COTE DE TEXAS

Fixer Upper–Jumping the Shark?

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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?????