"It's not that anyone thinks that they're above anything," Gorder tells PEOPLE
“It was not my decision at all,” the TLC and HGTV star tells PEOPLE exclusively of why she won’t appear in the new season of the beloved show, returning March 16. “I had a previous series already scheduled for the same time that we were going to shoot Trading Spaces. So the only thing that happened was just a schedule conflict.” (That other series is a “top secret” project for Bravo that she says will premiere in 2019.)
Gorder, 44, who married boyfriend Christian Dunbar, 46, in Morocco in August, admits she did feel guilty about not taking part.
“It felt sh—y,” she says. “First and foremost, these are my friends and my family and we show up for each other. But everyone understood, and everyone knows that we all have careers that we have to manage,” she explains of her cast mates, with whom she first appeared in the show’s original run, from 2000 to 2008. (Gorder was on from 2000 to 2003 and from 2005 to 2007.) “
Her longtime co-stars, including host Paige Davis and carpenters Ty Pennington and Carter Oosterhouse, were heartbroken by the news, she says: “It was emotional. We were all crying about it because we’re a family. The originals are a family.”
Gorder broke the news to them herself, because, she says, “I wanted to make sure that it was very clear that I wasn’t choosing to not be a part of the season. Rumors can fly and things can get twisted. So I was really clear about telling everybody how sad I was that I wouldn’t be returning, but here’s why and it’s not that anyone thinks that they’re above anything.”
Davis in particular was torn up about Gorder’s absence. “She cried. She was like, ‘It’s not gonna be the same without you. We can’t do it without you.’ I was like, ‘I know.’ And I cried too,” she recalls. “I mean, we’re connected forever. She’s the mama bear.”
Asked if she would return for a third season of the reboot, should it happen, she tells PEOPLE, “Absolutely available. Absolutely. There’s no way anyone would ever say no. It just feels good.”
“I always want to do Trading Spaces until the day I die,” she adds.
And she thinks the same of her fellow OGs.
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“Do I think anyone feels like they’ve outgrown [the show]? No. The brand is bigger than any one of us will ever be on our own. So to say you’ve outgrown, then it’s time for you to go, because that’s not really knowing what you’re doing. Trading Spaces is beyond any of us.”
Of the Bravo project, Gorder told PEOPLE in October, “It’s really exciting. I was very excited to take the job. Something new.” She added, “There will be an incredible amount of designers that are familiar to you from all aspects of life and television.”
In August, the designer also debuted a new Netflix series, Stay Here, in which she helps homeowners transform their vacation rentals into highly sought after accommodations.The first season is streaming now, but Gorder says, she doesn’t yet know if there will be a second.
Season 10 of Trading Spaces premieres March 16 at 8pm ET/PT on TLC.