Genevieve Gorder

TLC fans recognize Genevieve Gorder as the barefoot, soulful designer on Trading Spaces, but the interior makeover maven has found a new home on HGTV with her own show, Dear Genevieve.

The series, which kicks off with a preview New Year's Day at 1 pm/ET before moving to its regular time slot on Mondays at 8:30 pm/ET, welcomes homeowners to submit emails, seeking Gorder's expert advice. Lucky online users get an in-person response by Gorder's design team. "We got about 100,000 emails in five days and crashed the server," she said.

According to the Trading Spaces alum, many of the issues homeowners face are very common and often involve emotional reasons — be it a moving for a new job, new parents being overrun by children or inheriting a home from relatives.

Of all the dilemmas she has come across, Gorder finds the biggest challenges to be that the homeowners can't let go. "They almost sabotage themselves before making any decision because they're so fearful of making the wrong one with all their so-called design rules of what you can and can't do," says Gorder. "My job is to push them out of their little design box."

"The first show centers around an amazing woman in her thirties who lost both her parents and took on the duty of living in the family house and keeping it up," says Gorder. "She was paralyzed by the past and didn't want to touch anything because she felt like she'd be getting rid of her memories. I kept telling her she doesn't have to keep the room frozen to remember her parents. It was ultimately very cathartic for her, and by the end we were all bawling."

Since casting was done early in the year, the economy has played into things. "Some of the budgets of our homeowners who were cast at the beginning of the year were cut drastically because people lost their jobs or feared losing them. We showed a lot of how to work with what you have on the show," says Gorder. She says doing projects yourself, when possible, and a little at a time is what works best on a budget. "It's about deconstructing the big idea and doing it over the course of a longer period. Who knows, you may stop sooner than you originally envisioned and say this is fabulous; it doesn't need any more work!"