The Return of One 'Off the Grid' 'Trading Spaces' Designer Shocked Cast: 'They Really Didn't Know if He was Coming'

This fan favorite almost didn't sign on for TLC's reboot

After almost a decade on the air, Trading Spacesquirky cast of designers and carpenters is one big family. And like every family, there’s one wild card member that marches to his own drum.

In TS’s group, that’s lovable Southerner Frank Bielec. The country style enthusiast was a fan favorite when he appeared on the original show from 2000 to 2008, but when TLC announced a reboot (coming in spring 2018), his former castmates weren’t sure he would show.

courtesy TLC

“I didn’t think Frank would come back,” designer Genevieve Gorder, one of nine original stars confirmed to be rejoining the show, tells PEOPLE. “He was a bit more mature than the majority of us, and he has a tendency to kind of fall of the grid. Not in a bad way, but just ‘eh, I’m busy.'”

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Bielec was also the only original designer to express his distaste for the series after it ended. “They took a perfectly wonderful little show and beat it to death,” he told Fort Bend Lifestyles & Homes, making reference to the series’ spinoffs and specials.

Still, the cast welcomed him with open arms.

“They didn’t tell any of us who was coming or not coming,” says Gorder, who’s also heading up a campaign for Box Tops for Education. But it seems Bielec’s participation was a mystery even to the producers. “They really didn’t know if he was coming, so seeing him again was that much more of a big deal.”

Gorder admits that she “just about attacked” the Texas-based designer when they were reunited on set. “We were just beyond tears. Just like ugly cry.” She adds, “It was really powerful. More powerful than I thought, which I think everyone will witness” in the new episodes.

Trading Spaces returns to TLC in spring 2018.

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