30 Behind the scenes secrets about HGTV’s hit show, ‘Fixer Upper’

Lucy Yang Jun. 21, 2018, 6:05 PM

“This Insider.com”


fixer upper magnolia table chip joanna gaines waco texasChip and Joanna Gaines.HGTV

Thanks to their HGTV hit show “Fixer Upper,” Chip and Joanna Gaines have transformed dozens of dilapidated properties into beautiful homes in the Waco, Texas, area.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be cast on the show, now’s your chance. Blogger Rachel Teodoro sat down with “Fixer Upper” alum Lindy Ermoian in 2017 to get the inside scoop we’ve all been waiting for. She also scored an exclusive interview with alum Jaime Ferguson back in 2016.

Here are the most surprising revelations about “Fixer Upper” from Teodoro’s blog, along with some behind-the-scenes tidbits we found on the web.



The house-hunting scenes are staged.


The house-hunting scenes are staged.Chris and Lindy Ermoian. HGTV

Chip and Joanna kick off each episode of “Fixer Upper” by showing their clients three potential properties for their house flip.

However, it turns out clients typically purchase a home before the show even starts filming, according to Lindy Ermoian, whose home was featured on season 3 of “Fixer Upper.”

It’s worth mentioning that David Ridley, another “Fixer Upper” alum, shared this secret with Country Living last year.




You can save a ton on construction costs.


You can save a ton on construction costs.Lindy Ermoian’s renovated home on “Fixer Upper.” HGTV

Lindy wasn’t in love with the rust-colored roof of her house, but Joanna graciously offered to replace it for half price, Teodoro revealed.

See incredible before-and-after photos from “Fixer Upper” here.







The casting process has quite a few steps.


The casting process has quite a few steps.Jaime and Kyle Ferguson. HGTV

Jaime Ferguson applied to HGTV after moving to Waco, Texas, from Austin. The verynext day, she heard from the casting agency. However, Jamie had to go through a Skype interview, a written questionnaire, a few phone calls, and some meetings before ending up on the show.

She and her husband Kyle were also featured on season 3 of “Fixer Upper.”




You might have to take time off work to film the show.


You might have to take time off work to film the show.Sara and Jeff Jones. HGTV

In an interview with Apartment Therapy, Jeff Jones, who appeared on season 3 of “Fixer Upper,” along with his wife, Sara, shed some light on the show’s tight filming schedule.

“We did have to take time off to film,” Jeff revealed. “We did all our shots in one day. It was exhausting.”

But renovations are done extremely quickly.




But renovations are done extremely quickly.The Ermoians’ sleek new kitchen. HGTV

Chip, Joanna, and their team transformed Lindy’s home in about three months,Teodoro revealed.




You don’t get to keep all the furniture.


You don't get to keep all the furniture.The Fergusons’ renovated dining room. HGTV

According to the Fergusons, clients have to buy the staging furniture featured on “Fixer Upper.” Jaime and Kyle bought a coffee table, two striped chairs, and a dining table.




Joanna stages clients’ homes with items from her own house.



Joanna stages clients' homes with items from her own house.The Joneses’ renovated living room and kitchen. HGTV

Jeff told Apartment Therapy that the designer staged his and Sara’s home with some of their own furniture, in addition to using “her own personal stuff…from her home,” which “isn’t for sale.”

You get special handcrafted pieces for free.

You get special handcrafted pieces for free.The Fergusons’ renovated music room. HGTV

According to the Fergusons, Joanna gifted Kyle several custom-made items that she had made for the couple’s music room.

The Gaineses also gifted the Ermoians a rolling bar made by Clint Harp, Lindy told Teodoro.

You can also buy some of the Gaineses’ handmade items at affordable prices.


You can also buy some of the Gaineses' handmade items at affordable prices.Joanna’s custom shiplap-framed coral art pieces. HGTV

On Lindy’s episode, Joanna handcrafted three shiplap-framed coral art pieces for the couple’s living room. Lindy and her husband bought them for a “reasonable” $75.

Food trucks serve the cast and crew on the last day of filming.


