COTE DE TEXAS: Fixer Upper–Jumping the Shark?

Fixer Upper–Jumping the Shark?


Well, well, well.  The Houston Chronicle wrote an article about FIXER UPPER, that hugely popular HGTV show that everyone in America is addicted to.  Interesting things are happening in Fixer Upper land,  but, first things first…

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Just a few years ago, Joanna and Chip Gaines were local house renovators.  They came into the sights of HGTV who then invited the pair to create a pilot for a network show to be called “Fixer Upper.”  And now, a couple of years later, their hometown Waco, Texas has exploded from their success.  Literally.   The Fixer Upper couple has, in these few years, done more for the economy of Waco than anyone could have predicted. 

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Waco:  Above, can you find the silos before they were The Silos District?  Where’s Waldo?

The Gaines’ popularity is immense and impossible to calculate.  They created a brand – “Magnolia” that is based  out of Waco’s new “The Silos District” a lifestyle park that includes a retail store, a nursery, a vacation rental, a bakery, a food truck court, a furniture line, paint line, rug line, and wallpaper line (did I leave anything out?) - all in hopes that tourists, shoppers, and the curious would come.  And they did.  By the tens of thousands.   The number of people coming to Waco on any given week to visit the Magnolia Silos District is over 20,000. Waco is the Mecca of Texas.
 
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Build it and they will come:  the line of people waiting to get inside the Magnolia Market wraps around the corner and down the street.

I mean, are the Gaines giving away something for free?  Do these people not realize you can buy it all on the internet?
In case you live on Mars, the Gaines’ HGTV show, Fixer Upper, is about taking a horribly run down house and transforming it into a beautiful home for its owners who basically have no input into the renovating process.  The renovation is done mostly in secret by the Gaines Team, who then reveal, on camera, the final product to their clients.  Their house is renovated from top to bottom by Chip and his crew and then Joanna furnishes it in her iconic style.

A typical Fixer Upper:

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And have no doubt - their renovations are truly incredible, usually done for such little money that almost everyone in America wants to cash in and move to Waco.  I can’t tell you how many times Mr. Slippersocks Man has watched Fixer Upper and said “I could live there.  I love Waco, come on, let’s move.”  Honestly, he’s said that after every single episode and he doesn’t even really love Waco.   image

“Waco, who?” 

Waco, Texas, a small city with a population of 130,000, is located along the Brazos River, off I-35, halfway between Austin and Dallas.  It is the home of Baylor University and the birthplace of Dr. Pepper.  Because of its location on the river, it’s one of the very few universities where people can sailgate at football games as well as tailgate. 
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Sailgating on the Brazos at Baylor during game day.

But now, Baylor isn’t the only tourist draw in Waco, the Magnolia Silos are.

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BEFORE:  What the Silos looked like when the Gaines bought the property.  The bakery is at the right on the corner – a florist at the time.  The big building on the left will be the main Market and Magnolia offices.

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The Silos today with its barn doors and new checkerboard landscaping, gooseneck lamps, and black and white awnings.  The two tall silos are really just accessories.

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The Magnolia Silos Bakery and its new landscaping with the checkerboard grass.  It’s really synthetic, but it looks fabulous!!!
Besides watching the show Fixer Upper, people are very curious about the behind-the-scenes minutiae.  Fans have many questions about the show that are never really answered on HGTV.  One of the most frequently asked questions is: 
“Do the owners get to keep the furniture that Joanna decorates the house with?” 
The simple answer is NO.  The cost of the furniture and accessories is not included in the final price.  If, after the final reveal, the owners want to keep it all – they can, for sure, but it’s an additional cost. 
I’m not sure that any of their clients have moved into their new house, lock, stock, and barrel using everything Joanne placed in their house, but some have come very close to keeping it all.  The Shotgun House is one where the house today looks the same as when Joanna furnished it.  Most clients have kept at least SOME of the furnishings, but many don’t keep any of what Joanna bought for the final reveal. image

The main store or anchor at the Magnolia Silos – huge barn doors close off the front entrance. 
Another frequently asked question about Fixer Upper:
“Is the final reveal a reality?” 
Yes.  The clients are not allowed to be a part of the renovation process after it is agreed upon at the beginning.   The owners’ reaction at the end when they first see their renovated house is very real;  that is, as long as the owners haven’t cheated and driven by the house at night or on the weekends.

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Inside the Magnolia Market at the Silos.

Another popular question: 
“Do Chip and Joanna really pick out three houses for the owners to chose from?”
One truly phony part of the show is at the beginning where Chip and Joanna drive the couple around offering them three houses to buy.  In actuality, the couple usually already owns the house to be redone.   The contract states that they must be willing to spend a minimum of $30,000 on its renovation.  Since they are also Real Estate agents, Chip and Joanna do sometimes show a house to a client, but that is a rarity. 
Another:
“Do the owners pay for the renovation?”
Yes, the owners do pay for the work done.  The scene where Joanna adds a final choice of three extra decorative renovations - that is paid for by HGTV.   In addition the Gaines receive a flat fee of $30,000 per episode (I”m sure they make much, much more now than this for the show.)   The renovation cost is paid by the owners straight to the Gaines’ renovation company.  In other words, HGTV does not pay for the renovation – the owners do. 
 
With all they have going on in their lives, the couple have even found time to write a book, now available for Pre-order. Just click on the picture to order it.

Since The Silos, the Magnolia Market, Nursery, Magnolia House, their vacation rental,  and Magnolias Bakery has opened, droves of the curious have landed in Waco, a town not exactly known for luxury hotels.  As you can imagine AirBnB has become popular in this college town where motels sell out on game day months in advance.   The word “Fixer Upper” is a popular search term for houses in Waco’s AirBnB and VRBO database.   Most surprising to me was to find out that several Fixer Upper houses are now available for rent through AirBnB and VRBO and apparently the Gaines are not too happy about it, at all.  Enter the previously mentioned Houston Chronicle article.

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Magnolia House is available for vacation renters.  The Gaines own this house they renovated for tourists.

Recently a large story ran in the Waco Tribune, which the Houston Chronicle and multiple gossipy web sites then picked up, about these Fixer Upper houses that are now available for vacation renters.  It’s become a huge story.  The owners of these houses say they did not buy their Fixer Uppers just in order to rent them out, but since the Gaines are now so popular many homeowners have jumped on this bandwagon.  The Gaines spokespeople are not too happy about it.  They are now thinking they need to make some changes about Season 5 applicants. 
Here is their official statement regarding Fixer Uppers becoming AirBnB vacation rentals: 
Magnolia spokesman Brock Murphy stated:
“We have no problems with our clients’ interest in using sites like VRBO and Airbnb to rent out their homes. In fact, we get it. But we are going to be more strict with our contracts involving ‘Fixer Upper’ clients moving forward.  We want to honor our national viewing audience. We want to do remodels for clients’ homes. That’s the true intent of our show, and we want to ensure that does not get lost in this new vacation rental trend. What started off with perfectly understandable intentions could cast a shadow of a doubt on the much bigger picture, and we are going to do our best to protect that moving forward.”
Hmmm… 
It’s been reported that at least twelve homeowners have decided to put their Fixer Upper houses in the vacation rental pool.  The Gaines want to stop this from becoming a trend.   The Comment Section that accompanied these two stories were full of different opinions as to why the Gaines would even care if people rent out their houses.  They ARE their own houses to do with as they please.  Right?  Can the production company make future participants sign an agreement not to turn their house into a vacation rental?  Is that even legal?  
The huge popularity of the Gaines has been very important to Waco.  Without a doubt they have had a huge impact on the college town.   The 20,000 people a week that come to Waco’s newly named “Silo District”  means big money to area restaurants, shops, motels, and other businesses.  But, not all this change has been welcome.  This once sleepy downtown area where the silos is located is now receiving tax valuations that have doubled and even tripled this year.  Needless to say, not everyone is happy with all changes, although besides the increased tax rates, the benefits to Waco have been enormous.
And then there are the throngs of people who come to visit Magnolia Silos who want to tour Waco and see the Fixer Upper houses in person.   Many visitors contact the tourism manager with requests for tours that include the Fixer Upper houses.  Officially, the tour only includes public sights – also included are two recent Gaines real estate additions, the Elite Cafe and the Dossey Mansion and the Clint Harp house.  Other houses are not on the tour in order to protect the owners privacy.  
Locals complain of the cars and traffic and lack of privacy from all the tourists.  Have the Gaines become too big for Waco?   To understand the thinking behind the Fixer Upper owners choosing to join the vacation rental pool, consider the most surprising one:  Clint Harp, the Gaines furniture designer.
 
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Clint Harp’s Fixer Upper:
 
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“BEFORE THEY WERE FIXER UPPER FAMOUS”
Clint Harp’s shop is on the left and his house is on the right.  

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Today:  The shop has been renovated and painted to match his house on the right.
 
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And, what the house looks like today.  
Clint and his wife and 3 children bought the run-down house next door to his design shop – which the Gaines then renovated.  It was the star renovation of their first season.  The biggest surprise is that the Harps moved out of that house after just a year.  Clint said: “We love that house. It’s such a great house. It’s not like we didn’t want to live in it.”
Well?  Why move then? 
He didn’t move because of safety, he moved because his business was next door and he was never able to separate his private life from his work.   On Saturdays, he would look at the parking lot and worry why there were no cars in the lot.  No cars meant no shoppers.   Instead of selling his house, he has decided to make money off it through vacation rentals.  He had to redo some of the upstairs to get it ready for renters and he has just started offering it online.  I’m so curious to know what the Gaines think of Clint doing this?  He is a major part of the show, appearing on each episode.
Will he be back in Season 4, Season 5?   Actually Clint now his own show on DIY.  Since Fixer Upper is now mostly using only furniture from the Magnolia Home line, what role would Clint even play now?  He was their furniture builder.  My prediction is Clint won’t be back in any meaningful role.
   
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BEFORE:  Their house was a complete dump, but watching the process the Gaines went through to transform their house was fascinating and inspiring.  It made everyone in America think – I want that or I want to do that !    The Harps bought their house for pennies and spent a reasonable amount on the renovation.  Home ownership could be this affordable to everyone, right?

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AFTER:  The Harps moved in but didn’t stay for long.  They bought another house – it was also a fixer upper, but it won’t be shown on HGTV, the couple want to maintain their newly found privacy.   Clint turned his house into an office, but now the house is being reworked to become a vacation rental.  I’m sure it will be booked solid. 
Want to rent Harp’s House?  Clint and his wife have just put it on AirBNB, right in time for football season.  All the pictures on his ad are from the final reveal on the Fixer Upper web site.  So, I don’t know if that means they have changed anything since the house was revealed over two years ago?   I’m not sure why they didn’t take current photos.  Seems a little curious to me.    Still, how fun would it be to stay there?  I’d love to see it today. 
Want to rent it?  Go HERE.

In total there are said to be twelve official Fixer Upper houses on the vacation rental market.  I couldn’t find all 12, but I did find a number of them.  What I LOVE is seeing how different the houses look now that they are no longer furnished by Joanna Gaines, but instead are decorated by the current owner.  Some of the houses for rent are their most popular renovations, including the famous “Barndominium.”
   
