Fixer Upper was arguably the biggest show in the entire history of HGTV, which captured the hearts of both avid fans and new viewers alike. The home renovation show featured Chip and Joanna Gaines, a couple from Waco, Texas, who takes pride in fixing up older houses and turning them into beautiful homes. The Gaines quickly rose to fame after Fixer Upper first premiered in 2013, and turned their real estate and renovation business into a huge empire.
The fame of the Gaines family aside, Fixer Upper was a smashing success for HGTV (though a reboot for the show is landing on Chip and Joanna’s new network, the Magnolia Network). But the show’s original incarnation, which ran for five seasons, saw some pretty incredible renovations. There were houses that just needed a little sprucing up, and then there were complete tear-downs. In fact, there were houses that weren’t even houses before the Gaines got their hands on them.
Indeed, Fixer Upper didn’t shy away from anything, and because of that there were plenty of horrible and wonderful finished dwellings. Seriously, the best and worst Fixer Upper renovations are definitely worth revisiting and remembering.
Best: This Fixer Upper house is iconic
When you talk about Fixer Upper to a mega-fan of the show, there are going to be a few houses that they specifically remember and love — and one of those is probably the Shotgun House from season 3. The old home was only 720 square feet and was basically falling apart at the seams. In short, Chip and Joanna Gaines had their work cut out for them. But, despite the odds being stacked against them, they totally nailed this home design and renovation.
The final version of the Shotgun House looks like a Pinterest ad for a tiny home. Chip and Joanna added a loft, a second-floor window, and second-story balcony, which made the house look much bigger; plus, everything they chose for the exterior was perfect. On the inside, Joanna didn’t veer too close to her shiplap-loving territory, and instead went with a more industrial and modern vibe.
The Shotgun House was such a hit that the owners actually tried to list it on the market for a whopping $950,000, as Today reported. It didn’t sell, but the price should tell you just how iconic this Fixer Upper home is.
Worst: This Fixer Upper season 1 fireplace was questionable
Now, to be fair, home design trends have obviously changed since Fixer Upper first premiered in 2013, and Joanna Gaines’ signature modern farmhouse look isn’t all the rage anymore. Still, there were some design choices made by her and her team that were questionable for anyone with any taste.
Specifically, in season 1 episode 5 of Fixer Upper, Joanna and Chip Gaines tackled a charming two-story home for their own carpenter, Clint Harp, and his wife, Kelly Harp. The initial house was in pretty bad shape, but one design choice they made on the interior was seriously questionable. Specifically, Chip and Joanna couldn’t install an actual working fireplace, presumably because the necessary installation costs exceeded the budget. So instead, they opted for a black vintage fireplace mantel and placed it over a wall. Basically, they made a fake fireplace, and despite how cool the mantel itself was, it looked a little ridiculous sitting against a plain wall, framing wire baskets where the fireplace should be. Truly, this was a strange take on contemporary classic design, and to be honest, that home deserved better.
Best: The Barndominium from Fixer Upper started a trend
Season 3 of Fixer Upper was a big hit for Chip and Joanna Gaines, and one of their best flips was the Barndominium from episode 6. The renovation saw the TV stars work their magic to turn a literal barn into a hip, family-friendly living space that’s just as gorgeous as it is functional. But, as tends to be the case with fixer uppers, the owner eventually listed it for sale — and for $1.2 million, no less.
When asked about the hefty price tag, real estate agent Jennifer Roberts stated, "It’s a beautiful retreat located with private lake access and a private pond," according to Realtor. "It is immaculate inside, and the sale includes every item on the property — that means furniture, linens, dishes, and televisions, too."
Not surprisingly, there’s been a rise in barndominiums since Chip and Joanna first created the OG on Fixer Upper. People are building barndominiums, renting them out on vacation rental sites, and much more. So, however crazy it might seem to list a barn for over $1 million, it might actually be pretty smart.
Worst: The owners of this season 3 Fixer Upper were angry
The Fixer Upper season 3 episode 12 house, dubbed the Three Little Pigs House, had definitely seen better days before Joanna and Chip Gaines got involved. As Joanna wrote for her Magnolia blog, the home was almost 100 years old when the renovation began. And while the Gaines couple really put in some hard work — and the residence wasn’t awful after they finished — as it turns out, the home wasn’t exactly a winner.
In fact, the owners of the Three Little Pigs House basically hated living in it. In an interview with the Waco Tribune-Herald, owner Kelly Downs explained that after a car crashed into their house (yes, really), she’d had about had enough of the neighborhood. "There’s been a lot of commotion coming from the bars and the store across the street," she lamented. "It’s been a problem from the beginning. We’ve lived here a year and a half and we feel deceived by the city of Waco and Magnolia Realty." In short, no amount of shiplap or "live, laugh, love" signs can fix a bad location.