Food trucks serve the cast and crew on the last day of filming.Everyone involved with the show gets to eat. HGTV

Jaime was pleasantly surprised on the last day of filming when “delicious” food trucksserved everyone lunch.

You get to keep the giant poster of your old house.


You get to keep the giant poster of your old house.A poster of the Fergusons’ home before renovations. HGTV

In every episode of “Fixer Upper,” Chip and Joanna place a massive poster of their clients’ old home in front of their property. Then, on the last day of filming, the Gaineses wheel the poster away to reveal what their clients’ renovated home looks like.

Speaking to Glamour in 2015, Chip said this idea came to them last-minute while filming the show’s pilot. “We were sitting there trying to figure out how to get the client to their space without revealing the house itself,” he said. Luckily, “at the 11th hour,” two of Chip’s friends built the poster that “Fixer Upper” fans know and love today.

Even better, clients get to keep the huge poster. “We fold that thing up and we give it to the family,” Chip told Glamour. “We try to make an event of the canvas itself.”

Reactions and conversations aren’t scripted, but you sometimes have to reshoot certain scenes.


Reactions and conversations aren't scripted, but you sometimes have to reshoot certain scenes.Luke and Rachel Whyte. HGTV

In an interview with Country Living, Waco-based photographer Rachel Whyte said that the show’s producers made her and her husband, Luke, “repeat things a few times.”

According to Rachel, who appeared on the third season of “Fixer Upper,” producers film certain scenes “multiple times from different angles,” but the “reactions and conversations” you see are completely authentic. “The hard thing is remembering what you said before when asked to repeat it,” the photographer added.

Filming the show can feel a bit awkward at first.


Filming the show can feel a bit awkward at first.But you get used to it after a while. HGTV

Rachel told Country Living that the weirdest thing about filming “Fixer Upper” was being around cameras all the time. “It was uncomfortable at times because we, like most people, aren’t used to having cameras around us,” the photographer said.

You work with the Magnolia team to create a budget.


You work with the Magnolia team to create a budget.The Fergusons had a total budget of $450,000. Fixer Upper/HGTV/Hulu

According to Jaime, Chip and Joanna’s team, Magnolia, helps each couple create arealistic budget and renovation plan.


The average total budget a client has on the show is $279,903.


The average total budget a client has on the show is $279,903.This includes the cost of both purchasing and renovating the home. HGTV

According to a recent analysis of every “Fixer Upper” episode by Homes.com, clients have an average budget of $111,631 for renovations alone.

You have to be ready to spend a minimum of $30,000 on renovations.


You have to be ready to spend a minimum of $30,000 on renovations.The Whytes’ renovated bathroom. HGTV

A former “Fixer Upper” cast member told Teodoro in 2017 that the show “requires at least $30,000 in renovations to be done.” According to this unnamed cast member, some applicants to the show have been turned away for “not having enough wrong” with their house.

Chip and Joanna add an average of $26,036 in instant equity to their clients’ investments.


Chip and Joanna add an average of $26,036 in instant equity to their clients' investments.The “Fixer Upper” team renovating the Fergusons’ home. HGTV

According to Homes.com’s analysis, the Gaineses also always stay within their clients’ budgets.

Your property tax will likely increase.


Your property tax will likely increase.The Joneses’ renovated bedroom. HGTV

Jeff told Apartment Therapy that his and Sara’s property tax went up after their house was featured on “Fixer Upper” — but that’s bound to happen after most home renovations.


Tour groups might visit your home.


Tour groups might visit your home.The Joneses’ renovated dining room. HGTV

Speaking to Apartment Therapy, Jeff said that he and Sara get the “occasional drive-by from fans” of “Fixer Upper.”

“Also a local tourism company called Waco Tours drives by our house four to six times a day to show people,” Jeff added. “I guess that’s the price you pay to have your house on TV.”


You’re not allowed to visit the home while it’s being renovated.


You're not allowed to visit the home while it's being renovated.Doug and Lucy McNamee. HGTV

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “Fixer Upper” clients are “under strict orders not to visit the work scene” until reveal day.

“They wanted it to be a complete surprise, and it took discipline not to sneak a look,” Doug McNamee, who appeared on the show’s pilot episode along with his wife, Lucy, told the Tribune-Herald in 2013.

