What you don’t know about Fixer Upper? Even if you’re not a fan of interior design, or shows on HGTV in general, you probably have at least heard of the home renovation show. The series launched stars Chip and Joanna Gaines to a level of fame no other HGTV star has known. Seriously, they’ve landed deals at Target, more magazine covers than you could count, and have turned the small town of Waco, Texas into their own kingdom, essentially.
But beyond the Gaines, Fixer Upper has also drastically changed the lives of every homeowner that’s appeared on the series. The show tackles homes that aren’t necessarily all that cute, and transforms them into total showstoppers, with plenty of shiplap. But what you don’t know about Fixer Upper is that despite all the southern charm, the show isn’t always all that it’s cracked up to be. And in fact, it’s a lot less perfect than you imagine.
No one actually house hunts on Fixer Upper
Part of the fun of watching Fixer Upper is seeing the clients of Chip and Joanna Gaines choose which home they want the dynamic due to flip into their dream home. But as it turns out, those house hunting scenes might not be as realistic as it seems.
In an interview with Fox News, homeowner David Ridley explained that before he ever appeared on Fixer Upper, he ‘d already picked out his future home, and was in the buying process before cameras started to roll. "You have to be under contract to be on the show," he explained. "They show you other homes but you already have one. After they select you, they send your house to Chip and Joanna and their design team." So while Fixer Upper shows contestants shopping around for their new home, in reality, they’ve already chosen it. And, not only that, but the Gaines have already started a design scheme for it as well. So don’t believe everything you see on television, folks, because it’s not as high-pressure as it seems.
Here’s what’s up with that giant poster on Fixer Upper
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Fixer Upper, then you know how fun it looks when Chip and Joanna Gaines reveal the final product to their clients. Standing in front of the home, the Gaines each hold one side of a giant poster featuring the home’s old exterior, which they then move to reveal the new design. And as it turns out, that poster has a pretty cool story.
In an interview with Glamour, Chip Gaines explained that the idea for the giant poster came kind of out of nowhere. "At the eleventh hour, we had a friend of mine weld a 12 foot tall by 12 foot wide — and there’s two of them, so it’s 24 feet wide by the time it’s all said and done — and I’ve got another friend in town whose got a small billboard company. When he put this thing together, I said, ‘That is awesome,’" he revealed. And what’s even cooler is that the Gaines leave the poster to the families as a forever (and giant) reminder of their time on the show.
Clients pay for the renovation themselves on Fixer Upper
When you watch an episode of Fixer Upper, it probably seems pretty glamorous. After all, isn’t it a dream come true to have a brand new home that was designed precisely to your liking for a relatively low cost? Yes, but there’s a catch. No matter how magical Fixer Upper looks, it’s not easy to be on the show. And perhaps most importantly, it’s pretty expensive.
As it turns out, HGTV and the Gaines don’t actually cover the costs of the renovation, as Yahoo! reported. On the contrary, the clients are expected to pay for the entire renovation, and there is a minimum that has to be met. A Magnolia Market employee actually told Hooked on Houses that anyone who goes on the show must be willing to spend at least $30,000 on the renovation process. That’s not chump change, especially when you consider the fact that the clients must also have already purchased a home.
Not every room gets fixed up on Fixer Upper
Perhaps one of the biggest draws for people to appear on Fixer Upper is that their home renovation will get done a lot quicker than normal. After all, filming the entire process in time to air it means that the house gets flipped pretty fast; but because of that, and because of budget restraints, not every room gets fixed up. Well, at least not on the show.
As Joanna Gaines wrote on the Magnolia blog (via Apartment Therapy), not every room gets a complete makeover on Fixer Upper. "At times, we only work on rooms that are of priority to our clients and that work within their budget," she explained. "Some homeowners want to finish off their other rooms on their own since it is mainly cosmetic (paint and carpet). Other times, we finish the spaces for them after the reveal and this is separate from the budget shown for TV."
So, when you watch Fixer Upper and notice that the extra bedrooms and bathrooms don’t get any screen time, that’s why.
