If you've ever watched HGTV's Fixer Upper and wondered how Chip and Joanna Gaines pull it all off, well we're about to tell you. Maybe you're more interested in their relationship than the work they do? Are you one of the millions of viewers who want to know about their process or just want to know about them personally?
While the producers of the show work hard to find a mix between focusing on the couple who are the stars of the show and the work these stars are doing, a producer's main job is to make sure that what viewers see on television seems natural and a part of the everyday process of renovating a house. We know, what we see on television is not always how it goes.
Clearly, Joanna has design skills and knows her way around tools and construction. But, is she really decorating each house on her own? How does she decide what design concept to go with? Where does she get her inspiration?
As for Chip, is he really this goofy all the time? How did he snag such a seemingly fantastic woman in Joanna? All that renovation work Chip does, who pays for that and what happens to all his work when the camera stops rolling?
What we're learning from all these questions is that clearly, there's a lot the average viewer doesn't know about Chip and Joanna Gaines or how the process of the show works. We've compiled a list of 15 secrets you probably didn't know when it comes to the show. These are the juiciest behind-the-scenes secrets from Fixer Upper, and they may completely change the way you view the show.
Maybe you're into design and construction. Or, maybe you are just curious about Joanna's ethnicity. Wherever you find yourself as a fan of the show, these 15 secrets will blow your mind.
15 The Show Does Not Pay For Renovations
On a huge number of home renovation shows, there are all sorts of money invested by the network and the producers to "wow up" the property and add drama to the reveal. The idea behind more change is to show a drastic and dramatic change.
On Fixer Upper, nobody is donating their services or materials to the show. There are no major sponsors buying appliances or hundreds of volunteers from the area who come work on the home to get it done in 48 hours. The most HGTV might throw in is some money if the property lacks curb appeal. That's only because that's the first part of the reveal and often the most dramatic. And, it helps the neighborhood, which is part of the mandate of the show.
14 Why Waco?
There are a few rules about being on the show Fixer Upper. One of the biggest is that you absolutely have to be interested in buying a home in or around the Waco, Texas area. The show shoots and works exclusively in that city. In fact, people who buy outside a 40-mile radius of Waco are denied to get on the show.
Once approved based on location, the casting directors also ask more than 60 questions and request a variety of photos about your family, background, and design ideas. These include everything from wanting to know about why you want to move and the purchase price of your home. They also ask why you chose your specific Waco neighborhood and how much money you intend to put into the renovations on top of the price you paid. The show is very much interested in improving the image of Waco which has a not-so-wonderful history in recent years.
13 You Need $30K As A HomeBuyer
One of the questions you'll be asked is how much money you plan to invest in the renovation of the new home (the home you will pretend to look for but already own). A rule is that you have to put at least another $30K of your own money into the work, and that's a minimum that will allow Chip and Joanna to work their magic.
HGTV is not going to give you the money, and you have to sign a contract committing to that dollar amount. Outside of that, what viewers are watching on television is real. The prices on the houses are accurate, and Chip and Joanna have to stay within the listed budgets by the home owners. There is no inflating the numbers on the show. The money is what it is.
12 Furniture Doesn't Stay
One of the most important parts of the show is not something that the home owners get to keep. Fans all over the world who absolutely love Joanna's designs and taste in decor might be surprised to hear that it all leaves the minute the show stops shooting.
That home, which was just completely filled with furniture, is emptied and the home owners are responsible for redecorating their homes on their own. They are given an option to buy the designs and decor that Joanna has worked tirelessly to put in the homes (that's one of her side businesses), but the prices are not cheap. Bottom line is, the furniture on the show is from Joanna's personal collection in the Magnolia Market, and it's there for staging purposes only.
The good news for home owners is that Joanna will often incorporate pieces that the homeowners already have. It's not a total money grab situation.
11 Significance Of Magnolia
Have you ever watched the show and wondered what the significance of Magnolia was? It's everywhere! Every business or project that the Gaines are involved with uses that name. Chip and Joanna own Magnolia Realty, a property renovation company called Magnolia Homes. They are building a gated community called Magnolia Villas, and Joanna's retail store is the Magnolia Market. They've even opened a bakery called Magnolia Flour, and their 40-acre home sweet home is called Magnolia Farms. Of course, if you're a fan of the show, you also know the bed and breakfast location as the Magnolia House.
The word Magnolia started to have meaning for the couple while they were dating. Chip used to pick the blooms off Magnolia trees, and they were inspirational in Joanna's design ideas. The Magnolia Market just took and things took off from there.
10 What Is Joanna's Ethnicity?
Joanna is absolutely beautiful. She's an international blend of ethnicities that shouldn't surprise anyone that Chip fell in love with just by seeing her picture on a wall. But, where is she from? What is her background? It's a common question fans of the show have wondered about for some time. Many have guessed that she is a Native American. Others think she might be Asian. What is her background anyway?
Joanna gets asked about her background so much that she actually addressed the question on her blog just to put any rumors or curiosities to rest. "I love hearing all the guesses," she wrote. "Although I did play Pocahontas in high school, I am not Native American. My father is half Lebanese/half German and my mother is full Korean."
Now that you know and you realize it makes absolutely no difference in how you watch or enjoy the show, fans can move on.
9 The Amount Each Home Is Renovated Changes
There have been differing testimonies as to how many rooms in each house the couple actually renovates. Some have said that Chip and Joanna will do every room in the house. Others say they've only done the rooms they show on television.
