After spending nearly a decade off the air, Trading Spaces is back. Earlier this week, TLC announced that a reboot of the home renovation show, which ran for eight seasons until 2008, will hit airwaves at some indeterminate point this year.
The show essentially paved the way for analogous shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Fixer Upper (or, really, most of what you may see on HGTV) to find wide, dedicated audiences. It also served as a highly visible launchpad for people like Ty Pennington, a carpenter in the original series who went on to become Extreme Makeover's host and an established television personality.
But I'd argue that Trading Spaces also set a certain gold standard for this genre of television. Each episode hewed to the same structure, more or less: A pair of neighbors would swap homes for a few nights to take charge of redesigning a room in the other's house, working off a shoestring (well, $1000, though it increased in later years) budget. This situation would often engender invariably entertaining conflict.
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More often than not, though, the homeowners' reaction was the highlight of each episode. Some would collapse in fits of ecstasy as they marveled at their new domestic interiors. Others weren't so hot on their new digs. Watching them try their best—and fail—to hide their displeasure made for some supremely awkward television.
As you await the show’s return, here’s a sampling of some of its finest moments. Consider them a window into a bygone era of television, one I miss dearly. Here's hoping that the show’s reboot will be able to retain the magic of the original.
Have a favorite moment from Trading Spaces? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.