Frank Bielec, the designer who transformed American homes on reality TV show Trading Spaces, has died at the age of 72.
His death was confirmed by his wife Judy, who told TMZ her husband died on Friday May 15 in a hospital in Houston.
Bielec had a heart attack on Thursday and was taken into hospital in Katy, Texas.
He was then transferred to a specialist hospital in Houston but did not make a recovery.
His heartbroken wife said the surgical team broke down in tears when he died, TMZ reported.
Frank Bielec, the designer who transformed American homes on reality TV show Trading Spaces, has died at the age of 72
Bielec is best known as the quirky, funny interior designer who starred on TLC show Trading Spaces for eight years between 2000 and 2008.
The show involved homeowners swapping houses and working with one team of decorators to revamp a room in the other home on a $1,000 budget.
With the show a surprising success, the Texas native was transformed into a TV star overnight.
But Bielec had a more humble start to his career as an elementary school teacher, teaching art and social studies.
His passion for art and design then led him to get a masters in fine arts before he left the teaching profession to become a florist for 20 years.
In 1989, Bielec went on to set up a cross-stitch business with wife Judy called Mosey ‘n Me.
Bielec is best known as the quirky, funny interior designer who starred on TLC show Trading Spaces for eight years between 2000 and 2008. Pictured on the show
Bielec on Trading Spaces. The show involved homeowners swapping houses and working with one team of decorators to revamp a room in the other home on a $1,000 budget
His eye for art and design and his lovable character led to his discovery at a decorative paint convention in Nashville.
Bielec had been standing in for a demonstrator at the convention who had fallen ill and was approached by a Home & Garden TV producer.
He then had a few guest appearances on HGTV, before he landed the gig on Trading Spaces.
Bielec starred for eight years in the show alongside other TV newcomers Ty Pennington, Hildi Santo-Tomas, Vern Yip, Laurie Smith, Genevieve Gorder, Amy Wynn Pastor, and Doug Wilson.
He also appeared on the 2018 remake.
Biecel told Katy Magazine in a 2009 interview that he felt he was an unlikely star on the show and recounted how he was almost let go by bosses early on because of the way he dressed and because he ‘didn’t fit the demographic’.
‘I always wore shorts and crappy clothes because I was working and it was hot,’ he said.
His Trading Spaces co-stars led the tributes to Biecel on social media Friday
‘I figured if the carpenters could dress that way, I could too, but boy did we get phone calls.’
But he was a hit with viewers and soon became popular among his co-stars and colleagues.
‘I was the oldest one on the set so they treated me like gold. They looked to me like a father figure,’ he said.
His Trading Spaces co-stars led the tributes to Biecel on social media Friday.
Bielec onstage during the TLC portion of the Discovery Communications Winter TCA Event 2018. The TV star had a more humble start to his career as an elementary school teacher, teaching art and social studies
‘Lovely Frank Bielec passed away today from complications following a heart attack. Funny, wise, nice, and talented, he always lent perspective and levity to every situation. Thanks you for always being kind to me. I will miss you dearly friend. #FrankBielec #RIP #TradingSpaces,’ Vern Yip posted on Twitter.
Ty Pennington wrote: ‘One of the best humans I’ve had the good fortune to call friend. You will be missed Frank.’
TLC described the news as ‘a sad day’ and paid tribute to ‘his quirky style and wonderful sense of humor’.
‘A sad day for the TLC family as we learn of the passing of beloved Trading Spaces designer Frank Bielec. We will miss and remember him fondly, his quirky style and wonderful sense of humor. We share our love and condolences with the entire Bielec family at this difficult time,’ the channel posted on Twitter.
Biecel will be cremated and his ashes will be kept on the fireplace in the home he shared with wife Judy.