Best: Season 2 of Fixer Upper kicked off with a real winner
The season 2 premiere of Fixer Upper saw Chip and Joanna Gaines truly come into their own in terms of design and renovation. The couple tackled what they called The Little House on the Prairie, which was perfect as it was originally a farmhouse. So it’s no wonder they nailed it on this one.
The Little House on the Prairie home truly encapsulates everything that makes a Fixer Upper property what it is. There’s shiplap, reclaimed wood, and so much more that all work together perfectly in the home. And wow, talk about exposed brick. Chip uncovered an exposed brick fireplace that truly steals the show. Even the Magnolia website states as much: "This fireplace is now the focal point of this house — it’s a piece of history right in the middle of their living room."
Ugh, if that isn’t everything you want in a true fixer upper, then what is? Chip and Joanna took this house from shambles to being totally charming and stunning — and that’s what Fixer Upper is all about.
Worst: There’s a reason the Gaines called this Fixer Upper home "plain"
When Chip and Joanna Gaines name the houses that they flip on Fixer Upper, they sometimes don’t give it much thought. Such was the case with a certain season 5 home, which they named the Plain Jane House. Even after the renovation, the dwelling lacked charm. Joanna even wrote in her Magnolia blog that, "the home didn’t have many architectural elements in it naturally." Yeah, that’s not what you want to hear when you buy an older home. Part of the reason why older houses are such good investments is because they have cool architecture that you just can’t get anymore. So the fact that this house started out plain isn’t good.
Additionally, the big reveal wasn’t all that exciting, either. The house was painted white to look like all the other modern farmhouse homes Chip and Joanna have worked on, and the interior didn’t leave viewers inspired either. The kitchen practically ran into the living room, and the bathroom was a gray-and-white monotone nightmare. There really wasn’t anything original or special about this home, so the name suits it perfectly.
Best: Joanna Gaines tackled a new style in this Fixer Upper home
It’s no secret that Joanna Gaines is known for her modern farmhouse design preferences, so when she goes outside of her comfort zone on an episode of Fixer Upper, it can go either way. But when Joanna and Chip Gaines’ clients came to them in season 2, episode 9 hoping to turn a neglected, sad little house back into a warm, livable home, Joanna really dialed into the dwelling’s existing characteristics and went from there. The result was the stunning Mid-century Modern Home, which looks like it belongs in West Hollywood instead of Waco, Texas.
There’s still plenty of white-painted brick inside of the house, but overall, the interior is a far cry from Joanna’s typical style — and that’s a good thing. The build of the abode screamed "midcentury modern," and Joanna nailed the design on the exterior and interior by leaning into that. Everything from the paint colors to the wood stain to the fixtures were absolutely stunning, perfectly reflective of what a mid-century modern home should be.
Worst: This Fixer Upper home looked dated even after the reno
Not everything that Chip and Joanna Gaines touches turns to gold. Take, for instance, the season 3, episode 16 house that they really didn’t do their best on. In fact, the so-called Chicken House wasn’t exactly all that updated, even after the reno. As Joanna wrote in her Magnolia blog, the couple who bought the home had more "classic" taste, but this residence didn’t feel classic — it felt tired.
Really, all that Chip and Joanna did on the exterior of the home was paint the brick and shutters, as well as expand the front porch a little; it didn’t exactly scream "hip and cool" the way they probably wanted it to. Additionally, both the thin columns on the porch and the paint color didn’t suit the abode. And on the inside, the statement wallpaper almost looked like something that belongs a college dorm room. Furthermore, the rounded arch entry into the dining room made the space seem smaller.
Overall, the Chicken House was a total miss, and could have been way cooler if the Fixer Upper team had just been a little more creative with the renovation.
Best: The home in the Fixer Upper’s veteran episode turned out beautifully
Not every renovation that Chip and Joanna Gaines undertake is the same. To that end, in one season 4 episode, they took things to a whole new level when they worked with a charity to renovate a veteran’s home. Specifically, the couple partnered with NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III to give Vietnam War veteran Bill Graham a gorgeous house to share with his wife.
Chip and Joanna thoughtfully redesigned the residence, and all of the colors and furniture chosen throughout looked beautiful, like they’d belonged there all along. Sadly, one of the owners, Sherry Graham, didn’t live long enough to stay in the home for very long. Still, it was clear that the reno was a dream come true for her and her veteran husband. Her son, Billy Graham, told KWTX that it had been a huge blessing for the family. "For the short time mom was here, you wouldn’t believe the difference it made," he revealed.