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The Barndominium from Season 3 was a barn that the Gaines transformed into an upside-down house with an oversized dining area on the bottom level.  I was thrilled to see pictures of the house today, without the Gaines final styling.  Still, it was shocking the house is now a rental.  Apparently, the couple who owned the house also owned 2 others on their beautiful lakeside property.  They moved out of state before they ever lived in the house.  The property was then sold to a real estate flipper who decided to rent it out, cashing in on the Fixer Upper notoriety.  She has been so surprised at the huge response, fielding requests from vacationers from all over the United States.

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BEFORE:  The former horse stables had been renovated to include an upstairs apartment, reached by the stairs.

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Before:  The stables, downstairs.
  
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After:  When the Gaines presented the Barnondomium to the family, it looked like this.  The stairs are now inside the house and barn doors close across the front glass door.
  
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Today:  A rare view of the front with the barn doors closed.  At the side is the wooden fence. 

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After:   the large hall downstairs became a party room for dining.  To me, this is a wasted space.  I would have either made the apartment downstairs – with the kitchen and dining room here and with bedrooms upstairs, OR if not – I would have turned this into a family room.  How often would you have this many guests for a meal, especially if you are a vacation renter?  It is pretty, though.  Another barn door closes off a sitting room.

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Today:  On the rental web site, the barn looks the same as it did on the show.  The electrical wires have apparently been photoshopped out.

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Today:   The new owner tried to keep the barn looking just the same as it did on the TV show.  Apparently, most of the furniture placed by Joanna was bought by the homeowner, including this table.

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Today:  in the sitting room, the furniture is exactly the same, as is the rug.

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BEFORE:   The kitchen upstairs.
  
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AFTER:   The kitchen with the fabulous black and white cement tiles!  Love!
  
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After:   Joanna used a antique sofa in the family room, along with a wall full of frames and screens. 
Note – this is probably one of the last houses that there will be antique sofa or furniture used.  From now on, it will probably be only new Magnolia Furniture used.   That’s a shame.  The creativity of the furnishings is no longer there.  It seems to be all about selling the Brand now.

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Today:  It looks like some of the furniture is new – but the vibe is very close to what Joanna did.   

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Want to rent the Barndominium?   Go HERE

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Another surprise house that is now for rent is this modern one called “Mid-Mod”  from Season 2.   The owner Jill is an old friend and client of Joanna’s.   Her husband Josh had a change in his business status after moving into their popular Fixer-Upper, so the couple began offering their house to vacationers during the odd weekend.  It ballooned from there, due to the enormous success of the show.   They began offering their house even when they were in town, scrambling to find places to stay.  Today the couple have new jobs and are looking for a new house to live in while Mid-Mod becomes a full time vacation rental.  Jill tries to downplay the Fixer Upper connection to protect the Gaines.  She is opening an antique shop/beer garden in the Silo district.

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Before:  The Mid-Mod was a mess before the renovation.  This house is one of the Fixer Upper rentals that is located in a very nice neighborhood.  

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Before:   This mid century modern was a huge departure from Joanna’s typical shiplap/subway tile look.  Surprisingly, I love this house and what they did with it. 

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After:  Here was Joanna’s final reveal – she painted the fireplace white and restored the ceiling.  I love the brass divider in the kitchen.   We are lucky to see how the homeowners have changed the house since moving in.

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After:  A view towards the kitchen, now open to the living room.  The furniture looks very similar to her own line, but it’s not.  Probably it’s made by the company that makes hers or this was a prototype? 

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TODAY:   The owners kept the Moroccan rug and the tables,  but they added their own sofa and pillows and chairs.  While not as decorative as Joanna’s design – this still looks good.
    
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AFTER:   How Joanna decorated the master bedroom with the back wall painted black.   She did pendant lamps over the nightstands.
  
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TODAY:    The master bedroom looks different with the new bedding.  The owners kept the light rug and the lights and the 7 painting, but the rest is new.  Love the red suzani and the deer head.    The master bedroom is much better under the owners compared to Joanna.   That is a shock!!    Do you agree???   Shades of Light lamps.  Painting by Joanna.  No longer available!  They should sell it in all numbers!
Want to rent this house?  Go HERE.
  
Next, the popular Shotgun house is also for rent:

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Before:  This house, an historic “Shotgun” in Waco was a hit renovation.  It’s a fabulous one.  They did a great job on it.

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After:  First, the house was moved to another lot just a mile from Baylor.  The roof was raised, front brick steps were added, as was a new iron gate for privacy.

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Today:  The house remains as cute as ever.   Notice from the drone view:  Magnolia Market and The Silos District in the background!  It’s so close to where a renter would want to be. 

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Today:  There is an Airstream in the backyard.  Perhaps that is where the owners sleep when their house is rented out?
  
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AFTER:   View from the loft.  The reveal showed an amazing use of space.

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AFTER:   Blue furniture with a Moroccan rug.  Upholstered furniture seems more high dollar than usually used by Joanna.

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Today:   The owners kept the same furniture, but used a different rug, which looks just as cute as the Moroccan.  This rooms looks very much the same as it did when Joanna styled it.  I could be happy here, just like Mr. Slippersocks Man!!

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Today:   Love the green Smeg in the kitchen.


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AFTER:  The one bedroom is styled by Joanna in navy blue and white bedding.
  
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TODAY:  The owners kept it exactly the same.  This house is unusual in that it looks almost exactly like it did when Joanna styled it.  Most home owners don’t keep all the furniture like this.  It’s a plus and this looks like a great rental.
Want to rent the Shotgun?  Go HERE.
  
The Old School House, or as it is better known as the “German Schmear House,” is for rent too:

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BEFORE & AFTER:  The Gaines used what they called the German Schmear technique on the red brick to give it its new look.  There are also new lanterns, columns, front door, shutters, shingles, and window boxes.  This is a great curb appeal change.

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TODAY:  Well, the flowers are long gone and the grass is looking bad, but the house is as cute as ever.

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AFTER:  The foyer as styled by Joanna used black and white marble tile and a pine antique console.  These sconces are repeated throughout the house, along with the matching pendant lights.

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TODAY:   The owners kept all the light fixtures, but traded out the antique for a mid century piece.  Hmm…

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BEFORE & AFTER:  The house was opened up by removing walls between rooms.  The new kitchen is fabulous and is the focal point of the house.  Wood look tile was laid on the floor.  The decor is warm and masculine and European in feel – a departure from Joanna’s typical “white” look.

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BEFORE & AFTER:  The kitchen has teal cabinets and white shiplap tiles and white countertops.  Just beautiful.

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TODAY:  The furnishings in the main room look much the same, except for the bar stools which aren’t quite as cute as Joanna’s pick.  I like the ones she picked – the brown looks good with the shelves and the bread boards, etc.

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AFTER:   The dining room and piano that came with the house.   The owners did not keep this table.

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Today:  The furniture and rug is different – but the look is almost the same.

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AFTER:  Joanna did the master very romantically and feminine, with dark walls and pretty linens.  I always liked this bedroom she did. 

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AFTER:  Joanna added her trademark faux fireplace.   I liked the ivory curtains and chair against the dark gray walls.

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Today:  The room looks totally different although they used the same headboard and rug.
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Today:  New bedding, curtains, and the faux fireplace was replaced with a chest.  It doesn’t look bad, I just liked Joanna’s styling better. 
The upstairs was not shown on the show, but it’s nice: 
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Today:  Nice bedroom, quiet and well done by the owners.  Wood floors painted white.
And this is another question usually asked by fans?  What about rooms that are in the house but aren’t shown on the show.  Are those renovated? 
The answer is usually yes.  The renovation is kept to the minimum, paint, floors, etc. – but no styling, no furniture.   

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TODAY:   This bedroom has pretty wood floors.  
The owners of this house, young newlyweds Jeff and Sarah say they live in their house out back while this house is rented out.  When they were first shown the house, Joanna told them, the lot is so big you could build another house out there.  Did they?  The googlemap pictures are outdated.  Maybe they are living in a trailer out back.  Seems to be the trend. 

Want to rent the German Schmear:  Go here.

This next house is called the Fifth Street House or the Bicycle House.  It was a house in Season One and I absolutely loved the architecture of this 1910 house, built by the Mailander family.  It’s just two blocks from the Brazos River and right by the park, and it’s perfect for being close to Baylor and the river walk.  The floors are cocobolo and the ceilings are 11ft.  It’s just charming.

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Before:  The house was in basically good condition, it just needed to be renovated with TLC. 

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AFTER:  Cleaned up the house is beautiful.   I absolutely love this house.  It was one of my favorites that was shown on Fixer Upper.  I know I keep saying that, but the Gaines have renovated some cute houses, to be sure.  Look at those stucco arches.  Love!!!

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AFTER:   The windows and arches on the side of the house.
  
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TODAY:  The view of the house at dusk.  The landscaping is growing out.
   
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TODAY:   The house from the side view.  OK, I hate that furniture on the porch.  The potted plants should be uniform.   Haha!  OK, it’s real life – not camera ready.
  
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Before:  A mess, but the fine points of the house were salvaged – the floors, the built-ins, the beautiful, aged windows.
  
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AFTER:  Joanna’s styling of the parlor with the built ins, now totally restored.  I could be so happy here.  With or without Ben. 

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After:   Khaki colored furniture and textured rug.

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TODAY:  Well, that sofa cover is just terrible.  They would be better off spending $349 and buying the Ikea slipcovered sofa.  The same chandelier remains.  The mantle looks pretty.
  
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AFTER:   Off the side porch, Joanna used black furniture and an iron chandelier.   Cute lantern sconce.

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Today:  The owners used brown furniture, same chandelier.  This room still looks very nice, as does the kitchen.
  
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Today:   The bedrooms are not decorated with any style, but the reviews of the house are wonderful and many say it is extremely clean.  They need to have Joanna come over and redecorate their house.  It could be fabulous!
  
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Today:  The second bedroom is a little cuter. 

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Today:  Yep.   A Shasta!   I told you this was a trend!   Apparently the owners were besieged by women, mostly in their “50s” who would stop and take pictures in front of their darling house.  Wanting more privacy, the couple bought another house and decided to turn this into a rental.  Why not take advantage of the Gaines’ huge popularity?  I doubt the owners had a clue what was going to befall them when they first bought their Fixer Upper house.
The hosts for this house get GREAT reviews. 

Want to rent this house?  The Mailander.  HERE. 

This next house was the second renovation shown on Fixer Upper.  Remember that one?  I was floored.  Floored.  I was like ready to drive to the First Ward in Houston and find my own Fixer Upper. Or the Third Ward.  Or the Fourth Ward.  There’s not a Second Ward – that I know of?  What IS a “ward” anyway?

I digress.

The second Fixer Upper.  The couple bought this horribly decrepit house in Waco for $25,000. and  then spent $100,000. on the renovation.  They were as shocked as America when it was revealed by the Gaines.  I do think it’s not in the nicest neighborhood though.    The house is 2600 sq ft, built in 1930, and the city was going to condemn it.  
The couple – Charmaine and Chuck acted on TV as if they were going to live in the house with their small daughter.  She even had a playroom upstairs that Joanna decorated for her.  But, according to the Waco Tribune, they never planned on living in the house.  They leased the space for a daycare.  After a few months, that plan changed and they had a large, empty house.  Someone suggested they put it up for vacation on VRBO.  People were very interested and Charmaine had just 10 days to furnish the house for her first guests.   The pictures of the house – how it looks today – are rather surprising.  None of the Joanna Gaines charm remains, at all, and I’m not sure why the house is so popular on VRBO.  It’s all very strange, a daycare?   The family should go into acting – because they were really great actors.  I really believed it was to be their family home.  Didn’t you? 

