23 behind-the-scenes secrets about the HGTV show ‘Fixer Upper’

23 behind-the-scenes secrets about the HGTV show

After watching Chip and Joanna Gaines renovate nearly 80 Waco, Texas properties for their hit show Fixer Upper, viewers want to know: what was it actually like to have your home fixed up? Well, some of the families that appeared on the show revealed all – and the truth is a lot different from what you see on TV!

You keep the “picture”

You know how Chip and Joanna always obscure their final product with a conveniently placed poster printout of the old house, only to wheel it away for a big reveal? Well, show participants were allowed to keep those pictures! Though who knows where they stored them…

You don’t keep the furniture

Sadly, clients didn’t get to keep the beautiful furniture that Joanna organized around their houses, as it belonged to a staging company. Jaime and Kyle Ferguson, who appeared on the show in season three, bought a few tables and chairs, but everything else had to go back.

They gave gifts

But HGTV and the Gaineses weren’t total sticklers. Joanna gifted homeowner Kyle Ferguson custom-made items for his music room, for instance. And Chris and Lindy Ermoian, also from season 3, got a fancy rolling bar (pictured). Swish, eh?

Clients must pay

It would be nice if HGTV paid for the renovations – you know, as a “thank you” for being on the show. But that wasn’t the case. In reality, clients needed more than a little bit of pocket money—at least $30,000—to put towards renovations. Yikes!

Clients know which home they want

Remember the scenes where Chip and Joanna showed clients three different houses that they might be interested in buying? Well, those were all staged. Most of the time, show guests had already picked and purchased a home. At least we got to have a little nose around!

They cut deals

On-screen client Lindy Ermoian hated the ugly, rust-colored roof on the house that she and her husband had bought. Luckily, Joanna worked some magic and offered to replace it for half the normal price. Result!

The cutting room was busy

Not everything filmed made it into a 60-minute episode. Chris Ermoian was surprised to see that HGTV had edited out a moment where he’d played his wife, Lindy, a song on the guitar – even though the Gaineses had made the song’s note into a piece of art!

VIPs are off-limits

Off screen, clients didn’t get a lot of face-to-face time with Joanna and Chip. They were busy people, after all! Instead, Lindy Ermoian said clients coordinated with the designer and a few assistants.

A TV appearance

Viewers watching at home often saw Chip in blue jeans and a hard hat, pouring concrete or bashing down walls. But it seems that was just a little bit of television showmanship. Homeowner Lindy Ermoian said that when the cameras were off, Chip didn’t really do much of the hands-on work.

Chip liked to goof

So what did Chip do? Well, as client Jaime Ferguson put it, he was “100 percent a goofball.” Apparently, he spent so much time joking around with the crew that, for the sake of conciseness, most of his on-camera time was edited out of the final product.

Joanna was contemplative

Joanna wasn’t quite the goof that Chip was, though. She was quite contemplative, and according to homeowner Jaime Ferguson, she was “immensely gifted” at all things “fixer upper.” Sounds like the interior queen made a good yin to Chip’s yang!

They work quick

Once Chip, Joanna, and their team got to work, they tore through the renovation process quickly and efficiently. For example, it took them just three months to turn Lindy Ermoian’s dull, 1981 ranch house into a bold and boisterous beauty.

You don’t move quick

That said, the cameramen usually packed up and took off before homes were officially done. According to Lindy Ermoian, professionals still needed to conduct off-screen inspections. Yep, her family didn’t get to move in for weeks after the TV crew had left.

Nothing goes untouched

Joanna and Chip never left a job undone. While cameras may have left before the work was finished, the crew improved every room in the house. For Jaime Ferguson, that meant extra bathroom shelving and hidden kitchen spice racks.

They’re open to ideas

Chip and Joanna didn’t just create their own grand visions in their clients’ homes. Participants were allowed to design, plan, and give feedback on renovations and ideas. “It really did seem like they wanted to please us,” Lindy Ermoian said of the show’s crew.

They used Pinterest

In fact, before renovations had even started, Joanna asked participants to create a Pinterest board featuring their decorative tastes and preferred styles. The designers would then work hard to stick with these highlighted concepts.

Interviewing for the show is rough

The casting process involved a lot more than simply picking up the phone and giving Chip and Joanna a ring. To get onto the show, Kyle Ferguson had to endure a Skype interview, written questionnaires, phone calls, and more. All worth it, though, if you ask us.

Budgets were scrutinized

The renovation budgets weren’t just pulled out of thin air during filming. First, clients worked with the Gaines’s parent company, Magnolia, to develop a budget that actually worked for them.

Improv to script

Plenty of participants confirmed that the show was scripted. Well, sort of, anyway. Rachel Whyte, who appeared on there in season three, said conversations were organic at first but that producers often re-filmed them from different angles.

Baylor Baugh Center / YouTube

It was awkward

Since clients weren’t trained actors, many admitted being on camera could be a little awkward. “It was uncomfortable at times because we, like most people, aren’t used to having cameras around us,” Rachel Whyte said.

A family affair

Even with all of her hard work, Joanna found time to be a dynamite mom, too. When cameras stopped rolling, guests on the show would often find her spending time with her kids on the job site.

