Here's How We Think the Designers on Trading Spaces Have Evolved

Here's How We Think the Designers on Trading Spaces Have Evolved

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Jessica Isaac
Apr 12, 2018
(Image credit: Courtesy of TLC)

If you've watched any of the old episodes of Trading Spaces lately, you know that every room has one thing in common: it's painfully dated. With very little information out there about what our favorite home DIYers have been designing these days, we looked to old episodes for clues as to what's in store for the new season. Here are our predictions for what we have to look forward to (or be scared of) from Hildi, Doug, Genevieve, Vern, Frank and Laurie.

(Image credit: Courtesy of TLC)

Genevieve Gorder

Genevieve is like a really great hairstylist. She knows what's trendy, but also listens to what the client wants before hacking away to the point of no return. On Trading Spaces (the early years), she wasn't afraid to think outside the box, as long as she knew the room's inhabitants would be game for something unconventional. In preparation for the series return, Genevieve recently told TLC, "my favorite rooms were the ones where I got to connect to a deeper sense of family and merged brand new with the very familiar." On Trading Spaces, Genevieve's personal style never over-shadowed the overall design of a room, but there were two things she rarely designed without: plenty of good-quality textiles and a color palette inspired by something simple.

One of Genevieve's rooms from the original Trading Spaces:

(Image credit: TLC (screen cap))

Our Prediction:

(Image credit: Chris Amaral)

This time around, we predict Genevieve will dip into every modern style trend (mid-century modern, bohemian, minimal, farmhouse, etc.) depending on what the homeowner likes. We expect to see a healthy mix of vintage and modern, lush fabrics, and lots of personal touches, all fitting into a cohesive color palette, like her daughter's current room (pictured).

(Image credit: Courtesy of TLC)

Laurie Smith

When Trading Spaces originally aired in the early 2000s, "country" style had been one of the most common design trends for decades. In the 80s and 90s this comfort-centric, plaid-laden trend may have gone off the rails with the beveled-honey-oak-everything and teddy-bears-as-decorations, but designers like Trading Spaces' Laurie Smith, made country classy. On Trading Spaces, Laurie's traditional tendencies meant classic patterns like plaids and stripes were a must, and comfort was paramount. She was a very knowledgeable seamstress and often schooled homeowners on how to properly sew slip covers and stuff pillows.

One of Laurie's rooms from the original Trading Spaces:

(Image credit: TLC)

Our prediction:

(Image credit: Tessa Neustadt)

Plaids and stripes are pretty timeless, so we're assuming Laurie won't fully jump ship on her old look. We are guessing she'll opt for more timeless furniture pieces with sleeker lines that don't sacrifice comfort or quality for style, like those in the room above (designed by Emily Henderson). We would be surprised if classic patterns in plaid, stripes, or even chinoiserie didn't make an appearance in each of her rooms.

(Image credit: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Frank Bielec

Frank was on the opposite end of the country spectrum from Laurie (the teddy-bears-as-decoration end). Whether it was painting "curly cues" on the ceiling or stenciling abstract shapes on the carpet, Frank stopped at nothing to DIY a one-of-a-kind space for each homeowner. While he always meant well, Frank's "artsy" approach often resulted in rooms that resembled a child's finger painting studio, with explosions of "imperfectly" painted shapes on every available surface.

One of Frank's rooms from the original Trading Spaces:

(Image credit: TLC (screen cap))

Our prediction:

(Image credit: Monica Wang)

While he toed the line of 90s kitschy country, Frank's style was uniquely his own. We imagine he'll be back to his old antics, joining homeowners in painting stenciled designs on everything. If Frank has updated his look at all, we imagine (hope?) it will look something like this room from HGTV Design Star Kim Myles' bedroom.

(Image credit: Courtesy of TLC)

Doug Wilson

Doug was a talented designer with an unfortunate agenda: to push the envelope. He was fully capable of designing a tasteful space that appealed to the homeowner's aesthetic, which he did on occasion, but most of the time he just wanted to push their buttons. He recently told Good Housekeeping, "I decided to go [into the show] as an actor and a performer and create these rooms as this persona," he added that his goal on Trading Spaces was to, "keep them guessing, don't give everything away at the beginning, and always do something different each and every episode."

One of Doug's rooms from the original Trading Spaces:

(Image credit: TLC (screen cap))

Our prediction:

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

If there's anything Doug has proven he's not, it's basic. We hope this season Doug channels his inner instigator to be bold with his designs without doing something disgusting like building a bench out of two toilet bowls (yes, he did this). We hope and predict he will create some punchy gorgeous rooms akin to this number above from Matthew Williamson…but we also appreciate a good pot stirrer to keep the plot nice and thick.

(Image credit: Courtesy of TLC)

Vern Yip

Vern was an architect who tended towards modern (at the time) design, focusing on clean lines and minimal color with bold contrast and big patterns. While his old Trading Spaces designs are no longer modern, some of his pattern and color choices still reflect the stark, bold, minimal designs found in modern architecture and design today. He was always good at balancing the modern with the homey, making spaces feel elevated but also comfortable.

One of Vern's rooms from the original Trading Spaces:

(Image credit: TLC (screen cap))

Our prediction:

(Image credit: David A. Land)

Vern's beautiful home in Rosemary Beach, Florida (pictured above) is hopefully a peek into what we can expect to see this time around. We still expect to see a lot of big and bold mixed geometric patterns and sleek furniture, but in more accessible ways.

(Image credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Hildi Santo-Tomas:

Hildi, like Doug, loved to push the envelope. Whether she was suspending furniture from the ceiling or replicating a bloody crime scene in some poor person's kitchen, she only designed rooms based on what would get the biggest reaction. We're not sure this whacky approach will go over well in today's HGTV-loving world, so we're hoping Hildi will draw from her personal style this time around to create something more livable. On the OG Trading Spaces, Hildi always looked so chic, with her sleek black hair and tailored clothing.

One of Hildi's rooms on the original Trading Space (Yes, that is hay on the walls.):

(Image credit: TLC)

Our prediction:

(Image credit: Kelly Wearstler)

Hildi's sleek style and tendency towards bold statements has us predicting Hildi may have a bit of Kelly Wearstler up her sleeve. We predict she will continue to be daring with her designs, hopefully throwing a few stunners (like the Kelly Wearstler room above) in with the obligatory horror show.

In all seriousness, Trading Spaces is about making real, human connections and creating something fun. We have nothing but love for everyone from the original cast and can't wait to see what they have up their sleeves for this season (whether we like it or not)! What are your predictions for the reboot?

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