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Before:  The house was falling down – it needed everything.

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After:  with a new wrap around porch, gray paint and white trim, and new landscaping.  When it was revealed, America gave a collective gasp.  Seriously?  You can do that to a house with so little money?  Where is Waco, again?

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After:  The side view of the house.

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After:  The stairs are beautifully repaired.

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Before:  Joanna wanted to do shiplap and the owners agreed to put it in the front room, as the rest was damaged.  Things have really changed at Fixer Upper, shiplap is now a standard!


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After:  The front parlor with the shiplap.  The walls were opened to the kitchen and family room. 

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After:  The family room.  Doesn’t the furniture look a little nicer than it does on the show now?  Hmmm.

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Later:   The front living room with the shiplap turned into a daycare.

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TODAY:  The house is almost unrecognizable – with its kiddie murals painted on all the walls.  I’m shocked they haven’t been repainted.
  
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AFTER:  How it looked when Joanna revealed the house to the owners.
  
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AFTER:  Joanna’s styling.


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Later:  turned into a daycare.  The director of the daycare, pictured above, had a daughter who was to live on the third floor.

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Today:  a view into the kitchen that shows how the room actually looks today. 

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Today:  The bedrooms as designed by the owners. 

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Today:   The reviews of the house are very good, although there were a few comments about the day-care decor.

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Today:   White sheets with gray comforters or striped comforters look so much better than a mish mash of color and pattern.
  
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Today:  The architecture of the house does shine through.  The daughter’s playroom was up on the third floor.  This is where the director’s daughter was going to live.
 
All the reviews of the house are very positive and Charmaine the owner receives high praise as an excellent host.  No complaints at all about the decor, everyone on VBRO loved it.  Although, there is a very negative review of the rental’s neighborhood on the comment section of the Waco Tribune. 
Want to book it?  Go HERE. 

The Chicken House – One of the very last houses that Fixer Upper did in Season 3 is this ranchburger.  The owners are obviously trying to downplay the Fixer Upper connection.  I just happened upon it on the AirBnB web site.  I do wonder why they aren’t calling it a Fixer Upper by name?  On their web site, the last sentence written by Joanna is “Chip and I loved working with this sweet couple to design and build them the home of their dreams! They loved it, and as always we hope they’re happy here for years to come.”   Well, no.  A few months later, their house is now a vacation rental. 
What this house really shows though, is how commercial Fixer Upper has truly become.  It’s now a vehicle to sell all of the Gaines products.  I hadn’t realized how true this is until I wrote the story, but the show has become about selling the “brand.” 

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Before & After.   The biggest change is the facade.  The red brick was painted gray and the fireplace was refaced in stone.  The porch was extended and enlarged.  These made a huge difference and added so much to the house’s curb appeal.
  
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AFTER:  Another change that made a huge difference are the new windows, flanked by the new shutters.

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Before & After.  The house didn’t need much renovation, mostly redecoration.  The wallpaper was placed on accent walls, which is a bit strange.  I would have just done the entire room in the paper, or not at all.  But I love the decor.  It’s very nice and it will make a great rental.
At the time I didn’t think much about the wallpaper except that it seemed an odd place for it.  Wallpaper generally is for bathrooms, bedrooms and dining rooms.  Living rooms are trickier.   It wasn’t until I thought about this – that Magnolia had just signed a wallpaper deal with York that is due to roll out (pun intended) in January of 2017.  With this in mind, it makes sense that the wallpaper would need to be shown and pushed – in order to sell it.  Nothing wrong with that, but Joanna has never used wallpaper before – that I can remember.  But I guess we will be seeing a lot more of it now.    

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AFTER:   The windows make such a difference.  They are beautiful.   Love the yellow accents with all the grays.  The coffee table and sofa/chairs are all from her new line, Magnolia Home Furniture.
Again, all the furniture in this house – all of it – is from Magnolia Home Furniture. 
It’s been known for a while that Joanna places  most of the accessories from her store.  But she always had a part of the show where she would go to an antique shop or pick out an antique for personalizing  the house.  That seems to not be stressed as much.  Now, she stresses the metal signs she has made and then sells at the market.  

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AFTER:  More strange placement of the wallpaper behind the desk.  The pine door IS an antique and leads to the bedrooms.  It makes a great decorative touch, one that hope Joanna doesn’t lose in the future.  The antique pieces are what MAKES a house special.  And then, there is the desk.  I really don’t like the desk there, with the lantern and the wallpaper.  It should have gone somewhere else.  It makes the small living area an office. 

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TODAY:  All the furniture from the reveal is long gone.  This house is totally changed, except for the wallpaper and sconces.  Of course all the charm is now gone as the homeowners did not try to recreate what Joanna did.  Instead, they just moved in their puffy leather furniture which makes no sense with that wallpaper. I do like the rug alot.

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TODAY:  It’s a shame the beautiful new windows are now covered up by mini blinds.  More wallpaper over the desk. 
  One of Joanna’s first wallpapers was used in the Magnolia Bakery, a toile featuring farmhouses.    She IG the paper in the bakery, below:

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Magnolia’s new wallpaper Farmhouse Toile used in the Magnolia Bakery.  Love?  Yes, of course.  Love the black background.  Apparently the wallpaper line will include lots of black and white papers, like that found in this house’s living room.

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BEFORE & AFTER
Is this the nicest “Before” house they have ever done?  Not much needed to be done to house except the kitchen and bathroom.    The cased openings were arched and shiplap was revealed behind the dining room’s wallpaper. 
 
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AFTER:  Love the shiplap!   Love the china chest too.  All the furniture in here is from her own line available in Houston at Star Furniture or at most furniture stores around the country.  The table, chairs, and the china cabinet are all Magnolia Home Furniture.

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If you had any doubts about the creativity that goes into each house lately – here is an advertisement from Magnolia Home.  With the shiplap walls and identical furniture and accessories, it’s hard to tell if this is the Chicken House or the Ad.   Even the antique pine door was used.

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TODAY:   How the house looks with the homeowners furniture.  Again, completely different.  What a huge difference the Joanna styling and furniture makes. 

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BEFORE & AFTER:  Teal cabinets are becoming a trademark of Joanna’s.  Not really loving the square hood.   But it’s a very pretty kitchen and it looked fabulous on the TV screen. 

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AFTER:  A new look:  whitewashed brick pavers as a backsplash.   This look so architectural.  It’s a great idea to copy.  I think the hardware should have been brass.  But who asked me?

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AFTER:  Love the sink and the herb rack, although that could look really bad if the plants die.
The biggest part of this redo was the herb rack with the custom made pots that are probably sold at the shop.  She showcased a new member of the crew – the iron worker who designed the rack.  It makes me wonder if he is going to take Clint Harp’s role now that Clint has his own show on DIY and there is no need for a furniture designer anymore????
Big changes at Fixer Upper and they do all seem aimed at selling their brand.
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AFTER:  New banquette.   Again, the table and chairs are from the Magnolia Home furniture line. 

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Today:  Again, not much is left of Joanna’s except for the herb rack.  And it looks like they don’t keep it up as I predicted.

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BEFORE & AFTER:  The bedroom just needed redecorating and getting rid of the popcorn ceilings.   Joanna added shiplap on the wainscot.  Why?  Either do it all the way or not at all.  Puzzled by this.  Is it because she wants to change things up?   It almost made me wonder if she planned to wallpaper this room too?  Or am I being too suspicious!!!!  The bed is from Joanna’s line Magnolia.

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BEFORE & AFTER:  The kitchen and bath got the most renovation.  Again, with the wainscot shiplap.  Shiplap runs from the ceiling to the floor.  It’s like sheetrock. Not understanding this wainscot shiplap.
I love the navy and white.  Very pretty, but it would have made more sense to just use the subway tile instead of the shiplap – unless Joanna wanted to connect it to the bedroom.  
TODAY, there are no updated pictures of how the master bedroom truly looks, they used the same picture from Joanna’s final reveal.  The couple actually live in this house and rent it out.  When they have guests, they pack up their two young children and go where?  I have no clue.   The couple ask on their AIRBnB profile that you not open their chests, closets or refrigerator.  House rules.  They do provide a small refrigerator for the guests.   
Want to rent this house?  Go HERE.
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Everyone is getting into the act.  This man owns this house that the Gaines remodeled and once owned years ago.  “Before They Were Famous” is how he advertises it on AirBnB.  Not much to see here, except that we all have modest beginnings.  Oy. 

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No shiplap.  No subway tile either.  No white paint.  The Gaines actually lived here?!?!?   Want to see more?  Go HERE.
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In summary.   Everyone seems to love Joanna and Chip Gaines and who can blame them?  They are the all American family, religious, wholesome, very hardworking. They don’t even own a television, for goodness sakes!!!  I don’t know how they do it all, I really don’t.  With four children and a 40 acre farm and a TV show, the Silos District, the furniture et al lines – it makes me nervous to just think about it, but Joanna is so chill, she seems so centered – it’s hard to find a bad thing to say.  Which is why this AirBnB story seemed a bit surprising.   Peeling away the onion skin, it’s also impossible not to see other changes in show. 
















I’m more curious than ever now to see Season 4.  Is it going to be All Brand now and less about creativity?  As it is, there is not much creativity left in the furnishing of the houses – it’s more about Magnolia Furniture from here on out – it’s about as exciting as going to the Star Furniture web site and looking at it there.
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Magnolia Rugs
And more.  I’m wondering  – will a light fixture line be next?  That seems to be one piece of the pie that is missing.  There is Magnolia paint, furniture, accessories, wallpaper, art work, pots, signage, rugs – only light fixtures and hardware is missing. Will we still see old chairs or peeling painted tables found at Round Top, or, instead all the furniture from  Magnolia Home. Same with all the accessories.  Is Fixer Upper now an hour long commercial?

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Magnolia Paint Samples
And there’s the shiplap.  Recently Joanna blogged that on Season 4 she would be introducing a new kind of shiplap, a “skinny shiplap.”  Now I’m wondering if that is something they will be selling too?    She also wrote that they will be showing different rooms now  - not just living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens.   In Season 4, there will be more kids bedrooms and playrooms which makes good business sense since they are now carrying an entire line of children’s furniture:
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I am making a prediction:  One episode shown in Season 4 will be a Home School class room.
I hate to say this, but it does seem like Fixer Upper is all about the Brand now.  Everything that is shown can now be bought directly from the Gaines.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but the audience should know this.   It’s one thing to sell, but to choose which rooms to decorate on the television show just to showcase your new line of kids furniture or your French inspired line seems manipulative.
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Looking back at Season 3, you can see so many pieces from their furniture line in the houses.  But, if you look at the Carriage House, above, – it was more of a mix of furniture and accessories, not just their own line, plus Joanna introduced exciting architectural designs like the shelves -  it was such a great house.  I hope they continue with a more balanced mix like the Carriage House instead of a total Magnolia Brand such as the Chicken House.
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And finally, if the show is now just about promoting the Brand – why do they care if their homeowners rent out their houses on AIRBnB?  Why should all the commercial gain go only to the Gaines and none to the homeowners?  After all, the homeowners are a very important quotient of the show.  Without them, there is no show.   It’s their money that buys the houses, that pays for their renovations, that keeps the juggernaut moving.  Without homeowners – there is no Fixer Upper.  If some of them want to make money off the Brand, why not?  Don’t they deserve a piece of the lucrative pie too?
It will be very interesting to see where this all leads.  Is this the end or a new beginning?  The bigger question might be – is Fixer Upper getting ready to, or have they already jumped the shark?????