The crew works around the clock on Fixer Upper
The clients on Fixer Upper have to deal with having cameras everywhere, making tough budgetary decisions, and spending a lot of money in a short period of time. But in order to make the show viable and able to air on television in a reasonable amount of time, the crew on Fixer Upper basically works around the clock.
Season 3 clients Sara and Jeff Jones told Apartment Therapy that getting their house revamped was a serious undertaking, but worth it to have their home fixed up in just six short weeks. "We did have to take time off to film," Jeff explained. "We did all our shots in one day. It was exhausting."
In order to take a run-down house from drab to fab, it obviously takes a lot of work, and that means a lot of time. And while the final product of the home almost always turns out great, the work that goes into it is super intense, and that’s something the viewers will never see.
Most Fixer Upper clients can’t keep all the furniture
When you see the final reveal of the clients’ home on Fixer Upper, it obviously looks styled to perfection. But what you don’t see is that after the cameras stop rolling, most clients have to send back the furniture that was used to decorate their new home.
One former Fixer Upper homeowner explained that the furniture couldn’t stay unless you paid for it, and it was expensive. "When it came time to pack up all their beautiful staging furniture, Kyle and I had to decide what we really loved because our budget at that point was pretty spent," Jaime Ferguson told Rachel Teodoro in an exclusive interview. Obviously, if you had plenty of money you could buy all the staging furniture, but it would cost you quite a bit as most of the pieces are from Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia storefront, and therefore pretty expensive. So how the renovated houses look on Fixer Upper probably isn’t how they’ll look in real life after the show, as the furniture isn’t included.
The casting process for Fixer Upper moves quickly
When you think of filming a home renovation show, you probably assume that it takes a long time. After all, HGTV and the production companies they employ have to sort through all kinds of applications in order to properly vet the right clients for their shows. But as far as Fixer Upper is concerned, it all moves fairly quickly.
According to one former Fixer Upper client, the process was actually pretty fast. "I applied to HGTV and heard from the casting agency the next day," Jaime Ferguson, from season 3 of Fixer Upper, explained to Rachel Teodoro in an exclusive interview. "After that it was a quick, big, exciting blur consisting of a Skype interview, written questionnaire, and some phone calls and meetings."
So, what you see on the show probably seems fast because it is fast. From start to finish, appearing on Fixer Upper doesn’t seem to take all that long.
Fixer Upper is focused on revamping Waco specifically
Obviously, fans of Fixer Upper know that the somewhat-small city of Waco, Texas is the focal point of the series. It’s where both Chip and Joanna Gaines went to college, at Baylor University, and where they live, work, and raise their children. Most importantly, it’s where the Gaines intend to keep all the Fixer Upper goodness and their huge company, Magnolia.
In an interview with the Waco-Tribune Herald, Chip explained part of the reasoning for keeping Fixer Upper focused on Waco was because of their love for it. "We’re passionate about making Waco a better town for all of us to live in," he said, adding that it was the only area they’re invested in.
For the Gaines, Fixer Upper wasn’t just a way to earn an income, or achieve fame and fortune; it was a way to put Waco, Texas on the map. And that’s exactly what they did. Going to Waco to see the Magnolia storefront along with Chip and Joanna’s many other business ventures, including restaurants and a coffee shop, is a huge tourist attraction. You can call that the Fixer Upper effect.
Joanna Gaines can’t get enough decor on Fixer Upper
Even though just about everyone who goes on Fixer Upper has to pay for their home and its renovation themselves, they do get one valuable thing for free: the design skills of Joanna Gaines. Though Joanna is known for her modern farmhouse aesthetic, she can tackle just about any interior design style, and a large part of that might just be because she’s always prepared.
Seriously, Joanna always has plenty of decor on hand for staging a home on Fixer Upper. "There’s a lot of planning that goes into a day like today," Joanna told People of how she typically prepares to stage a home. "But it’s inevitable. I’ll need more books, I’ll need a certain vase. I always like to bring too much so that in the end I have what I need."
Until Gaines can see the finished product in person, she doesn’t always know what kind of decorative items she’ll need, so she likes to come over prepared. Honestly, to say that Joanna can’t get enough decor items would be an understatement.
Some of the new home items aren’t good quality on Fixer Upper
So, the clients who appear on Fixer Upper don’t get to keep everything Joanna Gaines uses to stage their home for the final reveal, but just what exactly does that include?
