Must Watch: HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”

I’ve talked about shows/movies that I like here on the blog before, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone so far as to devote an entire post to promoting a specific show.

Well, that’s about to change because Shaun and I discovered HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” on our Lake Livingston vacation and proceeded to inhale the rest of the series in a few short weeks after we got home.

Now, we don’t have HGTV. We don’t really have much of anything (just a couple of fuzzy network channels), and what we have, we don’t watch. However, we are big fans of Amazon’s Unbox for the few shows we find ourselves drawn to, and the entire first season of Fixer Upper (there’s only one, but they’re already filming a second) was only $10 to buy and then stream.

So…what is it?

Well, it’s essentially a home makeover show, which sounds pretty blah and unoriginal, but the premise is made fresh and engaging by the charm and talent of the family it centers around.

chip_and_joanna_gaines

Meet Chip and Joanna (he affectionately calls her Jo-Jo) Gaines, the Waco-based owners of Magnolia Homes. They’ve been married about 11 years and have 4 kids, 9 and under. And in their family interactions lies the show’s biggest draw.

merry christmas

It doesn’t hurt that they’re all ridiculously cute. But the real surprise is how much they all seem to genuinely like each other. Sure, it’s an HGTV show, so there are aspects of it that are obviously scripted, but watching one of their children hurry to help another tamp down the dirt around a newly inserted plant in their farmhouse garden or seeing one brother unselfconsciously drape an arm around the other’s shoulders in the background of a shot that has nothing to do with them…It’s hard to fake that. Their kids are polite, well-mannered, and exude a sweetness and innocence that is rare and beautiful to behold, and while I have no doubt that they do their fair share of squabbling, it’s clear that the family is invested in each others’ well-beings. As Joanna points out in one episode, they make it a point to gather around a table for dinner every night, no matter how hectic their schedules get (and, with a new hit show, a realty business, a brick and mortar + online decor store, and a blog, it’s hard to imagine a family with more going on). Now, that may mean gulping down pizza around a coffee table while Joanna hustles to style the last minute details of a house before the big reveal the next day, but it’s a priority nonetheless.

joanna + kids

A lot of all the family togetherness and sweetness can be traced to the Gaines’s Christian faith (you can see a glimpse of Joanna here in their adorable country farmhouse, decorated with all things meaningful to their family, including chalkboard scripture verses). They make no effort to hide their love for the Lord, but it’s woven naturally throughout the show rather than showcased or clunkily hammed-up.

In addition to the family dynamic, it’s just fun to watch Chip and Joanna be Chip and Joanna. He’s a lovable, self-deprecating goofball, while she’s admittedly more high-strung but still manages to maintain an admirable level of dry wit in the face of his antics. Their comfortable, flirtatious camaraderie works really well in a show that’s technically about beams and French doors but really wouldn’t be anything so very special without their chemistry.

Of course, I haven’t even gotten to the main business of Fixer Upper, which is the fixer uppers themselves.

The basic premise of the show is that Chip and Joanna show a couple three prospective homes at varying levels of disrepair in desirable neighborhoods in the couples’ price range, and then they choose which one they want to buy and to what extent they want to renovate it.

Not too surprisingly, given the show’s tagline of “we take the worst houses in the best neighborhoods and transform them…” it’s almost always the saddest, most neglected option (with the biggest budget margin for renovations) that the couples choose. Again, there are aspects of the show that are highly formulaic (like the inevitable call for more money when they run into an “unexpected” foundation problem or whatnot), and I honestly think the show would be much smarter to do away with those, and just let it flow.

Even so, the proceedings, if predictable (especially when you’re watching it at a rate of 1-2 episodes a night, several nights in a row) are still highly enjoyable, and the big reveal at the end (after all the fun banter and progress footage in between) is always gasp-worthy.

I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but I did want to share a few of the before and afters as well as a peek at my favorite rooms from this season’s episodes.

First up, check out this amazing transformation:

harp collage The Gaines’s custom furniture-maker, Clint Harp, and his family were featured on an episode and ended up buying the house on the left for only $10,000 and then getting the house on the right (yes, the same one, but it sure doesn’t look like it) for approximately $115,000 when all the renovations were done.

