over. I was impressed with the homeowners’ responses. They clearly knew what they were getting into, having seen the show before, and hated it. But…they appreciated the effort.

Across the driveway, we have Doug’s team. Doug very happily listened to his couple’s ideas for a master bedroom, which was an island escape that reminded people of Hawaii. And he very carefully said there’d be elements of that in there—right before asking the couple to paint the ceiling dark brown…and put burlap on all of the walls. I’m sure the couple was envisioning a sea of whites, blues, and sea greens, so shades of brown were not all that enticing.

But his final result was actually well done. Playing off the green in the lamps that the couple picked from the freebie tent, it was a nice oasis that felt like a grass tent. Now, why they had to cover it in burlap, rather than just using a lighter brown paint, I’ll never know, but it turned out nice, the couple liked it, and until they’re ready to sell their home, it will probably be a lovely escape. Plus, that dresser looked great.

Overall, despite clown nightmares and burlap dreams, it was a tamer episode of Trading Spaces. No one left the set crying. Nothing except a mirror was glued to the walls (for a while, I thought those egg shells would be—but that “art piece” with the blown eggs would still be the first thing I’d throw away from Hildi’s room). And the homeowners were generally good sports.

It was a strong start for the series, but I’m still a little nervous to see what’s to come. Knowing what the show has been in the past, I fully expect over-the-top antics, rather than nice design (which is what I like to watch remodel shows for). I guess we’ll have to see what’s in store.

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