138 comments :

  1. I think this is the cattiest blog post I have ever read. I stopped reading your comments about halfway through and just looked at the pictures. My goodness, if you don't like them so much, why would you even bother doing a post on them? And I bet I'm not the only one who is going to feel this way.

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    1. I agree with you Frances.

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    2. I'm not sure I understand your concerns, Frances and Kim. Joni's comments and FACTUAL information are an interesting take on the Gaines .. who are portrayed to be perfect in all ways (which they clearly are not). And what is wrong with pointing out controversy and obvious manipulative selling practices? Joni is generally very balanced (except with our friend Ellen .. but that's another blog). Perhaps you should stick to Danielle Steele novels, take your xanax and stay away from this blog. Ciao ciao!

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    3. oh lord. I thought it might be an issue. Why blame the messenger? This story is ALL over the internet and there is tons of buzz about it. In fact there is SO Much noise I wasn't even going to mention it. I'm going to guess that these two are regular readers. All I can say is just move on. But be sure and do NOT read the article written by The End Time about Joanna's salvation. You will really be upset.

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    4. oh lord is right! I read about Joanna's "salvation" a while ago and stopped watching the show.

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    5. I do not agree with Frances at all. Joni never said that she did not like the Gaines'. She only questioned why Joanna and Chip would object to the people renting out their homes for vacation rental after they were finished. Thank you Joni for posting this on the homes to let us see how they look months after they are finished. Her style is not completely my style but I do like what she does for the area she is in--- it seems to be the style for her part of the country. I follow her show for two reasons
      1. They work hard to do a good job for the owner and I like to see what they can do with basically "nothing" to start with in a run down house.
      2. they are great parents and they follow the Lord-- and that is a big thing for my family--- without God what would life be????

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    6. To anonymous August 30 11.17am .. "without God what would life be???" Gee .. I don't know .. we would have world peace, no oppression of women, equality for all, no judgement, no guilt, greater advances in science .. need I say more??

      Can we keep the discussion on topic? Thanks!

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    7. It is fun to see how the houses have changed after the homeowner moves in (with their things!)

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    8. To anonymous August 30 3:49PM All the examples you gave of things of that are not right in the world -- lack of peace etc. are a result of the devil's work -- just proves that the devil is alive and well --- need I say more?

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    9. I don't think it is catty at all. It is honest, observant and raises interesting questions.

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  2. Very interesting. Fun learning what has become of some of the homes and I had no clue that some of them are rentals. I don't blame the owners for cashing in on the fame. Have you seen the furniture line in person? It's not quality stuff and the prices are inflated. I hope they keep a mix of antiques and the new, too.

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    1. actually I thought the prices were pretty inexpensive? it seemed reasonable to me, but I haven't seen the quality. I just miss the more personal design. Even using their own furniture, it's possible. Like the green house - she used her modern day bed and that's one of my favorites. Baby Blue House season 3, epi 15

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    2. I have seen some of it in person and the black dining chairs felt like plastic. I did a post recently on the line that I saw in a furniture store in the north Ga. mountains and for the quality the prices were a bit high even on sale. I didn't pay much more at Ethan Allen which is much better quality. I still love their show though and am looking forward to the new season.

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    3. your pictures are great. the problem is that the furniture store didn't display them good. the line probably looks a little better when it is styled? but it does look very cheap, I have to agree. she could offer two lines - a beautiful one like ShabbyChic's sofas. oh well.

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  3. Ouf! As someone who is deep into renovating some historic apartments with an eye toward AirBnB, I understand the draw. I also appreciate that rundown places were turned into beauties. And that the phenomenon has given the city of Waco a boost. I would love to do the same for Carcassonne. BUT it does seem disingenuous to have readers thinking about the drama of creating cozy homes for these people, vs. the less dramatic, less emotional story line of holiday rentals. Also, my gripe with AirBnB and other sites is that some places there's no quality control or inspection (not to mention paying of taxes). We are going to list our place with the city tourism office, which will require an inspection, and we'll have to pay taxes on the income. But too many people rent places that aren't up to code and they don't declare the income.
    The other thing is that after seeing so many of these photos, there's a sameness to the design, but I guess that's to be expected when you're talking about one designer.
    I agree with the charm of antiques. When everybody has the same Beni Ourain carpet, it's just boring.
    On the other hand, I applaud the workmanship of artisans like Clint Harp and wish him success.

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    1. I wonder about Clint. Im going to watch the show today hopefully to check it out. I hope he's happy and he can sustain the same level of popularity on his own. I still LOVE his house!!!!

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    2. Don't you think that there is more to the Clint story than we know? I have a feeling he had a falling out with Joanna over renting out his house.

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    3. If you've been to Waco then you'll know his house is in a very bad area of town. I would never let my kids outside there.

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    4. Also, the daycare house, someone who stayed there said there were signs on the yard that warned there were security cameras and there were cameras throughout the house. Also she said she heard gunshots at night. she left several comments on the Waco Tribune story about it turning into a daycare.

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    5. I follow Clint on Instagram and he addressed all the media hype over him renting his house out just a couple days ago. All is well, but the media wants to sensationalize it to get readers...

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  4. Well I read all the way through so see that your post wasn't catty at all and you praise them 6 paragraphs to the end. I was intrigued when I saw this show but the formula while good isn't enough to sustain more than one season personally. I think over-capitalisation on homes is also the worst financial mistake unless one is wealthy enough not to worry about such matters. I am guilty though bc the first few episodes I saw I told my husband to start googling Waco!

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    1. I hear you. Ben is in love the Gaines. He really wants to move there but he's such a diehard longhorn, it would be an issue living in the Baylor land. haha. Austin used to be more like Waco but no more. It's sad how big Austin has gotten.

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  5. It was such a bummer to see the homes after the buyers "redecorated" with their own taste. YUCK. I would be super disappointed if I was renting one of those and expecting it to look like it did on the show.

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    1. the real issue are the renters who show Fixer Upper photos on their AirBnB and not the updated ones. Clint has done that. Also, so the Chicken House, but then I think they probably got some comments about it because they are now changing out the pictures.

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    2. ugh, such a dishonest thing to do. Pictures should reflect the current reality of the home!

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  6. When good people rise to the top, the media is always going to try to bring them down. The Gaines are a refreshing change for television. They have worked so hard, and are such a loving family. They have values and ethics. I look forward to their future seasons, and am thrilled for their Success!
    Deri

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    1. Nothing impresses me more about them than that they have NO TV !!! As someone whose TV is never off, I can't imagine who wonderful that must be.

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    2. Deri ... HGTV wants you to believe they have values and ethics but I'm not so sure. And there is nothing wrong with being tough driven business people. They have also done a lot for Waco. But .. and it's a BIG but, when you start reading about Joanna's nonsense conversations with God, coupled with how they market their new lines through the show, you have to wonder if Joanna and Chip are as wholesome and selfless as they are portrayed on the show.

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  7. Enjoyed your post and to learn how some of the homes are rentals, cant blaime them for also trying to cash in on the Gaines' success. The Gaines have managed to become successful and hope they can sustain it. But like all the others, its a brand world snd they hit the jackpot.

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  8. Never seen the show. Narrative seems normal TV progression of events with 'success'. No fault to Joanna/Chip. In addition to all they are making money with, they've opened opportunity for another 'new' makeover show, perhaps they should invest, produce, voila, more revenue, plus a show back to the basics of how they started. If done right they could own a percentage of new media stars.

    Nothing but follow-the-money in your post. The American way. Lucky this time the stars have true talent.

    Sideways topic, AirBnB. Most counties scan listings for AirBnB & others, the tax bill will arrive !! I helped a friend stage and rent their mountain cabin, it was successful. Didn't realize the success until tax dept called. Yes, I was that clueless, zero thought to the taxes. Wasn't trying to hide, just unaware. Lesson learned.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

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  9. I agree with you, Joni. Spread the wealth. Their show has made them plenty of money. Just look at Flip or Flop. They are putting on seminars about flipping homes and making money. But read the small print before you put up your money -- there's no guarantee that Christina and Tarek will show up -- just their representatives. Shows come and go. Theirs will, too.

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  10. I have watched almost every season of Fixer Upper since two of my children attended Baylor University and I was intrigued by the fact that the show was shot in Waco. I enjoyed watching the show for two reasons mainly. One is to see how a run down house can be brought back to life. The other is to watch Chip. His personality is hilarious. The Gaines have built their own empire. Eventually I lost interest in the show as it became very predictable and lost it's initial uniqueness. I admire them for what they have done for the community and themselves. I personally am not into the rustic fad so I probably won't be a customer of their home furnishings or accessories.

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  11. Great post, I thought your comments were fair and raised good points.
    I learned much about the show that I did not know. Questions.....
    Is there any info on homes that they worked on prior to the show?
    Are there homes that they work on but not shown on TV?
    Do the home owners receive any money for allowing the renovation to be filmed?
    With her popularity, is she is hired for long distance consults or projects?
    Thanks,

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    1. They have a company, not sure other houses are on it. Look at their web site. They do have homes they built in a gated community that they sell. But there will probably be info in the book about other houses. Also, try looking at the blog's early days. The home owners are not paid. They pay for the renovations. HGTV does throw in a renovation that usually costs around $5,000. I doubt she does any other projects, but it's worth asking as long as you have deep pockets. She won't go to Indiana to do a $30,000 reno

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    2. What I read is that were previous houses that Joanna posted on her blog which were seen by some producers who wanted do a new home improvement show. They contacted the Gaines', shot one season which HGTV bought and contracted for more.

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  12. Laurie's in Tomball TX used to supply furniture to the show (obviously before they introduced their own). I knew the furniture was not included and since this is a television show, never expected it to look the same. I do love the show but always wondered if all mechanical issues were addressed like foundation, rough plumbing, hvac, etc. They show where the budget goes, but don't usually talk about this expensive, and necessary big ticket items. More power to the Gaines. My daughter lives in Houston - I'll have to Google how far Waco is.

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    1. the houses are bought before they are shown on the FU and they have to go under inspection, so they are probably aware of most major issues. that said, they tell them to have around for big surprises.

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  13. This is one of my very favorite posts in a long time. I record the show and watch it when I have time. I will be anxious to watch this year and keep an eye out for all the things you are talking about. Good job on this post! I know it took tons of hours. The reason I think it is one of my favorites, is it shows real houses that many of us could actually copy something in the home. I love read house posts. Thank you for your time and effort! Can't wait to watch the upcoming shows with a "different eye". Renting them out...would have never thought of that. I see nothing wrong with the homeowners trying to cash in on their popularity. I am always stunned at the transformations. Good job Joni!

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  14. Joni~
    You need to do a Skirted Roundtable on this!!! I have no idea how long this post took to write... cause just reading it and studying it had me hooked for 90 minutes and I didn't even click through to the rentals yet....
    Thanks for my read this morning with a half pot of coffee!!
    ~Marcy

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    1. haha. I really wanted to go back and show all the houses in season 3 that used the furniture, but I had to stop at some point. I was surprised to go back to my favorite - the green house called The Blue House - of Season 3 - in the sunroom with the cute daybed with the black and white duvet and green & white striped floor - that daybed was from her furniture line. Also, there were lots of houses where I spied their furniture.