Which is another thing I love about the show. Since, it’s based in Waco, where realty is crazy-cheap, the all-in prices are really reasonable and make some of these feats seem actually possible to pull off.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone like Joanna Gains to decorate for you.

harp house living room

Other than the staggering exterior before + afters, the best part about the houses is by far Joanna’s styling prowess.

There are recurring themes: white kitchen cabinets + furniture-style islands, chippy farmhouse tables, huge Roman numeral clocks, French doors, exposed beams, an open floor plan flow, and lots of unusual wall decor (she hangs everything from wooden chairs to metal washboards to antique bikes).

And if your style is ultra-modern or minimalist, you probably won’t appreciate her work as much as I do. But for a lover of vintage with a funky and traditional twist, her designs are a feast for the eyes.

Another extreme change was this French Country makeover…

french collage

I was honestly skeptical of their ability to take a traditional red-brick ranch-style home and transform it into the French country style that the owners were looking for, but they totally did it.

And, in perhaps my favorite exterior transformation of all, the Gaines took what the buyers fearfully referred to as “the haunted house” and turned it into something classic and beautiful and still totally fresh.

gorman collage

Want a few more interior shots? Okey dokey.

coffee bar

Love everything in here from the colorful rug to that World Market table + stool combo (I’ve seen it in person, and it’s super cute) to that amazing coffee bar (and I don’t even drink coffee!)

colorful house

The bench. The miniature farm table. The hanging washboards used as magnet boards for pictures. The toolbox-turned-Crayon-holder. It’s all great!

craft room Gorman- yum

As I mentioned before (and as you’re probably seeing), there are lots of repeated elements in Joanna’s decorating style, but one of my favorites is her use of old neon letters that have been stripped of their lights and then hung on the wall. The “yum” above is just one example of many. outdoor space

Believe it or not, this is actually an indoor space, which at one point was a creepy atrium (the buyers joked about all the snakes that were probably hiding in it) that Joanna transformed into super-chic herb garden. play room

There aren’t very many kid spaces, but this one with the windmill + locker storage + b/w map is really fun.

runner living room

And I’m totally in love with that chandelier, which can be bought from Joanna’s online store.

I know it probably sounds like HGTV called me up to plug this show, but I promise they didn’t. I just so rarely run across something that showcases such impressive talent combined with such consistent likeability, all while being positive and drama-free. So, yeah. I just had to share. If you’re looking for something fun, uplifting, and–let’s face it–pretty darn inspiring to watch, I highly recommend Fixer Upper. In case you can’t already tell. :)

Do you watch Fixer Upper? I don’t use the word “girl crush” often, but I think I might have one on Joanna. That girl has mad skillz!

Any good, clean shows to recommend? I’m always open for suggestions!

{All images are from magnoliahomes.net}

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48 thoughts on “Must Watch: HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”

  1. I love your show , and your taste , How can someone like me get you to help me ? I want a fixer upper, my boyfriend no , but if I had You guys , I already know the house I would buy ! Thank you Andrea

  2. I love your show, your show is really great, I was just wondering how come y’all don’t put up a flat screen TV? but other than that it’s a very great show.

  3. I am a recently retired physician with more time on my hands than usual and ran across “Fixer Upper.” I have only seen about 3 episodes, one of which was year 1, episode 1; the “haunted house.” I am curious about the supposed cost of the work. The “haunted house” showed no work on the electrical or plumbing requirements which would have been significant to meet current codes, nothing at all about the bathrooms which are always expensive and nothing about HVAC requirements. It seems to me the cost of this makeover had to be more than the 100k mentioned on the show as none of the items above were addressed. I have no “dog in this fight” as I am not in real estate, home improvements or anything similar so my “criticism” is only that I think this is misleading to folks who might want to do this to their property. I simply do not think that what is shown on this program can be done for the money they say is spent. We finished our basement with a bathroom and two other rooms to include another sink and a built-in bookcase for about 70k. Our master bath cost another 30K and the kitchen about 35. We live in Maryland where things are higher than Texas but it cannot be that different. I have written the HGTV and Magnolia websites and interestingly no response for either. Thanks for listening.

    1. I can only assume that a lot of the materials are donated as the prices seems just crazy. Frankly most of the makeover shows seem crazy cheap to us here in the northeast.

    2. My brother and I just sat thru this show and totally agree, this house must have had knob and tube wiring electrical, we don’t think they upgraded the windows so heating is going to be challenging. Chip must be a magician and her taste is amazing. I really enjoy the show.. but agree, don’t try to do this at home without watching an episode or two of Mike Holmes; “Make it Right” to realize what is hiding behind the walls.

