'Trading Spaces': Paige Davis and Frank Bielec Defend 'Crying Pam'

Lori Acken
TLC

Love ’em or hate ’em, Trading Spaces' occasional disastrous reveals helped make the show a must-see. And the show's sunny host Paige Davis got the unenviable job of salving the homeowners’ wounds.

“I often feel in reveal situations—whether it’s a happy reveal or a disappointing reveal—the best thing I can do is shut up. To not get in the way of those feelings and emotions,” she says. “Most every reveal was happy; 90 percent of the time. There were a very few out of the hundreds of rooms that we did that were truly unhappy. The infamous reveals.

Trading Spaces' On-the-Fly Designers Return With Paige, Ty and Twice the Budget

Trading Spaces' On-the-Fly Designers Return With Paige, Ty and Twice the Budget

Paige, Ty, and the rest of the cast talk about the TLC smash-hit's past and present.

"We had one homeowner tackle her friend over the color brown — I mean, tackled her to the floor à la Jerry Springer," Davis continues, with a rueful laugh. "But so many times I heard back from homeowners a week later: ‘I don’t know what I was complaining about. I love this.’ It just takes a moment for it to sink in.

"There’s so much anticipation — from the day you wrote in and applied to the show, to the day you found out you were going to get to be on the show, to when they show up — that it looks anything different than what you anticipate, it’s going to be shocking. I understand when people are just stunned.”

The most memorable reveal in the show’s history involved a sweet-natured woman named Pam who was adamant that her family-room fireplace remained untouched. Doug touched it anyway, transforming traditional brick into solid white sleekness and breaking Pam’s heart in the process.

"She was actually trying to do the polite thing, which was leave and not throw a fit and not get angry," Davis recalls, noting that every homeowner was delirious from exhaustion come reveal time.

"But I’m standing there with her husband, and you can hear her sobbing in the hallway. It’s very disconcerting. [But] I really want to implore you to understand that this … was really in the very beginning days of reality television when it was truly real. And we still are very authentic to that."

Trading Spaces Frank Bielec

Frank Bielec

“And I have to defend Pam,” adds Spaces designer Frank Bielec, who worked with Pam and her husband in the infamous episode.

“What she didn’t realize is Doug ‘toenailed’ that fireplace cover on there. It could be easily removed. But she was so excited this whole time, and then the woman took a lot of heat and a lot of people made fun of her, which I thought was incredibly judgmental. It was a very honest reaction. And that reaction put us on the map.

"But I had no problem with the room," Bielec says. "Doug is an incredible designer. I have a huge love for him. He would throw you under a bus if it fit his agenda and then give you his kidney. Figure it out.”

More Trading Spaces Goofs That Made For Great TV

Hay Fever!

trading-spaces-hay-walls

Designer Hildi Santo-Tomas—famous for keeping her know-your-homeowner packets sealed—did wicker hating folks one worse, coating their walls with perishable straw that took 17 hours to remove, on the show's dime.

Redrum Room

"You know what they say about large patterns in small rooms!" No? You don't? Inspired by his apartment owner's pillows, designer Doug Wilson turned their tiny TV room into a graphic nightmare.

Son Of A Beach!

Trading Spaces beach room

Hildi's "Trading Spaces Oasis" guaranteed that this sand-floored room would never need vacuuming —and every other room would require it on a minute-by-minute basis.

Seatbelts Required

Trading Spaces furniture on the ceiling

Seeking a "sense of space," Hildi — who often skipped her reveals — left homeowners with a family room whose functionality required the ability to defy gravity just like an astronaut.

Elvis? Are You In Here?

The bedroom should bring out your inner animal, Doug. Inner. Though he gets points for creativity, Wilson's homeowners hated their jungle boudoir, complete with faux ferns and zebra walls.

Trading Spaces, Saturdays at 8/7c on TLC

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