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The first rule of real estate is location, location, location — but what happens when a buyer’s only option in the right location is a house with horrible design and a clunky layout? Renovation, design and real estate pros Joanna and Chip Gaines say buy it — then fix it! Fixer Upper is the Texas couple’s new show coming to HGTV Thursday, April 24, at 11pm/10c. The network is excited to have their expertise on television — and, HGTV.com is thrilled to have Joanna as our newest guest editor. Welcome, Joanna!

As with last quarter’s guest editor, Nancy Fire, Joanna will be bringing her fun, expert commentary to Design Happens, adding insight to 2014 design and home remodeling trends throughout HGTV.com, and even taking over HGTV’s Instagram here and there.

Joanna Gaines

HGTV.com Guest Editor Joanna Gaines

For you to get to know a little more about HGTV’s new star and our guest editor, we recently interviewed Joanna.

D-Happ: What can you tell us about your new HGTV show, Fixer Upper? How did this all come about?
Joanna: Fixer Upper combines our real estate, design and construction expertise as we walk clients through the purchase of their own fixer upper. After the purchase, the client steps out of the picture and we get the keys to their home for only a few weeks. During that time, their home is transformed from a fixer upper to their dream home. My favorite part is seeing the look on their faces when they see their home for the first time fully renovated!

Our company, Magnolia Homes, has been renovating homes for 15 years now. One of the homes we had renovated was featured on a high profile blog and a production company found it, they researched our company and contacted us for a show. We are passionate about the homes we renovate and we enjoy getting to work together as a couple — and now we get to do it on national television!

D-Happ: Your new show also stars your husband. How is it working with Chip? How do the two of you merge your two styles? What is your advice to couples who have different tastes?
Joanna: Chip and I wouldn’t want it any other way. We are extreme opposites, but somehow it works for us. He keeps me laughing and constantly on my toes, life is always an adventure with him around. He really lets me go with my style and he is always encouraging me to think outside the box. If I wanted to hang an old truck up on the wall he would figure out how to make it possible! He leans towards the more rustic side of design and I lean towards simple and chic. The blend of both works well in the homes we renovate.

I tell couples that one style is not better than another. Most couples have different styles —  that is normal. I am all about incorporating a little of both because I really want both of them to feel at home.

D-Happ: What’s your take on home renovation and design — is everyone cut out for it?
Joanna: I really feel renovation and design comes to those who are willing to step out there and take a risk. When I look back at the first few homes we did, the design wasn’t all that great. In the beginning, it was hard to see past the smelly rooms and the dated design. Years later I have found that seeing the potential in every property comes more natural and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. There is so much satisfaction that comes when we get the opportunity to breathe new life into these homes.

D-Happ: Tell us about your blog, The Magnolia Mom.
Joanna: I really enjoy writing and I use my blog to share my story and design ideas with others. So many people feel defeated when it comes to design in their homes because they aren’t a professional decorator or designer. I want my blog to empower readers to own their space and create rooms that tell the story of their life rather than copy what they see everywhere else. I want to teach people how to personalize their spaces and be intentional within the walls of their own home.

D-Happ: You write about your “farmhouse” on your blog — can you tell Design Happens what it is you love about your home?
Joanna: When I am in the farmhouse it provides a sense of calm for me when life gets full. Chip and the kids are happy here, too. I have always dreamed of an old white house on land and it is surreal that this is what I get to come home to every day. I enjoy working in the kitchen and my garden when I am home. I love the character of this house and the simple farmhouse style. We have lived in a lot of different homes but there is something about this one that makes me want to stop and stay. Forever.

D-Happ: How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
Joanna: Simple and timeless packed with unexpected touches. I love the beauty of the things from the past and most of the pieces I incorporate in a home have a story. I also enjoy clean and simple pallets while adding character to the space and drawing the room out with unique ideas and design.

D-Happ: What is the best way to achieve a great design but keep it family-friendly?
Joanna: Become a student to the people living in your home, think about them when you are designing the space. It can’t all be perfect and pretty because real life happens here. I am all about creating nooks and spaces where order and function come together. I love pretty spaces but within those spaces it is important to also mix it with practical design so it works well for the family.

D-Happ: What rooms do home renovators often spend too much money on? Where should home renovators spend the most money?
Joanna: Most of the time people spend a lot in their master bath and closets. I feel like homeowners should spend the most in their kitchen because this is where they will get their return back if done right.

D-Happ: Where do you source inspiration?
Joanna: Nature and family. Every time I step outside I notice that there is a perfect blend to the design of nature. There is endless movement and texture that is perfectly mixed with varying colors and things of every shape and size. My family also teaches me to not only create pretty spaces but practical spaces where they will thrive.

D-Happ: What’s your favorite space/room to decorate in a home?
Joanna: Living/dining room. This is where life happens in a home and I think it’s important to create an environment where people feel comfortable gathering, sharing and just being.

D-Happ:What is your current color obsession?
Joanna: Dark gray blue. It is bold and when you mix it with white and wood accents it makes for a very stunning combination.