  4. Yes – I do like this show! I love the decorating and they are such a cute couple and family. Plus, they have goats, and my mom loves goats. So there you have it. :)

  5. My husband is gone on a golf trip for the next 5 days so I ordered the entire first season to watch while he is gone. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Oh yeah! Can’t get enough! I’ve been driving back and forth between Dallas and Austin/San Antonio over the last few months to see my parents. Every time I’m going through Waco I imagine finding Chip and Joanna. Wouldn’t you leave your house in a heartbeat if you could have them do one for you? I would…and I love my house. :)

    My husband and I are planking a wall right now in one of our bedrooms. I joked that we are Chip and Joanna. He got a big laugh out of that.

  7. I am in love with that show!! My fav on HGTV right now. I’m kind of an HGTV junkie though. Its good TV to watch while I’m painting!! LOL
    I wish they came to CA so she could do my house! :)

  8. Love “Fixer Upper”. I have also loved “My Big Family Renovation” with Jen Hatmaker. My hubby keeps threatening to cancel HGTV and DIY because everytime I watch I want to tackle a new project!!

  9. One of my favorite shows…EVER!!! Another clean show I enjoy watching is 19 Kids & counting believe it or not… I’m a believer but I don’t necessarily agree with their doctrinal beliefs but they offer a sweet show with great morals displayed in each episode. My friends young daughters love it.

    1. Alexia, I love fixer upper too, but 19 kids and counting? I’m a believer also, but child abuse and molestation was revealed. The Diggers need prayer (as we all do) morals huh

        1. “A single mother prepared to start a new life in the castle crest neighborhood of Waco, Texas”. Watching now. Was trying to find why year jeep it is

    1. Can someone please tell me which episode the jeep was. I keep talking about how funny it was but I guess i didn’t tape it. Help

  10. I love this show too. My husband watched an episode with me and said that after it was over he thought it was an enjoyable show too (which is saying a lot as he hates HGTV)!

  11. I just discovered this show about 2 weeks ago and I have been slowly binge watching. Seriously, I have not watched too much HGTV in years. It seems like every show is House Hunters. Chip & Joanna are adorable, refreshing and sincere. I love that this show is filmed in Texas (our home state.) My husband saw a small clip and he was awed at the transformations and of course the real estate prices. We joked about sending our oldest to Baylor and moving to Waco. Loved Joanna’s blog too.

  12. I have Pregnesia and clearly am a spaz. I’m not sure why – but I always mix up Ann Voskamp and Jen Hatmaker. The HGTV show is with Jen and her family, not Ann’s.

  13. I’ve heard that Ann Voskamp’s HGTV show is pretty awesome too. Also in Texas – the Austin area I believe. But I’ve never watched either show. I’ll need to get my husband to find and download these for me. From the looks of things – Joanna’s style is right up my alley.

  14. LOVE this show!! They are just fantastic and so much love between them and their kids. Also I love your blog (a lot of love going on here :-) Thanks for sharing your life. Congratulations on baby 6.

  15. Love this show! Jo-Jo ‘s style inspires me! My husband and grown children all watch and talk about the show. We are also believers and had a feeling they were as well. Btw, just love your blog, you are just as amazing as Jo-Jo!

  16. guess we will have to ck back in with HGTV. we were devoted watchers but got to feeling like we were watching infomercials for real estate and dropped our completely. We missed some of the DIY shows from earlier days too. thanks for the update.

  17. I love beyond love this show! Their family is so cute, and their talent is truly unbelievable! I love that their faith speaks strongly throughout the show without them saying a word about it…..what a breath of fresh air!

  18. Love this show but some of her styling is not my taste! Most of the shows have designers that stick to one style and can tend to be repetitive. This couple does have a lot of charm and I like Chip’s humor.

  19. Funny. We saw the show on vacation, too. I love the couple’s interaction and, of course, the results. It was also fun to find out they are from Texas. Almost made us want to move to Waco.

  20. I love love love this show!!!! You couldn’t have described it any better!!! I’m totally 100% hooked and cannot wait for season 2!!!

    1. Love this show! It’s refreshing to see them work together. And I agree…I could easily have a. “Girl crush”! Tee he he

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