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  15. Interesting article and sad to see that it is becoming all about the branding. I don't really blame them, congrats on their success. It's similar to what happened to Candice Olsen's show too. Every house she did had her brand furniture so they all started looking the same. Nice for her, but boring for those of us decorators who like to work with our client's style.

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  16. I have loved watching this show over and over for the incredible design transformation. They redo the entire house and have such a knack for adding character and charm to any type of house. They are fun to watch and seem like good people but its TELEVISION! Not real! I don't need to admire and look up to the people on tv. Now that I'm in the middle of a major renovation at my house I've decided to stop watching the show just because it depicts renovation as instant gratification -- not helpful to me right now!! The real process is arduous and slow and messy and not a shocker in the end-- but usually worthwhile and inevitably the place you stay and enjoy.

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    1. Wow, Kim! I can not agree with you more. I've discovered, also in the middle of renovation, that watching these shows is detrimental as well. I already have to watch them in secret as my husband got annoyed with me watching these shows a long time ago. I think he got tired of me complaining about how long ours is taking, and how tired I am of living with concrete floors (not stained floors, but joint compound on the original concrete floors variety) :) Oh, and how often we have to press pause because money runs low because of real life budget breakers like medical expenses, car repairs, and repairs on this house that have nothing to do with beauty like plumbing and electrical problems, etc... All this to say that you were smart to realize this long before I ever did. Leigh

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  17. Joni, I think you covered it ALL and covered it very well, and unbiased. I like reading your opinions since I respect your design knowledge and aesthetics. I think all of your observations are spot on and accurate. When you were in doubt, you said so with a question to your readers. Very well written and researched. I appreciate your talent and time,
    Kathysue

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    1. I totally agree you did a very factual design based critique of the show and it evolution towards branding. Would love a followup on the big historic home they bought in Waco it's a classic Georgian, hope it gets updated respectfully for its architecture.
      Another issue I have with this show is both of them aren't trained designers using their clients furniture and input, which is unrealistic.
      Would love that collaborative element in their show would make it more realistic to how projects happen.
      Kris in Seattle

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  18. I have been decorating in Joanna Gaines "style" for years prior to the start of her show...mainly due to the influence of bloggers I read and love. So I was intrigued when friends started talking about Fixer Upper and watched several episodes. She has jumped onto a style kind of late in the game and brought it to enormous popularity through the power of TV. Congrats on their success, but will be interesting to see if they can maintain the momentum...

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    1. Just want to say "ditto". I thought I was the only one who saw her show and thought to myself that people have been doing this for years.

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    2. I so agree with Valerie's comment. Not a new style at all. They are so darn cute, and do a good job. I think people watch and want to be the Gaines. I've only watched about 5 shows. Even though it is not my style at all, I appreciate how they transform the spaces. BUT, it makes me sad all the branding going on, but then again how can you blame them? I once loved Rachel Ray and Giada, but that happened to them too. Magazines, product lines, just TOO much overexposure and it ruins it for me! After a while, the Gaines line looks like the same junk in Hobby Lobby. I wish them well, and I hope they don't get backlash from all the immediate success.

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  19. I've caught a few episodes of the show -it's fun to watch. The quality even seems relatively high for HGTV (not that thats saying much) but still very attainable by the average person at home. We were visiting family just this weekend (who have zero interest in design) but are obsessed with the show. So much so that our nephew even went to visit Waco (he was NOT impressed and said it was sketchy). Interesting post -this is great!

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  20. ps - this would make a fun roundtable discussion :-)

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  21. Hi Joni,
    Great post.

    To answer your question, "yes, jumped the Shark". A long time ago, actually. Too much. Too fast. Too saturated. With this many irons in the fire, bound to fail. Pleased to see your post today where I think you are reaching the same conclusion.

    Re the flap over the vacation rentals. It's all (and only) about "brand devaluation". Once homeowners, who are NOT obligated to purchase the furnishings and adhere to the styling originally installed by Joanna do as you've shown ... and remove her/their pieces and instead replace it with their own "puffy brown leather sofas" and such, Joanna and Chip have lost all control of their "brand". Make no mistake, they want COMPLETE control of their brand (and rightfully so ... it's how a brand stays relevant). They're kicking themselves in the fanny for not having anticipated/foreseen this robust rental revenue stream opportunity on the part of their earlier clients and are now unfortunately reacting rather than having been in a proactive position to prevent it. When these former clients rent their spaces as, "renovated by Chip and Joanna", yet the insides (now devoid of Chip and Joanna's personal imprint)betray that aesthetic .... it's MAJOR brand devaluation. The bloom may still be on the rose for a few more months, but it won't take long for dissatisfied customers to get the word out that the experience did not live up to the hype. A sure death knell.

    Sadly, could bode poorly for Waco once this circus tent folds. Time will tell.

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    1. You hit on an important point....homeowners can say "renovated by Chip and Johanna Gaines" they don't have to include "decorated by Chip and Johanna Gaines." Perhaps it is the public who EXPECTS the second title to follow the first.

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    2. Interesting. Yes, the houses don't look quite as cute when filled with day care furniture or puffy leather furniture and they just look like regular houses. The one the with wallpaper is the most obvious. The wallpaper was put up ONLY because they made a deal and now the house is stuck with this paper that makes zero design sense when put in a room with leather furniture. Yes, it makes the BRAND look bad. Perhaps they should also put in the contract that the owners have the buy the furniture too? that would preserve the Brand. Maybe they just don't want people to see what a F/U house looks like without all the cute furniture and accessories.

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    3. Excellent point. I feel sorry for the Gaines to have worked so hard - and now have this devaluation by people who didn't respect what what done for them.
      Probably impossible to force. Who takes something lovely and trashes it???
      Hopefully the Gaines can change their contracts going forward.

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    4. forsee, not force. Darn spellcheck!

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  22. Not sure why The Gaines would not want people to rent out their now famous homes. Perhaps it implies that the homes are not as liveable as it seems on TV. Perhaps the craftsmanship is not that good in person . (I noticed on one show that the tile work - done by Chip - was really sub par.) Perhaps it isbecause most of the homes are no longer decorated as they were on the show. Whatever the reason, don't think that should be The Gaines's call.

    I enjoy the show, sometimes. It is very formulaic - 3 houses, rip out a wall or two, drama due to "unforeseen" problems, homeowner has to give up something they really wanted due to lack of money only to have The Gaines deliver something similar, and, finally, The Big Reveal.

    But, since when has Reality TV been real? It's just entertainment!

    Smiles from Charlotte

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    1. Same formula as "Love it or List it!"

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  23. Great and interesting post. I hope Chip and Joanna continue to be successful and the show as much fun as it has been in the past. I completely enjoy each episode. I understand that it is "TV" and we may never know what goes on behind and beyond the scenes. I watch to get inspired...to find new ideas....to see what it takes to turn something around and the show certainly delivers that. I look forward to the new season.

    An interesting note about a new show coming soon. It is called Home Town and is based out of Laurel, Mississippi. Ben & Erin Napier are the hosts and much like Chip and Joanna, take an old home and bring it back to life. In fact, it is said they were mentored by Chip and Joanna and their show is being produced by the same production company as the first two episodes of Fixer Upper. There was a pilot show that aired in January that was to determine if the show would become a series or not. Everyone here in Mississippi was very excited about the possibility. Since that time, not much information about the show has been shared. So, once I saw this post I thought I would investigate. I could not find when the show would air but did find a Home Town on HGTV Facebook page that let's you know they have been filming episodes. The premier show had a very familiar feel to it but the design was different than that of the Gaines. They used found materials and old textiles. I think this will be another great success and provide the inspiration and ideas that the seem to be so desired. It's home design....let's have fun with it!

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    1. I am so glad to hear that another design show may be in the works. I am really tired of all of the real estate programing that HGTV has been filled with. I will look forward to a series that actually features interior design even though it sounds like another "flipping." type of show.

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    2. I am looking forward to this new show. I liked the way they kept the original, vintage feel to the house they did on the pilot. The Fixer Upper houses with the antiques and the rustic touches are my favorite, so I hope they don't use everything brand new. Then it will be like every other HGTV show. I feel like Chip and Joanna bit off too much in a short period and hope they don't burn out.

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  24. I love this post as my sister and I have discussed this many times! I still love to watch because I love seeing how they transform some of these houses but I find the show has gotten very predictable. And I think Chip is super annoying. I tend to fast forward through most of his shenanigans. I think they are trying to capitalize on their popularity while they can, not that I blame them. It would be hard to not do that. I'm from Texas (Dallas area) so it cracks me up when everyone says they should just move to Waco. Believe me, you don't want to move to Waco. I've been to Magnolia before once and it was so crowded and the merchandise seemed to be overpriced and mass produced. But the store is beautiful and has many of Joanna's touches which I did love.

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    1. I agree that Chip is so annoying I can barely watch...LOL I think they are both very talented and I am happy that they have been so successful. I also think their style would be very easy for anyone to copy... big clock, books, fake flowers, painted furniture, candle sticks, words on the walls etc.

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    2. Joanna has 5 kids..and one is named, "Chip." Is is just me, or does Joanna get miffed with him? Chip seems like he would be happy flipping, not being on TV, but since Joanna is "the brand" and honestly, wears the pants in the family, he goes along with it because he wants to share the bed with her. Christian couple or not, they are headed for rough times ahead, judging by their body language. I cannot believe that they fell in love with Waco. It's a sad, depressing and very crime-ridden town. Joanna seems like she would've been very happy living in NYC, working in broadcasting. Then, a weak moment, working at her Dad's tire store, Chip pursues her, she shrugs her shoulders, and married him. Only to discover that she needed more, and thus, "Magnolia." Such a pretty place, but in a horrible part of Texas. If they manage to drive crime out (doubt it, they had goats killed on their property this summer), they might grow the town. If "Magnolia" fizzles, then the Airbnb homes will fall back into disrepair.

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    3. Agree. And very sad about the goats - how cruel.

      Joanna would be happier elsewhere, I think. They've got serious money in the bank now. Anyone with common sense would want to move.

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  25. I just love your blog! I love the Fixer Upper show. In the beginning, Joanna pulled furniture from her very own house to stage properties (like the doll house in her daughter's room has shown up in many early episodes). Then she started staging with HOMEGOODS. She has also brought in local talent from carpenters, iron workers, and the "other chip" for the mid century modern house. Is making design and brand deals any different than Windsor Smith (my new obsession), the Giannettis (my fantasy life), Sarah Richardson, Tara Shaw (fancy fantasy life), Rachel Ashwell (previous fantasy life), Martha Stewart (the original in creating a show that sell her brand) Candice Olsen have done? If people want access and create a demand for it...perhaps we can see that they are creating an opportunity for everyone to access a lifestyle that connects with who we are and how we want to express that in our "nest" and "surroundings". Then throw in an element that some people have had a farm life fantasy, so that is fun. I relate to trying to run businesses and maintaining (or trying to) family values. We LOVE laughing at chip too! Of course homeowners should be able to do whatever they need to do with their house afterwards. I drive by my old houses and love it when people loved what I did and kept it up and have nostalgia when I see an old play house and swing removed. I'm not a designer but I'm in the middle of a huge house renovation. The trades that are working here are emotionally enrolled in creating our vision for our family. The people who previously owned our home are SICK that we ripped up their recently installed Brazilian cherry zebra-like (YUCK) wood floors and replaced it with antique marble entry and antique white french oak herringbone. I've always seen the role of a designer as a noble one, a calling - to use your gifts to help a family create a sanctuary where they feel a safe zone of unconditional love, comfort, beauty, connecting/togetherness, and self expression all of which requires a huge emotional investment. Maybe the Gaines are just feeling a loss. They created for these people to live and love there and, in a way, might perceive it reduced to commercialism. Perhaps they could have a paradigm shift and see it as that others wanted to feel what it is like to enjoy those spaces and the home owners are sharing it. I think I would have to rework those feelings for myself too. I know when I read your post of houses that were sold and redone.....the original designers must grieve a little too, if they poured their hearts, gifts, talents, and treasures into their work. Just MOHO.

