Trading Spaces came to town, and the town will never be the same! Apparently our celebrity status precedes our air date. Some TLC fans stumbled upon our website and it's sparked its own message thread. Click here to see what people are saying!
Of course, as cool as it may be to be quasi-celebrities, the real fun was still the filming experience. Following is the shortest play-by-play I can muster....
The crew showed up around 11:30 am on Monday. Though Paige, the host, was nowhere to be found yet, designers Frank (our room) and Doug (the Kohls' room) and carpenter Ty were all scoping out their setups. To really get our curiosity going, Doug had 3 huge palm trees sticking out of the back of his SUV - who were they for? Turns out, he didn't mean to give us a preview, but only turned into the development to wait for everyone else, "and I was right in front of their house!" As our imaginations ran wild, our producer Natalie quickly got the intro shot organized - Doug on Mark's 4-wheeler, Frank on Tyler's little 4-wheeler and Ty being towed behind Frank on a skateboard. Three people, three vehicles and an open field and the fun began! Should edit into a great intro for the show. While that was going on, many other crew members began setting up the "worlds" - Carpentry World (the Kohls' driveway), Sewing World (our living room), etc.... - and mounting cameras and lights in the bedrooms. Due to the proximity of our houses and the fact that the bedroom windows each face each other, tarps were tacked up on the exterior of the house over the windows as well. Meanwhile, we filmed the homeowner interviews and the "B-roles," where the homeowners interact, basically for some quick background footage. We felt like quite the television stars at this point, wearing a mini-microphone and talking on camera - little did we know how different the experience would get....
Call to set at 8 am sharp. With all the "worlds" ready to go, we got right to work. We met Paige for the first time that morning and filmed the scenes where we swap keys and enter the other's house - we wouldn't leave again for quite a while! Shortly after we filmed the "meet the designer" scene, where we discovered Doug's "Suburban Safari" idea for Mark and Lynn's room. Three words - Oh......my......G--! The room was cleared of all furniture and the carpet and the painting began.....and continued....and continued.....all day! Trust us - no fancy television magic going on here. Although many other crew members helped with the work, Tisha and I worked constantly and on all aspects. While Tighe was filming a scene, Tisha may have been working in the basement with Doug learning his plans for the furniture, then Tisha may be in a scene while Tighe painted. More often than not, we all just worked!
We also learned exactly how strict the show is about their secrecy. They live for the honest reaction in the reveals! For example, Tisha and I had to go to the backyard to film a scene and go through the garage to get there. Since Carpentry World is right outside the garage, we had to walk sideways so our backs faced the outdoors and put our hands on either side of our face like blinders! Also, the cooler of drinks was kept in the garage - we had to always ask someone to get a drink for us because you never knew what they may be working on. And forget about looking out their front door (that faces our house) - grounds for a strict reprimand!
When it came time for homework, the list was extensive and, yes, we were expected to do most of it - there's no "nighttime crew" that does it all while we sleep. A little inside hint...Doug isn't as bad about leaving the homeowners to their own devices as implied on the show. Still, Tisha and I were up until about 2 am trying to complete our list. We were going to play a joke on the Kohls' and leave a small lamp on in their room all night long, so if they looked over they'd think we were up even later - turns out the joke would be on us as they were sweet dreamin' by about 10:30 pm and never even looked our way, except to say "Nighty-night!"
The breakfast bell rang again at 8 am sharp but so did the work bell! I think we grabbed a bagel and coffee but we were brush-in-hand early on and the work just kept on coming. More painting (of course) and on to the bigger projects, like more furniture modification, furniture construction and accessories galore. In addition to more scene-shooting, we were interviewed by a writer from the Philadelphia Inquirer, though his focus seemed more on the show itself than the "local flavor" we added (article). And, yes, there was true "Day Two" crunching going on, as the headboard was tedious to finish and some accessories had to be nixed due to time. There was still plenty of spots in the room in need of touch-up paint and the multi-step process of painting their furniture still had a couple of stages left at 2 pm. Some high-powered fans helped speed the drying process but the new floor turned out to be a bigger obstacle. The "rice mat"-style covering was easy to lay down when it was whole but cutting it to fit the tighter spaces led to uncontrollable unraveling (and, in Doug's case, mild blood loss!)
