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The infamous Hildi of ‘Trading Spaces’ did a State Fair bedroom for a Raleigh couple. Uh-oh ...

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"Trading Spaces" designers Hildi Santo-Tomas and Laurie Smith both go with an N.C. State Fair theme in making over master bedrooms for a set of Raleigh neighbors. The episode airs March 30 on TLC.
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"Trading Spaces" designers Hildi Santo-Tomas and Laurie Smith both go with an N.C. State Fair theme in making over master bedrooms for a set of Raleigh neighbors. The episode airs March 30 on TLC.

If you’ve watched house-swapping design show “Trading Spaces,” maybe you’ve imagined what it would be like to be on the show.

If you’ve watched a lot of “Trading Spaces,” you’ve probably also imagined what it would feel like to walk into your home at the end of the show and discover that the infamous Hildi Santo-Tomas has had her way with it.

Ashley and David Brown of Raleigh know what that feels like. And their friends and neighbors Angie and Ryan Tucker know what it feels like to be accomplices to Hildi’s avant-garde vision.

The two couples turned their northwest Raleigh homes over to the TLC show for two days back in October, with Angie and Ryan helping Hildi implement her N.C. State Fair-inspired design in their friends’ master bedroom.

The episode airs Saturday at 8 p.m.

Riding ‘the Hildi Train’

While Ashley and David were helping designer Laurie Smith with her own subdued version of an N.C. State Fair-inspired master bedroom for Angie and Ryan, Angie and Ryan were nervous about what Hildi was cooking up. (Hildi, a Raleigh native and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, is famous for some of the show’s most outrageous designs, including rooms in which she has attached furniture to the ceiling and glued straw to walls.)

Ryan confessed that when he and Angie learned they were working with Hildi, they felt relieved because, “we know she’s not in our room.”

Angie, who is the mastermind behind the couples’ being on the show to start with (her audition video included footage of her riding a tractor at her father’s home in Kinston), said she wanted to “pass out” when she first saw Hildi.

“I started watching ‘Trading Spaces’ in college and Hildi is a ‘Trading Spaces’ icon,” Angie said. “She is so striking and such a beautiful lady. And I know what her rooms turn out to be, and I was like, oh my God, here we go. It was all the feelings.”

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Hildi Santo-Tomas, a designer on the show “Trading Spaces” on TLC, is a native of Raleigh and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. File photo

The verdict?

Well, neither couple is allowed to give away too much, but there was a lot of laughing and a lot of “we’ll just have to wait and see” in response to questions about how things turned out.

But disagreements over crazy paint colors and off-the-wall design choices aside, Angie and Ryan have nothing but love for Hildi.

They said she talked a lot about being from North Carolina, and they thought she really enjoyed her brief visit to the State Fair. Ryan called her “super sweet,” and Angie, co-owner of Southern Sugar Bakery, said, “I think she was comfortable because she felt like she was back home.”

“A lot of people think of Hildi as a villain, but I enjoyed working with her,” Ryan said. “She’s very nice, very kind. She’s like an artist. I don’t think she ever goes into it trying to mess up a room for somebody, but she sees it like her canvas and she’s trying to come up with something creative and fun.

“But there was definitely some conflict,” Ryan continued. “How about we leave it at that.”

“It was a ride,” Angie offered.

“We called it The Hildi Train,” Ryan said. “The train was going, and you better hang on for the ride!”

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Ashley and David Brown (in red) and Angie and Ryan Tucker (in blue) grab each others keys from “Trading Spaces” host Paige Davis during the key swap at the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh. TLC

Concern, but no regrets

Two doors down on the usually quiet cul de sac (both couples said the neighbors had a blast watching the production), Ashley and David were having their own love-fest with Laurie.

“We loved Laurie,” David said. “She’s just the sweetest lady. She’s kind of fun, and she’s a great designer.”

“Very genuine,” Ashley added. “She seemed to care about what Angie and Ryan really wanted in the room.”

The two didn’t have to wait until the reveal to find out that Hildi was in charge of their re-design. Host Paige Davis clued them in early on, perhaps to see them sweat.

“Paige said, ‘what would you think if Hildi was in your room?’” Ashley said. “And I was like ‘Oh, no’ and she said ‘yes.’”

“We were concerned,” David said. “We had seen ‘Trading Spaces’ in the past and seen her designs, so there was a level of concern.”

Ashley and David can’t say ahead of time if they love or hate the room and they can’t give up any details about the design, but they do say their love for the State Fair isn’t quite as strong as Angie and Ryan’s, so that perhaps doesn’t bode well for Hildi going full carnival in their boudoir.

“Angie and Ryan love the fair,” Ashley said. “Us, not so much.”

“We like the idea of the fair,” David said laughing.

But even if they ended up with cotton candy on the ceiling and a rabbit barn at the foot of their bed (who knows!), they seem to have taken it all in stride.

“Everyone asked us if we were upset and we said absolutely not,” Angie said. “The whole experience together was fun.”

We’ll just have to wait and see — Saturday night at 8.

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John Gidding is a designer on TLC’s “Trading Spaces.” Courtesy of Marketplace Events

More North Carolina episodes

There are a couple more North Carolina episodes of “Trading Spaces” coming up soon, and one features designer John Gidding working on a home in Charlotte. (This story has been updated with new information from “Trading Spaces” about the location of Gidding’s episode. A future episode of the show will take place in Chapel Hill.)

We don’t have much information on that episode, but we do know that airs next Saturday (April 6) — the same weekend John will be in Raleigh for the Southern Ideal Home Show.

John, formerly of HGTV’s “Curb Appeal,” will appear at 4 p.m. Friday (April 5) and 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday (April 6).

Show hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance tickets — and more information on the show — are $8 at fairgroundsraleighhomeshow.com.

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Watch ‘Trading Spaces’

“Trading Spaces” airs at 8 p.m. Saturday on TLC.

Brooke Cain is a North Carolina native who has worked at The News & Observer for more than 20 years. She writes about TV and local media for the Happiness is a Warm TV blog, and also covers local retail.


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