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  26. I do know that the show is returning for a 4th season. I always wondering about the home furnishings that Joanna uses...thinking there is no way all that is part of the budget. I don't expect her to change her design aesthetic or specifically use her own line of paint and furnishings. However, why shouldn't she be allowed to promote her line some? I also don't expect her to stop mixing in antiques or things from the homeowners. That is part of the charm. As far as Chip and Joanna go, while I do not personally know them, they seem like a sincere and loving couple that has worked very hard to get where they are. Also, they certainly have boosted the economy of Waco! I was surprised to hear that Clint's home is now a rental. I do wonder if that has affected their relationship and we shall see if he remains on the show. I would express he has had some increased success of his own because of it. Did you see where the "Barn House" rents for $1295 a night? Yikes! I also read the unflattering article about Joanna "talking to God" and sacrificing her time with her children. While I am not that religious and God does not speak to me personally, who am I do say he does not speak to her? I have a paternal Aunt that said God spoke directly to her regarding her business and other things and she became very successful and wealthy herself. I think their success is well-deserved and wish them continued success!

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    1. Pa-lease ... I don't think it's god talking to her .. I think it's more like her financial advisor ..

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    2. Anonoymous, each to his own. Don't put her down for saying God talked to her. He may still talk to you and you'd feel foolish for being so cynical.

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  27. This comment is for Eileen above: I agree with everything you said -- I read your part where you are ripping up the Brazilian cherry wood floors ( yuck exactly) and replacing with white french herringbone. I would like to see what your floors look like and where you got the wood how do I contact you to do this??? I live in Charlotte N.C. and I have been thinking about ripping out my real wood floors and putting back in the herringbone french look. I would really like to see yours. Hope your renovation goes great.
    Susan in Charlotte

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    1. Here in Houston, we have a company called Chateau Domingue. They have EVERYTHING! Old marble, new marble, old wood, new wood, bricks, tiles, etc. They have both reclaimed and new white french oak that is about $30 per sq ft. All of it is solid, unfinished wood. However, they do produce and engineered too. My slabs were poured lower, have tar, wood strips (they are called screeds or something) with a plywood top so did not have to worry about moisture being an issue for solid wood). There is a mega on-line company called Build Direct though for less than $4 per square ft. They purchase from mills all over the world and it is one of the few places where you can purchased unfinished solid wood. Search for white french oak. They also have it cut for herringbone. Then research oil finished hardwoods vs polyurethane. We chose to go with a clear, oil finished (but it comes in several colors). Joni should do a post about the pros on oil finish. Order the wood (they will help you with amounts), they ship it on a semi and you have to have people to help you unload all of the bundles (not in boxes because it is rift and quarter sawn (best cut) and premium stock. That means the boards come in 24" up to 10' so they bundle. Then store it in your house to acclimate for at least a week. While all that is happening you have your designer or you search for EXPERIENCED installers. Hope your renovation goes well too! I don't know how to send you pictures or I would! Maybe Joni could send you my email???? Like she has time for that? Right? Best wishes for your home too!

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    2. comment for Eileen above --- thanks so much for the info on the floors. I have a shop on Etsy called hamptoncourt ( all one word)
      If you go to my shop you can contact me and email me your email address and I will call you about your floors. I build french trumeau mirrors here in Charlotte- and I show at high point market and I also refurbish old pieces of french furniture --chairs and settees among other things. I appreciate your help in tracking down a floor supplier but if you have time please contact me thru my Easy shop and I will call you--- If you have a hard time getting thru with the name if my shop just type in french trumeau mirror on Etsy and I am sure several will come up but look for one sold by hamptoncourt.
      Thanks
      Susan in Charlotte

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  28. I liked this show in the beginning -- then it became formulaic - Chip can be too much! The new show Masters of Flip? Different format - staging done is amazing - hosts are funny - she is bubbly - he has a dry, droll wit - but as many of the commenters said this is reality tv - what can happen when people over-expand - furniture, accessories -- the dinosaur effect comes into play - the public is fickle - tastes change - Masters of Flip returns Oct 3 - check it out - here is some real flair - everyone will want to move to Nashville!

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  29. I'm a former Houstonian who has lived in the west for over forty years. I've loved watching the show because Waco's landscape reminds me a lot of my growing up years in Bellaire. The show is charming, and part of the charm is the Gaines's love for Waco. My guess is that there are plenty of folks in those neighborhoods where they've fixed up houses who are on their backs because homes are turning into rentals, and not long-term rentals, but somebody different every week. Honestly, I wouldn't want that in my nice neighborhood either. This is their job, and we get a peek into it on TV. I don't begrudge them a thing!

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  30. Fixer Upper is pretty much the only HGTV show still worth watching. Unlike other home improvement shows, the Gaines also transform the exterior. The attention to detail inside and out is amazing, especially considering the relatively small budgets. Too bad, that some of the homeowners change the decor so much after taking possession. Many people just have no sense of style. Who knows why they don't want the renovated homes to be used as rental/vacation properties. Whatever their motivation is, I don't think it diminishes their accomplishments.

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  31. Great Job once again Joni!! Love to attention to detail you put in your post. I think it was a nice blog with your opinions stated both positive and negative. love your work!!

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  32. Pheww...well I just want to say I am very impressed with all the research you put into a post. I learned more than I knew, which was nothing. I didn't feel the cattiness everyone is complaining about. It's your blog, aren't you entitled to your perspective? Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it! Angela Muller

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  33. Agreed, but hiding the fact the decor is not included in the renovation and using all of her current line in the renovations is borderline dishonest. Joanna and Chip are not the good old pristine Texans the country thought they were ...

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  34. I don't know how I feel about it, honestly. I haven't seen the show in ages (since I left Scott and got rid of cable altogether) but I did re-watch the first season recently on Netflix. I've been impressed by some of the architectural changes that she has made in the renovations, changing layouts of rooms and what-not, but the majority of what I've seen televised in the way of decor, seems over simplified and pedestrian, like someone walked out of Homegoods with a lot of debt, and a lot of blah. But I do understand from their business perspective the concern of the watered down brand, AND the competition that they have unwittingly created for their own B&B with all of these pop-up host houses that people are clamoring to rent. Hell, I'd rent that barn in a heart beat if I ever had a reason to go to Waco. (No offense to the Waco peeps!) Sic' em Bears!
    I also think that in a global media market, where your ideas and design formulas are broadcast to millions every week, you have to expect that whether or not they are your original designs, people on AirBnB, out in blog-land, EVEN MAGAZINE STYLISTS AND PRODUCERS are going to copy your look. Especially when, for the great number of interiors I've seen, the decor is pretty easy to copy.
    And P.S., if you really wanna talk for hours on end about the upholstery of a chair, I'll give you a call later, with Joan!! :) You know I love you - when are you and Ben going to adopt me? Surely the house is feeling a little empty with Lizzie gone.
    xo,
    A

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  35. This was a powerful post Joni. And, a great topic to discuss.
    Like some other folks have commented...I don't know what to think. I am not a fan and have only seen a few episodes. It does not leave me with a good feeling, and this whole trend is very bothersome. First, the prices of fixing up these delapitated junk houses is completly bogus. Just no way. If so, it is just surface band-aid construction. What else is bothering me??? I am not sure...Are they are milking a feeling for percieved lost US values that appeals to mid rural america? God, church, community and hearth and home, while monitising it for a few to get very rich off of...and leaving us feeling like our houses are not good enough? There is a formula to these designs and they are so easy to copy...there is not much talent involved, in my opinion. But it is amazing how many owners can not live in or keep up the "cosy" farmy decor. I don't know...there are so many layers to this.
    And yes, if the folks want to rent out the houses, go ahead, they should do what they want. But, as Tara mentioned, the tax man will come calling sooner or later. Airbnb is getting a lot of heat, just like Uber, in the US and other countries about tax issues and neighborhoods not wanting such a transient population. Changing times...lots to think about!

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    1. If these designs are "so easy to copy"....and if there "is not much talent involved"....

      Why do you think so many owners cannot keep up the decor?

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    2. I don't know. It is easy to copy...for most people, as some have already mentioned in these comments. There is nothing negative about copying, we all do it and should. Why keep reinventing the wheel. But there are also many that may not have an eye for design or decor and find it harder. Or, they don't like the faux farmy style anymore. It is trendy, and trends come and go. Maybe some of the owners don't keep it that way because they want to use their own furniture and not buy her stuff...or because they don't live there anyway and just rent it out. Maybe life gets in the way of "photo perfect" design vs actually living in it.
      Lots of reasons.

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    3. People who have seen the houses or own the houses say the construction is very well done. there hasn't been any law suits, etc. i think the prices are correct for Waco.

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    4. Glad to hear it looks well done.
      If those are the prices in Waco dollars, sign me up! LOL,I'll hire a crew and pay for their hotel in the Seattle area and add another XX percent and probably still come out ahead of what it costs up here.

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  36. I think Joanna Gaines' success can be attributed to the fact that she makes pretty design and nice taste look attainable. Her look can be afforded and even more or less copied depending on your architecture. I have been on here for months moaning about all the high end designer looks that few people in the "real world" can afford, and about the lack of livability in many designer interiors. Too often mid-market Americans are faced with high end design (Veranda, Elle Decor, AD), which while amazing, is hardly affordable or even practical. On the other end the "budget" interiors featured sometimes in something like BHG are down right ugly. Joanna hits that sweet spot of pretty and achievable.

    I also applaud the Gaines for rescuing these old homes. Sure, they are doing it as a business, but IMO, we need more of this in America. American architecture has been ruined by big corporate builders (Ryan Homes, I'm looking at you) that offer 4 or 5 "plans" slapped down on 1/5 of an acre clear cut lots. No individuality, no originality....just big boxes designed to be churned out one after another. I shudder to think what these neighborhoods will look like in 50 years.

    And by the way, I read the article about Joanna's work life....that is probably the ugliest, most slanderous article I have ever read about anyone. And that woman calls herself a "Christian". SMH.

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    1. I agree. Not a fan of Joanna Gaines for many reasons but the article/ blog about Joanna's work life is just plain nonsense. Then again, would you expect any thing else from the lunatic who created the blog?

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    2. I read the high end design mags not because someday I'm going to be able to afford the likes of Bunny Williams or Miles Redd, but I am hoping to glean nuggets of design wisdom for the price of a magazine subscription. Plus I like looking at pictures of pretty interiors. But it is pure fantasy for the 99% of us. I agree that the Gaines have nailed a look that is chic, affordable and approachable for the middle class. Think about it this way - what the Gaines have done so apparently effortlessly took the likes of Martha Stewart years to figure out.