Most episode feature around three to five rooms during renovations. Sometimes, there is much more to the work they do that the audience doesn't see. The other rooms get cosmetic upgrades, like new carpeting, paint, and fixtures.
Fixer Upper usually doesn't show all the rooms in a house. According to Joanna, they often only work on rooms that are of priority to the clients and that work within their budget. If a client comes to the couple and says they have only $30k, that's not enough to do significant work in all rooms of the house. Some homeowners actually hire the couple to finish the spaces after the reveal, and this is separate from the budget shown for TV.
8 Reveal Days Are Long
Like any television program, what we see as the audience is a mere fraction of the footage that is actually shot. On Fixer Upper, one area that is extremely edited is the reveal which is cut down to only a few minutes at the end of the episode. The reality is, reveal day is an all-day shoot for the couple and the homeowners. Often, these days start at 8 a.m. and go to 4 p.m.
Such long days make keeping the couple excited about each room as it's presented a challenge. They have to manage their enthusiasm as they often wait hours between seeing one room to the next. For Chip and Joanna, it's not likely that big of a deal. They're used to the process.
7 What's The Story Behind The Reveal Posters?
Those "before" reveal photo posters that are a staple of the show have quite a backstory. Fans who know the show see these posters that Joanna and Chip place in front of renovated homes to ensure that clients are surprised when they see their new home for the first time since the renovations began. Apparently, they're so big you can't even fit them into a home.
The 12-foot-tall by 12-foot-wide billboards were a last minute solution a friend of Chip and Joanna's came up with. The 24-foot massive wall is available for the homeowners to keep, but there isn't really a place for most homeowners to put it, so it goes somewhere up in reveal poster heaven. I'll bet a few autographed versions of those posters could go for some pretty good money on eBay. Delivery charges might be kind of pricey.
6 The Whole Three Homes Thing Is A Ruse
The first half hour of the show we watch is completely staged to set up the idea that the homeowners had a difficult choice and tormented over which home to purchase. The reality of the show couldn't be further from the truth. To be on the show and successfully apply for it, you have to already have purchased a home that needs to be fixed up. You also have to tell producers your renovation budget for that home.
The entire process of searching is not real, and the other two properties are just for show. They were never going to be considered by the couple. That said, it is a bit surprising that they don't cut this portion of the show back. It's an important part of the process for home buyers offscreen, but Chip and Joanna have nothing to do with it. Fans would rather watch Chip and Joanna working and the reveal anyway.
5 Your Pinterest Board Creates Joanna's Inspiration
After you've been accepted for the show, the producers of Fixer Upper (and mainly Joanna) want homeowners to sign off on a budget and make a Pinterest board so that the design team can see what you want. The idea behind the Pinterest board is to help Joanna get a sense of the homeowners' style.
If you put together a series of photos that are nothing but black-and-white furniture and classic designs, Joanna knows that's the look she should create as the centralized theme of the home. She does put in her own ideas and if there's one thing fans of the show know, it's that the couple loves shiplap. Otherwise, that first Pinterest board has a major impact on the finished product.
4 Homeowners Don't Get To Hang Around
One of the issues for most designers is finding a design that makes both sides of the couple happy. Homeowners in real life can often be pushy and opinionated and stick their nose into the project, making it difficult for a design team to do their thing. In the case of Fixer Upper, the homeowners are required to stay away.
Another reason the producers require this is for the sake of the homeowners. There isn't much excitement from a couple who is about to be revealed a home they've already seen. What kind of dramatic television would that make? Many homeowners that have been part of the show have stated that it took discipline not to sneak a look. These are probably the same people who sneak early looks at their Christmas presents. It kind of ruins the whole experience of the show if they cheat.
3 How The Couple Met
Before Chip ever met Joanna, he fell in love with a picture of her that was hanging in her father's automotive repair shop. Chip has publicly declared in interviews that he knew he'd one day marry the woman in that photo but he needed an in. Chip reportedly conveniently came into the shop to have his brakes worked on while Joanna was working in the office. He needed an excuse to talk to her.
While Chip was in it from day one, it took a few months to get Joanna to fall for Chip. She knew he was nice and made her laugh and that they hit things off immediately, but she was also cautious. Once she knew she could trust him, things got pretty easy for the couple after that. It sounds like Chip is a lot like the person we see on the show.
2 They Got Discovered Thanks To A Blog Post
Sometimes, you're just in the right place at the right time. That's what happened when Joanna Gaines decided to share a piece of herself and her work on a blog called Design Mom. It was January of 2012, and she wrote a post called, "Living With Kids: Joanna Gaines." The idea wasn't to get discovered, but to share her thoughts on being a mom and working. A production company reportedly saw the blog, liked a photo of one of her and Chip's designs, and reached out to Joanna.
They loved the fact that they worked real estate together, and producers were big fans of her design work. They figured there was a show there. From that point on, they were courting both Joanna and Chip to get involved with a program that would air on television.
1 Fans Of The Show Are Everywhere
If you're a fan of Fixer Upper, you're not the only one. There are hundreds and thousands of fans all around North America who love the show and Chip and Joanna. Their loyal fan base is one of the reasons why the couple is so hot right now. With that comes the realities of being famous.
Television tapings can actually be pretty chaotic. Outside of having numerous workers and tradespeople on a job site, there are hundreds of fans who often find out where the couple is shooting in Waco and stand around to watch them work. Crowds of fans will stick around for hours at a time and, in some cases, have to be held back or ushered off the grounds for safety reasons. I can't image that would be a lot of fun to watch, but fans are fans and will take an opportunity to catch a glimpse of Chip and Joanna.