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The makeover maven is back

Special to The Times

PAIGE DAVIS, the exuberant host of home makeover show “Trading Spaces,” left in 2005 -- and just returned. While she was away, she toured in “Sweet Charity.” We spoke while she drove home through windmill territory from Palm Desert, after shooting the an episode of the show. .

You’d be willing to have five or 10 windmills in your backyard, right?

I suppose so! That’s what I was thinking when I saw them. Just how many of these would I have to have and where would they have to be? If it became our new entire landscape everywhere you look, that wouldn’t be a good thing. I think they’d find a way to have one large one to harness stuff, rather than literally hundreds everywhere.

Just one giant windmill for L.A.?

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Towering over Hollywood. Messing up everyone’s hair.

So you’re back on the show . . . .

I’m probably the most surprised of everyone. And grateful to be doing a show I love so much. That’s the point: It’s the version I did, the show that I believe the fans really love. And to bring it back -- not just bring me back -- but all my friends back and the format back and the fun back, it’s something that was really appealing to me. . . . It was hard to say goodbye. It was a decision I didn’t make for myself, so I didn’t get to own the end of that journey.

Have you waved your finger in their faces?

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No, for two reasons. One, if it’d been the same people who’d made that decision, I don’t think I’d be in the position of coming back. The new regime of people at TLC reversed that. So I can’t wag my finger in the face of the people who brought me back. It’s important to me that the fans really appreciate and love TLC again.

That’s sort of an amazing development in TV. You look at “Family Guy,” other shows -- viewer outrage and mail actually gets stuff done.

It’s great they spoke out, not just in letters but in ratings. The proof is in the pudding. . . . But the new folks at TLC do feel very strongly that “Trading Spaces” had not necessarily run its course but had been run into the ground. . . . It was the heart of pop culture to some extent -- as much as any cable show could be.

How was it filling Molly Ringwald’s shoes [in the tour of “Sweet Charity”]?

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It was great to meet her. Talk about pop culture -- she’s an icon. She’s an icon, it’s ridiculous. Looking at her, oh, my God, it’s really shocking. We had a mutual connection in terms of our joy in meeting each other -- she was an enormous “Trading Spaces” fan.

The show has transformed America into a place where we’re obsessed with great environments.

Oh, sure! “Trading Spaces” really was the first home improvement show to tell people that it can be accessible. Maybe not the rooms we do with a professional carpenter helping us, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money or a lot of time to create change in your home.

How many episodes are you shooting?

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Twenty-six maximum. Starting with an order of 13. We all anticipate that TLC will order another 13. We used to do 70! So, in an example of how I can balance some theater in my schedule even while doing “Trading Spaces” -- sorry, that’s my GPS talking, I don’t know how to turn it down. It’s so loud. I don’t really need [it] to shout at me. So I think I will be able to do some theater on my hiatus time, so that was one of my other enticements for returning. I wasn’t sure I wanted to return entirely -- I felt vindicated and happy about being with my friends, but I wasn’t 100% positive I wanted to do it for sure. . . . I’m the only one who was on every episode, traveling and being away from home.

You’ve done a book. What else are you . . . .

I keep doing things on a dare. . . . On this last break from “Trading Spaces,” I had some time and was doing theater and whatnot, but I have a good friend who runs the cabaret theater in Austin, and he was pressuring me -- and he said, “Come on, I dare you.” It took a year to write the one-woman show, and I just did it to see if I could. It ended up being great. . . . You know what could be more shocking? I’m on empty. I didn’t realize. So many people used my car over the weekend. Everyone took it everywhere. I’m nowhere near anything. Yay!


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