Designer Frank Bielec ended up on TLC’s Trading Spaces purely by happenstance. He was filling in as a last-minute substitute demonstrator at a decorative paint convention in Nashville when he caught the eye of a television producer. He certainly never expected to become a breakout TV star shortly after his October 2000 debut… or to be coming back as an all-new Frank in an all-new version of the hit reality show, all these years later.

“I just thought there were so many reasons I didn’t want to get back into that stuff, the whole celebrity thing,” he recently told Good Housekeeping. But Trading Spaces just wouldn’t be the same without Frank. Viewers love him for his friendliness, his wit, and his crafty aesthetic. Even though he describes the experience of filming his first episode in the original run as “a cross between plastic surgery and a root canal,” he soon found his footing and became a favorite of both the homeowners on-screen and the fans watching at home.

This Katy, TX, resident is even quick to defend Pamela Herrick, the Trading Spaces participant who famously sobbed when she realized designer Doug Wilson had transformed her home’s fireplace that she desperately wanted to remain unchanged. “She gave the most honest reaction we’ve gotten and she took a lot of heat for that,” Frank has said. “People made a joke out of her and that bothered me.”

In the years since Trading Spaces‘ 2008 finale, Frank has been “been doing a whole lot of nothing followed by a nap,” but you can be sure that’s just him being modest. Instead, Good Housekeeping has reported that he’s been keeping busy with traveling art shows, cooking demonstrations, and volunteering with animals. He even drives his friends’ kids to school!

With this new life in place, Frank was admittedly reluctant to return for the show’s revival, which premiered on April 7. Luckily for us, his wife talked him into it. “She was very much in favor or me doing it even though I didn’t want to — but she’s always right,” he said. And luckily for Frank, the revival has been a “joyous experience” — partly because the production team has a lot of surprises in store for viewers this season, as he revealed. But he also told fans to expect “a totally different Frank.” (He even says he doesn’t do chickens anymore!) Hey, as long as his sense of humor is the same — and it seems like it is — we’re totally onboard.