The "major" work stopped around 4:30 pm. The "loading in" of the room was filmed and all of the little things began. What will get hung on the walls? Where will this plant go? And this one? And this one? And this one???? Finally, the cameras and lights that had adorned one wall the entire time had to be removed so the painting could be completed and the final scenes filmed. Around 6:30 pm the designers had been freshened up for their "chat" scenes with Paige and we began our nervous pacing! The crews began returning the rest of the houses to their previous state - pulling up hallway runners, deconstructing the "worlds," sweeping the floors and packing up the tools. By about 7:30 we were escorted back to our own house for the first time in 36 hours for our "reveal." As we crossed the street, we saw Lynn and Mark quickly ushered into a car and driven to seclusion, since our reveal was first. Can I just tell you...there are NO words to describe the rush of adrenaline and emotion you get when you open your eyes to see your room after the excitement, sleep deprivation, hard labor, in our case extreme temperatures, and the pressure of the time constraint you've been through over the past few days?? We didn't know where to look first! It took Tisha a good solid minute of looking to even remember that the furniture being painted was a concern! Good or bad, I think the first reaction in any case has to be shock! (some more so than others!)
After we saw our room, we were quickly whisked back to the Kohls' to assume our hidden position for their reveal. As we crouched in the closet, we could only listen to Lynn's squeals in reaction to their room. We honestly couldn't tell for the first four or five squeaks if she loved it or hated it! Turns out...initially they loved it! It was the practicality part that changed their minds later. We joined them in the room for a little mingling and Paige signed us off. After each reveal we were reunited with BOTH Frank and Doug and although the crew had a couple hours of "after shots" still to film and more packing up of equipment to do, we were able to spend most of the night schmoozing with them, Paige and other members of the crew. We got loads of pictures, some videotape and plenty of autographs on our shirts.
The bottom lines: though we all were very pleased at the initial reveals, alas, only the Frank-designed room remains intact. While Mark and Lynn appreciated Doug's design, the amount of work it took and the aesthetic value of the result, they ultimately decided it wasn't a room they could live in on a long-term basis. Tours were given over the next couple of days but as of this writing, no trace of the "Suburban Safari" remains. As far as the cast...Doug is really a great guy! He was a lot of fun to work with and VERY considerate...despite the fact that he didn't buy into our ideas for toning down the room just a little. But who could blame him? It WAS a phenomenal room, even if it wasn't the relaxing retreat Mark and Lynn were hoping for. Ty is absolutely as funny and energetic ALL the time as he is on camera! It made for GREAT lunch-breaks! Very down-to earth and personable! Frank, although we didn't get to spend all that much time with him, is just as friendly as he seems on tv. You are instantly at ease with him in the room and he really does make you want to just give him a hug. As for Paige...we had a BLAST! She is so funny and real and she seems to really enjoy what she does! She's just an all-around great person! Hey...we even got to meet Amy Wyn who just stopped by for a visit! And she was so friendly she hung out to chat for a while, too! Needless to say, all personalities involved made for three remarkably unforgettable days!
A few weeks after filming, Mark and Lynn discovered a "stowaway" from the show! They lovingly named him "Doug," and although he didn't make it too long he left them great memories and a good laugh! We'll put his picture up with the rest... Doug (the namesake) has since heard of, seen pictures of, and offered condolences for the loss of little Doug. (I told you he was a nice guy). We've also sent him pictures of the taming of the "Suburban Safari!"
I know, I know...we still owe you guys some pictures and videos! We've been a little busy these days painting the bathroom to incorporate the same ideas as the bedroom, but now that that's complete (except for some touch-up...it's a lot harder to do a room in two days when you're working in real-time with no babysitter, ya know!) it's our first priority...so we'll get to it very soon! Stay tuned....