Well, according to one former Fixer Upper homeowner, some of the items they did purchase from the show, as well as items that were donated such as appliances, weren’t great quality. Namely, Jeff and Sara Jones from season 3 of Fixer Upper told Apartment Therapy that it seemed like the things they got for free were free for a reason. "Our counter stools broke with little wear and tear, our dishes cracked easily upon regular use, and the appliances were the worst of all," Sara explained. "The fridge leaked constantly, so much so that it ruined our new floor and we had to ultimately replace it within four years, and the wine fridge they provided broke down after a year." Yikes.
So, while their renovated home might have looked good on camera, it wasn’t all that great to be on the receiving end of the donated items.
Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines may work outside of Texas someday
Just one listen to Chip and Joanna Gaines accents on an episode of Fixer Upper and you probably know exactly where they’re from. Well, you’ll at least know they’re from Texas — but not just anywhere in Texas, as the Gaines are from Waco. Additionally, they’re probably staying here for the foreseeable future. Yes, they won’t leave Texas, not even for the show.
Chip also told Glamour that there were some logistical reasons for staying in Waco. "It would be very difficult for us because we have an actual construction company in Waco, Texas," Chip revealed. The Gaines also felt a strong sense of loyalty towards their Waco employees, who Chip said had worked with them since the beginning of Fixer Upper.
However, Chip also shared that out-of-state projects weren’t out of the question. "I think one of these days I could see Jo being able to design and then have a local contractor implement the things," he continued. After all, Joanna was spotted helping Jennifer Lopez design her home, so who knows what the future holds for the Gaines?
Clients on Fixer Upper can’t see anything until the reveal
While viewers of Fixer Upper get to watch the design and renovation process with Chip and Joanna Gaines, it turns out that the clients can’t see anything until the reveal.
In an interview with Country Living, Rachel Whyte who appeared on season 3 of Fixer Upper explained that the entire process of having Joanna design your home was exciting, but also pretty nerve-wracking. "You’ve heard about the ideas, but [design day is] when you see a visual representation of what they have in store for your home," Rachel explained.
However, Rachel was then asked not to even drive by her house while the renovations were taking place, which proved to be especially testing for Rachel; she almost did just that, were it not for her husband’s insistence they get surprised. Still, on reveal day, Rachel admitted looked behind the poster. "I snuck a peek to see if the house was white and I was able to see that it was, so I could rest easy and the rest would be smooth sailing," she added. Hey, surprises are fun, right?
There are downsides to being on Fixer Upper
While most of the filming process for Fixer Upper seems like a dream come true, there are downsides to appearing on the show. Though Sara and Jeff Jones from season 3 of the show told Apartment Therapy that they "would do it again in a heartbeat," because, "When else in your life do you get your whole house renovated in six weeks?!" there were still some negatives.
In addition to having their taxes go up after their episode of Fixer Upper aired, Jeff explained that because of the huge popularity of the series, there’s a lot more tourism than ever before. Even though the Jones converted the garage of their own living space to rent out on Airbnb, there were a lot of unrelenting fans swinging by. "Also a local tourism company called Waco Tours drives by our house 4 to 6 times days to show people. I guess that’s the price you pay to have your house on TV," Jeff said. Hey, you can’t win them all.
It can be hard filming Fixer Upper
It’s no secret that Chip and Joanna Gaines have amassed a huge following among fans of Fixer Upper and HGTV. The show was wildly successful, and with nearly 13 million followers on Instagram, Joanna clearly is a bonafide celebrity. But what you might not have realized is that amount of celebrity can make filming the show pretty difficult.
In one Instagram post, Joanna shared a behind-the-scenes photo of a filming day for Fixer Upper, and people were surprised at how many people there were in the background. More than that, it was honestly shocking that the huge crowd had gathered right at the scene. "How crazy is it seeing ppl crowded on the streets watching in the background??" one person commented on Joanna’s post. "Look at all the people in the back! That’s crazy!" another added. Clearly, getting everything set up to film Fixer Upper can be pretty stressful, and the fans don’t exactly make it easier.