The next time two sets of neighbors put their homes in each other’s hands, a familiar face will be there to guide them through the process. TLC announced on Wednesday that Paige Davis will return as the host of Trading Spaces when the Emmy-nominated DIY series makes its return in 2018.
“It really does not suck to be me today,” Davis tells EW about fans’ “heartwarming” response to the news.
Davis, who previously hosted Trading Spaces from 2001-2004 and again in 2008, says she wasted no time reaching out to TLC to express her interest when the revival was first announced. “I was very proactive about it,” she recalls. “I knew they had a lot of decisions to make, and I just kind of offered myself up to say, ‘I’m here. Even if you just have questions, I’m here to be a part of it in any way that you see fit.’ So I was very delighted when I got the phone call to say, ‘Yes, indeed, we want you to host it.’ I screamed.”
And fans have responded to Davis’ obvious love of the show; since TLC confirmed the revival in March, audiences have been reaching out to its longest-tenured host to share their memories. “It let me know the impact that the series had on, really, a whole generation and genre of television,” Davis says. “I can’t wait for a whole new generation to love it.”
The host cites the hit series’ broad appeal as a key part of its enduring success. “Kids wanted to watch it, and they weren’t embarrassed to watch it with their parents. And parents weren’t embarrassed to watch with their kids,” says Davis. “Everyone wants to say that it was the soccer mom that watched Trading Spaces. I mean, it was — it was definitely the soccer moms that watched Trading Spaces — but it was also kids.”
And not just kids. Davis recalls, “I had more than my fair share of biker gangs who would write me.”
Years later, some of the show’s most talked-about moments are the designs that went wrong. Clips from Trading Spaces’ most memorable home-makeover fails — most notably the fireplace that made homeowner Pam cry — have been making the rounds online. Davis says that in those moments, what’s running through her mind is no different than when the homeowners love the results: “Stay calm and focused and remember that number one, I have to do my job, which is to host this couple through the experience. And the other part of that job is to hopefully escort them into letting us into their mind.”
That said, she adds, the designs that didn’t go over well were actually a Trading Spaces rarity. “I can’t even say 9 out of 10 times,” says Davis. “Like, 99 out of 100 times, it was an ‘I love it.’ And I was just as surprised as anybody else because you’d spend two days with their neighbors-slash-friends telling you, ‘They’re going to hate this,’ fighting with the designer. And then, of course, every time it was finished, it was gorgeous.”
Trading Spaces’ influence will also be the greatest challenge for the revival, which is currently casting in Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Atlanta. “It was really the first home improvement design show that was so much fun that it wasn’t just strictly lesson oriented,” Davis says. “But you got a tremendous amount of takeaway info also.”
Now that Peak TV has brought with it Peak HGTV, the show might have more competition in the genre, but Davis argues that there’s no topping the original. “I think there’s a tremendous wave of nostalgia happening right now,” Davis says. “And I believe that if we deliver excellent episodes in the format that fans knew and loved, it will reach into people’s hearts and memories and tap into something that’s bigger than just design, and bigger than home improvement.”