To what viewers’ appetites for season three, TLC’s cult redecorating hit “Trading Spaces” takes a trip back to school.
On Saturday, at 9 p.m. EDT, “Trading Spaces” heads California with “Berkeley: Prospect Street,” in which designers Doug Wilson and Genevieve Gorder _ with carpenter Ty Pennington’s help _ switch rooms with the Delta Upsilon fraternity and the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority at the University of California-Berkeley. But first, Genevieve and the sorority girls hold a bonfire to clear away decorating mistakes, while Doug and the frat brothers buckle down to some serious cleaning.
The series’ third season then officially launches with back-to-back original episodes on Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. EDT.
Asked why she chose Gorder and Wilson for this particular venture, executive producer Denise Cramsey says, “They both have that kind of acerbic wit. They can banter with anyone, so it was good to put them with these young, hip college students, who are a little bit jaded in their own college-student way. Now, they’re dealing with our two hipsters.”
Who won? “I cannot reveal, but it was surprising. My assignment of the two of them paid off pretty well.”
As to how college students compare with other neighbors the show has dealt with, Cramsey says, “They are not afraid at all. They know what they want, so that was very funny. We found them to be much more outspoken, much more, ‘No, this isn’t going to happen. We need this. This is how it’s going to be.’ So truly, they gave Genevieve and Doug a run for their money.”
However, Cramsey says, “There was no beer.”
There was even an opportunity to see the aftermath of the transformation. “When we went back to San Francisco a couple of months later,” Cramsey says, “Gen and Hildi (designer Hilda Santo-Tomas) went to party at the fraternity to see if it was still the same or if they had changed anything. It was still the same, but there were a few more stains, unidentified stains.”
Speaking of Santo-Tomas, the elegant, urbane designer whose cutting-edge concepts have struck fear in the hearts of viewers and homeowners has been doing some redesigning in her own life.
“Miss Hildi lives in Paris now,” Cramsey says. “We are not losing Hildi. America should not breathe a sigh of relief just yet. She is back (this season). She married in June to a Frenchman, so they live in Paris. She’s commuting from Paris to do the episodes. We’re hoping for 15 episodes.”
After shooting two episodes in June, interior designer Laurie Smith, who gave birth to a son in August, returns from her maternity leave to the production schedule in October. With fewer appearances from her and Santo-Tomas _ and a plan to shoot 60 episodes this season _ the door was opened to expand the design team with a couple of new faces.
Joining Gorder, Santo-Tomas, Smith, Wilson, Frank Bielec and Vern Yip (along with carpenters Pennington and Amy Wynn Pastor) are Philadelphia native Kia Steave-Dickerson, a specialist in textiles with experience in set design and props, and North Carolinian Edward Walker, who was already part of the “Trading Spaces” family.
“He has been associated with the show in the past as our sewing coordinator,” Cramsey says, “the one who trains our homeowners on how to sew.”
Walker knows sewing, since he currently creates wedding gowns as well as personalized interiors.
“Now we have a total of eight designers to wreak havoc on American homes,” Cramsey says.
There are still more changes in store for season three, particularly as relates to the show’s apparent distaste for ceiling fans (of 24 encountered last season, only four remained after redecorating).
“Ceiling fans have apparently moved off the wanted list,” Cramsey says. “There has been a temporary reprieve for ceiling fans. In fact, I daresay we’ve actually brought some in where there were none. That’s all I can say. It’s been surprising.”
Unexpected twists were also in store for Wilson in the Aug. 31 college special. “Doug is having another moment,” Cramsey says. “He is certainly up against it. I can give this little hint out to you. Those little white bio-terrorism suits _ in use. That’s all I can say. There’s a scene with them in this episode.”
“I owed him big for this one.”