And your home isn’t always finished when filming ends.


And your home isn't always finished when filming ends.The Ermoians’ beautiful renovated living room. HGTV

Each “Fixer Upper” episode ends with a big reveal of the renovated home. However, asTeodoro wrote, when the cameras stop rolling, the Magnolia team still has to take care of last-minute details, inspections, and more.

Lindy and her family, for example, didn’t move in until weeks after filming.

Joanna confirmed this secret herself in a sneak peek of her spinoff show, “Behind the Design.” It turns out the rooms you don’t see on the show are filled with plastic storage bins, trash bags, carpeting samples, plants, and more.

You don’t work directly with Chip and Joanna off-screen.


You don't work directly with Chip and Joanna off-screen.Chris and Lindy Ermoian chatting with Joanna. HGTV

Unless they were filming scenes with the Gaineses, Lindy and her husband apparently never communicated directly with Chip and Joanna. Instead, the Ermoians worked closely with an assigned designer and a team of assistants during the renovation process, Lindy told Teodoro.

You get a lot of say during the design process.


You get a lot of say during the design process.The Ermoians’ renovated master bathroom. HGTV

Despite what you may think, “Fixer Upper” clients have a lot of control over renovation decisions. Lindy’s nephew, who is an architect, helped her design her master bathroom, and the Ermoians’ assigned designer frequently asked the couple for feedback.

“It really did seem like they wanted to please us,” Lindy told Teodoro.

Joanna even asks you to make a Pinterest board before she starts renovations.


Joanna even asks you to make a Pinterest board before she starts renovations.The Whytes’ renovated kitchen and dining area. HGTV

According to the Whytes, Joanna likes to get a sense of her clients’ style before she makes any decorating decisions. “I put a white house with grey shutters on my Pinterest board and they really [went with] that concept,” Rachel previously told Country Living.

Chip and Joanna always add unique finishing touches to your home.


Chip and Joanna always add unique finishing touches to your home.The Fergusons’ stunning renovated bathroom. HGTV

According to Jaime, Chip and Joanna “leave nothing undone.” The Gaineses installed beautiful details in every room of the Fergusons’ home including extra shelving in the bathroom, hidden spice racks in the kitchen, and thick wood trim around every door.

Chip spends a ton of time cracking jokes.


Chip spends a ton of time cracking jokes.Chip is as funny off-screen as he is on-screen. HGTV

Chip is “100% a goofball,” Jaime told Teodoro. Apparently, he spends so much time making everyone laugh that most of his scenes are edited out.

And he doesn’t do as much heavy lifting as you’d think.


And he doesn't do as much heavy lifting as you'd think.Chip and Joanna getting their hands dirty. HGTV

Although you often see Chip kicking down walls on “Fixer Upper,” he apparently doesn’t do that much physical labor when the cameras stop rolling — at least not on the home’s exterior, Lindy told Teodoro.

Joanna is more reserved, even in front of the cameras.


Joanna is more reserved, even in front of the cameras.Joanna staging the Fergusons’ home. HGTV

Jaime described Joanna as a quiet but “thoughtful” speaker who is “immensely gifted” at her job.

You can learn more secrets about Chip and Joanna’s relationship dynamic here.

And she shares sweet moments with her kids off-camera.


And she shares sweet moments with her kids off-camera.Joanna decorating the Fergusons’ kitchen. HGTV

According to Teodoro’s blog, Joanna often spends quality time with her kids on site when the cameras aren’t rolling.

The Gaineses have stated before that they prefer to keep their children out of the spotlight. “They’re so young and we want to give them the chance to have a normal childhood,” Joanna told People in 2016.

Some touching scenes never make it onto the show.


Some touching scenes never make it onto the show.The Ermoians’ custom music room. HGTV

According to Teodoro, Lindy and Chris Ermoian were surprised that certain scenes were edited out of their episode. For example, in one “tender” scene they filmed, Chris played an original song for his wife that was later made into an art piece for the couple’s music room. The scene itself, however, never aired.

Head over to Rachel Teodoro’s blog to read her full interviews with “Fixer Upper” alums Lindy Ermoian and Jaime Ferguson.