Joanna Gaines has shown the world for years now that it’s possible for a woman to truly have it all. For one, she and her husband starred in HGTV’s Fixer Upper, a phenomenally successful television show that ran for five seasons and left all of us wanting to demo our own kitchens. And she didn’t sacrifice her dream of having a family along the way, either, as the couple now have a total of five children — good thing they have lots of room in their gorgeous 1890s farmhouse to spread out! Top it off with the fact that she’s a best-selling author with multiple business ventures bearing the signature Magnolia brand stamp, and you can see just how remarkable and savvy she is in all aspects of life.
Despite the fact that Gaines seems like an open book, there are quite a few things you might not know about her just by watching the show. So, what are her secrets? And how does she get it all done? Here’s what you don’t know about Joanna Gaines.
Her favorite room in the house will surprise you
If you got to live in a gorgeous, renovated farmhouse, chances are your favorite room would be the master bedroom, with wooden floors and a plush bed, or perhaps the cozy sitting room with a fireplace. But Gaines’ favorite room is a bit of a surprise — and she knows it. "I love my laundry room," she shared in an interview with Today. "I know that’s a funny thing to love, but this summer I gave it a complete makeover and now it’s a place that inspires me." She cites the natural light in the room as a big selling point.
But according to HGTV, Gaines is equally fond of a more conventional choice: the kitchen. "It’s the heart of the home for me," she noted. "No matter how much is going on, I don’t feel overwhelmed because the palette is very clean and fresh." She also enjoys gazing out at the animals from the window over the sink. Sounds truly idyllic.
She’s an early bird
With a huge family to tend to and multiple business ventures to juggle, how does Gaines get everything done? Turns out that part of her secret is that she wakes up every morning at 5:30 a.m., according to HGTV. Then, while her husband tends to all of the animals, Gaines prepares a hot breakfast for the fam (such as pancakes, biscuits and gravy, or eggs and toast) after getting dressed and waking up the kids. By 8:15 a.m. she’s out the door to work with a cup of coffee in hand, which she takes with lots of cream and no sugar.
Gaines also manages to squeeze some self-care into her routine by getting it done the night before. "At night I shower and dry my hair, so in the morning I only have to curl it," she revealed. That explains why she always looks so composed and together — we’re seriously impressed!
She loves being off the grid
Even though Gaines is a television and social media star, she prefers to keep life in the farmhouse pretty low-tech. "Being on the farm, we don’t have the best wireless connection," she shared in an interview with Today. "But honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. A big part of moving out to the country was to disconnect and enjoy being with our family." She added that she and her husband have cell phones, but they try not to use them too much. So, we’d guess that she’s probably not talking to Alexa all day, either, or stressing over her Insta followers.
The Gaines also want to give their kids as normal of a life as possible, so, to that end, they don’t have a television in the house, according to People magazine. By extension, the kids don’t really grasp their parents’ level of fame. And mom and dad plan to be just as strict when it comes to giving their kids phones — something they don’t plan to do until they go to college, as noted by People.
Baking is a real passion for her
It’s obvious on Fixer Upper that Gaines is a wildly creative person with an excellent eye for decor and detail. That’s part of what makes her such a genius when it comes to making previously garish rooms into aesthetically appealing, sun-drenched masterpieces. And although she’s clearly good at what she does, she’s truly a baker at heart, which has informed her work as a flipper. "I’ve designed a lot of kitchens inspired by bakeries I’ve seen when I travel," she mused in an interview with Today. Girl just loves a good bakery!
So when Gaines opened a bakery at the Magnolia Silos a few years ago, it was a big deal for her. "I’ve dreamed about having a bakery since I opened the Little Shop on Bosque Boulevard in 2003," she continued. And if you stop by, she recommends the Cup o’ Jo cupcake, which is chocolate with chocolate espresso icing. Yum!
Here’s how she hinted at baby number five years in advance
When Gaines’ husband announced that they were pregnant with baby number five with this adorable (and hilarious) Instagram post, some folks were surprised. Considering how much they had on their plates, having yet another baby would’ve only added to the work in their already bustling lives. Honestly, we wonder how much she sleeps with all she’s doing!
But hardcore fans likely weren’t all that surprised, given that Gaines dropped a not-so-subtle hint that they were hoping for another bundle of joy. "I look at life as the more the better. If I found out we were having another baby, I would be really excited," she revealed to People magazine back in 2016. "We like a full plate. That’s just how Chip and I operate." Indeed that’s what they got, as they welcomed baby Crew into the world in June of 2018.
She didn’t always have money
According to E! News, the Gaines have a net worth of $5 million, so they’ll likely never have to worry about paying the bills on time again. But the couple wasn’t born with silver spoons in their mouth. In fact, they were at one point, as Joanna Gaines put it, "broke." "I remember when we first got married the only money we had was what was in Chip’s pocket," she revealed in an interview with People magazine — and that cash had to pay for everything. "If I needed to go grocery shopping it’s whatever was in his pocket. That’s how we paid the bills." Hard to believe that they were once barely scraping by!
And while Chip was already in the business of flipping houses when they got married in 2003, Joanna’s dad wasn’t very enthused about his line of work. "Her dad spent the first two years of our marriage asking me if I was going to get a job," he recalled. "I was like, ‘I have a job and I like it.’" You know Pops is happy about it now!
