Paige Davis talks reboots and returning to “Trading Spaces”

News that Trading Spaces, adapted from the BBC series Changing Rooms and one of the earliest home reno hits to grace U.S. cable television, was returning to original network TLC ...
May 25, 2018

News that Trading Spaces, adapted from the BBC series Changing Rooms and one of the earliest home reno hits to grace U.S. cable television, was returning to original network TLC after a 10-year hiatus was greeted with a fair amount of fervor on social media and in the press. But one thing the initial announcement was missing was news about the host.

For the bulk of the period from 2001-2008, that role was enthusiastically handled by Paige Davis. And after a few months of speculation, news finally emerged from TLC that Davis, and other much-loved cast members from the original, would be returning for the redecorated reboot.

The news was seemingly welcomed by the series’ longtime fans, with the premiere episode of the “new” Trading Spaces averaging 2.8 million P2+ viewers and claiming the top spot in all of television for its Saturday night debut.

On a call with realscreen prior to the series’ April 7 premiere, Davis, an accomplished musical theater and television actor in addition to being an in-demand TV host, says she’s “having a blast” back on the set and is happy to have Trading Spaces as part of her life once again. She’s still keen, however, to expand her horizons with more scripted and theater work: “I hope to keep doing it all.”

When the announcement about the return of Trading Spaces was made, you tweeted: “I hope I get to host again.” A few months later the news broke that you were coming back. How did it all come about?
You’d have to ask Nancy Daniels that [laughs]. I did reach out to TLC very specifically to say, “Yes, please.” I wanted them to know that I really cared and was quite dedicated to the brand and the series — that it meant a lot to me in my life. I also let them know that I was at their disposal for whatever they needed and if they decided to go with a new cast, I would be there as a resource. Then, eventually I got the phone call from Nancy Daniels saying, “We would love you to host it,” and I screamed in her ear!

Both you and Nancy have talked about the wave of nostalgia hitting television these days in the form of rebooted series. Are there any other reboots you’ve been checking out?
I just love the Queer Eye reboot. I bawled watching the entire series.

What was it like to return to Trading Spaces after all these years?
It was like we never left. It was really neat to discover that all that chemistry and camaraderie wasn’t some bizarre fluke, and that it stood the test of time. I really had a blast. The very first house swap that we did, I cried. I was perfectly fine and then one of the neighbors said, “This is the first one, isn’t it?” And I started crying. One of the make-up people had to come and fix my make-up afterwards, and he said [sternly], “I understand there’s been an expression of emotion.”

You were one of the first big reno shows out of the gate in the U.S. Are the participants now much more savvy than they were, because they’ve been exposed to so much more in this genre?
Yeah, they definitely are. We generated an entire new genre of television, and a wave of DIY across the country. I don’t know if I notice as much of a difference in the neighbors when they’re participating, because our designers still steamroll them and do what they’re going to do [laughs]. But I think that’s a great thing. Even our savviest audience can benefit, just like anyone can in life, by stepping outside of their comfort zones a little bit and thinking outside of the box.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.