      And thank you for pointing out the hideous nature of most modern subdivision architecture.

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  37. Very interesting. I am from Waco and lived there 25 years. I moved to Austin and lived there 29 years. I now living in Dripping Springs. So I do think Waco has benefited from the Gaines' and vice versa. I went to the shop and thought it reminded me of Carol Bolton Hick's shop in Fredericksburg. Lots of white, candles, pages from old books,etc. I had hoped they would have some one of a kind things in the store but it was mostly market type items. I think Chip and Joanna are pretty cute and seem like good people. No judging there. But I do agree that Austin has gotten way too big.

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  38. They are making a tremendous amount of money from this show. The American dream is owning your own home for the stability and rewards you benefit from it. For them to be upset about the rentals says so much about their control issues. Joanna should thank Rachel Ashwell for the use of her style

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  39. I love that they go to Round Top and repurpose things. (Even if they may be reproducing them for there store now.) It shows a creative use for found objects. Not just things from big importers like IMAX and Two's Company that are in every "home furnishings" shops. The decor may be "farmy" but it shows people who can't afford a designer that there is a style of decor that is affordable and chic.(grandpa's pig feeder in the barn?)

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  40. Reading through these comments about the devaluation of the Gaines brand: If I were Chip and Joanna I would stipulate that no homeowner may market their house with the Gaines name or any reference to Fixer Upper. That should take care of that problem.

    It's the house renovations that I appreciate the most, not the styling which is too often too much the same. And, you couldn't pay me to have shiplap walls except in a cottage. Joanna's design aesthetic is still very homey and inviting, though it's not my style. I would love to put my own style into some the amazing houses they've done, though!

    Looking back on years of HGTV, I'd have to say that the most talented designer, imho, is Sarah Richardson. She was not predictable and she did a great job of incorporating big box materials to keep costs down.

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    1. Would love for Sara R to return with a new series.

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  41. Joni, what a timely post because I also got a notification from Chip Gaines (subscribed) about season 4 coming up, with news about their bakery reno and selling copies of Chip's hat, t-shirt and INK PEN. Not kidding. I love this couple and think they are genuine, down to earth sweet people and they are at a point where they must move on their huge popularity and cash in while they're hot but they also have to be careful not lose who they are and all that makes them so charming and lovable. It's got to be very challenging to manage a time like this in one's life. Shiplap could quickly become tomorrow's big yawn with the speed at which trends change. They need to stay ahead of their own curve by staying innovative and expanding Joanna's designs. I believe she's up to it because I was very impressed with her ability to switch to mid century modern when she had to - about as far away from the modern farmhouse look as it gets. I hope she keeps pushing her own boundaries and we all know Chip can build and renovate anything so he's always good. I love their renos, even though I don't much like farmy/county anything so that's a testament to their work.

    I couldn't agree with you more about them using only Magnolia products. That would be a big mistake. A few items here and there mixed with the homeowners favorite pieces would keep every home unique and authentic (and way more interesting) and allow them to showcase Magnolia brands, as well.

    I was actually pretty disgusted about all of these people renting out their homes because it's a reminder of how mercenary our society has become. Just plain sad. Also sorry to hear about the stupid city government of Waco trying to cash in by raising taxes! That's a dirty thing to do to the small business and homeowners who can probably ill afford it. The hoards coming to Waco WILL subside. After all, it's hardly a vacation destination. I'll predict that within a year it will slow way down and all of those homeowners will have to get out of their trailers and either move back into or sell their fixer uppers.

    One thing Waco owes Chip and Joanna is changing the perception of that town. Not living in Texas, all Waco ever meant to me was the the terrible murder of the Branch Davidians. I'll bet a lot of people in Waco appreciate their little corner of the world now being known for something positive and happy instead of that horrible event.

    Dunno how many people know this but I read that Joanna has no design background. THAT is impressive. That's just raw talent and I hope she keeps expanding because she's good. Now let's see if she can get better.

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    1. She got the show based on her house that they lived in before the farm. It's cute, no doubt, but for sure it is their personalities that really drove the show to success AND the cheap houses in Waco. That helped. I can think of many designers and bloggers right now that are just as talented, if not more so - think Holly Mathis. You know Holly's brother is actually the man who makes the metal signs for Joanna. But Holly is every bit as talented and there are so many more like Holly. But Joanna and Chip just have that TV charisma. You can't buy that or go to school for it. It's just natural ability.

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    2. I was not familiar with Holly so looked her up. I agree, very talented.

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  42. I watched the show for the first couple of seasons but my interest waned when things began looking to much the same. Having said that, I don't know anyone who doesn't think Joanna is incredibly talented.
    These young people have had much WELL DESERVED success; they worked hard and had some lucky breaks...more power to them. What I find disappointing is the over-production. Our daughter visited the store in Waco, she was so excited and allotted extra time for the stop. When I asked about it she said "the Silo was beautiful but the store was loaded with mass quantities of cheap knockoffs of the interesting and quirky items Joanna used so effectively". Oh no, say it isn't so, I envisioned Tiny Boxwood on steroids.
    Bottom line; their brand is fair game. My take away...FYI. It is what it is, just know that. I'd be pretty unhappy to make a trip expecting to find quirky, one of a kind pieces only to find a glorified version of Hobby Lobby (without the coupon). Finally, continued success to Chip and Joanna, its just not the road I want to travel.

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  43. Meh. All the components they use, like shiplap, are on their way out. The trouble with HGTV is that it is so behind the times, in terms of interior design. People who watch HGTV are like lemmings, jumping on the bandwagon with every trend, even long after it has outlived its usefulness. I haven't watched in years, and this is the first I have heard of the Gaines phenomenon. Their style is already old hat and dated, except in backwaters like Waco, who think it is new. Design is returning to a lot of colour, and more individuality. "Pretty" is coming back, as well as antiques. More traditional style is coming back. The bleached out, greiged out, mock industrial/loft style, opening up walls, etc. is becoming a thing of the past, along with the tired old granite countertops and stainless appliances everybody rushed out to buy. Their ideas are what real designers sneeringly refer to as "big box." No thank you to them and their style. And they really crossed the line in trying to control people's property after the workmen have packed up and left. The religious fanaticism is a huge turnoff as well. The more people claim to be religious, the more hypocritical they turn out to be. The whole thing is pathetic.

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    1. Wow, snobby much?

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    2. @Anonymous, Cythia is right.

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    3. Perhaps Cynthia is right in her take on design trends. What offends me are her comments like "backwaters like Waco" and "real designers." Excuse me, but the whole country is not New York and L.A. I probably live in what Cynthia would consider a "backwater", but guess what? That's where the job is.

      And let's put aside the question of taste and whether most American home owners are able to decorate fairly well by themselves. When will people understand that many Americans are THRILLED to be able to buy a new lamp at Target or at Home Goods, buy Behr paint and not Pratt and Lambert, and hopefully can find some half way decent furniture off Craigslist? Most people do not have the money, time, or energy to be into cutting edge design. If HGTV makes design accessible to the masses, good for them.

      I would also argue that this snobby elitist attitude towards design is why most people don't hire decorators....people think it's out of reach for them. And with perspectives like Cynthia's, those people are correct.

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    4. I agree with Cynthia!

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    5. I agree with Cynthia. I'm so glad that look is moving on. I liked it. Still like certain elements of it. But I'm ready for real furnishings and decor again. I'm sick of the bohemian hipster farmhouse theme, mostly because so many of the people that are into think they're onto something new and "authentic".

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    6. Uh, no. While I don't care for it, shiplap, like beadboard, clapboard and shingles, has been around since the country was founded and is a staple in old east coast cottages. It's "new" to people who don't live in that part of the country and there will always be people who like it - especially those who like cottage design. So, yes, that look is certainly "old hat and dated" because it's historic and traditional - you know, in "backwaters" like Nantucket, Cape Cod and Long Island. All of the things you've listed that you hate - opening floor plans, stone countertops, stainless appliances, will still remain popular, just as vibrant color has always been around in design. The great thing about design is the endless VARIETY of styles and tastes, as Joni brings us with every new post. The trick for the average homeowner/human (not you, of course) is finding what works for and is pleasing to them.

      As for "big box", these are merely retail stores to buy certain products cheaper. Sarah Richardson, who has done beautiful and unique renovations for HGTV, incorporates lots of big box materials to keep costs down. I always enjoyed her trips to Lowes and her advice on how to mix inexpensive and expensive elements to get the most for one's money. Here, you might learn something (or not): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_erQR22Kr8#t=188

      There is no indication that the Gaines' have tried to control anyone's property. They've simply run into a problem which makes it appear their renovations are not for real homeowners but commercial investors. It sure should be addressed.

      While you're not the only one in these comments who has done it, attacking her religion is so out of line. Whatever their beliefs are, it shows in their devotion to family and community in a positive way. Hard to believe anyone would zero in on that and criticize it. I guess people are so personally unhappy that to see positivity in others just grates on them. Now, THAT is what's pathetic.

      And, speaking of positivity, that's something I love about Joni Webb. She can critique a design, style or brand and still give the creators their due for work well done. Classy. I'm not crazy about the Magnolia brand or the style but, damn, this couple does good work and I hope their commercial success doesn't end up derailing what they're really good at. They seem like nice people and I wish them well with this crazy ride they're on.

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    7. Joni is a gem....a rare one who must truly spend hours upon hours researching to inform and inspire us all. Thank you Joni! YOU are the REAL DEAL who delivers design narratives with dignity and decorum.

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    8. Thanks Susan and Anon for your kind words, I truly appreciate them. Um....let's leave religion out of it. It's such a personal topic. Stainless is out? Granite? I don't think so. I also think this cottage look or A cottage look will always be around. No everyone loves glossy glam. But - I agree w/Cynthia, things are turning for sure. There are is a new look which will be gone in about 8 more years. It just changes. That's why I think I always cling to the English Country Manor look or the French County look. It's old and never looks dated.

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  44. I enjoy their show and was a bit disappointed to hear the response to folks renting their homes out. After all, they are the owner's homes. It seems like a smart business decision and people have been renting out their homes in popular locations long before AirBnB! The Gaines have worked hard and grown their business in an amazing ways! Good for them! Hope they stay true to their brand but the public comments about folks renting out their homes seemed out of step. They did renovate one place with the intent of it being a B&B.

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  45. Great post by Joni per usual-- a look back over three seasons, plus lots of facts-- and it was fun revisiting these renovations. It was also fun watching all of the different renovations-- the Gaines are a dynamic duo with great taste and creativity which seems rare on HGTV-- but after three seasons the "shiplap look" felt old.

    It was surprising to learn that so many homeowners moved out and rented their properties. As a former marketing executive I think using the "Fixer Upper" brand to attract renters is misleading at best -- their interiors are nowhere near as nice as Joanna's and the landscaping has not been kept up-- and at worst it seems like bait-and-switch. HGVT and Fixer Upper may have grounds for a cease-and-desist order.

    It will be a shame if the individual creativity for each project is lost to branding and "Magnolia Merchandising". But as Joni says this show already jumped the shark. HGTV will be onto the next in no time-- that's the capitalist way: move forward, spend more, or die-- and the public will follow their lead!

