Trading Spaces Hildi
Known as a passionate and strong-willed force for creative change in homeowners' rooms, Hildi Santo Tomas has a reputation for taking risks - often with big rewards. Her fearless approach to design has produced some of Trading Spaces' most memorable (and occasionally infamous) rooms, while her glamorous style has earned her a fervent following amongst Trading Spaces fanatics.
Professional Background: Hildi's design career began at an early age, as she spent days rearranging and organizing her sisters' rooms in North Carolina. Hildi attended the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, where she majored in industrial relations and economics. After college, she lived in Washington, DC, where she worked as a stockbroker and political campaign strategist. Five years later, she spent a brief stint in New York City, where she worked with her younger sister in a financial services firm that catered to Latin American countries. Her part-time hobby of interior design, however, became a full-time obsession and Hildi soon found herself returning to Raleigh, North Carolina to pursue her passion. In 1989, she began Working Girls, an interior design business and workroom. After a few years back in North Carolina, she moved to Atlanta, where she continued her design business and later became involved with two colleagues at Third Millennium Development, Inc., a development, design and construction company.
Personal History: Hildi was born in 1961 in Raleigh, North Carolina, the middle daughter of Cuban-born parents. Raised with Cuban/Spanish traditions, she is a fluent Spanish speaker. Hildi married her husband Etienne in June 2002 at the age of 41 and currently resides with him in Paris, France. Together, she and Etienne share a passion for travel, and, together and individually, they have traveled to the furthest corners of the globe. Hildi enjoys spending her leisure time in the country with her husband, Etienne.
Design Style: Simple Elegance. Hildi's designs are often inspired by her frequent trips abroad and her rooms usually feature fabrics from locales around the globe, including Paris, India, Egypt and Finland. Hildi's mathematic skills are a huge asset to her in her design, enabling her to size up a room and immediately know what materials she will need to fulfill her creative vision. Known for sometimes unusual choices of design material, Hildi hopes that her more daring designs will serve as inspiration points for homeowners afraid to take chances in their homes.
The Rooms: Hildi is never afraid to push her team of homeowners to expand their horizons. Her vanguard designs have sparked some of Trading Spaces' most controversial fan debates, including a bathroom covered in 6,000 silk flowers, a living room with walls adorned with vintage record albums and a now-infamous room with walls covered in straw.
Quotable Hildi: "My hope is that my designs will serve as points of inspiration for viewers so that they take my ideas, develop them and personalize them. Do not do it the way I did. Take my idea and develop it in your own way."