Converse Couple on Trading Spaces
By Diane Norman for The Spartanburg Herald-Journal
They’re willing to take the risk that their walls could be textured with hay or painted fuchsia, their furniture piled on a scrap heap and their backs strained by two days of heavy labor. Spartanburg next-door neighbors Niel and Lena Visser, and Andrew and Kristin Watkins will be taping an episode of “Trading Spaces” on April 17 and 18.
Andrew is Executive Director of Development at Converse, and Kristin is the college’s Assistant Dean of Students for Leadership.
“Both couples are adventurous and willing to try new things,” said Kristin Watkins. And that’s why Watkins thinks the TV show producers selected them. They’re not worried that the designers who will redo their rooms may choose something outlandish. “The things that I’ve really hated — the hay on the walls or moss on the walls — I guess that would tick me off, too, but you can always take it down,” Lena Visser said.
For the uninitiated, “Trading Spaces” is a series on The Learning Channel that features two families who, at the direction of trained designers, redecorate a room in each other’s homes on a $1,000 budget. The home-improvement project must be completed in two days, and the couples supply most of the physical labor. A professional carpenter assists with custom items, such as window cornices or wall storage units, specified by the designers. Each homeowner has no idea what the redecorated room will look like until the work is complete. The climax of each TV episode is the “reveal,” when the homeowners see the new creations for the first time.
The Vissers will be re-doing the Watkins’ combination office and den, and the Watkins will be converting an office into a combination dining room and sitting room. “The office needs to go somewhere else,” Lena Visser said. But the Vissers didn’t know how to approach the redecorating project because the room has a central fireplace. Consequently, Visser has no qualms about putting her home in the hands of a TV crew. “Hey, think about it,” she said. “They’re giving you $1,000 to redo this room, and they’re giving you the services of a professional designer and a professional carpenter.”
Kristin Watkins is equally unruffled. “The way we look at it, our room now, we don’t like it,” she explained. “If we come back after two days and we don’t like it, we haven’t lost anything.” And there’s the potential to get something much better than they ever imagined, Watkins pointed out.
The couples were thrilled and surprised when they learned on Feb. 28 they had been selected for “Trading Spaces.” They had watched the show and discussed applying last summer, but they didn’t complete their submission until January, after they heard the TV crew was coming to the Upstate. They were among 300 groups of couples who applied for the show, Visser said. During the two-day taping, the couples must send their dogs and their small children – each has a son under the age of 2 – to stay with friends or relatives. And they have to be prepared for members of the 25-person “Trading Spaces” crew to come tramping through their homes — and the possibility that crowds of