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    1. The photos on AirBNB HAVE to be real, not the show photos. Otherwise it IS fraud.

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  46. .....what Kathisue said..........

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  47. Joni loved the article. Yes I am a fan and I became concerned about the over saturation of Fixer Upper brand. I think what they want to control is homeowners doing the show just to have them renovate to rent. Waco owes them a lot of because of look at the people they employ. I'm sure it has immensely helped their economy.

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  48. Joni, thanks for posting this. I was a huge FU fan for the first two seasons. We visited the store at its original location, and thought the prices were a bit high. It wasn't until the silos opened and we went back, that I realized how overpriced their merchandise has become! It is mostly all from China. I can get the same items at a lower price from Decor Steals, Antique Farm House, etc. Personally, I think Joanna has become all about the fame and money. I don't think Joanna has any more design savvy than any of us who are in to decorating, bloggers, etc. They just got lucky.

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    1. well, they of course got lucky, BUT they have HUGE personal charisma. And that sells. They are a darling couple, funny, and you can tell they are really in love. And their houses ARE cute and cheap and that sells. But lucky? not really - they have that hard to define charisma. It makes me think about another couple in blogland who tried very hard to get this job and didn't. I was convinced they would, but they didn't. So, this is not that easy. They Gaines just make it LOOK easy.

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    2. I agree. They didn't "just" get lucky. Of course success at that level is always dependent on a bit of luck but that isn't the whole story. You have to be at the right place, at the right time and last but not least, WITH THE RIGHT SKILLS, which is the part people forget to credit. They have a certain signature style that paints a picture of their lifestyle, and some marketing savvy but first and foremost, they are storytellers. They have incredible stage presence (charisma as you put it) and chemistry, and yet they remain very approachable. One of my friends confessed that she actually wrote Beth Gaines and asked her to help her decorate her house. Each episode tells the same happy story with the same scenes i.e. (Mommy has to work late, So Kiss her Goodnight, Kids) and ( Budget Problem, Beth must call the Couple) but they are what keeps it from being boring and what makes it look easy. This show will run its course but there will be more TV shows with the Gaines. They know how to spin a yarn. Their style is different from my own but I enjoy the show and I like them even if I don't know them.

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  49. I find this all so interesting. Who wouldn't capitalize on hard work, creativity, and ingenuity? Even the Food Netwok..Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Giada...
    Envious? Be happy about others good fortune. Is it fleeting? Yes, and so is life. Encourage resourcefulness. I am done.

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  50. This comment written by Joe.
    These days everyone is jumping to buy the latest thing some STAR is wearing or using. Why should the items being used for decoration in the show be any different? The show goes out of the way in the design they feel the homeowner wants and will enjoy for many years! Not turn around and sell it or rent it! This show is different in that it seems very honest in it's approach to flipping(renovating)a house that means something to someone. It also shows the strength of good family values. So, keep up the good work (for yourselves and Waco)and make as much money as you can!

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  51. If the Gaineses have indeed gotten too big for Waco, come on up here to Dallas! We have tons of fixer uppers!

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  52. OK THIS IS IT!!! Joanna needs to have two looks at the Silos. She needs to hire a buyer and have a section of one-offs, antiques, special things - that would draw people from miles away. She could do antique shows w/booths - like a regional Round Top. It could be HUGE. and she could stock the store with specialities. They should hire someone to create this. It could be fabulous. To just sell Chinese made things at the Silo is too sad.

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    1. That's an awesome idea, Joni. You should contact Joanna about this. It would take their career in an entirely different and long lasting direction and people would love it. I would also like to see them convert the actual silos into usable spaces like art studios, offices, apartments etc. I know that would be a massive job because they're huge but it would be so cool.

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    2. I think that one of the "phases" of the Silo development is using the actual silos for "trade days," so probably very close to your idea! https://magnoliamarket.com/magnolia-silos/ Not sure that they have started it yet, but it looks like that was part of the original plan!

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  53. Am I the only person watching this show for ENTERTAINMENT? relax people...relax.

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    1. Yes! It's a TV show...with a lovely couple who are entertaining and happy.

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  54. Joni,

    What a wonderfully written and researched post. And I had no idea about the rentals. I admit, I am a fan of the show. I love them as a couple, I think Chip is hilarious and charming, and I've loved her decor for the most part. I don't agree with everything she does, obviously, as my style is quite different, but I do think she's talented and i have enjoyed seeing them change a house from nothing to gorgeous. I agree with you about it looking a little too cookie cutter now though, and I sooo hope that she incorporates antiques or unique pieces to keep the decor interesting and to keep the integrity of the show. I stopped buying Martha Stewart Living a few years ago because literally every page of the magzine was an ad for one of her lines at Home Depot or Michaels, etc!

    And though I don't pretend to know them, I think they have some integrity. I agree with others above that the rental thing probably bugs them for two reasons. One is to protect the brand, and I get that. But I do believe the other reason is that they TRULY want to help a family, and it's a little heartbreaking to work hard to produce a beautiful family "ever after" home, only to have someone rent it out later. But you are right Joni, the owners have every right to. It's their house. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't bother the Gaines'. It kind of bothers me! I really loved the fact that they were making a family a home to last and knowing this now makes me a little sad.

    Great post Joni!

    Sheila
    xo

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  55. Joni,

    What a wonderfully written and researched post. And I had no idea about the rentals. I admit, I am a fan of the show. I love them as a couple, I think Chip is hilarious and charming, and I've loved her decor for the most part. I don't agree with everything she does, obviously, as my style is quite different, but I do think she's talented and i have enjoyed seeing them change a house from nothing to gorgeous. I agree with you about it looking a little too cookie cutter now though, and I sooo hope that she incorporates antiques or unique pieces to keep the decor interesting and to keep the integrity of the show. I stopped buying Martha Stewart Living a few years ago because literally every page of the magzine was an ad for one of her lines at Home Depot or Michaels, etc!

    And though I don't pretend to know them, I think they have some integrity. I agree with others above that the rental thing probably bugs them for two reasons. One is to protect the brand, and I get that. But I do believe the other reason is that they TRULY want to help a family, and it's a little heartbreaking to work hard to produce a beautiful family "ever after" home, only to have someone rent it out later. But you are right Joni, the owners have every right to. It's their house. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't bother the Gaines'. It kind of bothers me! I really loved the fact that they were making a family a home to last and knowing this now makes me a little sad.

    Great post Joni!

    Sheila
    xo

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  56. I agree this show has revitalized HGTV but now that is the only formula they use now. What happened to the decorating shows? So tired of Property Brothers and Flip or Flop. Currently following Sabrina Soto on Facebook and she does those live feeds and I so enjoy those.

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  57. I wonder if the owners are renting due to new financial pressure? Such substantive remodels have to come with hefty tax bills, no? Plus, if you add on a level and go from having a decrepit lawn to full landscaping, your monthly electric and water bills are probably going to jump, too. Maybe it's more than they anticipated/could take on? Same goes for the "real life decorating." My guess is the owners were able to finance the remodel part, but couldn't roll a new sofa, rugs, and throw pillows into the loan?? It looks like they have the starter-home furniture they would've had anywhere else (especially in that price bracket), but they just happened to luck into a makeover, so the house is extra nice. Honestly, with no major design brands in town (PB, Crate and Barrel, RH, Ethan Allen, etc) or even a HomeGoods, I was kind of expecting the "after-afters" to be even worse! Though the daycare one is kind of creepy.

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  58. Joni,

    You certainly began a conversation. I enjoyed this post as I do each and every post.

    I have found the "Fixer Upper" phenomena incredibly interesting; the fact that a person with a marketing background rather than a design degree and not a member of the ASID, has gained national recognition, and so quickly. The show is affecting American design. When you consider it has only been a few short years since the beginning, the draw is mind boggling, people traveling to Waco to stand in line and shop. I think the popularity of the show speaks to the aesthetic. Joanna Gaines style is easy to live with; quiet, comfortable and has a organic American "apple pie" appeal. While current trends for me often make no sense; sputnik chandeliers hanging above French antique tables in lacquer covered dining rooms are not spaces that feel livable, the Joana Gaines aesthetic feels like you could nestle into a sofa, put your feet up on the coffee table and read a book. I think that is a large portion of the appeal. I agree; take out that wall, put in a French doors, change the uppers and lowers, there is a "recipe" to her style. I think all designers struggle with their aesthetic being somewhat predicable; those constants in all designer's work is what makes their work their style; Charles Faudreee toile paired with blue and white porcelain, Charlotte Moss layers of collected style, Dan Carithers cream ware, Suzanne Kassler and her sunburst mirrors. It's repeated elements of style that cause people to seek out specific designers. I also think the banter between Chip and Joanna is appealing. My husband can watch it and crack up laughing. How often do couples watch renovation and design shows? They appear "real", even though it is no doubt scripted.

    I am thrilled to see HGTV slowly turning back to design. I too am weary of real estate shows. I miss the Sarah Richardson, Lynette Jennings, shows of many years ago. Honestly, I am a little bored with the renovation, big reveal shows too. I'd like to see a return to design shows, weekly projects, discussions on trends, antiquing tips, floral arranging, table setting, entertaining etc. Basically - blogs coming to life. I agree there are so many talented people out there, average people, who have wonderful style sense and are creative well beyond myself. I think a show with a lifestyle traveling reporting going from place to place reporting on shops, and people of talent would be fun, interesting, fresh and ever changing. But unfortunately the producers of HGTV, haven't asked for my personal opinion. ha!

    Keep posting Joni. I've followed you for years. Any day there is a Cote de Texas post in my inbox, is a good day. Looking forward to your next offering -

    Andi Cox

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  59. I never understood the appeal of this show. I never even made it thru one episode because of Chip's juvenile behavior and show off antics. The HGTV network lost me many years ago because of the programs it now produces.

    Great post Joni with all the work that was involved in writing it.

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  60. You hit the nail on the head Joni. It definitely is just all about the Brand going forward.

    With less expensive homes and smaller budgets, it makes it obvious why the branded furniture, wallpaper, signs, etc. will be used rather than when they truly transformed the homes with their structural design changes. Too bad from my point of view because I loved seeing the changes when people had very large budgets. However, the Gaines are reasonably looking at their income, and this is the way to maximize it for them. brilliant marketing.

    Joanna has fabulous taste and when someone doesn't use her things, the homes look very ordinary and uninspired, again, too bad as the homeowners should have a better understanding of what creates visual appeal and keep what she has chosen.

    I can understand why the Gaines don't want their homes to become VRBO or Air B&B. It cheapens their value. Rentals drag down a neighborhood, and aren't thought of (by anyone but the homeowner) as homes that are usually maintained well. The concept of their show is to give someone a place for their family to settle in for years - not to make a quick indifferent buck with strangers in and out the door.

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  61. Fixer Upper is on right now and I caught an episode I'd not seen before. I LOVE the exterior (they are so good at exteriors which, I think, come from Chip) and the kitchen! Nothing cottage about this house: http://www.hgtv.com/shows/fixer-upper/fixer-upper-a-family-home-resurrected-in-rural-texas-pictures

    I really look forward to seeing Joanna grow as a designer and tackle lots of different styles and I fully expect that she will.

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  62. I couldn't finish reading this post. Too long and it had an undertone to it, yes, catty-like. You sound as though you have a gripe with Joanna.
    Hmmm... lol

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