HGTV Asia / YouTube

Joanna Makes Decorations

Joanna hand-made various decorations that she put up in the houses for filming purposes – like these shiplap framed art pieces, for example. She sold them to Lindy Ermoian and her husband for $75 – a pretty good deal, considering how nice they were!

Everyone gets a reward

On the last day of filming, Chip, Joanna, HGTV crews, Magnolia, and even the Fixer Upper guests all intermingled over delicious lunches provided by food trucks. Everyone involved in the show was rewarded!

Into their homes

Chip and Joanna Gaines served up a piping hot dish of farmhouse chic, and everyone is hungry for more. As the undeniable King and Queen of HGTV, when it came time to choose a home for themselves, they had to pick one worthy of interior design nobility.

Castle Chip and Jojo

Castle Chip and Jojo has to be as doubly breathtaking and charm-packed on the inside as it is outside. Listed in their hometown of Waco, Texas, the price for the storybook dwelling is a mystery. Though, you can rest assured, it is a fixer-upper.

A new duo

But funny enough, this time it was Chip and Joanna’s turn to take in some outside inspiration. When Jean-Baptiste and Erin Choa, a couple from across the pond decided to take on the ultimate fixer-upper project, it was hard for even the biggest names in the business not to notice.


A fated love

Erin was a doctor from London and Jean-Baptise (JB for short) was a French mechanical engineer. Fate brought both of them to the Scottish capital Edinburgh. They met and fell in love far away from home. After they married, they moved once more.

National Geographic

Big move

The country of choice would end up being JB’s homeland — France. This was somewhat complicated for Erin because, as a doctor in the U.K., she needed to get reinstated in France. Her French was far from fluent.


Risky plan

So, Erin explored other income options for their residency in France. After doing some research, the two of them concocted a plan that made their family slightly nervous due to its extreme nature.


Changing direction

The couple decided to try something completely different from their day jobs. They wanted to purchase a property in France and begin renting it out to vacationers. Driven by their passion for history and architecture, they pictured themselves drinking wine and relaxing into a new life.


Dreaming big

Erin and JB imagined the classic beauty of a French chateau, or castle, in the countryside surrounded by pristine gardens and sun-drenched hillsides. This wouldn’t come without a hefty price tag and a lot of DIY work. The couple was prepared for the investment.


The chateau search begins

Their decision made, they packed up their lives — including their cat, Oscar. Once they arrived in France, the search for the perfect chateau began. Most of the sprawling mansions were out of the question for their budget.

Budget castles

It was crucial they found something that had the historical design they wanted but was in good enough shape that their guests wouldn’t fall through a rotten foundation. It wasn’t easy to balance these requirements — the chateaus in their price range were usually derelict.

Oldie but goodie

They were beginning to lose hope in finding the property they dreamed of when they found Chateau de Bourneau. While possessing all the charm of a much older style chateau, it had been rebuilt in 1863. Practically a new construction compared to the rest!


Diamond in the rough

The plumbing system and newer build meant it would be slightly less involved to remodel. Besides, the chateau spoke for itself: The appearance was exactly what they desired, almost as if it appeared out of a fairy tale. At least, on the outside.


Finding the keys

About $775,000 got them the keys to castle. Emphasis on the plurality of keys. The huge property came with all of the keys you see pictured. Once they found the one that unlocked the door, they saw their work was cut out for them.


A big undertaking

Thirty years of neglect left the residence in need of a ton of TLC. Repairs, paint and structural improvements were all on the to-do list of the overwhelmed (but excited) couple. Once they started exploring, they realized they got more than they bargained for.


Don’t forget the mote

The front doors, interior walls, and stairs all required repairs. The castle also had some very unique attributes that a regular suburban homeowner might not have to deal with, such as repairing the moat that surrounded the chateau.


Hidden gems

As they worked tirelessly, they found some incredible bonus items inside, forgotten for hundreds of years. Antique furniture and original fixtures were uncovered much to the delight of the couple who loved history so much.


Personal touches

As the most fundamental repairs were made and the paint was drying, both JB and Erin began to see their vision coming to life. They worked to add their own touches that would blend seamlessly with the chateau’s style.


Posting progress

They created an Instagram account to post their progress and all the fun they had along the way, including tons of amazing photo ops on the grounds of the castle with unreal views and lovely weather.


Ready for guests

The time came for their first guests to arrive. It was essential that these people enjoyed their stay, as JB and Erin needed the income to continue doing repairs on the home. Nervously, they added the final touches and opened the doors to their castle.


A dream come true

The work they had put into the place was transformative. The rundown interior was now a pristine and restored space where you could enjoy updated comfort while still feeling like you’re in a different time.


It’s a hit

Even without contemporary refrigeration or a functional stove, the guests were immediately taken with the exquisite estate. From the wood-burning fireplaces that held hand-chopped wood to the modern luxury of a pool, the place was a hit. But the most exciting development was yet to occur.


Global attention

As a result of the rave reviews, JB and Erin gained international attention. The hosts of the U.K.-based television show Escape to the Chateau wanted to come film the couple’s newly renovated place. They were ecstatic to gain such recognition.


Cheers to dreaming big

Erin and JB risked it all in order to realize the life they wanted, and it has payed off tremendously. With plans to continue adding on to the property, they can simply look around them at the gorgeous French countryside for inspiration.