“Trading Spaces” is back for its second season. While the rebooted series on TLC has a familiar premise—host Paige Davis challenges two participants to redecorate each other’s homes—this season serves up new ideas on how to get the job done. For example, turning $7 dessert cups into a lamp that could have passed on “Mad Men” any day!
In the episode titled “Battle of the Decades,” we meet Steve and Margi, who just love the ’70s. They’ll be trading spaces with Kash and Jenny, who love the ’50s. Both families live in Burbank, CA, and give up their living rooms to designers Carter Oosterhouse (who has grown a Burt Reynolds mustache to get in the ’70s spirit) and Kahi Lee (who has adopted a Lucile Ball style to get into the ’50s vibe).
Both living rooms are bland as Wonder Bread to begin with and the designers are brimming with ideas, but will they go over the top, as the designers on “Trading Spaces” often do? Can they accomplish everything they hope to within their budget of $2,000 each?
As they make valiant attempts, they come up with some truly fabulous ideas for giving your own space a little period flair. Check them out!
Don’t be afraid of bold colors
Lee chooses a primary color palette for her ’50s design. She decides on two slate-blue walls with red curtains, and two white walls, so the dark blue doesn’t suck all the light out of the room.
Meanwhile, Oosterhouse has found a funky ’70s chair upholstered in citrus-hued stripes: lime, tangerine, and lemon. Those are the colors he selects to anchor his design. It sounds crazy at first, but as you’ll see, it really works.
Remember that paint looks different when it dries
At first, Kash and Jenny worry that the citrus paint colors will be too eye-popping, but Oosterhouse knows they’ll tone down considerably as they dry. Conversely, Steve and Margi think the slate blue will be too dark at first coat, and Lee doesn’t console them when she tells them it will dry even darker, but she promises she will pop up the room up with color so it will look much lighter than they imagine.
The best way to use faux brick panels
When Lee drags in large, floor-to-ceiling panels of faux red brick, Steve and Margi wince—it looks so cheesy! But then Lee explains that after the panels are mounted on one wall, they’ll be painted white, and the couple are relieved (but still a bit dubious). The outcome really does look great, giving the white brick wall effect without adding heavy bricks.
Create a screen with mailing tubes
Lee asks carpenter Joanie Sprague to cut heavy cardboard mailing tubes into hundreds of 2-inch slices, and to create a wood frame for them. Steve and Margi are then asked to glue them all together, and spray-paint the circles white. It takes them into the wee hours of the morning, but once they’re mounted in the wooden frame, they look terrific!
The virtues of a pony wall
There’s no vestibule or foyer when you walk into the soon-to-be-’70s space—the front door leads right into the living room. So to give the room a little definition without making things feel cramped (and spending a fortune), Oosterhouse has carpenter Brett Tutor build a gorgeous half-wall that looks like a see-through curio shelf. It’s tres ’70s. The official definition of a pony wall is “a half-wall used to define a space,” and this fits the bill perfectly.
You can deck the walls with just about anything
Kash and Jenny are surprised when they see Oosterhouse carry in big boxes full of tangerine and lime plastic frisbees, and are a little reluctant when he tells them to start affixing the disks to the wall. But once they’re all applied, they make one hip ’70s feature wall that they know their friends’ kids will love.
Make your own sputnik hanging lamp
Lee really outdoes herself with this creation. She takes a cantaloupe-sized orb, attaches long, straight wires all around it, then has Margi help her attach white plastic dessert cups to the ends of the wires. When they spray-paint the whole thing gold, it looks as good as anything you’d buy in a retro thrift shop, or even a brand-new midcentury modern revival store. And it’s cheap: Lee purchased all the dessert cups for a mere $7.
How did ‘Trading Spaces’ work out?
Both living rooms are truly eye-popping, but you never know if the couples are going to go for that.
After all that hard work, both couples are blown away.
“This looks like a van that we could drive around the country solving mysteries in,” says Steve of his graphically designed ’70s living room. And he means that in a good way!
Everyone was worried that Kash and Jenny might think their new midcentury modern living room is a little too dark, with those slate-blue walls, but the white walls lighten things up substantially, and they’re all relieved when Jenny says, “We are so excited! We love every bit of it!”
It’s a great start for a new season. Here’s hoping they can keep it up!
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