Clearly, this house was perfectly redone, and the flip was almost as sweet as the love between Sherry and Bill.
Worst: This Fixer Upper home just didn’t look like it was updated
Fixer Upper famously features farmhouse-style houses in Texas. However, one such home from the show, which was way out in the country, just didn’t work. To be fair, both Chip and Joanna Gaines were still getting their footing during season 1, so the 11th episode, in which they worked on The Crawford House, was understandably not their typical flip.
Well, it was and it wasn’t. The dwelling was super outdated, but not so much that it needed a complete tear-down. So, Joanna kind of had to work with what she had in terms of structure and design.
Even though the home was supposed to have a ranch feel to it, it just looked old and just kind of blah; it lacked the design elements that typically make a Fixer Upper project stand out from the crowd. Additionally, the kitchen felt pretty closed-off and seemed almost dated, even after the renovation. Plus, the sliding barn doors, for which Chip and Joanna are known for, felt wrong in this house, which really needed to be lightened up. Overall, this house just wasn’t their best work, and it shows.
Best: This Fixer Upper Season 3 charmer was picture-perfect
Sometimes, all the shiplap in the world can’t save a home. But most of the time, a neglected house just need a smidgen of shiplap and some good old TLC from Chip and Joanna Gaines, and it’s as good as new. That’s exactly what happened with this Fixer Upper season 3 premiere residence, which ended up looking absolutely perfect.
Despite the hilarity of its name, The Nut House turned out like looking like the kind of a home in which a sitcom family resides. Seriously, the Gaines had it painted a beautiful blue color with white trim and black shutters. To top it off, the abode has a double-decker porch that retirement dreams are made of.
Not only was the exterior of The Nut House remade into something stunning, but the interior ended up looking incredible as well. As Joanna wrote for her Magnolia blog, "The original hardwood floors were also able to be saved in this space, so they were refinished and looked good as new." Ugh, original hardwood floors are quite literally a design-lover’s dream, and Joanna really nailed the style and design with this home.
Worst: This house was a grand Fixer Upper undertaking that fell flat
Sometimes, Chip and Joanna Gaines end up taking on a project that’s too big and too grand for the amount of time and money they can allot to it. That was certainly the case with one Fixer Upper home, which ended up being pretty boring and forgettable.
The season 2, episode 3 house — or The Tree House, as Chip and Joanna called it — wound up looking, quite literally, overshadowed by the trees on the lot. Additionally, Chip and Joanna had the exterior of the dwelling painted a dull cream color — and that was only the beginning of the bland, neutral colors that were featured throughout the house. The original home was actually pretty cool, with yellow paint on the exterior that made it appear bright and cheery. But once the Fixer Upper team was finished, the house looked boring and almost cookie-cutter.
Best: This funky Fixer Upper home was full of personality
According to the Magnolia blog, the second-ever episode of Fixer Upper saw Chip and Joanna Gaines take on a house that had really seen better days. As the website noted, it was a "quirky old house that hadn’t been touched since it was built in 1973. The house was literally stuck in the 70’s, and included a strange atrium in the foyer that made the house almost unsellable." Yikes.
But the atrium wasn’t the only thing that rendered the house in need of a renovation. It was seriously outdated overall, pink carpet and all. In fact, the residence originally looked like something out of The Jetsons, only worse.
Fortunately, Chip and Joanna got to work and turned the house into a cool, spunky home with an eat-in atrium with room for herb gardening right in the middle. It was a great demonstration of Joanna’s design capabilities that didn’t involve any painted brick or (too much) shiplap.
Worst: This house gave Fixer Upper viewers a headache
When you give a house a name like The House of Symmetry, what do you expect it to become, if not a home worthy of a horror film being shot in it? Seriously, the name of this Fixer Upper home was terrible, and the house was pretty bad, too.
The reason that Chip and Joanna Gaines named the dwelling The House of Symmetry is because it featured two identical windows on each side of the front door. That might have been cool had Chip and Joanna run with the symmetry idea. Instead, the choices they made felt forced and awkward, and the finished project wasn’t even symmetrical; one side of the house had a bigger window than the other, and since that was the only flaw in the symmetry, it just looked weird.
The exterior of this house wasn’t just boring, either, as it was also kind of dated. The interior wasn’t much better, with pretty basic design choices and a vintage vibe that really didn’t suit the overall build of the home.