She’s half Korean
Gaines’ ethnicity isn’t something she pointedly addresses all the time, likely because it doesn’t have much to do with backsplash or paint swatches. But viewers were curious about her ethnicity nonetheless — so much so that she addressed it in a Q&A on her blog. "My father is half Lebanese/half German and my mother is full Korean," she penned in a post, dispelling rumors that she was Native American. That explains her unique beauty, for sure.
She went into detail about her parents’ love story on Instagram, and it is seriously romantic. The pair met in Korea in 1969, where her father was stationed — an unlikely place for a romance to bloom, but love prevailed. "All the odds were against them but they fought through and became an example of how to love, fight for, extend grace to, and honor each other amidst all their many differences," Gaines wrote. And they’ve been together ever since!
She has no design or real estate background
Believe it or not, despite her insanely sophisticated design skills, Gaines had zero interior design background when she started flipping houses with her husband. In fact, her background was in another area entirely. "I was actually a communications major and had never done design," she shared in an interview with Glamour. But despite her inexperience, she had a natural knack for the work, and she quickly began to take the lead. We all know what happened next!
Even though she’s clearly blessed with natural ability, Gaines admits that there was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning. Notably, she said that their first home together lacked refinement. "I was experimenting with my design style at the time and every room had a different theme," she revealed in an interview with PopSugar. She added that the living room had a nautical theme, the kitchen was French-style with mustard-yellow walls, and the den embraced all things cowboy. That’s … a lot.
Gaines also learned the importance of testing paint colors early on as well, according to HGTV. Clearly she’s evolved, for sure!
Her first job will surprise you
Although Gaines is a household name now, her life hasn’t always been uber glam. Rather, her origin story has some humble aspects, such as her first paying gig: tending to all of the food spreads at an all-you-can-eat buffet. "I still have an appreciation for buffet lines," she shared in an interview with PopSugar. Who would have figured that the queen of interior design started out in the humble hospitality industry? Not gonna lie, it all sounds super wholesome, and we’re here for it.
So next time you’re in Waco, perhaps to stop by the Silos, you might run into Gaines at a restaurant buffet. But chances are you won’t run into Chip, as Gaines says that the only people who share in her appreciation of buffet-style dining are her children. In any case, it’s nice to know that she’s as human as the rest of us when she has a hankering for pot roast.
Get ready to swoon
Gaines and her husband have some pretty incredible chemistry on camera. But it’s just a reality show, right? Surely they can’t really like each other that much, especially since they spend so much time together. Wrong!
The reality is actually more heartwarming than you would expect watching the show. "One pretty amazing thing we learned early on was that the more time we spent together, the better our relationship was," the couple penned in their book The Magnolia Story. "I think a lot of couples feel the need to get away from each other now and then, to take little breaks, and they come back after a girls’ weekend or a guys’ fishing trip or something all refreshed and happy to reconnect because they missed each other. We were just the opposite, and still are." That’s just not how they roll, as they work better together than apart. They’re legit the yin to the other’s yang, and they clearly wouldn’t have it any other way.
She still sticks to a budget
It’s not surprising that, given her profession, Joanna Gaines loves to go on the prowl for unique pieces at antique shops and flea markets. "My favorite thing to do is hunt for really cool pieces to sell or repurpose and use in my home," she shared in an interview with HGTV. And given all of the cool things she’s found on Fixer Upper, she’s darn good at it too.
But Gaines doesn’t walk into shops making it rain Benjamins, splurging on rare vases and gold-plated fire pokers. Rather, she has a strategy that keeps her from spending too much coin in any one place. "I always go with a budget in mind, so I don’t get carried away," she revealed in an interview with PopSugar. "When I find something I like, I first determine the value and what I will spend on it before I look at the price tag." That’s super smart!
She feels called by God
Over the years, Joanna Gaines has been involved in many different ventures, from spearheading several incarnations of her businesses to raising five children with her husband, to starring on Fixer Upper. But the road to success was not without its bumps, as she had to close some doors in order for other ones to open. For example, she had to temporarily shutter one of her shops to focus on being a mom — which was not an easy decision for her to make, according to an interview she gave to Baylor University, her Alma mater.
But Gaines never felt like she was making decisions alone, or wandering without a compass or a map. Rather, she has relied heavily on her spirituality for comfort and guidance at every turn. "I can look back now at the pattern in my life and really believe God has a purpose for me," she reflected.
She and Chip may return to TV someday
Fans of Fixer Upper were understandably bummed when Team Gaines announced that season 5 of the show would be their last. And while they loved the experience, they knew that it was time for a break. "The show was amazing and we are so thankful for it, but it’s also a whirlwind where, if you are not careful, it will flat run you over," Chip Gaines shared in an interview with People magazine. "You can’t believe how out of gas you are." Sounds like it was an intense ride!
Even though that show is finished, fans can find comfort in the fact that the Gaines will be back on television again. In an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in November 2018, Chip and Joanna Gaines announced that they’re not just heading back to TV, but they’re going to have their own network, as they’ve signed a deal with Discovery. We can’t wait to learn more about it!