The designer won't be toning it down on the show's reboot, premiering Saturday April 7

By Emily Strohm
April 07, 2018 02:10 PM

As a designer on Trading Spaces, Hildi Santo Tomás created countless room makeovers for happy homeowners, but her most memorable moments on the reality series were by far the legendary fails.

“I’ve always been different,” Santo Tomás tells PEOPLE. “I have always pushed my imagination and I was hoping through my creativity I could inspire others.”

TLC’s groundbreaking home-design show—in which two sets of neighbors, each paired with a designer, a carpenter and given a $1,000 budget, transform one room in the opposite couple’s home—will return to television after a ten-year hiatus on April 7.

While Santo Tomás did inspire some people, others really disliked her work.

RELATED: Trading Spaces Is Returning to TV: See the Original Show’s Most Cringe-Worthy Reveals

Watch the full episode of People Features: 10 Years Later – Trading Spaces Returns streaming now on or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device. 


“The straw was a great idea,” she says. “They just didn’t like it. I had seen it done in an ex-boyfriend’s living room and it was a cool finish. They had kids and they were worried they were going to eat the straw off the wall. I mean it was straw glued on the wall, it was really cool.”


“The homeowners wanted an adult retreat, so what’s more of an adult retreat than a cabana,” she says. “It was a fabulous room.” Santo Tomás covered the basement floor in sand and painted stripes on the walls. “I even had a little pail of water so they could clean their feet. It didn’t go over well.”


“I stapled 7,000 flowers to the wall,” Santo Tomás says of the bathroom transformation. “They loved it. I think they kept it up until they sold their house. It would have been very hard to take down because of the 30,000 stapes.”

WATCH THIS: Do You Remember These Spectacular ‘Trading Spaces’ Fails?


Despite all her former fails, Santo Tomás says she has no plans to tone down her style. It’s not about shock value. It’s about ‘just do it.” Why not? And because I can. When somebody says, “oh you can’t do that!” I’m like, really? Watch me!”

Trading Spaces premieres April 7 at 9 P.M. on TLC. Binge the TLC GO original series Trading Spaces: We’re Back on the TLC GO app or here.