D-Happ: What design faux pas absolutely makes you cringe?
Joanna: Fake ivy over cabinets and bookshelves. I am sorry! I know it adds a touch of greenery that every room needs, but it just seems to collect dust and make a room feel less at home and a little more staged. The key to greenery in a room is adding realistic greens (or fresh-cut greens) that have more movement and that aren’t so stiff.

D-Happ: What design trend can you not stop using?
Joanna: Subway tile. Although it is a classic look it has definitely become trendier. I love incorporating this in bathrooms and kitchens because of its timeless look.

116 Responses

  1. Sherry Denson says:

    Are they ever going to put decorating shows back on hgtv? They should just change the name to buying and selling tv…….We loved the decorating shows….

    • sandy bendon says:

      I agree to many property brothers and love it or list it. I miss the real decorating shows like High low project, design on a dime for everyday people.

    • Kathy says:

      I'm with you Sherry! I contacted hgtv about this very thing. It's all about house hunting. There use to be a nice selection of design shows and gardening shows! Not anymore, now, I rarely watch this channel. I'm tired of watching real estate show!

    • Debby says:

      exactly…..Where are Sarah and Candice??

      • Richard says:

        yes I miss if walls could talk, Ruddy Reggio
        build America all the garden shows I do like fixer upper I have watch all the reruns.

  2. Lili_HGTV says:

    Welcome Joanna! We're so happy to have you.

    • Amy says:

      Maybe Sweet Joanna can explain why animals shouldn't be rescued from animal shelters.

    • PAT MONTROY says:


  3. Becky Ivy says:

    Great to see this intro and looking forward to more posts! Also, right on the money with the fake ivy. I committed that crime way to many times in an effort to add a little something and bring a little outdoor feel. A total travesty but a lesson well learned :)

  4. Luchette says:

    So happy to see this show coming to us on Thursday nights. Just in case I fall asleep the DVR will be set to record each show.

  5. […] GAINES, guest editor and star of HGTV’s FIXER UPPER: Nautical is fun in small doses. Striped pillows are great and […]

  6. Angie says:

    I can not wait for this show! I recently found Joanna's blog and read every single post in two days. I love her style and I am already so inspired. She talks a lot about design and decorating on her blog. I'm sure that will be incorporated into the show. They are incredibly talented!

  7. Lonna says:

    Are we supposed to believe that you can renovate a totally dilapidated home such as the one in your recent show, without dealing with any infrastructure issues, ie. electrical, plumbing, HVAC, windows? Also, the budget given didn't include any costs for exterior work, like painting, roofing, etc. The end product was certainly not accomplished with $100,000…. more like $200,000. This was my first and last time watching this show. It's so TOTALLY unrealistic!

    • rebecca says:

      Long a who cares if the money is enough, they really are amazing is just a show

    • Sue says:

      Who pays for the furniture they stage

      • Tjjk says:

        Don't get me wrong I LOVE the show but, there no way to do that with these budgets! Being a builder myself I know that it's unrealistic. I love them and watch all there shows but don't get your hopes up that you can accomplish what they do for that kind of money.

        • pantherridge81 says:

          My husband is also a builder, and we do much the same as what is done on the show – minus the staging (who DOES pay for that??!!??) – and you are correct on the money not doing what they do. My main question is this – Why on earth do they offer the 3 options to max out the budget??In many shows they go back to the homeowner and ask for more money after their options have maxed the money out!!! I would NEVER do that to a client!! In one episode, Joanna said that you should allow a 5-7% margin of error in the budget, but they want the client to pay over and above that amount. Please quit giving the everyday contractors a bad name when it comes to budgeting a project!!!

          • pantherridge81 says:

            P.S. I do think the show is fantastic! The design choices and the staging are absolutely wonderful! Unless the cost of living and building materials are that much less in Texas than they are in Pennsylvania, the budgeting and money issues are unrealistic! Any other thoughts or comments……???

  8. Lora says:

    Joanna and Chip: the new show is incredible! You both do such a complete and beautiful job. It's nice to see you enjoy each other and refreshing that the producers didn't try to manufacture "drama". I am a design professional (flip houses with another woman) and we are informed and particular about design, but your projects are blowing us away. I am glued; keep up the good work!

  9. TrishM says:

    I love the fact that Joanna keeps the character and original woodwork, fireplaces, etc. I am so tired of decorating/remodeling that removes all the character from houses and makes them so "modern" that they all look the same and have no soul.

  10. S Maddox says:

    Love, love, love the show Fixer Upper!!! I wish they had 5 a week ( or more)! Chip and Joanna are amazing!

    • Jane says:

      I have just discovered this show and, like you, can't get enough of it! Joanna's style is so what I love. I hate the cookie cutter style designing and Joanna captures the soul of each home she does.

Grant DudleyGrant is the editor-in-chief of Design Happens and digital programming manager of HGTV.com. Despite growing up begging his mom not to ever drag him to another antique store, today his...


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