Designing is star's outlet

September 19, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Some waited in line for as long as an hour Saturday at Wolf Furniture at Prime Outlets just to get an autographed picture or book from Hildi Santo Tomas, a designer from the popular television series "Trading Spaces."

Her devoted fans weren't disappointed. In fact, they got a sneak preview of a shift in format for the Saturday show, which first airs Oct. 16.

"Before, we would know the house and the room about two weeks ahead of time, but that's changing," Santo Tomas said.


Starting with the Oct. 16 show, Santo Tomas and her crew first will see the house on "Day Zero," as she called it.

"We will walk around the house and pick the room," she said. "Then on Days 1 and 2, we do the work."

The family show will stay the same, she said. The shows air on The Learning Channel (TLC).

"My 11-year-old daughter, Kelsie, was actually the first to watch the show," said Kristin Vanderwijst of Martinsburg, W.Va. But then the whole family got into it, even Tyler, who is 5.

Vanderwijst said she likes the way Santo Tomas makes her feel that she might actually do some of the things on the show.

"She gives me the courage to try," she said.

On one show, Santo Tomas painted clouds on a ceiling.

"Hildi did clouds on her show, and so I painted clouds on the ceiling of my daughter's room," Vanderwijst said.

Jess Fleckenstein said she also is a big fan and has been for a long time. Just 16, she said she is into decorating and wishes she could try some of the ideas she has seen on the show in her room of the family home in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

"I think I have a good eye for this," Fleckenstein said.

Stephanie Purdy, a counselor in Martinsburg, lives in Hagerstown with her husband. She came to the event Saturday to get ideas from the decorator.

Santo Tomas said she gets her inspirations from everywhere.

"I see a fabric and I get inspired, but it could also be a cheetah that gets me going," she said. "I just let things move me."

After getting an autographed picture, Vanderwijst said she received some good advice on how to strip a wallpaper border from her son's wall - fabric softener rubbed on the border will soften the glue and it will come right off.

"I'll try that," she said.

Santo Tomas was making her first appearance at the Hagerstown store Saturday, according to Thomas Jones, general manager of the store, which recently relocated to Prime Outlets.

"She is our company spokesperson and her visits at other stores have been very successful," Jones said, pleased with the turnout Saturday for Santo Tomas' daylong visit.

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