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  Trading Spaces  
Time Slot:
  Saturdays, 8 and 9 PM. Although it does seem to be on all the time.  
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If you have been living under a rock for the past year or so, you might not have noticed that most cable networks have waged a war on the unattractive. No, I am not talking about Extreme Makeover or Baywatch.

This time the mainstream media is going after your living room. (Give them a few more years and they may go after the rock you are living under). A spate of shows set on the beautification of American (or British as the case may be) homes has hit the airwaves ... cable waves... whatever. The program leading the pack is TLC's Trading Spaces. This show has spawned merchandise and spin-offs, and made previously unknown carpenters and designers household names.

The rules are simple, explains host Paige Davis at the beginning of every show. Two sets of neighbors have two days to take over each other's houses and redesign a room for under $1,000. Each team is guided by a designer who along the way gives the couple advice about painting techniques, fabrics and other decorating methods. One carpenter aids them in their efforts building anything from entertainment centers to sconces.

The show often will reach a mad-capped pace as the couples try to finish the room before Davis announces "Time's up." Then there is the "reveal." We get to see the reactions as homeowners first glimpse their rooms. Some cry for joy, some cry in disgust. Here are some of the things you can hear during the reveal:

"Oh my God! I love it."

"You painted my furniture!!"

"This is incredible, I promised myself I would not cry."

"I think I am going to have to leave the room now."

This show has reached cult status as Americans seem to be in a nesting period. Riding the coattails of a housing boom, the show plays to would-be Mr. And Ms. Fix-its. I have to admit that I fell for the bait and was hooked.

Some may ask why viewers are fascinated by watching paint dry -- literally. For me, a style-impaired almost homeowner, it gives me hope that one day, a van may drive up to my home and a lovely Asian designer/genius may change my life forever.... I speak here of one of the shows heavy-hitters, Vern Yip. This Atlanta-based architect and designer has become one of the show's darlings. His stylish ways and good nature have gained him a following on the show.

Not everything is perfect in design land though. Some of the designs are not what the homeowners had in mind. Designer Hilda Santo-Thomas has become known on the show for her offbeat style. She is perhaps best known for having the brilliant idea of gluing hay on walls.

Other crewmembers have become recognized through the show for their trademark quirks: Frank with his country charm, Doug with his attitude ... Many female viewers have become enamored with Carpenter Ty Pennington. One of my friends claims, "One look at him and my stud-finder started beeping."

All in all, the show is fun to watch, and you might learn something (watching The Learning Channel, who knew?)

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